In this episode of the Rooster Illusion podcast, The Twilight Zone‘s first season is in the Roost. Alex (The Tuesday Zone, Eldritch Adaptations) and Colleen discuss the historical context and fairy tale-esque morality of the series’ middle season, looking at seven episodes in particular: “It’s a Good Life,” “To Serve Man,” “Five Characters in Search of an Exit,” “The Little People,” “A Quality of Mercy,” “Deaths-Head Revisited,” and “The Shelter.” Join us in the Roost as we look at these episodes and consider the season and series in general.
0:13:00 – A note on this conversation about media being less referential and literary: obviously media is more referential than ever in modern culture, but here we’re specifically talking about references to literary classics. This is not a value judgement, but merely a difference; the intertextual playing with other movies, shows, or texts that are not “classics” is no more or less valuable than literary intertextuality. Further, when we say literary, we’re not applying a value judgement there, either. We’re using the term in the sense of canonical written works. Whether that is better or worse is too big a conversation to have here, as is the validity of or problems with the notion of a literary canon. In short: we’re explaining the context of the episode and its differences from modern media, but we are not trying to criticize modern media for it.
0:15:03 – When we mention “the first episode,” we’re talking about “Where Is Everybody?”
0:18:43 – I mention that Serling will contradict himself about the inherent validity of logic systems in a later episode, but it ended up not coming up. I was referencing “The Little People,” where Craig says he has been communicating to the eponymous small folk with mathematical symbols, which implicitly argues that math is universal and thus carries with it objective truth, because it can be understand regardless of language or social norms. Given the relationship between mathematics and logic, I viewed this as a contradiction because Serling often undermines the objective validity of logic, but here supports it unquestioningly.
0:27:35 – Here’s some history on yellowface. However, in doing some reading that I admittedly should have done beforehand, I learned that it is still an issue in the present day and not as easily brushed off as a relic of the time. Further, I should have noted that Cloud Atlas is not without substantial criticism for its use of yellowface. It’s a complicated topic, and one I fully invite people to comment on or message me about if our discussion here is too cursory even for its brevity.