For the first time since I can remember (and I’m an old fart), there will be no Twilight Zone marathon on the tube this July 4th. It started out as a local tradition on KTLA here in L.A. (and probably other independent channels across the country), then later bounced to cable on SciFi Channel Syfy, and seeing Rod Serling’s craggy po-face as he puffs on a Chesterfield at some point during our nation’s holiday is as much a part of my “patriotic” activities as hot dogs, ice cream and burning your fingers on sparklers. Yeah, there’s a marathon on New Year’s, too, but it’s The Twilight Zone, people! It only influenced pretty much every genre show that’s come down the pike since, if that doesn’t deserve a double celebratory-binge-dip then I don’t know what does. Plus the biannual timing is like an alternate summer and winter solstice for nerds; sadly, our calendar is now FUBAR as Syfy has junked the Zone Fourth this year in favor of a Greatest American Hero marathon. Now, I’ve got nothing against Billy Katt and his red tights and dreamy blond curls, honestly… yet it’s hard not to feel like a little bit of my childhood just died.
If you’re as miffed as I am, you can kill some time on July 4th while the grill’s getting hot watching The Twilight Zone courtesy of the network of its origin, CBS; they’ve actually got quite a few classic episodes streaming in HQ. Start with “Nothing In the Dark“, an underrated gem from Season 3 featuring a tremendous performance by actress Gladys Cooper and a very young (and smokin’ hot) Robert Redford. (You can also join the Facebook protest group, if that kinda thing’s your bag.)