It's funny, the things you remember.
For example, I remember the fall of 1985 pretty well. I was living in Little Rock, and several of my friends were excited about the new incarnation of the Twilight Zone TV series. I was excited about it, too.
We were all fans of the original series — but we were toddlers when it went off the air. We only experienced it in reruns. This was our opportunity to experience it first hand.
But I knew some people who seemed to specialize in being — to use a 21st century slang term — "buzzkills."
I knew one girl who dismissed the concept the minute she heard about it. The series would never be able to live up to the original, she told me.
I didn't go along with that. Agreed, the show didn't have Rod Serling (except for a fleeting stock footage clip in the opening credits), but he had been dead for a decade by that time. It's hard to see how he could have played a prominent role in the series' resurrection.
But I often thought the writing matched the original, especially in the second half of that 1985–86 season. And today is the 25th anniversary of the broadcast of what was perhaps the best example of that — an episode called "To See the Invisible Man."
Ironically, it was based on a short story that was written while the original Twilight Zone was still on the air. I don't think Rod Serling ever turned it into an episode of his series, but I definitely think he would have gotten around to it if the original series had run longer than it did.
In the traditional opening narrative, viewers were told that the story was about "a world much like our own, yet much unlike it." It was about a fellow named Mitchell Chaplin, an uncaring sort who is sentenced to a year of social isolation.
He is branded on his forehead so those he encounters will know that they risk the same punishment if they interact with him.
To someone like Mitchell Chaplin, it seems like a priceless opportunity to get some real privacy, but instead of hunkering down with a load of canned goods and some good books, which is what I would do under such circumstance, he insists on wandering out into the world, where he is made aware of the drawbacks of his situation — the worst of which may be when he is injured and refused medical attention.
I suppose, though, that, if he did hunker down with some canned goods and good books, the episode wouldn't be able to make some intriguing observations about society.
For there are other low moments, too — like when Mitchell strikes up a conversation with a blind man, only to have it abruptly terminated when a young woman whispers to the blind man "Invisible," and his whole demeanor changes or when Mitchell tries to communicate with other "invisible" people.
The story truly had some valuable lessons about crime and punishment — and some questions about whether the point of punishment is rehabilitation or retribution.
Like all the best Twilight Zone episodes, it left the answers to such questions dangling.