Thursday, February 05, 2015

The Twilight Zone Logic

"Witness Flight Lieutenant William Terrance Decker, Royal Flying Corps, returning from a patrol somewhere over France. The year is 1917. The problem is that the lieutenant is hopelessly lost. Lieutenant Decker will soon discover that a man can be lost not only in terms of maps and miles, but also in time — and time in this case can be measured in eternities."

Opening narration

On this night 55 years ago, Twilight Zone, in its first season, the TV series continued to explore its favorite theme — a character is inexplicably transported to a different time. Sometimes the episodes examined things as being alternate realities but not the episode that aired on this night in 1960. In this case, it was a World War I British pilot (Kenneth Haigh) who passed through a cloud and couldn't hear his engine for awhile — after which, he landed at a U.S. air base in 1959 France.

The pilot was stunned to learn that it was 42 years later than it had been when he took off in his plane that morning. He was even more stunned to learn that an old American colleague was scheduled to visit the base that day — a colleague the British pilot had been certain had died during air combat in World War I.

But he was informed that his colleague had survived and had gone on to distinguish himself in World War II.

That was a bit of a head scratcher for him. But then he got the idea that they both could not occupy the same time. If he got back in the air and flew through that cloud back to his own time, then his colleague would be OK. But if he stayed in 1959, it might turn out that his colleague really did die in World War I.

You know, don't you, the brand of logic that Twilight Zone used to follow?

Anyway, the pilot was being held in custody for questioning, but he felt strongly that he and his old colleague must not cross paths.

So he broke out and ran across the airfield to his plane, started it and made his getaway.

It was very Twilight Zone–esque.

It also had a sci–fi feel to it. Normally, I'm not much of a sci–fi fan. There are a few books and movies in that genre that I do like, but it isn't really my thing. In the hands of Twilight Zone's writers, though, it worked for me.

That is really the only explanation I have for why I liked this episode. It wasn't unique. It said nothing profound. Some Twilight Zone episodes were both — unique and profound. This one was neither.

But I liked it.