galacticjourney: (Default)
[personal profile] galacticjourney
Have no fear, for The Traveler has returned from Orlando safe and sound. My apologies for not submitting this article earlier, but I did not have easy access to a typewriter or my editor while on my vacation.

I have come home to my brand new typewriter, however, and it is time to tell you all about the Martin Marietta plant... and to wrap up the last four weeks' worth of that television sensation, The Twilight Zone!

First off, the plant. Martin Marietta has become one of this nation's leading developer of rocket systems including the Titan and the Atlas, both of which have been tapped for service with the manned space program. Their Orlando plant opened in December 1957, and I was looking forward to seeing some boosters in the process of manufacture.



Nothing doing. The Orlando plant is specifically for the production of smaller weapons systems including the Lacrosse and Pershing artillery missiles (for the Army), the Bullpup air-to-surface missile (for the Navy), and the Missile Master, an electronic air defense control system. Worse yet, all of the work is secret, for obvious reasons, and I was turned away at the gate. So much for the inside view! At least I had a lovely time in the Orlando sun, which looks much like San Diego's sun, with my cousin and her family.

Also, I got home in time to watch The Twilight Zone last night, so I now have four episodes to talk about. Ready for a preview?

The fourth episode of The Twilight Zone was The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine, in which Ida Lupino, playing an aging star of the screen, shuts herself off from he world to watch endless replays of her old movies. Unable to face an aging reality and the reality of aging, she ultimately disappears into one of her films. The end is telegraphed from the beginning, and this was one of the show's poorer entries.



Walking Distance, episode five, fares a bit better. A 36-year old ad-man (played by a 46-year old Gig Young) flees from the city, desperate to recapture the simplicity of his small town pre-teen days. He returns to his stomping grounds to find them unchanged—in fact, he has gone back in time. He even meets himself and his family, whereupon his father urges him to return to the present and let his younger self enjoy an unshared youth. It's not bad, but it is mawkish and somewhat drawn out.



I'm a sucker for “deal with the Devil” stories, so I enjoyed Escape Clause: A thoroughly unlikable hypochondriac played by David Wayne bargains his soul for invulernability and immortality. The fellow had only been concerned with himself before the exchange, and such remains the case afterward. Rather than focusing on a myriad of fantasized ailments, he instead throws himself into a series of would-be fatal accidents in an attempt to chase thrills. He quickly tires of the game and becomes just as miserable as he had been.



Things look up when his wife ends up in a fatal accidental fall. Our “hero” calls the police and confesses to the crime, hoping to get the Chair, which he would endure with ease and a smirk on his face. Instead, he receives life imprisonment. Oh the irony. In his final act, the prisoner beseeches Old Nick to take his life prematurely, and off he goes—to Hell, presumably.

That ending frustrated me. Were I immortal and stuck in prison, I'm sure I'd find little difficulty (and excitement) in breaking free. But, as my daughter noted, the fellow hadn't much soul to begin with; selling it to Satan couldn't improve matters. It's no wonder Wayne's character was doomed to disappointment.

Finally, we've got the brand-new The Lonely. A convict is incarcerated on an asteroid; a supply ship comes every three months, but besides that, he has only a few books and a diary to keep him company. Though the prisoner is innocent of the murder for which he was convicted, a pardon seems unlikely. The supply ship captain takes pity on the convict some four years into his sentence and gives him an unusual gift—a robot in the shape of a woman.



I actually don't want to spoil this one in the event it gets rerun mid-season. Jack Warden does an excellent job with his role as the convict. The episode kept us guessing throughout. It has the setup of Eric Russell's Panic Button and much of the plot of John Rackham's If You Wish. These stories were so recently published that I have to wonder if they did not directly inspire the show.

Back shortly with a wrap-up of the new Galaxy. Stay tuned!

---

Note: I love comments (you can do so anonymously), and I always try to reply.
P.S. Galactic Journey is now a proud member of a constellation of interesting columns. While you're waiting for me to publish my next article, why not give one of them a read!







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Date: 2014-11-15 01:34 am (UTC)
glymr: (Default)
From: [personal profile] glymr
You may be right about being inspired by print versions - I am quite certain I've read "Escape Clause" before, or a story with a plot that was identical.

It seems like we might be coming into a new Renaissance of science and speculative fiction between magazines and now television!

Zoning

Date: 2014-11-15 02:54 am (UTC)
victoria_silverwolf: (Default)
From: [personal profile] victoria_silverwolf
I think I would rate these four episodes of "The Twilight Zone" is a different order than you might (although none of them is bad.)

"Escape Clause" is the one I would call predictable. It also seems to be one of those tales which is all plot and no heart. It's not terrible, but it's one of those things where you admire the cleverness of the story then forget about it.

In the middle I would place "The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine" and "The Lonely." Neither one had that great a plot, but both had good emotional appeal. If the first suffered from predictability, the second suffered from poor science (an "asteroid" with an Earth-like environment.)

Finally, I liked "Walking Distance," and might even call it the best episode so far. To me, this was the Serling of "Patterns" -- the writer who can see into the quiet desperation of the modern businessman.

To each her own!

Re: Zoning

Date: 2014-11-17 08:51 am (UTC)
solarbird: (Default)
From: [personal profile] solarbird
I'm with your daughter when it comes to "Walking Distance" - of the three I saw it was my favourite. (I missed "The Lonely," so let's hope it comes back over the summer, as you say.) But for me, "Escape Clause" really... didn't hit the mark. It's the first episode of the whole series to leave me asking "but why would you...?" and "but why wouldn't you..?"

It's funny, talking about the Depression - obviously, I grew up during it, and of course things were terrible, I intellectually understand that. But ... I may've been alive in the 20s, but I don't remember the prosperity, or prohibition, or Black Friday, or taking any notice of it. I was four during the crash, after all, and my main concerns involved chasing ducks and not missing Saturday's The Children's Club Hour on ... KPCB, that's right. KPCB. They're KIRO now.

Then in the 30s, well... it just all seemed to be just how things were. Sure, we had our Hooverville, and of course I ate my share of relish sandwiches. And we saved and reused everything, of course. I had a friend whose father worked the hardware store on the Ave, and they had a little business in secondhand nails that she'd be straightening with a hammer and little anvil after school... but now I'm just getting nostalgic.

But I think that's why "Walking Distance" worked so well for me. I know we didn't have any money, I know nobody did, I know there were the Wobblies and Bolshies fomenting revolution - and it all seemed just very exciting at the time. I was just old enough to feel the excitement but not of an age during the worst of it to understand just how dire everything really was. And then, of course, the War.

If I'd been a few years younger, or a few years older - either way - I don't think it would've worked so well, as a story. But I was, so it did. And like the protagonist of "Walking Distance," I wouldn't go back - even if I wrote glasses, they wouldn't be quite so rose-tinted as that - but I would think of it - and fondly.
Edited Date: 2014-11-17 08:52 am (UTC)

Date: 2014-11-16 12:26 am (UTC)
laurose8: (Shiveria)
From: [personal profile] laurose8
Thank you for the programme summaries. Twilight Zone sounds good, which means TVNZ is unlikely to buy it. Re The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine especially, it must be tempting, when you have a plot that would make an excellent ten minute episode, to stretch into half an hour.

I'm very sorry you had the disappointment of the Marietta plant. I hope pelicans and egrets, or some other Florida fauna, helped console you.

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