Twilight Zone tonight..

Remakes of two great episodes…


In the creepy “It’s Still a Good Life,” Cloris Leachman and Bill Mumy reprise their roles from a 1961 episode. In that installment, Mumy was frightening as Anthony Fremont, a boy who could make people vanish into a place he called “the cornfield,” and Leachman shined as his terrified mother. In the sequel, Fremont learns that his 6-year-old (well-played by Mumy’s real-life daughter Liliana Mumy) has the same power. And in “Monsters on Maple Street,” a chilling remake of a 1960 episode, Andrew McCarthy plays a man whose neighborhood erupts into chaos and paranoia when communication with the outside world is cut off.

Sounds like one remake and one sequel.

Too bad I already set the VCR for West Wing

The Terrorists are Coming to Maple Street . . .


Didn’t like either episode especially the Billy Mummy one.

I will say this though, the ending to the “Monsters on Maple Street” was good. I’m glad they didn’t just rehash the original one.

Okay . . .

[spoiler] Now why in hell didn’t the “terrorist” family come out of the house once it was set on fire? I know if I had to take my choose between facing a buch of idiots wielding makeshift torches and sad stand-in pitchforks and sitting in a house as it burned to the ground, I’d take my chances with the idiots.

At least this scenario is slightly more plausible than the one in the original “Maple Street”.[/spoiler]

I, for one, liked the “It’s a Good Life” sequel. I saw the original when it was first broadcast on prime time, and it scared the hell out of me. Years later I read the original short story by Jerome Bixby, and liked it even better. Joe Dante “adapted” it as a segment of the 1982 Twilight Zone movie, but they slapped an anomalous happy ending on it, which didn’t convince. One thing I like about last night’s version was its avoidance of the usual and expected “tie all ends up happy ending” – that smacked of the pith of the original Twilight Zone.
I don’t ordinarily watch the new Twilight Zone, but Pepper Mill had just finished watching Enterprise and it was still on, and I got hooked by the opening that obviously recalled the original “It’s a Good Life”, including a shot of Billy Mumy from the original. “That’s Billy Mumy”, I told Pepper, expecting this show to be a lame remake. Then the camera came up to a present-day Billy Mumy reprising his role, and I realized, as when I saw the openming credits for “Star Wars”, that this might be something good. They had gone to the trouble of getting the original star (stars, once I saw Chloris Leachman was in it) and even getting Mumy’s daughter to play his character’s daughter, and realized that they were going to have a stab at a real sequel. I was hooked.

I have to admire the way they did it. The emphasis, as in Serling’s day, was on the writing and acting, and not on effects or even (despite what everone always thinks) on a “twist” ending. They deliberately kept the effects low-key and reserved, even though, in this CGI age, they could easily have gone a lot wilder. (If you want to see wilder, even without CGI, have a look at Joe Dante’s take on it in the TZ movie) They limited themselves to jazzing up the disappearances a bit, and a few effects like the firesuit that were non-CGI.
The story was simple and tantalizing with its possibilities. Mumy’s character’s daughter is coming of age and showing the same sorts of powers, only she can make things appear as well as disappear. Will she use it for or against her father? How will the remaining townsfolk react? Where do we go from here?
A lot of what made it good were the small touches that made it clear they had thought things out – there’s no electricity, so entertainment is piano-playing and bowling. At night, light conmes from kerosene lanterns.

The original TZ showed that you could do good sf and fantasy on a budget. You didn’t need elaborate mechanical robots – robots on the old TZ were often people, who “froze” when they were off. They re-used a lot of stock footage and old props from “Forbidden Planet”. Yet they told a lot of good short sf/fantasy from the pulps that would otherwise never have made it to the screen, and they avoided formula. Bixby’s short story was one of those 1950s pulp stories that achieved added life because Serling decided to dramatize it. What he lost in the internal dialogue he made up for in visual impact. (Bixby, who wrote “It! The Terror from Beyond Space”, from which “Alien” was ripped off, a couple of other undeservedly forgotten 1950s sf films, and developed “Fantastic Voyage” from a Vernesque treatment to the version filmed, deserves to be better remembered.)

Some of the touches I liked in the original were the way Mumy’s character made “TV” shows of fighting dinosaurs. In Bixby’s story the “TV” shows were vague and unreal, but for TV the used stock footage from “Lost Continent”. It was a good choice – as a kid the same age, I would’ve watched fighting dinosaurs like that if I had the chance. A good example of using your low budget to your advantage. I’m sure last night’s episode had a much bigger budget, but they wisely showed restraint. No TV at all.

At the end of it, reflecting on how everything got sent “to the cornfield”, Pepper Mill snapped her fingers.

“Of course!” she said, “That’s where all those ball players in the corn were coming from!”

They actually made a sequel to “It’s a Good Life”? And Anthony hadn’t killed everybody in town yet? Had he somehow learned some kind of restraint? Maybe I’ll have to start watching that show; the first episode was so weak I haven’t looked again.

Jerome Bixby’s story was truly a picture of Hell on Earth.

Anyone care to spoil the “Good Life” episode? TZ was on up against what I usually watch…nothing. But I’m curious to know how it was handled.

[spoiler]The daughter developed Anthony-like powers, and Anthony’s Mom held out hopes for using her to get rid of Anthony. Anthony finds out and is charmed and excited, saying “You’re special! Like me!” Daughter decides to screw over everyone in town instead of Dad, and sends 'em ALL to the cornfield.

Also, daughter has the ability to bring things BACK, which Anthony doesn’t. So as a treat for Dad, she brings back the whole world. At the end of the episode they’ve decided to go visit New York.[/spoiler]

At first I was a bit disappointed in the way “It’s a Good Life” turned out. I was hoping that the daughter would turn around and give Dad a taste of his own medicine, since it seemed to be setting up that way. The actual ending was ok, I guess. Maybe they left the door open for another remake. :wink:

I did like the way “Monsters On Maple Street” was remade. I found it to be an appropriately biting commentary on our present fear-addled mob-mentality mindset. Nice touch at the very end, too. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if something like that really happened (lookup US Army tests with zinc cadmium sulfide, Serratia marcescens, Bacillus glogigii, Bacillus subtilis variant, and other agents.)

I could only catch the first half and loved it except for maybe the last 2 minutes. If they had ended it there it would have been great.

I liked the way they explained how come the rest of the world wasn’t a problem. E.g., why the Pres didn’t send in the army. But why all the original townspeople weren’t sent away yet is still puzzling.

Mumy was great. Not nearly as goofy looking as most “cute” child actors become. His daughter was very good. Leachman is getting on but still a decent actress.

A definite step up from what I had seen so far this year on TZ.

Couldn’t see/tape the 2nd half. “Maple Street” was my 2nd favorite (after the Shatner plane one). A neighbor kid of my cousins’ was The Eerie Kid in the original. Visiting their neighborhood always gave me a “do-do-do-do do-do-do-do” feeling.

I never much liked the Maple Street ep of the original Twilight Zone. I always felt it was a corny and overdone commentary od Cold War paranoia, so it’s only appropriate the remake was a corny and overdone commentary on post-9/11 paranoia.

“It’s Still A Good Life: The Mumy Returns”

Anybody care to tell me the story in the original Maple Street?? I saw the Twilight Zone from last night but didn’t know the original story??

Pretty much the same thing, except there was a meteor instead of an explosion to start things off. And space aliens instead of the military. And I don’t think they set anyone’s house on fire. And everybody was white.

oh ok, thanks !

Can anybody tell me if the music Anthony was “telekinetically” playing in the beginning of the sequel was the same piece of music that was played for him by one of the neighbors on “television night” in the original (before the dude started bitching about not hearing Perry Como sing and got turned into a Jack-In-The-Box)? I think the piece in the original was called “Moonglow.”

If so, it would be a nice little tie-in between the two episodes. I too liked this sequel far better than I thought I would.

After buying a few items from him on eBay, I struck up an email correspondence with Emerson Bixby, one of Jerome’s sons. I might send off an email to ask how he and the rest of the Bixby family felt about it.

Sir Rhosis