The Twilight Zone Episode 56: Static

General Information

Director: Buzz Kulik

Writer: Charles Beaumont

Cast: Dean Jagger, Carmen Mathews, Robert Emhardt, Arch W. Johnson, Alice Pearce, Clegg Hoyt, Stephen Talbot, Lillian O’Malley, and Pat O’Malley

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 3/10/1961

Production Code: 173-3665

 

Overview

the-twilight-zone-staticUnable to cope with an ever-changing society, boarding house resident Ed Lindsay (Dean Jagger) digs up an old radio set and listens to it continuously, ignoring the advice of Vinnie (Carmen Mathews)—a former flame—and Professor Ackerman (Robert Emhardt), an old friend. Though disbelieved by those around him, Ed insists that his radio can pick up signals from a 1940s station.

“Static” is a touching, if unremarkable, episode of The Twilight Zone. Especially worth noting is Ed’s obsession with a past hobby, which complements a fantastic premise with human drama.

 

Pros

Early in the episode, Ed attempts (albeit unsuccessfully) to converse and play games with his fellow boarding house residents, now reduced to irritable, unresponsivethe-twilight-zone-static couch potatoes by the television in their living room. Despite having been filmed over fifty years ago, the above display still contains a relevant commentary on the mind-numbing, creativity-stifling nature of most television programs; unlike the majority of old-fashioned radio stations, which, at least in Rod Serling’s opinion, offered a more immersive and imaginative experience than the “boob tube” ever could.

 

Cons

“Static” is quite skimpy on narrative substance, relying solely on nostalgia to arouse viewer sentiments.

the-twilight-zone-staticAlso problematic is the videotape that was used to record this episode, the soap-opera quality of which serves to cheapen the romantic tension between Ed and Vinnie.

 

Analysis

Though marred by an ambiguous final scene, “Static” rightly indicates that living in the past is a poor means of coping with present sorrow. (A similar concept had been explored less effectively in season one’s “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine,” which details a vain, elderly actress shutting out the world in order to relive her glory days.)

 

Concluding Comments

For complementing bizarre subject matter with poignant dialogue, this episode should be praised by fans of The Twilight Zone. That being said, “Static” fails to end on a powerful and straightforward note—much in contrast to the twist endings commonly featured in this series.

 

Overall Quality: 7/10

 

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