In the bookcase that constitutes the majority of my analog library resides a trade-paperback-sized volume. To describe it as dog-earred would be a lie. It’s spine is in tatters, its back cover is long gone. To describe it as cherished would also be a lie. Over the years I’ve shed hundreds of pounds of books donated to libraries, but this one will never be one of them while I’m still breathing.
It’s “The Twilight Zone Companion,” by Marc Scott Zicree, and it will be 30 years old in 2012. Being that “The Twilight Zone” is my favorite television series ever and for all eternity, Zicree’s reference book is like a bible to me. Inside is a synopsis of all 158 episodes that ran between the series’ 1959-1964 run on CBS.
If you look at those years and roll your eyes over something soooooo completely and squarely old, it should be noted that the upcoming Hugh Jackman film “Real Steel” is based on The Twilight Zone” Season No. 5 episode “Steel” written by Richard Matheson and starring Lee Marvin.
Open up — carefully, reverently — my copy and flip slooowly through its aged pages, beside the episode title at the top of each of Zicree’s summaries odds are you’ll find a hand-scrawled asterisk, indicating I’ve seen it. In the latter years a few of those asterisks are accompanied by a date, signifying when I saw it. Of all those episodes listed in the book, there are 146 asterisks, all painstakingly accumulated over the decades via summer vacations spent stopping and dropping whatever I might have been doing to watch the two episodes KTLA used to show at noon weekdays, augmented by the various marathons that would air.
You’d think in my glacial quest to see every episode these last few years, I’d’ve picked up the complete series box sets that have become available, but I kind of like my here-and-there haphazardry (coupled to my disposition against owning box sets of anything).
The point of all this — other than I’m a neeeeerd â€” is that the aforementioned 146th asterisk came today, with me seeing “A World Of Difference.” A wonderful episode in the “who am I, really?” theme also penned by Matheson, which aired 51 years ago during the show’s first season, specifically: March 11, 1960. I didn’t chance upon it on KTLA or the Psigh-Pheye channel (or however lamely they’re spelling “sci-fi” now). Instead, this weekend while slogging through what’s available on Netflix streaming, I stumbled upon the awesomness that I have 138 episodes of The Twilight Zone at my fingertips. No DVDs, no random tuning in of individual episodes or entire marathons. To see “A World Of Difference” I merely flipped the companion to the page of the first episode without an asterisk then scrolled down Netflix’s episode list and there it was.
It’s as simple as just pushing play. Which is just what I did for lunch this afternoon. To think I can now conveniently get closer to that never-before-imagined day where maybe — just maybe — an asterisk will reside next to every single episode? Wow. For a fan like me, that’s like a twilight zone of it’s own.