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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that it might be hard to get kids to sit through episodes of The Twilight Zone. This classic TV show has complex, thoughtful scripts that require viewers to pay attention. The pacing is much slower than just about anything on the air today (even some adults who enjoyed the show when it originally aired say that it sometimes seems sluggish by current standards), and there are rarely any big action sequences. To top it off, the show was shot in black and white. But if you can convince your kids to follow an entire episode (and you usually have to watch the whole thing to really get the point), they should find themselves pleasantly surprised by how much they enjoyed it. Bottom line? It's a classic for a reason.
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What's the story?
Anything can happen in THE TWILIGHT ZONE: People may actually be aliens, and the characters you thought were aliens may turn out to be human; beautiful people turn out to be ugly; and the characters you're sure are crazy turn out to be the only ones who actually know what's going on. The creation of legendary writer Rod Serling, who also introduced every episode, The Twilight Zone was designed to tweak viewers' notions of reality and present issues from a new, and usually unexpected, perspective. Because each episode was entirely self-contained, these 30-minute morality plays covered an amazing amount of ground. Some were set in the past, some in the future, some in space, some in the then-contemporary era of the late 1950s and early 1960s, but all of them ended with a surprising twist that always managed to shed some light on the human condition. An added bonus are the guest appearances by many young actors who later became major stars, including Robert Redford, William Shatner, and Martin Landau.
Is it any good?
Despite passing the five-decade mark, these stories have aged surprisingly well. That said, today's kids may be put off by the show's black-and-white images, outdated clothes, and rather straitlaced moral conventions. And anyone used to the fast-paced editing of modern action shows or music videos may find The Twilight Zone's pacing overly slow. But don't mistake any of these quibbles for flaws; this show is a true classic, and it deserves to be appreciated by each new generation of viewers. Once your kids watch a few episodes (it should only take a few), they'll be hooked.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about ... just about anything. The Twilight Zone is famous for its unexpected twists, which are ready-made for discussions about who saw it coming, who was completely surprised, and how the story made viewers see things from a totally different perspective.
The episodes are all different, but many center on common themes, such as selfish people finally getting what they deserve, or the unexpected rewards of doing the right thing. Did the characters merit their punishments? Why or why not? What might you have done in a similar situation? What point is the show trying to make?
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