When my daughter, Jaymee, was little, we loved to watch the marathon of The Twilight Zone every forth of July. She didn’t mind the fact that the show was from Daddy’s era, she just enjoyed the outlandish stories the same as I did. After a while we were actually able to quote lines from certain scenes or refer to a particular episode when we saw something similar happen in life. This was a bonding, which proved to be stronger than when I would take her to the local playground. Of course it was only for one day a year. We were never able to watch the series on a weekly basis. Then someone in the world of TV believed The Twilight Zone deserved to be brought back to network television and The New Twilight Zone was born.
Anxiously, we began watching the stories, but it was disappointing. There wasn’t a Rod Serling introducing the stories or giving an ironic comment at the end and the stories seemed pointless. In the old Twilight Zone, there were lessons to be learned and we cared about what happened to the characters, the woman who was so afraid of death she never went out or allowed anyone in her apartment, the man who released the devil from his imprisonment by an isolated order of monks, the three space pilots who began disappearing one by one because they were supposed to die in space, or the town who was so terrified of a little boy able to do anything just by thinking of it.
Then along came an episode called “The Children’s Zoo” and there was hope. A little girl, Debbie, who watched her parents argue constantly, asked to be taken to an amusement called “The Children’s Zoo” and her parents consented. While the parents were ushered to a waiting room, Debbie was escorted through a zoo filled with angry and frightened parents. At one cage, the parents confessed they had been terrible parents, but they had repented. Debbie accepted them and leaves the zoo with her new set of parents while her former parents are seen struggling in a cage.
We loved that episode so much that when I would scold Jaymee for some mischief she would ask to be taken to “The Children’s Zoo.”
At my job at the Walt Disney Company, working as a background designer for The Jungle Cubs, I once had lunch with the writers and I began chatting with a white haired, friendly man, Chris Hubbell, who said he had written for The New Twilight Zone. I asked him which episodes and he mentioned that he, and his writing partner, had written “The Children’s Zoo.” When I told him how much my daughter and I loved that particular episode, he gave me an autographed copy of the script. At home, after work, I presented Jaymee with script and told her how I had met one of the writers at work. Jaymee said, “Daddy, do you think he believed you when you told him this was our favorite episode?” I really hope he did.
Thinking back, it makes me realized that it's the little moments that make an impression on someone's life, whether it's spending that one day a year watching a marathon of an old show with your daughter or meeting someone who wrote your favorite episode of a series. Remember, it's those little things in life that matter.