Like many of you marooned at home by the coronavirus pandemic, I’ve been streaming a lot of favorite TV shows I haven’t seen in a while. Because our current situation feels like a script for an installment of “The Twilight Zone,” I dialed up some episodes longtime fans love best.
Number 73, first aired by CBS on Nov. 3, 1961, is a real chiller. “It’s a Good Life” is the story of a six-year-old boy who uses his unexplained ability to read the minds and emotions of others to rule his family and neighbors under penalty of death — or worse.
Displease Anthony Fremont, and he can make you disappear. Or turn you into a monster enslaved to his juvenile whims. Anthony controls the weather, the supply of essential goods and what television programming his hostages are allowed to watch. Anthony’s favorite channel — the only one — plays cartoons 24/7. If you don’t love cartoons, you don’t love Anthony. If you don’t love Anthony, you don’t know what’s good for you or your fellow hostages.
The little tyrant commands his subjects to praise his every word and action or be wished away “to the cornfield,” which is understood as a death sentence and/or endless, unimaginable torment for Anthony’s amusement.
No matter what horrifying, ridiculous, dishonest thing Anthony does or says, his detainees walk on eggshells and struggle not to do or say anything that might anger him.
“That was a real good thing you did, Anthony,” they are required to say. “It’s a good life” existing according to the whims of a vindictive, remorseless child.
If Anthony said injecting industrial disinfectants into the human body might cure an infectious disease he refuses to help eradicate, his hostages would cheer his creative thinking. Some would try his prescription.
If Anthony said the next day that he was only joking, his surviving captives would laugh like their lives depended on it.
“That was a real good joke you told, Anthony. Tell us another one, and we’ll watch some more cartoons. It’s a good life. Anthony says so. It must be true.”
You can watch classic “Twilight Zone” episodes on Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other streaming services. You can subscribe to The Times-Tribune here for a fraction of what you pay to watch 50-year-old TV shows.
Today’s newspaper is a good thing we did. Get the latest COVID-19 news here. Geisinger Health System says Northeast Pennsylvania is producing the most coronavirus cases, but there is evidence the curve is flattening. Staff Writer Bob Kalinowski has the story here. Staff Writer Eric Schultz explains how to keep a facemask from fogging up your glasses here.
Staying home has many of us feeling low. Depression and anxiety have emerged as major side-effect of the pandemic. Staff Writer David Singleton has the story here. Alcoholics and addicts are also struggling. Boredom and isolation are major triggers for addicts. Trust me on that. Read Staff Writer Frank Wilkes Lesnefsky’s story here.
And check out my Sunday column, which features an interview with a chief organizer of the ReOpen Pennsylvania pity party staged Monday in Harrisburg. SPOILER ALERT: He thinks President Anthony is doing a real good job.
The Times-Tribune is still here, and so are you. We will get through this together, one day at a time. Hang in there, hunker down and wash your hands. Don’t drink bleach or inject Lysol. Don’t pretend Trump was joking.