Static (The Twilight Zone)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Paranormal radio as seen in "Static"
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Buzz Kulik|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont|
|Original air date||March 10, 1961|
Dean Jagger: Ed Lindsay
As Ed Lindsay retrieves his old radio from the boarding house basement, he says to a boy watching him, "Don't you know what a radio is?" "Sure," says the kid, "but I've never seen one like that before!" The camera then moves to show Rod Serling standing at the top of the basement steps.
Ed Lindsay, an embittered, irritable bachelor in his late fifties, living in a boarding house, is dismayed over the mindless programs and commercials emanating from the television set watched by the other residents. He retrieves from the basement the old radio which, in his younger and happier days, he enjoyed as a source of relaxation and entertainment. Installing it in his joyless room, he is astonished to hear the radio receiving 1930s/1940s music and programs, including those of Edward Bowes, Fred Allen and Tommy Dorsey, all of whom are dead. He tells the others about the miraculous broadcasts but, when they come into his room, they hear only static. What's more, when he tries to contact the radio station ("WPDA", in fictional "Cedarburg, New Jersey") broadcasting those programs, he discovers the station went off the air (and out of business) 15 years earlier.
Ed has a heartfelt confrontation with Vinnie Broun (Carmen Mathews), who has lived in the same boarding house with him for two decades. We learn that in an earlier era, they had intended to marry, but he kept letting other things interfere, and too much time passed. She tells him that the past cannot be recovered and he should let it go, and that the phenomenon by which he can listen to defunct programs is nothing more than a manifestation from his failed youth. Ed is furious and he throws Vinnie out of his room. His obsession with his radio continues to grow.
Worried about Ed's mental state, Vinnie and the other residents have the radio hauled away by a junk dealer. After Ed notices the radio missing and demands an explanation, he rushes out and buys the radio back from the junk dealer for $10. Ed takes the radio back to his room and, to his great relief, finds it still operational. He loses himself in an old Tommy Dorsey love song, the one he would share with Vinnie. Suddenly, the door to his room swings open, and Vinnie enters. Both Ed and Vinnie are young again—or rather, Ed has retreated 20 years into his own past to relive his life and to set things right.
Rod Serling's closing narration, "Around and around she goes, and where she stops nobody knows. All Ed Lindsay knows is that he desperately wanted a second chance and he finally got it, through a strange and wonderful time machine called a radio, in the Twilight Zone."
As The Twilight Zone's second season began, the production was informed by CBS that at about $65,000 per episode, the show was exceeding its budget. By November 1960, 16 episodes, more than half of the projected 29, were already filmed, and five of those had been broadcast. It was decided that six consecutive episodes would be videotaped at CBS Television City in the manner of a live drama and then transferred to 16-millimeter film for future syndicated TV transmissions. Eventual savings amounted to only about $30,000 for all six entries, which was judged to be insufficient to offset the loss of depth of visual perspective that only film could offer. The shows wound up looking little better than set-bound soap operas and as a result the experiment was deemed a failure and never tried again.
Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this, the second one, shown on March 10, 1961 as episode 20. The first, "The Lateness of the Hour" was seen on December 2, 1960 as episode 8; the third, "The Whole Truth" appeared on January 20, 1961 as episode 14; the fourth was the Christmas show "Night of the Meek" shown as the 11th episode on December 23, 1960; the fifth, "Twenty Two" was seen on February 10, 1961 as episode 17; and the last one, "Long Distance Call" was broadcast on March 31, 1961 as episode 22.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0