My favorite Twilight Zone episode for the last six or seven years is “Stopover in a Quiet Town.” I think the whole idea of two people waking up after a bender in an abandoned town in which they discover everything is artificial—one gigantic prop—is one of the scariest ideas I can imagine. It is also a brilliant social commentary right up there with the 1978 Dawn of the Dead. For me it is also the perfect allegory for postmodern notions of simulacra and the very idea of living within a culture (or this case world) premised upon signs and conventions that are absolutely ludicrous when they are taken out of their original context. Also, it doesn’t hurt that Barry Nelson (a.k.a as Stuart Ullman from Kubrick’s The Shining) plays the lead masterfully—it’s as if you can almost here him waving awkwardly and saying “Goodbye girls!” on closing dayat the Overlook.
It’s a masterpiece of the highest order in my mind and if you haven’t seen it, you can now on YouTube—but act fast because it will be taken down soon if my history with Twilight Zone epsidoes on YouTube is any judge.
A funny thing happened to me when I found this episode on YouTube, I opened up all three episodes simultaneously in separate tabs to make sure they were all there (I was a bit excited and just wanted to be certain)—and as a result of my haste the soundtracks of each of the sections began to overlap and meld into one another. It was actually pretty amazing, the way in which the voices of the two characters in the episode talk over one another yet still keep some odd and very creepy symmetry. And what so cool about it is that it is arbitrary given the fact that someone cut the episode up to fit on YouTube—perhaps using the commercial breaks as cues—but it makes for one of the coolest, unintentionally overlaid audio files ever—what I am calling the “YouTabbed edition.” Don’t believe me? Well, then have a listen and tell me I’m not on to something.
Download “Stopover in a Quiet Town”–The YouTabbed Edition