I knew going in that “The Obsolete Man” was probably going to be a little over our six year-old’s head. I also knew the blasted kid would fail to recognize Burgess Meredith yet again, and I was right. Rod Serling’s story is a warning about a totalitarian state which, having proved that God does not exist and books are unnecessary, has begun a long purge of citizens who do not contribute to society. Librarians like Meredith’s character are in line to be “liquidated,” leading to a war of nerves between Meredith’s character and a State chancellor played by Fritz Weaver.
The concept was a bit heady for him, although drawing a comparison to the original film of Logan’s Run, which, honestly by chance, he rewatched just a couple of days ago, helped him understand that this is one of those stark and awful futures where the government decides who lives and dies and the people just go along with it. He was still a little thrown by the visuals, though. The librarian’s apartment is handled simply enough, but the State office is a minimalist nightmare with a towering podium. It is designed and lit like something from German expressionist cinema; the citizens who pass judgement on their fellows’ obsolescence move like dancers hired for an experimental theater production. It’s very exciting to see something that looks so thunderously strange and written with such anger and passion shown on a major network.
I was very pleased to hear him quizzing his mommy about what he’d seen. They had a good discussion about the value of people. This was a very worthwhile half-hour.
That’s all from the second season of The Twilight Zone, but stay tuned! We’ll be looking at some highlights from season three in March.