Unlike The TWILIGHT ZONE series, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE has not succumbed to evolution yet. I don’t know what goes into studios green lighting a re-make, but TFTD and its genre kin, OUTER LIMITS remain untouched and still deliver the psychological goal.
Every episode opens with a solemn-voiced gentleman stating, “Man lives in a sunlit world of what he believes to be reality. But, there is unseen by most an underworld. A place that is just as real but not as brightly lit; a dark side.” Ominous music then leads the viewer into a new episode. Each tale has a moral ending and oftentimes leaves the viewer in thought.
“Going Native,” season 4, episode 17, was directed by Andrew Weiner, co-written By Andrew Weiner & Theodore Gershuny, and originally aired June 19, 1988. The episode description reads, “An alien is sent to Earth to study human behavior and while at first finding it strange, they soon begin to understand humanity.”
What does it mean to be human? It’s a great question and one that is taken to task in this episode. The protagonist visitor/alien is a beautiful blonde-haired white woman. She is on a mission to study us and report her findings to her home planet. She is a Photographer and she is also a member of an emotional support group. It is within the support group that she experiences a breakthrough in her study and concludes two things:
- Humans hate to be alone
- To be human means solidarity.
What the? And how profoundly correct.
I have long been a fan of TFTD, and upon revisiting this episode as an adult, I realize that I am also a fan of Andrew Weiner. What a genius way to broach understanding what it means to be human. Our entire existence is a conflict.
Humans hate to be alone, but “the human experience” is an individual’s journey. We love phrases like “Me, myself, and I,” and it’s always okay to say, “Leave me alone,” if need be. We also like being grouped into a family, school, relationship, or club. And no matter how committed we are to a group, we retain our individuality and can respectively play the “lone card” at any time. People want to “marry and become one” but don’t want to lose themselves in the pairing.
What do you think about season 4, episode 17, GOING NATIVE, and the human experience? What do you think about otherworldly visitors living among us and studying our every move? The show’s call to action resounds. Personally, I slipped into full thought on the human collective experience… So entranced, that I am up at 3am to run it by you.
To struggle to define what it means to be human remains a human challenge. I implore you to not be in the dark about it. Give it some thought during the day and our nights won’t be so dark.
At the close of every show the narrator reminds us that, “The dark side is always there waiting for us to enter – waiting to enter us. Until next time, try to enjoy the daylight.”
It’s wise advice. Take it.