We couldn’t think of two more totally different binges than this weekend’s competing over-the-air marathons of The New Twilight Zone (Decades) and The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (Antenna TV).
The New Twilight Zone (aka just The Twilight Zone), Decades, noon ET Saturday to 7 am ET Monday
Decades will air 86 episodes over its 43-hour binge, despite only 65 episodes being produced during the revival’s 1985-1986 run (first two seasons on CBS , final season syndicated). That’s made possible by dividing some of the hour-long episodes from the first season, after which the series ran mostly half-hour episodes.
Decades points to the following episodes as particularly noteworthy:
The very first episode, “Shatterday” (Saturday, noon), which features a pre-Moonlighting Bruce Willis as a man who accidentally dials his own phone number, which is answered by his alter ego. It was directed by Wes Craven (A Nightmare on Elm Street, Scream) and based on a Harlan Ellison story.
“Nightcrawlers” (Saturday, 3 pm), directed by William Friedkin, Oscar winner for 1971’s The French Connection and nominee for 1973’s The Exorcist. A Vietnam veteran shares his nightmares with the patrons of an all-night diner.
“The Shadow Man” (Saturday, 8:30 pm), directed by Joe Dante (Gremlins, The Howling). An entity made of darkness defends a boy in exchange for being allowed to stay under his bed.
“Gramma” (Sunday, 3:30 am), based on a short story by Stephen King and written by Harlan Ellison. A young boy is convinced his ailing grandmother is really a monster.
“The Night of the Meek” (Saturday, 11 pm), a remake from the original series with Richard Mulligan (Empty Nest, Soap) taking the Art Carney role of a drunk, out-of-work department store Santa Claus who finds a magic gift-giving bag.
Decades also cites “The Once and Future King,” one of several episodes penned by George R. R. Martin (Game of Thrones). It’s about an Elvis impersonator transported back to Elvis’ time after an accident.This episode is not on this weekend’s schedule, but you can watch it right here:
In addition, the Grateful Dead provided The New Twilight Zone’s theme song and soundtrack music.
The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show (aka The Burns and Allen Show or just Burns and Allen), Antenna TV, 10 am ET Saturday to 9 pm ET Sunday
This coming Monday, October 12, marks the 70th anniversary of the premiere of Burns and Allen. To celebrate, Antenna TV will air this 35-hour, 70-episode marathon.
The sitcom originally ran for eight seasons and 291 half-hour episodes on CBS from 1950 to 1958. It won four Emmy Awards as best comedy series, with zany Gracie Allen picking up five Emmys as best actress, and Bea Benaderet (later to star in Petticoat Junction) two Emmys for Supporting Actress.
Antenna TV this weekend will air episodes from all seasons except the first two, which are in the public domain. So here’s an unaired pilot film, which served sort of as a dress rehearsal for the live airing of the first episode of the actual series, which follows it below. One of the most obvious differences between the two is real sponsor Carnation Evaporated Milk replacing the fictional (we think) Dr. Wilson’s Toothpaste in commercials built right into the script.
And here’s the only Burns and Allen episode that originally aired in color. It’s the opening episode of season five, from 1954:
Burns and Allen is also on Antenna TV’s regular schedule, with two episodes running weekdays at 8 am and Saturday night/Sunday morning at 1 am.
Forget what we said at the beginning about this weekend’s two marathons having nothing in common. After watching the episodes above, we’re convinced that anyone who got into a conversation with Gracie Allen was thrust into his or her own version of The Twilight Zone.
How to Watch The New Twilight Zone and The George Burns and Gracie Allen Show
If you don’t subscribe to cable, satellite or telco TV, you can watch Decades and/or Antenna TV for free by using an antenna hooked up to your TV set,.
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