A few posts ago I mentioned one of my favorite Christmas movies, "National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation." Here is a Christmas program that might be a little more obscure.
"The Night of the Meek" (December, 1960) episode of the American anthology series The Twilight Zone.
For those of you who are familiar with The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling always came on with a brilliant open and close to each episode. Here is Serling's open for "The Night of the Meek":
This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely popular American institution, that of the department-store Santa Claus in a road-company version of 'The Night Before Christmas'. But in just a moment Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found... in the Twilight Zone.
Art Carney is absolutely magnificent as a drunk and dejected Henry Corwin. Having been fired from his Santa job, he stumbles aimlessly into an alley. There Corwin sees a large, cloth garbage bag which seems to have the ability of containing any item that's asked of it. Bathed with the spirit of Christmas, Corwin proceeds to hand out gift-wrapped presents to all the poor children and needy.
The entire episode is shear Christmas magic that can only be found in the Twilight Zone and in Rod Serling’s imagination. I have always loved Rod Serling’s genius.
Ancient history: Sir Hook and I first met while working at the local NBC Television affiliate (WFIE Channel 14). One project we took on was to play characters in the Weekend Midnight Movie program. Basically, we aired some of the worst horror flicks of all time; trying to spice them up a little bit with a locally produced open, bumps, and close – each more ridiculous than the movie itself. Sir Hook played the role of one “Dr. Meathook” and I attempted my best Rod Serling imitation in the role of “Dr. D. Bowie” Kuhn.”
The enclosed photo is Dr. D Bowie Kuhn (yes, that’s a real beard) in the winter of 1980/81.
We were stars in our own minds.
Each weekend, I'd buy copious amounts of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer, Pizza King Stroms, and head over to any friend’s house who was brave enough to watch the painfully bad movie and worse acting (speaking only for myself; Hook was always brilliant). Still, it was some of the most fun I’ve ever had, and I'm sure it was a treat for the 10s of people who stayed up late watching it (remember, this was pre-cable and satellite days).
I’ll conclude this little rambling as Serling concluded the episode of “The Night of the Meek”:
“A word to the wise to all the children of the [twentieth] century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There's a wondrous magic to Christmas and there's a special power reserved for little people. In short, there's nothing mightier than the meek.”
May we each find our own magic bag of gift giving this holiday season.
May we each enjoy our own Knight of the Meek.
Sir “Dr. D. Bowie Kuhn” of Greenbriar.
"No one could know Serling, or view or read his work, without recognizing his deep affection for humanity ... and his determination to enlarge our horizons by giving us a better understanding of ourselves." —Gene Roddenberry