Looking through Netflix for a gem to reveal to anyone listening, I felt I had to bring a newly appointed favorite episode of bygone television to your attention. The Twilight Zone is one of my all time favorite shows and stands to be one of the greatest shows ever brought to the small screen. The Twilight zone was running nightly on cable by the time I was old enough to appreciate the story telling that Rod Serling compiled for his series that ran from 1959-1964. A plethora of writing and acting talent crossed those small television screens at that time, and it was finally not lost on me. Mr. Serling brought not just a show to television; he made the windows of every household in the American suburbs glow in the dark with his series of short films.
Come Wander With Me, penned by Anthony Wilson is an episode that I really hadn’t seen until a year or so ago. At least it didn’t register back then sitting in my dad’s wood paneled den watching The Twilight Zone on a crappy “color” television. You had to literally beat the side of the TV to make the color appear. Coincidentally that’s the same method used to knock those cursed wavy lines to go straight so the adult station came in. Anywho, as I was now comfortable in my own room running old episodes of The Twilight Zone I started this one up and immediately knew this episode would stay with me forever.
Smug rock-a-billy singer Floyd Burney arrives in a small Appalachian town looking to cop local folk songs on his way down the road and turn into top 20 fodder back home. Entering this rural town Floyd meets a crotchety store owner who refuses Floyd’s smarmy attempts to obtain his songs. He’s like a slightly saner version of that old bastard that warns you not to go to Camp Crystal Lake. Frustrated and determined, Floyd hears a melody wistful and wantonly flowing through the mountain air that he follows until he finds the source in the beautiful siren Mary Rachel.
The tune was written by Jeff Alexander a seasoned composer in Hollywood and sung by Bonnie Beecher, (Mary Rachel) an up and coming actress to be the next big thing, instead shirking the industry, married Wavy Gravy, and disappearing into obscurity… No shit. Jeff Alexander never wrote any other song that sounded like this before or since. It’s truly an anomaly. I have listened to this song routinely since discovering it and it exudes an ethereal, timeless feel that sends waves of nostalgia through you as if you have heard it somewhere once before but have long forgotten.
Oh how powerful a song can be too, as it leads Floyd on his fateful path we are treated to some of the creepiest scenes to grace Twilight Zone history. Floyd is unable to convince Mary to reveal the song to him, until he convinces her that he loves her and promises to take her with him to a finer life. As Floyd and Mary walk along he is confronted by Mary’s typical Appalachian boyfriend. In over his head and forced to fight for her, Floyd ends up killing the man. Now on the run from vengeful kin folk, Mary and her song song progress and we become aware that as the episode unfolds, verse by verse, we are witnessing Floyd’s inevitable end in The Twilight Zone.