In a small town, a man by the name of Jagger is about to be executed after being found guilty of murder. The local newspaperman, Colbey, is convinced that Jagger is innocent. He accuses Deputy Pierce of having perjured himself to get a conviction and accuses Sheriff Charlie Koch of just plain laziness in investigating the case. As the morning of his execution arrives, the townsfolk realize that the sun hasn't risen that day. They soon begin to understand the cause of the darkness that surrounds them.Written by
This episode takes place on May 25, 1964. See more »
When the clock is shown at 7:30, the clock tolls the "full hour" Westminster chime, rather than the 1/2 - hour chime. See more »
You seen the light, Reverend. You really seen the light.
[turns to crowd]
Have any of you?
In all this darkness, is there anybody who can make out the truth? He hated, and he killed, and now he dies. And you hated, you killed, and now there's not one of you... Not one of you who isn't doomed. Do you know why it's dark? Do you know why it is night all around us? Do you know what the blackness is? It's the hate he felt, the hate you felt, the hate all of us feel, and there's too much of ...
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I Am The Night--Color Me Black is a late fifth season entry of The Twilight Zone, written by Rod Serling, it's one of the many episodes of the series that not only channels the spirit of its time but comments on it. Written shortly after President Kennedy's assassination late in the previous year, and aired in early 1964, the story revolves around the issue of whether a man, guilty of murder, scheduled to be hanged, should be, as the man he killed was universally despised in the community; with the additional issue of the fact that the sun didn't raise that morning, the entire town being in pitch darkness, and what the meaning of all this is to the various characters in the story, notably the sheriff, his deputy,a newspaper editor and a minister, with the last named being black and yet his race not being mentioned as in itself an issue.
The entire episode plays like a nightmare from which one cannot awake, and as I ponder the matter it's consistent with many entries in the series in which people are trapped by circumstances beyond their control, which they do not, indeed cannot, understand, and how they respond to it. This was the case in the first episode broadcast in the series, and here, five years later, the theme is being reworked once again. In I Am The Night the predicament is more overtly symbolic than usual, as the nation was itself still reeling in the darkness of mourning over the death of its president, and in this rare instance author Rod Serling's lack of subtlety as a writer actually works in his favor, as he was the right man for the job of commenting on the malaise the country was in back then, and his straightforward approach to the issue feels now, even more than when this episode was initially shown, the right one for that time, in that moment.
To call I Am The Night--Color Me Black a time capsule would be an insult to all involved in the making of the episode. Even the more neutral snapshot doesn't feel quite right, either. It's too good for that, too powerful. Also, in its deliberate, unsophisticated aspects, in Serling's refusal to cater to the more educated viewer, its daring qualities, are all the more admirable more than a half-century since it was first broadcast.
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