Monday, December 28, 2015

Cult-TV Theme Watch: Snow


Snow is precipitation consisting of granular ice particles, and also the fondest hope (at least on school days) of every child.  

In winter-time in America, snow is a fact of life, yet it is not only a weather condition that can cancel class, but a beautiful thing too. My street, here in Mint Hill, N.C, looks gorgeous the morning after a night of snow.

Of course, shoveling my drive-way clear of snow is still a pain in the you-know-what.

Snow has been a major plot-point in cult-TV series throughout history.  

In The Twilight Zone (1959-1964), for instance, it was the punch-line of an unforgettable episode, "The Midnight Sun."  

There, the audience was led to believe that the Earth was plummeting towards its star, causing a heat wave. By episode's end, however, the truth was known: the Earth was headed the opposite way...into deep space and permanent winter. That winter was heralded, in part, by endless snow fall.

My favorite example of snow in cult-television, however, comes from another Rod Serling series: Night Gallery (1969-1973). 

An installment of that horror anthology, "Silent Snow, Secret Snow," concerns a boy who can't escape his daydreams and perpetual visions of ice and snow. The episode relates these frozen visions or fantasies to a mental state not unlike autism. The child grows colder and colder, frozen in the snow, unmoved and unaffected by those around him.  Finally, the blizzard is so powerful, the boy can no longer communicate with the outside or real world.

The idea of an entire planet blanketed in slow is also a popular one in television history, well before Hoth was a central location in The Empire Strikes Back (1980).

In the original Star Trek (1966-1969), for instance, Spock (Leonard Nimoy) time-traveled with Dr. McCoy (DeForest Kelley) to the ice age of Sarpeidon in the episode "All Our Yesterdays."

In Space:1999's (1975-1977) "Death's Other Dominion," the Alphans land on Ultima Thule in an Eagle and Dr. Russell (Barbara Bain), Victor Bergman (Barry Morse), and Commander Koenig (Martin Landau) are enveloped in a fierce snow blizzard almost instantly.

"Gun on Ice Planet Zero," similarly finds the Colonials of Battlestar Galactica (1979-1980) engulfed in unending snow, forced to traverse the treacherous landscape and weather patterns to stop a Cylon laser cannon.

In other cult-TV series, snow may represent a catharsis or "cleansing."  

For instance, in the third season Buffy the Vampire Slayer (1997 - 2003) episode "Amends," snow miraculously falls in Southern California, in Sunnydale, after Buffy (Sarah Michelle Gellar) has helped Angel (David Boreanaz) deal with a life-time of guilt (and defeat an enemy called The First Evil.)

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