Spawning from season number three of the original “The Twilight Zone” television show, it’s 75th episode “The Midnight Sun” first aired on November 17, 1961, and now broadcasts into syndication oblivion as a low-boil favorite. This episode may not be one of the series’ “classics,” but people always seem to remember it well. The premise concerns an unwelcome “end of the world” scenario and, as usual for the show, just one tight-knit enclosure of individuals is all we see amidst the premise - how they choose to deal with it and each other is how the story is told. What is the particular apocalypse that’s the Earth’s curtain call? Heat. …heat, heat, heat, heat! Overwhelming, relentless, draining, zombifying, dehydrating, sickening, sodden, flies-in-your-brain, horrible HEAT. The planet has somehow been knocked out of it’s elliptical orbit and is in a warped loop, slowly spiraling closer into the sun with each passing day. As the glaring daylight switches over to 24 hours and all systems fail, the city has all but evacuated - with a lone radio in a sweltering apartment warning of criminals and looters taking over. But brave/crazy tenant Norma (Lois Nettleton) and her landlady Mrs. Bronson (Betty Garde) have decided to hole up in that apartment high-rise amidst the swelter (oh God, no!), stay put and hope for the best. As the galactic annihilation roars unseen right outside the front door of their living room - they keep it shut and try in vain to maintain the sense of normalcy that existed before “it” arrived (’it’ being the supernatural conflict seeded into every story by Rod Serling, always well underway before opening credits). And what city are we in? Where do the characters in this heat-wave live? Why the unthinkably sauna-tastic corridors and heaving steam silos of hot weather New York City (horrors!) So, expectedly,during the episode Norma and Mrs. Bronson path doomed time by bitching and picking at each other, interrupted by brief moments of illusionary hope while tending to their hobbies (Norma’s an artist!) and we watch The Greatest City In The World lead all of mankind to fry into a screaming dust ball while on a path to Hell (isn’t every August here like that?) Anyone who’s wondering: in late-summer the city that’s The World’s Dream Factory often turns into The World’s Sweatshop. This particular episode of the show, written by Serling and directed by Anton Leader, is a bit low on the ironical metaphysics - but high on the manipulative atmosphere. The characters are almost never not shown in greasy, grimy perspiration …webby hair and sinewy faces alternately stringy and stressed, wringing out wet sweat rags and shouting and pleading with each other amongst echo-y walls of warping plaster - terrified rats trapped in an impending microwave (regular cutaway shots of a giant sizzling sun outside the window add to the episode’s waxing flame bloom). After an intruder breaks in to provide the gals with some bad company (Serling’s original script also contained a droll scene with a visiting refrigerator repairman), more breeze-less agony ensues, and Norma keeps walking into another room to paint a canvas and try and take her boiling gray matter off of hot death. But when the water has run out, the landlady finally kicks it and the murderous heat inside the apartment causes the thermometer to explode. Hearing the live radio weatherman go nutziod shouty-crackers on the air about the world boiling alive, Norma screams and looks over at her painting to see the pretty landscape collapsing into abstraction as the paint literally melts and pours right off the canvas. She collapses on the floor (cue warbly, downward blurring camera filter) as the world fluxes into a ball of lava. The end of everything. Then… cut to - what’s this? A NYC-scape covered in ice, howling wind and snow? The inside of Norma’s apartment, with her in a bed covered in a blanket, running a fever and attended by the Mrs. Bronson and a doctor? The episode’s “reveal” delivers the punch-line: the Earth had actually been knocked out of it’s elliptical orbit away from the sun, and is slowly locking itself into a permanent ice age. The Earth is actually freezing. The whole horrible urban summertime misery thing was just in Norma’s feaver-y head, to distract her from the death chill; a hallucinatory dream oasis where she fantasized dropping dead from sweating it out in a tiny hot apartment while conceiving kinetic art paintings, quarreling with her landlady, listening to screaming radio DJs, battling psychotic muggers and bitching about the torrid concrete oven of NYC. Ahhhhh….