A high-paying job at a prestigious firm. An expensive home in a nice part of town. A wife dressed in the latest fashions.
Gart Williams has it all. Yet he’s miserable. Why? Take a closer look.
The job comes with a boss who whips him like a racehorse and berates him in front of others. The home is filled with fancy belongings he couldn’t care less about. The wife loves only his paycheck and belittles him at every turn.
Small wonder that Gart Williams, the main character in The Twilight Zone’s “A Stop at Willoughby,” stirs up so much sympathy. His plight is a universal one. Anyone can understand his desire to escape such a miserable existence.
We’re rooting for Gart, and ultimately ourselves, when Rod Serling, in a script filled with poignant and lyrical touches, asks the ultimate question: How do you escape when you have nowhere to go? Read the rest of this entry
A man walks into a small-town diner with his wife to have lunch while they wait for their car to be repaired. The napkin-holder features a small devil’s head and a pack of fortune-telling cards. For one penny, you can get an answer to a yes-or-no question. He puts in a coin …
A man boards an airplane with his wife. He’s on his way home after recovering from a mental breakdown. The plane takes off into a bad storm. While she tries to get some sleep, he looks out the window and sees … a man on the wing?
Two iconic episodes of The Twilight Zone. One actor. Fellow TZ fans, whether you were first introduced to him as Don Carter or as Bob Wilson, you know him better as: William Shatner.
I’m here, though, not merely to praise the then-future captain of the U.S.S. Enterprise. No, I’m here to ask the impossible. I want you to select your favorite Shatner TZ. That’s tough when you have not one, but two appealing performances to judge. Read the rest of this entry
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There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge.
“The place is Heaven. The time is now. And the pool game we’re about to witness will take place between two gifted performers who once starred in a classic episode … of the Twilight Zone.”
It’s not hard to imagine, is it?
Yes, the news that Jonathan Winters died today can’t help but make us feel a little sad. A man who brought laughter to millions has told his last joke. That it comes so soon after the death of Jack Klugman, his co-star in “A Game of Pool”, only magnifies our sense of loss.
But as my TZ-like opening suggests, maybe the show isn’t over. Perhaps Winters is sharing stories right now with many of the talented actors and actresses that he worked with over the years. Seeing him on a billowing cloud at the start of his Twilight Zone episode suddenly seems more fitting than ever. Read the rest of this entry
Say you want to age 2,000 years in two minutes. What’s the best way to do it?
There are two different ways:
1) Take the approach used by the title character in The Twilight Zone’s” Long Live Walter Jameson”. Find an alchemist, pay him to experiment on you, and wake up to discover that you are, in fact, immortal. Then survive without an accident for two millennia. Sure, it takes a degree of luck normally reserved for mega-jackpot winners, but it’s possible.
2) Use the relatively simple make-up technique that William Tuttle used on actor Kevin McCarthy to create the illusion that Mr. Jameson was beginning to turn to dust before our eyes. Read the rest of this entry
It’s been 40 years since the last painting was hung in the darkened display known as Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. But for those who enjoy a good campfire story — something light on gore and heavy on shivers — the doors have never closed. The cobwebbed corridors still beckon.
But be careful. You never know who might be looking over your shoulder.
So let’s take a look around. Alas, Mr. Serling can’t be here, so I hope you don’t mind if I serve as your tour guide today. I’d like to show you some of my favorites. Read the rest of this entry
Think of the TV shows you watch. You enjoy them, of course, or you wouldn’t tune in. But how many of them will last? Will any be finding new audiences decades from now?
Sounds laughable, for the most part. With few exceptions, the shows we select are the diversion of the moment. Enjoyable, sure. Informative, maybe. But something that will stand the test of time? Hardly. (Unless you anticipate New Year’s Eve marathons of Big Brother and Jersey Shore.)
Yet The Twilight Zone has been doing just that for over 50 years now. Indeed, it became more popular in reruns than it was in its original run. The question is, how? Why does it endure while others fall by the wayside?
Regular readers of this blog have heard me ponder this before, and as a TZ fan, I suppose I’ll always be trying to get to the bottom of it. But something that Rod Serling wrote in the April 1960 issue of TV-Radio Mirror (the show was then only in its first season) gives us a big clue: Read the rest of this entry
We’ve all heard about weddings that didn’t go off as planned. Funerals, however, tend to be far more predictable.
Unless, of course, they happen in the Twilight Zone.
Fifty-one years ago today, Rod Serling brought us the tale of a man who decided to cheat the undertaker in the most dramatic way possible. He opened the lid of his coffin even as the preacher was eulogizing him. The astonished congregation couldn’t have fled the premises more quickly if Satan himself had turned up to demand equal time.
So begins “The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank,” an entertainingly offbeat story set in the midwest of the 1920s. It was written and directed by Montgomery Pittman, who had already — appropriately enough — given us the TZ classic “The Grave.”
You might expect a story that centers on someone coming back from the dead to be serious or macabre. But this is the Twilight Zone, of course, so the usual rules don’t apply. Pittman surprises us with a lightly comic tone that deals not with the mechanics of an unscheduled resurrection, but how people react to it. Read the rest of this entry
Think of The Twilight Zone, and the word “romance” hardly leaps to mind. The home of malevolent dolls, hostile aliens and unpredictable time travel seems an unlikely place to make a love connection, right?
Not necessarily. Go a little deeper, and you find all kinds of flirtation in the fifth dimension. You just have to know where to look.
Leave it to me and Wendy, a.k.a. “Gal Friday,” to do the looking for you. Beginning on Feb. 1, we did our own daily countdown to Valentine’s Day with tweets that we hashtagged #BeMyTZValentine. The idea was to take a TZ episode and dream up a little date for the couple that starred in it.
My policy is always “ladies first,” so Wendy started us off and took all the odd-numbered dates, while I took the even-numbered ones. Here’s what we came up with, with the episode name in parentheses:
Feb. 1: Don loads the Mystic Seer with his own special fortunes for Pat. “Does he love me?” Fortune: ~More than life itself~ (Nick of Time)
Feb. 2: Gregory uses his dictation machine to create a candlelit dinner for him and Mary, complete with flowers and a fire. (A World of His Own) Read the rest of this entry
I might as well be upfront about it. This isn’t the usual post. I’m not here to highlight some behind-the-scenes details about the filming of a Twilight Zone, or to drill down into some little-noticed aspect of Rod Serling’s work.
Nope. I’m here to brag.
Many of you know that months before I started this blog, I was hosting what I immodestly call “the ultimate marathon” on Twitter. It began as a whim. My goal was simple: to create more awareness of the Twilight Zone’s underappreciated step brother: Rod Serling’s Night Gallery, a horror/suspense series that ran for three seasons on NBC in the early 1970s.
Before long, though, I found it impossible to ignore Serling’s other works — books, teleplays, movies, and a little thing called The Twilight Zone. Read the rest of this entry