Twilight Zone Day: Right Idea, Wrong Date

I know a lot of Twilight Zone fans (big surprise, right?), and many of them are excited about the fact that May 11 is “Twilight Zone Day.”

national-twilight-zone-day-may-11

I guess you can tell from that opening that I’m not really one of them, right?

Not that I mind it. How could I? This blog, after all, along with the Twitter page that preceded it, is dedicated to the fifth dimension. I’m always happy for an excuse to fan over what I consider the most entertaining and thought-provoking TV series of all time.

And yet … the May 11 thing kind of annoys me. Read the rest of this entry

Is Black Mirror Truly a Modern Twilight Zone?

You’ve surely gotten the memo by now. As a fan of The Twilight Zone, you’re supposed to be head over heels for Black Mirror.

Over the past few months, I’ve read hundreds of tweets like this. I have a column in TweetDeck for mentions of TZ, and for a while there, hardly a day went by without someone exulting over Black Mirror — which, fans assure us, is a modern-day version of Rod Serling’s classic series.

I wish I could join the chorus. Some people enjoy being contrary, but not me. I’d rather be here telling you it’s genius and you should watch it N-O-W. But I’ve watched the first two seasons, and I can’t. Read the rest of this entry

“Nightmare as a Child”

I recently tweeted a quote from TZ’s “Nightmare as a Child” and got this reply from a follower: “Males didn’t like this one as it had women and children in it — that`s my slightly sweeping theory.”

NightmareAsAChild3

An interesting thought, but I have to admit, I’m not aware of any gender discrepancies when it comes to the popularity of this episode. And plenty of male viewers are big fans of “The Hitch-Hiker” and “The After-Hours,” both of which have female leads.

Many TZs are greatly admired, of course. A few are actively disliked. But there are others that sort of float in the middle, neither loved nor hated. “Nightmare as a Child” is one of them.

I’ve seen a lot of viewer feedback in the four and a half years I’ve been doing my Twitter page, pro and con, and both men and women hardly say a word about it. It almost doesn’t register. Which is a shame, really. It’s a good episode. The story is fairly intriguing, and it ends on a happy note.

Read the rest of this entry

“All The Dachaus Must Remain Standing”

Joe Wilson is 94 years old. Yet he still has nightmares about what he saw 70 years ago today.

On April 29, 1945, Wilson and other members of the U.S. Army’s 45th Infantry Division — which had already endured over 500 days of savage fighting in Sicily, Italy, France and Germany — liberated Dachau, one of the Nazi’s most infamous concentration camps.

Deaths-Head

“Concentration camps.” What a despicable euphemism. They were death factories. They were, simply put, Hell on earth. Just reading about them makes my blood boil. The mind reels to think anyone could willingly inflict such torture and engage in such wholesale slaughter.

Rod Serling had much the same reaction — to put it mildly. And he poured his outrage into one of the most searing episodes of The Twilight Zone ever written: “Deaths-Head Revisited”. It follows the arrival of a former Nazi guard named Lutze (Oscar Beregi) at Dachau in what was then present-day Germany (1961) — only 16 years after the war had ended. Read the rest of this entry

Remembering the “Forgotten” Twilight Zone Writer

Even before The Twilight Zone premiered, Rod Serling said that his new series was one for storytellers. He followed through by recruiting some of the best ones around to contribute their most imaginative work.

Rod Serling - A Piano in the House

Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont, of course, lead the list. But several other noteworthy writers helped define that elusive fifth dimension — including Earl Hamner, Jr. That’s right, the man who would later be writing wholesome, gentle dramas on “The Waltons” broke into TV by spinning tales about deceptive witches, homicidal aliens and sentient automobiles.

In all, Hamner penned eight episodes, nearly all of which can stand alongside other fan favorites. earlhamnerYet his name rarely comes up when people mention their favorite TZ storytellers, leading Tony Albarella, editor of “The Twilight Zone Scripts of Earl Hamner,” to call him “the forgotten Twilight Zone writer.”

As you can see from the list below, it’s high time that changed. The purpose of this post is to ask a simple question: Which Hamner-penned episode is your favorite? Here’s a quick refresher. Click any title to watch the episode on Hulu. You can cast your vote at the bottom. Read the rest of this entry

Everything in Planet of the Apes (1968) Came from These 6 Twilight Zone Episodes

Paul:

I have yet to do a post on “Planet of the Apes,” but I couldn’t help sharing this look at how its plot points can be traced back to six specific Twilight Zone episodes. Spoilers abound, of course, but if you’ve seen them all, it’s an intriguing theory. Enjoy!

Originally posted on Deja Reviewer:

It’s no secret that Rod Serling co-wrote the screenplay to the original Planet of the Apes in 1968. That was four years after his signature TV series, The Twilight Zone, had left the air.

I’ve heard people talk about the social commentary, twist ending, and other general similarities between Serling’s TV series and this feature film. But I’d like to get into the details and show how six episodes of The Twilight Zone seem to have directly inspired just about every aspect of Planet of the Apes.

Let’s get right to it!

View original 931 more words

Serling’s Re-Zoning Efforts: “And When The Sky Was Opened”

Improve on Richard Matheson? Yeah — right, pal. Who do you think you are, Rod Serling?

You are? Well. Carry on, then.

Kidding aside, that’s what Serling did when he bought the rights to Matheson’s short story “Disappearing Act” and adapted it into The Twilight Zone episode “And When The Sky Was Opened.”

And When the Sky Was Opened10

Perhaps “improve” isn’t exactly the right word. The short story works fine as a short story (duh, it’s Richard Freaking Matheson), but as a TV episode, well … something else was needed. And few writers were ever better equipped to supply that “something else” than Rod Serling.

As you may have seen in my previous “Re-Zoning Efforts” post (on “The Four of Us Are Dying“), Serling wasn’t one to simply take a story “as is” and put it on screen. It wasn’t unusual for him to start with the basic idea and completely recast it. Read the rest of this entry

Spock Meets Serling: Remembering Leonard Nimoy

When the sad news of Leonard Nimoy’s death broke last week, images of Spock were everywhere. And why not? Everybody’s favorite Vulcan is one of the most beloved characters in television history.

Spock

But as the custodian of “Shadow & Substance,” I couldn’t help but think of Nimoy’s work in the Serling-verse.

There wasn’t much, alas. The Twilight Zone preceded his break-out role in Star Trek by a few years. But if you’ve ever seen the Season 3 war-themed episode “A Quality of Mercy,” you may have recognized the actor playing Hansen, one of the American soldiers.

“I was only in that briefly, but my memory of it is [working with] Dean Stockwell and Albert Salmi,” Nimoy later recalled. “We were in a war-time situation, and it was a kind of fantasy story, which isn’t a common combination. It was a good episode.” Read the rest of this entry

Moving Away From “The Midnight Sun”

If you’re reading this from anywhere in North America, I don’t have to tell you it’s beyond cold right now.

We’re talking ARCTIC. Record low temperatures are being broken all over. It makes me think of The Twilight Zone‘s “The Midnight Sun.”

The Midnight Sun Title Card

Oh, no — not the main story. That’s something to quote in July or August. I’m talking about the ending — one of the most legendary twists in TZ history.

Well, no point just sitting here being cold. Why pass up an ideal moment to quote the perfect scene for an insanely chilly day?

Try this link if you’ve never seen the episode, but otherwise join me as we look in on Norma, Mrs. Bronson (her landlady), and a doctor on a very cold and snowy night … Read the rest of this entry

Exploring “Morality’s Shady Side of the Street”

Sixty years ago today, the Kraft Television Theatre aired a repeat of Rod Serling’s teleplay “Patterns.” As a Twilight Zone fan, why should you care?

Patterns5

Everett Sloane, who would later star in TZ’s “The Fever,” plays no-nonsense boss Walter Ramsey.

After all, this was four and a half years before TZ hit the air. And the program in question had nothing to do with aliens, time travel, or any of the other fantasy elements that made that classic series so famous. It was a straight drama. Yawn, right?

Not so fast. A few important factors make “Patterns” worth a second look, especially for Twilight Zone fans.

One is that it turned Serling into the proverbial “overnight success.” Without it, it’s fair to question if he’d have gained the clout to launch a certain foray into the fifth dimension. Read the rest of this entry

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