A Cherished Inscription for a Grateful Rod Serling Fan

Ever been asked to name a famous individual from history that you’d want to have dinner with? I’m sure you won’t be surprised to learn that Rod Serling tops my list.

Dummy (Serling)

You can imagine the questions I’d have for him. I doubt one meal would give us enough time to cover everything I want to know.

Somewhere on the list of topics would be his opinion of what I do on social media to spotlight his work. Does he like it? Am I presenting it well? What can I do to improve it?

Sadly, of course, I can’t know what he thinks. He’s been gone for over 40 years. But I have something that’s almost as good — a special book with an inscription that always makes me smile. Read the rest of this entry

Serling’s Re-Zoning Efforts: “Time Enough at Last”

How could I not have started my series of posts reviewing Serling’s Twilight Zone adaptations with “Time Enough at Last”?

TimeEnough2

We’re talking about a huge fan favorite — one that is arguably the most well-known episode. It’s also the first non-Serling tale that aired, after seven originals opened the series in the fall of 1959.

I guess I was too intrigued to chronicle what Serling had done to stories by such legendary TZ scribes as Richard Matheson and George Clayton Johnson. His changes there amounted to a complete overhaul. And it was fun to examine the remarkable work he did to bring Damon Knight’s “To Serve Man” to the screen.

TimeEnough7

But before he turned to those scripts, he choose to adapt Lynn Venable’s short story about a poor man who … well, as she put it: Read the rest of this entry

“Hold On … Is That Van Johnson?” A TZ Disc Mystery

Ever look at something a hundred times, and then — on the 101st — notice something odd?

Prime Mover2

That sounds like the set-up to a Twilight Zone episode, I know. Alas, it’s something a bit more mundane. But stick with me for a couple minutes. This little mystery is a quick one.

Recently, I was pulling out the fourth disc of Season 5 from my boxed set of Twilight Zone DVDs, when my eyes fell on the small picture on the back cover next to “Queen of the Nile”. As you can see, there’s a thumbnail pic beside each title and description.

TZ S5 D4 back cover3

Then I took a closer look. Sure enough, there’s Ann Blyth, the star of the episode. She’s next to … wait, that’s not Lee Phillips, her co-star. That’s … Van Johnson? Read the rest of this entry

“Do You Know Why There’s Night All Around Us?”

No sides. Just shock and sadness. It’s time to stop and reflect.

iamthenightcolormeblack4

This quote from Rev. Anderson in Rod Serling’s sobering Season 5 episode, “I Am The Night — Color Me Black”, keeps echoing in my mind: Read the rest of this entry

After the Zone-a-thon IV: More Missing Episodes

We had quite a treat last New Year’s, didn’t we, Twilight Zone fans? Syfy surprised us with an extended marathon of every episode, in order and in high-def. Talk about “what you need.”

What You Need

It did, however, put the kibosh on one of my favorite post-marathon activities: writing a blog post to highlight a few episodes that didn’t make the schedule. But I figured I’d have another chance when the July 4 marathon rolled around … and here we are.

Syfy aired 57 episodes this time out. That’s about a third of the 156 that aired during the show’s run, leaving me 99 to pick from. That’s a daunting task. Many worthy episodes didn’t make the cut. But here are five that I think merit a watch — or rewatch. (Note: I didn’t repeat any picks from my previous “Zone-a-thon” posts.) U.S.-based fans, click on any title to watch the episode on Hulu.

MR. DENTON ON DOOMSDAY

Season 1, Episode 3 – October 16, 1959

denton-on-doomsday2

You don’t have to be a Twilight Zone fanatic to know the fifth dimension is a place where bad things sometimes happen to good people. But it’s also a place where the down and out can catch a much-needed break. Case in point: this early episode, in which a mysterious peddler helps a former gunslinger find a better way to ease his guilty conscience than by drowning it in booze. Is another kill-or-be-killed situation in his future? Not if Rod Serling can help it. Read the rest of this entry

SyFy’s July 4th Twilight Zone Marathon Schedule

When it comes to Twilight Zone marathons, nothing tops New Year’s Eve. The last one was particularly impressive, with Syfy airing an expanded slate: all 156 episodes, in high-definition, in broadcast order.

TZ marathon

But close behind the NYE marathon in popularity is the July 4th one. So here, in case you’re planning some fireworks, a cookout, or some other summer fun, is the schedule for this year’s marathon:

July 3, 2016

11:30pm – A Kind of Stopwatch

July 4, 2016

12:00am – Night Call

12:30am The Changing of the Guard

1:00am – The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms

1:30am – Probe 7 – Over and Out

2:00am – The Last Flight

2:30am – The Little People Read the rest of this entry

Why An “Interactive” TZ Is A Contradiction in Terms

When it comes to Twilight Zone reboots, many fans fall firmly on one side or the other: They either love the idea, or they hate it. As for me … I’m somewhere in the middle.

Twilight_Zone_3

That’s not my natural diplomacy talking. The thought of a new TZ honestly does intrigue me. I want to explore other parts of the fifth dimension. Heck, I want TZ to find new fans!

But as I explained in a previous post, I’m wary. I know what an incredibly tall order such an assignment would be. Success is possible, but it’s quite a long shot.

You can’t just write a bunch of weird stories and call it The Twilight Zone. If what you come up with could just as easily be anything from Alfred Hitchcock Presents to Tales from the Crypt, why even put the TZ label on it (other than to cash in on the name)? Read the rest of this entry

The Man Who Created TZ’s Opening Credits Looks Back

It’s hard enough to classify The Twilight Zone after you’ve seen it. Imagine trying to depict what it’s about before you’ve watched a single episode.

TZ S1 credits 1

That’s the task that fell to Sam Clayberger in 1959. At the time, he was an artist who worked for United Productions of America (UPA), the animation company that CBS hired to do the opening credits for a new TV show hosted by … Rod Serling. Read the rest of this entry

10 More Little-Known Facts About The Twilight Zone

“Where am I? What is this, some kind of a joke or something? I don’t know you. I don’t know any of you!” — TZ’s A World of Difference

worldofdifference6

Such confusion can be fun when we’re enjoying a story from the fifth dimension. After all, reality can be boring … except, of course, when it comes to behind-the-scenes info about The Twilight Zone itself. Not all surprises took place in front of the camera.

You may have seen my other blog post with 10 little-known facts about TZ. (If not, click here.) So how about 10 more? Read the rest of this entry

“A Perfect Twilight Zone Opening”: Matheson’s “A World of Difference”

Rod Serling made a point of saying, even before The Twilight Zone debuted, that he wasn’t interested in settling for “second-best”. And it showed. He hired the best people, then turned them loose on some of the best scripts ever to grace the television medium.

World of Difference5

I focused in a recent post on the world-class directors who made their mark on TZ. It was hardly an exhaustive piece, but that was by design. You could fill a book with all the marvelous touches these talented visual storytellers brought to TZ.

So I focused primarily on James Sheldon’s work on “It’s a Good Life,” hoping to come back from time to time to spotlight other directorial highlights. Well, the recent anniversary of Richard Matheson‘s “A World of Difference” made me think of another: the shot that reveals to the lead character that he’s an actor on a movie set. Read the rest of this entry

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,440 other followers