Matheson: In the Zone
Out of the 156 episodes of The Twilight Zone‘s original run, Rod Serling wrote a staggering 92 scripts. But even a prolific genius like him couldn’t write them all.
So over the course of the show’s five-year run, he turned to several talented writers whose imaginative stories helped explore some of the most fascinating corners of the fifth dimension.
The gremlin on the wing? Matheson. The devil’s-head fortune-teller? Matheson. Agnes Moorehead trying to fend off two tiny home invaders from another planet? Matheson. Two guys trying to patch up a broken-down robot boxer? You guessed it.
He also contributed some of TZ’s most well-known lighter moments. If you’ve enjoyed seeing Keenan Wynn “wink out” Serling at the end of “A World of His Own,” you have him to thank. Or if you’ve chuckled at Buster Keaton racing through a back alley, clad in his underwear and a time-travel helmet, you-know-who is responsible.
He penned 14 episodes in all (plus two more, if you count two stories that Serling himself adapted), and in the process left an indelible mark on popular culture. And that’s to say nothing of his many books, movies and other TV shows.
Assessing his impact would take a separate post. For now, I want to ask a simple question: Which one of Matheson’s baker’s-dozen-plus-one TZs is your favorite?
(Not familiar with the episode names? Check this list on blastr.com.)
UPDATE (June 27, 11:30 a.m.): The Mystic Seer, a little girl wandering in a modern-day Wonderland, a telephoning corpse, and those two intrepid “aliens” from Earth put up a valiant fight, but in the end they couldn’t match the popularity of everybody’s favorite wing-walker from … say, where DID that creature come from?
No matter. The fans have spoken: “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”, with 26 percent of the vote, is the most popular Richard Matheson TZ episode! “Nick of Time” takes the silver medal with 17 percent of the vote. “The Invaders”, “Little Girl Lost”, and “Night Call” (12 percent) tied for the bronze.
All the remaining episodes (except “A World of Difference,” which really surprises me) managed to cop at least one vote. Thanks to all who voted!
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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!