Monthly Archives: March 2015

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

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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