Monthly Archives: February 2020

Breaking “The Silence”: Serling Almost Ended This Episode Very Differently

If you’ve never seen Twilight Zone‘s “The Silence”, this post isn’t for you. At least not yet. Seriously, go check it out and come back. You’ll be glad you did.

But if you’re among those who have watched this Season 2 episode and enjoyed the double-twist ending, read on. It may surprise you to learn that Rod Serling made one significant change to his initial script before the story was filmed.

To be specific, Jamie Tennyson (Liam Sullivan) — the overly talkative club member who agrees to stay silent for a year to win a half-million-dollar wager — wasn’t going to survive.

Worse, his demise was set to occur on the last day of his incarceration, less than an hour before his release. Talk about a killer ending.

No, he wasn’t murdered. Not directly, anyway. In this initial version, Tennyson had been subjected to a campaign of abuse from Archie Taylor (Franchot Tone), the club member who proposed the bet. And this abuse went beyond the rumor-mongering and trash-talking we see in the episode. At one point, Taylor jacks up the thermostat in the prisoner’s glass cell, causing the temperature to soar. He even tries to poison Tennyson’s food. Read the rest of this entry

Creating the Look of Another Dimension in TZ’s “Little Girl Lost”

Anyone who’s read a book or a short story by Richard Matheson can tell you: The man knew how to write.

He didn’t need flashy dialogue or over-the-top descriptions to pull you into another world. A few strokes of his lean prose was all it took. Whether the setting was a dusty saloon in the old West or a far-flung planet in another galaxy, you could easily see it in your mind’s eye.

But when it comes to TV and movies, a writer can’t count on his words alone to transport you. He has to rely on actors, directors, and set designers.

Fortunately, when it came to The Twilight Zone, Matheson was in good hands — “television’s elite”, in Rod Serling’s words. Take Season 3’s “Little Girl Lost”.

Read the rest of this entry

The Unknown Actor Who Appeared in More Twilight Zones Than Anyone Else

He acted in more Twilight Zone episodes than anyone other than Rod Serling himself.* Eight, to be specific — twice as many as Zone veterans Jack Klugman and Burgess Meredith. Yet hardly anyone remembers his name.

I’m talking about Jay Overholts. If you’ve never heard of him, don’t feel bad. He always assumed bit parts, often with little dialogue. But you’ve definitely seen Jay.

Remember the doctor in “One for the Angels”, the one who tells Lew about Maggie’s condition? That was him.

Or the taxi driver in “The Jungle”, who simply drops dead at a stoplight for no apparent reason? Jay again.

Or the ambulance driver at the end of “A Thing about Machines”, talking to the policeman about why Bartlett Finchley wound up dead at the bottom of his own swimming pool? You guessed it. Read the rest of this entry

Kirk Douglas: Spartacus Meets Serling

You can tell I’m a Serling fan. The first thing I thought of when I heard that Kirk Douglas had died wasn’t “Spartacus”, “Gunfight at the O.K. Corral” or “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea”, as excellent as those films are. It was “Seven Days in May”.

The 1964 political thriller, about an attempted military takeover of the United States, isn’t as well-known as those other titles. But it has something they don’t: a script by Rod Serling.

I’ve been meaning to write a review of “Seven Days in May” for a while now. “Saddle the Wind” is the only feature film of Serling’s that I’ve blogged about so far, so I’ll have to put “Seven Days in May” on my short list and do it soon.

In the meantime, though, I wanted to highlight a completely different film of Douglas’s — one that has a personal connection for me, as well as ties to The Twilight Zone. It’s called “The Big Sky”. Read the rest of this entry