Author Archives: Paul
We’re Getting Closer to Having a Statue of Rod Serling in His Hometown — and You Can Help
What does Rod Serling mean to you?
Perhaps you’re a writer who finds his work inspiring. In fact, you may have even started writing in the first place because of Rod Serling. A lot of people who follow my Serling Twitter page tell me that.
Maybe you’re an actor or a producer whose imagination was sparked by The Twilight Zone, and your career path was lighted years ago by the man who penned such classics as “The Midnight Sun,” “Eye of the Beholder,” and “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,” to name only a few of his many beloved scripts.
Or, like so many others, you simply enjoy science fiction and fantasy, and you can trace your love of the genre back to watching the Zone.
Whatever your particular circumstances, we share that bond: a love of Serling’s work, and a deep and abiding respect and admiration for the man himself. So let me ask you: Do you think he deserves to have a statue dedicated to him in his hometown of Binghamton, NY, home of the carousel that we see in “Walking Distance”?
I’m sure every Serling fan would agree that he merits such an honor. Well, I’m glad to say an effort to get such a statue made is underway now — and you can help.Read the rest of this entry
Can You Recall Which Twilight Zone Episodes Had a Mid-Point Narration?
For many Twilight Zone fans, Rod Serling’s narrations are the highlight of every episode. He’ll step in, usually after a short introductory scene, to enlighten us about the characters and hint at what lies ahead. Then he’ll return at the end and deliver a wry commentary on what we’ve just seen.
But on four occasions — three times in Season 1, and one time in Season 3 — he talks to us briefly before the episode concludes. Let’s take a quick look at these narrations and see what they tell us.
Season 1, Episode 5
October 30, 1959
“Everyone thinks [The Twilight Zone] is a scary show, but it’s actually a beautiful show,” filmmaker J.J. Abrams once said. Although this quote covers the series as a whole, it clearly applies to “Walking Distance,” which Abrams singled out for praise on other occasions.
Serling’s penchant for nostalgia is on full display in this moving story about Martin Sloane, a corporate man run ragged by his high-pressure job. Badly in need of rest and a change of perspective, he makes an impulse visit to his hometown, only to find that everything is just as it was when he was growing up.Read the rest of this entry
Syfy’s 2022-2023 New Year’s Twilight Zone Marathon Schedule
Sure, it’s loaded with commercials. Yes, the episodes are edited, sometimes rather ham-handedly. And no one can deny they look better either streaming or on disc.
But for all of its obvious drawbacks, Syfy’s New Year’s Twilight Zone marathon is an annual fixture for a lot of fans — and tradition must be honored! (Besides, there still are some pros to watching TZ this way, as I list in this post.)
So without further ado, here’s the full schedule for you to bookmark and share, with a short list of pros and cons at the end. If you can’t get Syfy, or you’d rather watch some or all of it via streaming or disc on your own, you can use this to follow along as I live-tweet this soirée. So let’s see what we’ll be watching as we say goodbye to 2022 and hello to 2023:
December 31, 2022
5:00am – A Nice Place to Visit
5:30am – The Chaser
6:00am – The Bard
7:00am – The Long Morrow
7:30am – Mr. Garrity and the Graves
8:00am – The Trade-Ins
8:30am – Hocus-Pocus and Frisby
9:00am – Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
9:30am – A Kind of Stopwatch
10:00am – I Am the Night – Color Me Black
10:30am – The Changing of the Guard
11:00am – The Odyssey of Flight 33
11:30am – The ShelterRead the rest of this entry
Twilight Zone’s “Number 12 Looks Just Like You”: Debating the Ending of a Season 5 Classic
You’d expect Twilight Zone fans to disagree over which episodes are best. Tastes can vary widely in the fifth dimension. But sometimes we can’t even agree on what happened in the stories themselves.
For example, in Season 4’s “The New Exhibit,” who committed the murders, Martin or the wax figures? In Season 1’s “A World of Difference,” what’s the true identity of the character played by Howard Duff, Arthur Curtis or Gerald Raigan?
Those are just two instances I’ve written about. There are others. In each case, I was sure I knew the answer — indeed, I didn’t even think there was another option! — until I ran into some fellow fans who felt differently. It’s been a bit disconcerting to ponder other possibilities, but also rather intriguing, frankly.
So let’s queue up another debate. This one’s about Season 5’s “Number 12 Looks Just Like You” by Charles Beaumont and John Tomerlin. (For those who haven’t seen it or forget what happens, consider watching first and then coming back before wading into the spoiler-filled details ahead.)
I’ve written about this excellent, thought-provoking episode before (you’ll find a link below). My question today, though, is this: Did Marilyn finally just give up at the end and decide to embrace her new identity? Or do we see her gushing over her new appearance because the Transformation alters not only your body, but also your mind?Read the rest of this entry
An Expanded Edition of “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour” Will Soon Be on Exhibition
If you’re looking for a book about The Twilight Zone, you have several to choose from, starting with Marc Zicree’s seminal “Companion.” But if you want to read about Night Gallery, Serling’s follow-up series in the early ’70s, your choices are limited, really, to just one volume: “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: An After-Hours Tour.”
Fortunately, it’s an excellent work. The copy I’ve owned for over two decades is a well-thumbed softcover autographed by co-author Scott Skelton (who I met when we did a presentation at Serling Fest 2019). It’s a treasure trove of information, and a great read. Scott and co-author Jim Benson dug into the archives and interviewed dozens of people who worked on both sides of the camera, and served up a highly entertaining slice of TV history.
When they followed that up a couple years ago with “Rod Serling’s Night Gallery: The Art of Darkness,” an oversized volume containing high-quality reproductions of all the show’s paintings, I was in Gallery heaven. What could be better?
Oh, how about a new, expanded edition of Scott and Jim’s original book?
Usually, when an “expanded” edition of some book comes out, it means you get a new foreword, an afterword, or other mostly cosmetic improvements. Not this time. This new edition more than doubles the size of the previous one. The original was 404 pages; this one is 824. The original featured a limited number of pics, all in black and white; this one is crammed with pics, many of them in color. Material that the original publisher insisted on cutting in the 1990s has been restored and augmented with new interviews with surviving cast and crew members.Read the rest of this entry
“Which of Those Two is Now?” Famed Physicist Asks Twilight Zone-ish Question
You can’t just park your brain in neutral when you’re a Twilight Zone fan. Sure, some episodes are just a lark, but more often than not, your assumptions will be challenged and your horizons expanded — though always in an entertaining way. We wind up looking at our world differently.
Or even, considering the sci-fi trappings of many classic episodes, beyond our world.
I couldn’t help thinking of this aspect of the Zone when I first heard an Alan Parsons album called The Time Machine. It starts with the title track, then segues into a one-minute piece called “Temporalia.” Instead of singing, though, we get some narration from an Oxford professor named Frank Close, who is a famous particle physicist.
Against a backdrop of music that sounds like we’re drifting through space, Close says:Read the rest of this entry
Serling’s Re-Framing Efforts: Night Gallery’s “Green Fingers”
For our next stop in this “cavern of canvasses,” we move over to the gardening section and meet an unusual lady. As Rod Serling puts it:
For the horticulturists amongst you, here’s a dandy. A lady who plants things, and then steps back and watches them grow. Roses, rhododendron, tulips. And things never before to be found coming out of the ground — just put in. The subject of this painting has green fingers.
Even the most casual Night Gallery fans tend to remember this one. And how could they not? I mean, you’ve got Elsa Lanchester, decades after she starred as the “Bride of Frankenstein,” playing Lydia Bowen, an elderly woman with an eerily unnatural gift when it comes to gardening.
(Spoilers ahead, naturally, so if you haven’t seen the episode before, you may want to check it out on DVD before coming back.)
We meet Mrs. Bowen as she’s outside her house one day, tending to her numerous plants. In an inspired touch, we hear a harpsichord playing “Greensleeves.” Two cars pull up, and out of the more expensive one steps a wealthy land developer named Michael Saunders, played by character actor Cameron Mitchell (who would later star in Season 3’s “Finnegan’s Flight” with Burgess Meredith). It quickly becomes obvious, as he talks with his assistant, Ernie, that he’s a rather unscrupulous individual determined to get Mrs. Bowen’s land and raze her house for a huge factory he’s building.Read the rest of this entry
Serling Fest 2022: A Stellar Line-Up Set to Appear in Binghamton August 12-14
That’s right, fifth-dimension fans. It hasn’t even been a full year since the 2021 “Serling Fest,” but we’re getting set to gather again — this time on the second weekend of August.
But a couple of things haven’t changed, I’m glad to say. As usual, we’ll meet in Rod’s hometown of Binghamton, New York. And just as before, a great line-up of presenters and programs are on the slate. Check it out:
So we’ll get:
- Anne Serling, Rod’s younger daughter and author of “As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling“
- Tony Albarella, editor of “As Timeless of Infinity,” a 10-volume set of Serling’s Twilight Zone scripts
- Marc Zicree, author of “The Twilight Zone Companion“
- Nick Parisi, president of the Rod Serling Memorial Foundation and author of “Rod Serling: His Life, Work, and Imagination“
- Mark Dawidziak, author of “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone”
- Mark Olshaker, a friend of Serling’s and author of numerous books, including the “Mindhunter” ones with John Douglas
- Courtland Hull, the artist who painted the Zone-themed panels at the Recreation Park carousel that inspired “Walking Distance”
- Jonathan Napolitano, director of “The Carousel”
Here’s what they’ve got lined up over the three-day period:Read the rest of this entry
Serling’s Re-Framing Efforts: Night Gallery’s “A Death in the Family”
I hope you haven’t found the previous stops in my Night Gallery “Re-Framing Efforts” too unnerving … because our next sojourn in this shadowy world takes place at a funeral home. Get ready to meet Jared Soames, played by legendary actor E.G. Marshall. He’s probably the most compassionate undertaker you’ll ever meet.
He’s also the weirdest. Because if a particular corpse strikes his fancy, he won’t give it a dignified burial. He’ll bury a weighted coffin and adopt the dearly departed into the “family” of corpses that he keeps in the basement, all carefully arranged in a birthday-party tableau. (Spoilers ahead, naturally, so if you’d rather see the Gallery version first, check it out on DVD before reading further.)
We see Soames in the beginning as he takes possession of a charity burial. He’s disturbed by the cavalier attitude of the ambulance drivers, who turn over the body of one Simon Cottner with all the decorum of an Amazon package. Where, he asks earnestly, are the flowers, the music, and the mourners? They look at him like he’s crazy. Simon had no friends, one of them tells him. There’s no one to miss “the stiff,” as they call him more than once.
And they don’t seem all that broken up about it. To them, it’s just a job. But to Soames, this is a mission.
As he tells his latest charge after they’ve left: “Simon, old man. You lived 81 years. You deserve more than a $100 funeral. But don’t you worry. You shall have more. Much more.”Read the rest of this entry
The Imaginative World of Charles Beaumont: Vote for His Best Twilight Zone Story
The most famous writer of The Twilight Zone? Rod Serling, obviously. Besides creating, producing, and hosting the series, he penned no fewer than 92 scripts for it. But after him?
Most fans, I think, would pick Richard Matheson. And who could blame them? The legendary author’s contributions to the Zone include some truly iconic episodes, such as “Little Girl Lost,” “The Invaders,” and “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.”
Few fans would name Charles Beaumont. And that’s a shame. Not only was he the most prolific Zone writer after Serling — logging 22 scripts to Matheson’s 14 — but his fertile imagination created some of the most mind-bending tales in the fifth dimension.
So I thought it might be fun to give fans a chance to select their favorite Beaumont episode, the same way I did with Matheson back in 2013. In fact, I was thinking about doing a new Matheson poll post when it occurred to me to finally do one for Beaumont. I’ll circle back to Matheson soon enough, but let’s give Beaumont some much-deserved attention.Read the rest of this entry