Category Archives: Twilight Zone

Lost Lines: Twilight Zone’s “Time Enough at Last” and “The Obsolete Man”

Rod Serling wasn’t just an imaginative, award-winning writer. He was also a surprisingly quick one.

“He’d come in at 9, and by noon, he had completed a teleplay”, Twilight Zone‘s casting director once noted. “I had never seen anybody write that fast.”

Small wonder, then, that Serling managed to crank out almost two-thirds of the show’s final output: 92 scripts, out of 156 total. He was a one-man machine, which makes the high quality all the more remarkable.

His scripts often ran long, though. That inevitably meant some cutting was in order. But you know what? I’ve found that many of his “lost lines” are as quotable as what wound up on the air.

Take a few lines from “Time Enough at Last”. They come as Henry concludes his argument with Helen, who has defaced and then destroyed his book of poetry. She asks him if he’s going to put on a clean shirt, and he replies: Read the rest of this entry

Identity Crisis: Figuring Out the End of Twilight Zone’s “A World of Difference”

There are times when watching The Twilight Zone is something of a Twilight Zone experience itself.

Actually, it’s not the watching that does that. For me, it’s apt to happen when I’m discussing an episode with other fans, and I find that their explanation of an episode differs completely from mine.

Take Season 1’s “A World of Difference”, which stars Howard Duff. I recently took note on my Twitter page of its March 11 anniversary. As always, I gave a brief synopsis: “An actor whose real life is a mess decides that the idyllic role he’s playing is reality.”

I’m used to hearing people say they like or don’t like an episode. But this time, I also got reactions like this:

  • “Wait, he’s the actor? I thought the real guy just fell into the Zone and had to get out.”
  • “I still don’t know how to interpret the ending.”
  • “It always made me unsure which was real and which wasn’t, but I suppose he was only playing the role he believed to be his real life.”
  • “Wait…for real?! He was really the actor all along? I’m so confused!”

At this point, they weren’t the only ones! It honestly never occurred to me before that the episode could be viewed in any other way. Read the rest of this entry

Tommy From “The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street” Looks Back on a TZ Classic

Even if you’re the biggest Twilight Zone fan in the world, there’s a good chance you’d give me a blank look if I asked you about Jan Handzlik.

But once I said, “He played Tommy in The Monsters are Due on Maple Street”, I’ll bet a light bulb would immediately go on.

Of course, few Zone fans are fond of his character. He did get the paranoia flowing with his comic-book talk about aliens, after all!

But hey, Tommy meant well. He was only 12. And he was just making some innocent observations. Besides, it’s not as if the adults around him needed much prodding to turn on each other.

I bring up Jan because I recently read a 2018 interview with him on a pop-culture website called Noblemania. Although he had some other acting credits in his short career (most notably in the Broadway production of Auntie Mame), the interview focuses quite a bit on his Twilight Zone experience. Here are the highlights:

How old were you when you were cast in The Twilight Zone?

About 12.

Any funny anecdotes about the experience?

All I can remember [is] that Jack Weston was hilarious on stage and off. He’s a terrific actor. As I recall, he kept things pretty light. Read the rest of this entry

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

Serling’s Re-Zoning Efforts: “People Are Alike All Over”

If you’re a Twilight Zone fan, you’re used to having the rug pulled out from under you when an episode concludes. Where would the fifth dimension be without irony-laden endings?

Case in point: Season 1’s “People are Alike All Over”. Who can forget the stunned look on Sam Conrad’s face when he discovers where he’s at in the end?

(If you haven’t seen this episode before, you may want to check it out before proceeding any further. It’s on disc, as well as streaming on Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime.)

The story concerns two astronauts — Sam Conrad (played by Roddy McDowell), and Warren Marcusson (Paul Comi, in the first of three Zone roles). We meet them on the eve of their flight to Mars. No one has ever been there, of course, so they wonder what they’ll find. Will there be people? And if there are, what will they be like?

Conrad is a worrier, but the positive-thinking Marcusson reassures him. He’s convinced there’s a fixed formula for humanity that holds true throughout the galaxy. So if there are people on Mars, they must be like people on Earth. Conrad, he thinks, shouldn’t fret. Read the rest of this entry

Syfy’s 2019-2020 New Year’s Twilight Zone Marathon Schedule

Okay, Zoners, the partial schedule I posted last Friday for Syfy’s New Year’s Twilight Zone marathon was a big hit. But the full schedule is what Pedott would say we really need, right?

Happy to oblige. And unlike most wishes in the fifth dimension, this one is consequence-free …

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

6:00am — One for the Angels

6:30am — Mr. Denton on Doomsday

7:00am — The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine

7:30am — Walking Distance

8:00am — Escape Clause

8:30am — Perchance to Dream

9:00am — Judgment Night

9:30am — And When The Sky Was Opened Read the rest of this entry

Syfy’s 2019-2020 New Year’s Twilight Zone Marathon Schedule — Part I

A lot of questions come to mind when December rolls around: Will we get snow on Christmas Eve? How many lights should we put on the tree? What will Henry Corwin … er, Santa bring me?

But if you’re a Rod Serling fan, there’s a good chance you’re also wondering: Will Syfy host its annual Twilight Zone marathon?

The answer, I’m glad to report, is as predictable as the entrees on a Kanamit dinner menu: Yes! It all begins at 6 a.m. on December 31.

When does it end? I’ll have to save that for my next post, but it won’t take long before I have the full schedule in front of you. In the meantime, here’s how it will begin … Read the rest of this entry

Here’s Your Chance to Win Tickets to See TZ on the Big Screen

Planning to go see Twilight Zone on the big screen? Well, how would you like to have free tickets?

As many of you have probably heard by now, Fathom Events is hosting a one-day event, “The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration”, on Thursday, November 14, at 7 p.m. It consists of a new documentary short titled “Remembering Rod Serling” and six classic TZ episodes:

  • Walking Distance
  • Time Enough at Last
  • The Invaders
  • The Monsters are Due on Maple Street
  • Eye of the Beholder
  • To Serve Man

I think most fans would agree that, even if you’ve seen these episodes many times before, it would be a unique and fun experience to watch them on the big screen. And now Fathom Events has graciously agreed to offer my blog followers a chance to snag some free tickets! Read the rest of this entry