“Where am I? What is this, some kind of a joke or something? I don’t know you. I don’t know any of you!” — TZ’s “A World of Difference”
Such confusion can be fun when we’re enjoying a story from the fifth dimension. After all, reality can be boring … except, of course, when it comes to behind-the-scenes info about The Twilight Zone itself. Not all surprises took place in front of the camera.
A high-paying job at a prestigious firm. An expensive home in a nice part of town. A wife dressed in the latest fashions.
Gart Williams has it all. Yet he’s miserable. Why? Take a closer look.
The job comes with a boss who whips him like a racehorse and berates him in front of others. The home is filled with fancy belongings he couldn’t care less about. The wife loves only his paycheck and belittles him at every turn.
Small wonder that Gart Williams, the main character in The Twilight Zone’s “A Stop at Willoughby,” stirs up so much sympathy. His plight is a universal one. Anyone can understand his desire to escape such a miserable existence.
We’re rooting for Gart, and ultimately ourselves, when Rod Serling, in a script filled with poignant and lyrical touches, asks the ultimate question: How do you escape when you have nowhere to go? Read the rest of this entry
It’s a theme that surfaces repeatedly in Rod Serling’s writing. We see it in his teleplays in the 1950s and in episodes of The Twilight Zone (‘60s) and Night Gallery (‘70s). It helped him create some of his best work.
I’m referring to nostalgia. “I have a desperate desire for serene summer nights, merry-go-rounds and nickel ice-cream cones,” Serling told TV Guide in 1972.
This yearning led to the development of two of his most popular Twilight Zone episodes: “Walking Distance” and “A Stop at Willoughby.” Both came in Season 1. Both feature a harried businessman trying to cope with great stress and a sense of helplessness. Both showcase a longing to escape into the past.
If you’re like most Zone fans, you rate both episodes highly. Pressed to pick a favorite, many opt for “Walking Distance.” But not Serling. Although he seemed pleased with it when it aired, his fondness for it waned as the years went by. “A Stop at Willoughby,” however, he later called his favorite from Season 1. Read the rest of this entry