“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.
“This episode looks funny. Was it broadcast live?”
Hardly a Twilight Zone marathon goes by without at least one or two people tagging my Twitter page with a question like that. And when they do, it’s because they’re watching one of six episodes from Season 2: “The Lateness of the Hour”, “The Night of the Meek”, “The Whole Truth”, “Twenty Two”, “Static” or “Long Distance Call”.
The reason they “look funny”? They were videotaped, not filmed.
Why? Let’s turn to the oracle we all use at some point when we’re doing “research” — Wikipedia. Its entry for “The Whole Truth” notes: Read the rest of this entry
If you’re a writer, you never know when inspiration will strike. And if you’re Rod Serling, the idea you get might wind up being a holiday classic.
So it was when Serling came up with a legendary part for Art Carney — and the story for what would become the Twilight Zone episode “Night of the Meek.” As he told TV Guide:
I got the idea for this one watching a Santa Claus parade with my two kids a year ago, and noticed that on the Santa Claus float the worthy gentlemen chosen for the role must have been a last-minute and a third-string replacement. He weighed just a few pounds more than Slim Summerville, and his Santa Claus suit must have been dredged out of a canal someplace.
It suddenly came to me that perhaps there’s a story lurking somewhere in the whole concept of these guys who play Santa Claus for a living. And then I started to conceive of a tale of what would happen to an ersatz Kris Kringle if he suddenly found out that he was Santa Claus.
We all know what happened: Serling crafted a touching modern fable about a man who aspired to be the “biggest gift giver of all time.” The story of a third-string Santa was given a first-class treatment. And one of the most beloved Zone episodes was born.
Photo courtesy of Wendy Brydge. For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. You can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. WordPress followers, just hit “follow” at the top of the page.
Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!
It’s Christmas time. You’re the manager of a large department store, and business is in full swing. Will you finish the year in the black, and earn a nice bonus? Or wind up in the red?
It all depends on those holiday sales — and Santa Claus is a key ingredient in making them happen. The man you’ve hired to don that red suit and wear those white whiskers has to make a good impression. That means being punctual and looking presentable. It means making the mothers lining up with their eager, impressionable kids want to open their purses.
So when your man staggers in an hour late, reeking of alcohol, you bawl him out. And when he proceeds to fall off his throne and convince the shocked customers that they should shop elsewhere, you naturally handle this utter debacle by sacking Santa on the spot. And you give him a tongue-lashing for good measure.
But this is no ordinary Santa.
In fact, Mr. Dundee (for that, my friend, is your name), nothing will be ordinary for you today. You may not realize it, but you’re spending this Christmas in a very special place. You’re in the Twilight Zone.
Because the man you hired is Henry Corwin. And because he was crafted by the hands of a master storyteller named Rod Serling, he’s going to open your eyes — and give you a much-needed lesson in perspective.
Read the rest of this entry