When The Twilight Zone ended its run in 1964, well-wishers posted an amusing sign at the show’s farewell party: “This plaque commemorates the 128 people killed during its turbulent five years.”
Even die-hard fans may be surprised by the length of the casualty list. A couple dozen deaths maybe, but 128? Perhaps that’s because the deaths weren’t graphically depicted.
This had much to do with the strict TV standards then in vogue, of course. But it wasn’t simply that. Rod Serling appears to have been no fan of over-the-top violence. Consider this excerpt from a lecture he gave in 1972:
The thing that disturbs me is that thread of violence that seems to permeate every current film. The other night I saw ‘The Godfather’ for the first time, and I’ll admit that I found it really quite a stunning film — at least, it was good, tight, believable, it had some beautiful performances, and it was very competently directed.
But the mayhem in that picture, the deaths, the killings. Six assassinations by machine gun — each machine-gunning taking a minimum one minute to portray — two strangulations, three beatings, one car explosion, and some very explicit portraits of a bullet plowing into an abdomen and the retina of an eye. Read the rest of this entry