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
“Social distancing” is a new skill for most of us. Even many introverts are finding the new norms to be a bit much.
But in the fifth dimension, it’s a different story. Keeping your neighbors at arm’s length isn’t all that unusual.
Just ask astronaut Mike Ferris. He spent most of the Twilight Zone pilot, “Where is Everybody?”, wandering around an empty town. The closest thing he found to another human being was a store mannequin.
Or how about the prisoner in “The Lonely”? Poor Corry was not only in solitary confinement, he wasn’t even on Earth. Weeks would go by before anyone showed up to bring him supplies.
Then there was Henry Bemis in “Time Enough at Last”. Nothing like a little nuclear blast to ensure you get some major “me time”. Read the rest of this entry
How could I not have started my series of posts reviewing Serling’s Twilight Zone adaptations with “Time Enough at Last”?
We’re talking about a huge fan favorite — one that is arguably the most well-known episode. It’s also the first non-Serling tale that aired, after seven originals opened the series in the fall of 1959.
I guess I was too intrigued to chronicle what Serling had done to stories by such legendary TZ scribes as Richard Matheson and George Clayton Johnson. His changes there amounted to a complete overhaul. And it was fun to examine the remarkable work he did to bring Damon Knight’s “To Serve Man” to the screen.
But before he turned to those scripts, he choose to adapt Lynn Venable’s short story about a poor man who … well, as she put it: Read the rest of this entry
Of all the episodes of The Twilight Zone, perhaps none has left more of a mark on viewers than “Time Enough at Last.” The episode that struck fear in the hearts of book-lovers everywhere — and inspired horrified glasses-wearers to opt for a back-up pair — turns 55 today.
In a 1984 article for Twilight Zone magazine, star Burgess Meredith recalled how the episode excited writer Rod Serling himself:
He had just seen some rushes of the show, which made him very enthusiastic. He said, ‘Hey, you’re wonderful. Let’s do more shows with you.’ After that, Rod wrote a Twilight Zone for me each season. Our relationship wound up lasting a long time. And of course, later in our careers, we both did a lot of voice-over work.
Not quite EACH season, as it turns out. Meredith did “Time Enough at Last” in the first season, “Mr. Dingle, The Strong” and “The Obsolete Man” in the second, and “Printer’s Devil” in the fourth. But the fact remains that Serling clearly enjoyed writing for this talented man. Read the rest of this entry
No television series challenged the very notion of reality quite as artfully as The Twilight Zone. You could easily find yourself trying to figure out where you were, when you were, or even who you were.
Here in our own dimension, matters tend to be a bit more concrete. Facts are facts. So here are 10 facts about Rod Serling’s brainchild that are familiar only to truly diehard fans (and perhaps regular readers of this blog and my Twitter page):
1) “There is a sixth dimension …” Wait, what? It’s true. When Serling first drafted his description of that elusive fifth dimension, he added an extra one … until the producer asked him to name the fifth.
2) Serling was not the first choice for narrator. They were setting their sights on such famous voices as Orson Welles, but in the end, they went with You Know Who. (You can hear how TZ almost sounded at this link.) Read the rest of this entry
I have news for you, ladies and gentlemen. I have discovered that … people are alike all over.
Fortunately, I’m not saying that from behind the bars of an interplanetary zoo. No, the resemblance I’m referring to is much more benign than a penchant for treating other races as if they were a species to be gawked at.
I’m talking about a love for the works of Rod Serling, and more specifically, his landmark TV series, The Twilight Zone. It’s been exactly three years since I began hosting the Night Gallery Twitter page, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 1,096 days, it’s that you can find Serling fans everywhere.
Men and women, adults and children, from every race, creed and color you can imagine. People from every spot on the political and religious spectrums. Individuals who would never talk to each other in “real life” follow this page, united in a love for the work of one of the 20th century’s most beloved writers. Read the rest of this entry
Time for a few introductions, Twilight Zone fans. Recognize these four men?
The meek one with the mustache and the Coke-bottle eyeglasses? That’s Henry Bemis. Next to him is a smiling, nervous, bow-tied vacuum-cleaner salesman named Luther Dingle. Over there, books in hand, is the unassuming but dignified Romney Wordsworth. And the man with the crooked cigar, the leering expression and the unsettling grin? Mr. Smith.
Four of the fifth dimension’s most distinct and memorable characters, each brought to life by one man: Burgess Meredith.
The legendary actor was grateful for the opportunity TZ gave him. “Rod used to have a part for me every season,” he said, “and every one of them was extraordinary.” He would go on to star in two episodes of Serling’s follow-up series, Night Gallery, livening up “The Little Black Bag” and “Finnegan’s Flight”.
But which of his TZ roles is the greatest? Let’s get a little spoiler-y and meet the candidates: Read the rest of this entry
If you’re reading this, the world didn’t end today. Perhaps you knew that, but I thought I’d make sure. Some people might be surprised.
But if it had ended, I’d like to think we all went out doing something we really enjoy. And what would your last day on earth be without a chance to “Zone” out? So I tweeted this question:
Let’s say the Mayan prophecy was right. What Twilight Zone would you watch before the world ended?
Guess I wasn’t the only one who thought the apocalypse deserved a little TLZ. The responses poured in. So I thought I’d list the episodes that everybody mentioned. Read the rest of this entry