Blog Archives

Serling’s Re-Zoning Efforts: “What You Need”

It’s another rain-soaked night in town, and the usual clientele is hanging out at the Del Rio bar. The unlucky and the lovelorn are in their spots, chain-smoking and drowning their sorrows, when in walks an old man carrying a peddler’s tray.

Ernest Truex as Pedott in TZ’s “What You Need”. He later starred in “Kick the Can”

But he’s not here to sell you just anything. This stranger claims to know what you need, not what you think you want. And whatever it happens to be, he’s offering it free of charge.

Pedott wasn’t the only one with this ability. His creator, Rod Serling, could look at a short story and know exactly what he had to do to turn it into a compelling TV story. And in the case of Lewis Padgett’s “What You Need”, he understood what was required to make it work for The Twilight Zone.

If you’ve read the entry for this episode in Marc Zicree’s The Twilight Zone Companion, you may recall that the original story “concerned a scientist who invented a machine that read people’s probable futures and who then gave them what they needed to be guided in a certain direction.”

Read Morgan as Lefty

True enough, but — as I’ve discovered in looking more closely at several other episodes that Serling adapted from the work of other writers — it’s interesting to look at what he kept and what he discarded. He retained a bit more than just the basic idea, as we’ll see. Overall, though, his changes were fairly substantial. Read the rest of this entry

“Hold On … Is That Van Johnson?” A TZ Disc Mystery

Ever look at something a hundred times, and then — on the 101st — notice something odd?

Prime Mover2

That sounds like the set-up to a Twilight Zone episode, I know. Alas, it’s something a bit more mundane. But stick with me for a couple minutes. This little mystery is a quick one.

Recently, I was pulling out the fourth disc of Season 5 from my boxed set of Twilight Zone DVDs, when my eyes fell on the small picture on the back cover next to “Queen of the Nile”. As you can see, there’s a thumbnail pic beside each title and description.

TZ S5 D4 back cover3

Then I took a closer look. Sure enough, there’s Ann Blyth, the star of the episode. She’s next to … wait, that’s not Lee Phillips, her co-star. That’s … Van Johnson? Read the rest of this entry