So I'm contemplating my favorite Twilight Zone episodes, and it's really hard to choose. But if I had to narrow it down to three, I'd probably go with these:
"Time Alone At Last": This is the one where a book lover finds himself joyously alone with books after a nuclear blast. Until ... I keep thinking he'd be able to remedy that situation by trolling through optometry shops -- if he could see well enough to find one, that is.
-- Last year I wished for Gilmore Girls creator Amy Sherman Palladino to get another shot at TV after the horrible Jezebel James. Well, she's got a deal with HBO. Good for her. Now, for me, let's get her to write and film the finale for Rory and Lorelai and Luke and Star's Hollow that she intended for GG. It's time to do it now while all the principals are still active. The Mary Tyler Moore reunion with Rhoda came two decades too late.
Since we're in a Halloween mood tonight, let's talk about Night Gallery, one of the scariest shows I remember from my childhood. Conceived and hosted by The Twilight Zone's Rod Serling, the series ran from 1970 to 1973 and featured some well known actors, including William Windom, Burgess Meredith, John Astin and James Farentino.
While The Twilight Zone always seemed more sci-fi based, Night Gallery had more of a horror feel to it and featured more ghostly, psychological stories. In short, it scared the crap out of me. One of the scariest episodes focused on two stories about some spooky real estate: "The House / Certain Shadows on the Wall."
I'm not sure what DiCaprio could do with the franchise that hasn't been done before. It's basically science fiction, fantasy and horror stories with a twist ending (M. Night Shyamalan owes his entire career to The Twilight Zone). Rumor has it that the new movie will be a set of interwoven stories based on classics from the original run of the show that were written by Rod Serling himself, albeit with more pretty computer-generated special effects. For some reason, I find that unoriginal and possibly downright scary.
Still, The Twilight Zone was groundbreaking for its time and a very flexible concept. If Star Trek could be successfully reinvented for the movies, why not this franchise?
It took audiences on an out of control thrill ride that zigged and zagged in directions that no one saw coming. The stories would lead viewers one way and just when they thought they had the ending figured out, it took them down an emotional corkscrew that could melt their brains. It was and still is digital acid, minus the waking up in a dumpster with a head of hair that smells like raw chicken.
But picture if you will, an even bigger twist lying inside this twisted wasteland of shock and discovery. A twist that smashes the fourth wall of television with the brute force of a charging rhino strapped to the front of a nuclear warhead and reveals the true identity of the man who pulls all the strings....in The Twilight Zone.
I got a great letter this week...
"I remember watching a documentary, I believe it was about Rod Serling, & on it was mentioned a Western series the producer had developed, starring Lloyd Bridges & Brock Peters. Any idea what this show was called? Or, was it maybe Gene Roddenberry's show? Thanks for the help! Steve Atwell"
I've been looking for a copy of this Playhouse 90 episode for years. VHS, DVD, some guy doing a puppet show version of it in his living room, whatever, I've really wanted to see it since seeing snippets of it on the excellent PBS American Masters episode "Submitted For Your Approval" (it's on one of the Twilight Zone DVDs). And now, thanks to YouTube, we can all watch it.
Well, most of it anyway. After the jump, I posted the opening of the show (complete with intros and commercials!), and then if you follow this link you can find other segments of the show (on the right), but I have no idea what order they go in because they aren't labeled. It's well worth watching though. I mean, look at the cast: Art Carney, Jack Klugman, Leslie Nielsen, Burt Reynolds, and the kid is Mickey Dolenz from The Monkees! They don't do TV like this anymore.
I loves myself some Twilight Zone, but when I watch repeats of the classic series I can't help but notice that the dialogue in Rod Serling's scripts was somewhat overwrought. I sometimes have trouble watching certain episodes and not imagining Serling hunched over his typewriter, giggling to himself at how clever he's being. That's not necessarily a criticism -- if anything, it's that mix of segments that made you roll your eyes and ones that truly gripped you that kept the series interesting and still makes it stand out even today.
The New People was a short-lived (17 episodes) Aaron Spelling drama that aired on ABC in late 1969/early 1970. It didn't have any name stars, but guest stars included Richard Dreyfus, Richard Kiley, and Tyne Daly. It was about a group of 40 college students involved in a plane crash and find themselves trapped on an island named Bomano. The island is deserted, but has buildings, supplies, and roads.
Some people wonder if Lost owes a little bit to this show. The setup is the same (a plane crash on an island where people start a new society), and weren't there originally 40 survivors of the Lost plane crash? The phrase "the new people" sounds a lot like "the Others." And Rod Serling created the show and wrote the first ep under a pseudonym, and J.J. Abrams has said many times that he's a huge Rod Serling/Twilight Zone fan. Alas, there is no connection. They didn't even know about the show before, and producer Damon Lindelof wishes he had known about it before so he could have named Charlie's band The New People instead of Drive Shaft. Heh.
After the jump, a video from the pilot episode. It's very 60s. Bonus: old commericals and the theme song, sung by The First Edition, with Kenny Rogers! Groovy.
The answer is a definite yes. This is one of the best TV DVD sets I've ever seen, and an absolute must for diehard fans of Rod Serling's classic show.
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