Skip

You unlock this door with the key of imagination
September 25, 2009 8:59 PM   Subscribe

Where Is Everybody? Perhaps they've somehow arrived at the Rod Serling Conference, as The Twilight Zone celebrates 50 years next Friday. To mark the anniversary there is TZ@50 - a celebration in Binghamton, NY Oct 1-4, and a two-day mini course on Serling worth credit. The Syfy channel will be running a TZ marathon Oct 2 at 8am. Last month, a Stamp was unveiled in Serling's honor.

Translating the Twilight Zone photography by Allie Ellis.
Official 50th Anniversary Tribute Book, and another, edited by Carol Serling.
So, what exactly was the Twilight Zone?
Each of the first 3 seasons of episodes at CBS, or on Hulu.
Revisit the original commercials that aired.
View a spoilery summation of the entire series if you've only got 10 minutes to spare.
Entire Submitted For Your Approval - a Rod Serling documentary video on YouTube.
Marvelous graphic novels that were created by Savannah College of Art and Design students.
A repository of Gold Key's Twilight Zone Comic Book covers.
Now you can watch the actual introduction to the pilot episode, where Westbrook Van Voorhis first did the voiceover.
...it...it's a cookbook!
posted by cashman (37 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Fantastic post! I live in Bingo, and I was thinking about Netflixing episodes to gear up for friday's Art Walk, but you have put everything right at my fingertips. Thank you!
posted by njbradburn at 9:13 PM on September 25, 2009


Thanks cashman! Seattleites take note: I went to the Twilight Zone Live at Theater Schmeater for the first time this summer and it was AWESOME. The Serling (Tim Moore) killed. Apparently they've been doing this for years which makes me sad that I missed it but happy that I'll be able to see it again.
posted by Wood at 9:37 PM on September 25, 2009


I'm curious about the new TZ comics. The NPR clip makes it look like the best art was done for "Death's Head Revisited," which is kind of unfortunate from my perspective as that's kind of a heavy-handed one that I think hasn't dated well (though it's maybe an important story for young readers, who are the intended audience for the TZ comics, so okay), but "The After Hours" looks like it might be decent, and -- *gasp!* -- "The Midnight Sun!" "The Midnight Sun" is my absolute favorite, the one that makes me drop everything whenever it pops up on any of the TZ marathons, and so I'm excited and slightly nervous about its being adapted. The, um, babelicious chick on the cover has me thinking some liberties may have been taken, and it's such a cinematic episode besides that turning it into a comic without losing a lot seems to me it would just be really, really hard, but I'll check it out nonetheless. Great post.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 9:45 PM on September 25, 2009


Midnight Sun is my absolute favorite too. I could sweat right now just thinking about it.
posted by cashman at 9:52 PM on September 25, 2009


I like watching it (and The Night Gallery) for various Trek stars. I have not seen every episode of The Twilight Zone, despite being a big fan. Every so often, I'll catch one, usually during a marathon, one I haven't seen before. For a while I had this running personal joke that the universe would just keep coughing up new episodes every so often, just so long as I didn't try to squeeze it dry. Room for one more, indeed.
posted by adipocere at 10:13 PM on September 25, 2009 [3 favorites]


The Twilight Zone was an amazing show and I've yet to see anything quite like it. Some shows attempt its form and create something lacking substance. Some go for its substance and tend to end up creating something unwatchable.

It's good to have something that's aspirational, I suppose.
posted by Pope Guilty at 10:13 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


I live in Binghamton and this is the first I've heard of it. I knew Serling was a local, though - there's a sign out in front of the highschool down the block that mentions him.
posted by tylermoody at 10:46 PM on September 25, 2009


The Syfy channel will be running a TZ marathon Oct 2 at 8am.....

Can we just start calling it "The Channel with the Stupid Name" until they change it back?
posted by rokusan at 11:11 PM on September 25, 2009 [6 favorites]


Is it a real marathon, or one of those phony USA-Network ones? Can't find anything on their web page.
posted by RavinDave at 11:14 PM on September 25, 2009


I'm a Binghamton U student and have a friend who works for the bundy museum so i definetly plan on going, how about we have a small mefi meetup as well? What do you think njbradburn? tylermoody?
posted by Del Far at 11:15 PM on September 25, 2009 [1 favorite]


Where Is Everybody? Perhaps they've somehow arrived at the Rod Serling Conference...

Or is that just what they think!
posted by Pronoiac at 11:47 PM on September 25, 2009


Great! With everyone at the Rod Serling conference, finally I'll have enough peace and quiet to sit down and read all those books I haven't had time for!

Wait, the optometrist is going too?!
posted by orthogonality at 12:26 AM on September 26, 2009 [5 favorites]


Nice post, well done...

I'm one of the old farts around here that watched TZ in black and white on a 12 inch screen in a tv the size of a VW. What a breath of relief it was compared to some of the other crap on TV in those days... For a kid who spent a good part of his life at the library searching for anything that resembled science fiction, having it right on the TV was fantastic.
posted by HuronBob at 2:37 AM on September 26, 2009


It is my belief that, based both on its own merits and on what it has inspired and made possible, The Twilight Zone is a very strong contender for the title of greatest TV show ever produced.
posted by Faint of Butt at 3:11 AM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


Can we just start calling it "The Channel with the Stupid Name" until they change it back?

ΨΦ
posted by Mwongozi at 4:11 AM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


(I dunno ... I was always a bit peeved that they called themselves "SciFi" in the first place.)
posted by RavinDave at 4:54 AM on September 26, 2009



Is it a real marathon, or one of those phony USA-Network ones? Can't find anything on their web page.


http://www.syfy.com/schedule/index.php?date=2-OCT-2009
posted by cashman at 5:49 AM on September 26, 2009


Twilight Zone certainly ranks in the category I fondly call "Justifies Television". Some of it even aged kind of well. Often, I'm blown away at what Mr. Serling did, when he did it.

We bought the collection, and we're working our way through, mostly in order (once, jumped ahead to see something mentioned in a thread on the blue). It's weird, sometimes I recognize an episode, often, I don't.

Occasionally I see one I'd like to give a makeover, usually because I love the premise and think it could have been handled better. Always, I'm amazed at what he accomplished in such a short time slot. Yet, sometimes, it's a pity when a great story is too lean.
posted by Goofyy at 6:47 AM on September 26, 2009


I'm in, Del Far!
posted by njbradburn at 7:09 AM on September 26, 2009


Rod Serling's secret is that he knew how to underwrite. He had the premise, as much dialogue as was minimally necessary, and turned it over to the actors. We watched Burgess Meredith mumble and stack books. We watched Shatner grow increasingly desperate over the impossible goblin outside the plane window. The episodes could almost have been without dialogue (although when he did dialogue, he did it very well.) I've never seen another writer be so generous with his actors. All the other great writers loved their cleverness too much to replicate what Serling did.
posted by dances_with_sneetches at 7:16 AM on September 26, 2009


Is it a real marathon, or one of those phony USA-Network ones? Can't find anything on their web page.

http://www.syfy.com/schedule/index.php?date=2-OCT-2009


Nine hour "marathon"? Yep, that's a phony one, probably invented by pipsqueaks who never grew up in the 1980s when a show would be on all weekend: breakfast, dinner, and after midnight, then again when you woke up. At least now with giant DVD collections and streaming video we no longer have to be spoon-fed morsels from KTLA, WTBS, etc, like in the old days.
posted by crapmatic at 7:55 AM on September 26, 2009


Eh ... we'll call it a "mini" marathon. Leagues ahead of USANetwork's BS "throw3-episodes-together-and-call-it-a-marathon" marathon, but not enough for me to break out the bubbly.

And ending it at 3pm??? Naw .... *START* it at 3pm and let her go all night.

ObTZ: Originally, Chuck Beaumont pestered Serling himself to play the part of Mr. Pip in "A Nice Place To Visit" (originally called "The Other Place"), but he declined and the role went to Sebastian Cabot.
posted by RavinDave at 7:59 AM on September 26, 2009


The Original Zone is even more impressive when you consider how bad the three attempts at remaking it were. I just watched the 1983 movie a couple of days ago and boy did that suck and the two series (one in the '80s and one a few years ago) never approached the quality of the '50 run.
posted by octothorpe at 8:56 AM on September 26, 2009


I sorta disagree ... though no one would claim that they came close to the original, I found the '83 version had a few gems, at least initially. The problem is that the producers often thought that the typical "Twilight Zone" episode was merely a story with a sudden lame shocking twist(*); entirely ignoring that the "twist" was generally 1.) ironic, 2.) organic to the story, and 3.) oozing with pathos. Something that connects with you emotionally sticks with you, while simple shock twists are immediately forgotten.

==========
(*) Think of that exceptionally crappy non-TZ framing story that was used in the movie -- the one with Albert Brooks and Dan Ackroyd. Did Landis ever even see the TV show?
posted by RavinDave at 9:39 AM on September 26, 2009


The Original Zone is even more impressive when you consider how bad the three attempts at remaking it were. I just watched the 1983 movie a couple of days ago and boy did that suck and the two series (one in the '80s and one a few years ago) never approached the quality of the '50 run.

Well, really, there were at least four attempts: The movie, the first season of the '80s Twilight Zone, the subsequent seasons of the '80s Twilight Zone, and that latest debacle. The '80s Twilight Zone began life at CBS, and -- other than subject matter -- that first season wasn't much like the original series at all. Or maybe it's fairer to say it was a lot like the original series, but not in any way that you'd expect: Rather than doing straight-up homage to Serling, they made his show as it might have been done three decades later, keeping in mind that the original TZ, for all that it is familiar to us now, was pretty bold and experimental in its day. The hour-long format was chopped up in a dozen ways, presenting us with stories that might run ten minutes or thirty or forty-five, so that each episode was an anthology to itself; William Friedkin directed an episode; writers included Harlan Ellison and George R.R. Martin; stories were adapted from Bradbury, Theodore Sturgeon, Stephen King, Robert R. McCammon, and others -- tons of others. I think it's probably the best show of its kind since the original series, and here and there, it's better than that.

Then CBS canceled it and the rest of it was done original for syndication, but the less said about those episodes, the better.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 10:01 AM on September 26, 2009


I think Ellison and King were jarringly out of place, though. Not knocking them as writers -- AM knocking them as TZ writers. They either didn't understand the charm of the show, or didn't really care. King's "Gramma" episode (adapted by Ellison, iirc) was so klutzy and amateurish that I'd rather believe that Ellison put it up just to be ... well ... Ellison.
posted by RavinDave at 11:06 AM on September 26, 2009


Kittens, I only watched the first season of the '80s series and do remember the heavyweight writing talent being hyped but also remember them being boring and bland. I haven't seen them since, are they worth re-watching?
posted by octothorpe at 11:34 AM on September 26, 2009


My heart skipped beats to Night Gallery when I was young. Here is an online "gallery" of the paintings they used in the episodes.

I finally saw some of the original Twilight Zone years later in re-runs. Truly amazing lighting and camera work.

Also of interest, Serling's teleplay later remade into an interesting Hollywood movie: Requiem for Heavyweight.
posted by ovvl at 12:25 PM on September 26, 2009


I'm pretty sure "Night Gallery" was inspired by Orson Welles' radio show "The Black Museum", though I approve of how they expanded upon the premise.
posted by RavinDave at 1:01 PM on September 26, 2009


At least now with giant DVD collections and streaming video we no longer have to be spoon-fed morsels from KTLA, WTBS, etc, like in the old days.

Yeah, but those DVD sets are bloody expensive. I'll end up paying anyways though. bleh.
posted by broken wheelchair at 1:27 PM on September 26, 2009


Is that pilot intro from the one the network rejected for being too bleak?
posted by broken wheelchair at 1:28 PM on September 26, 2009


(I dunno ... I was always a bit peeved that they called themselves "SciFi" in the first place.)

I hear that. But I'm already dreading the first time I see someone review a "SyFy" movie, or see a "SyFy" section in a bookstore.

You know it'll happen.
posted by rokusan at 1:30 PM on September 26, 2009


I have the recent remake of TZ on DVD- the one with Forrest Whittaker hosting and Korn doing the theme song. It is goddamn terrible. It's always that one of the characters is dead or that our best-laid plans go wrong or some other incredibly hackneyed premise is in place. TZ was in part notable for its fierce originality- the unexpectedness of it all.

That said, the sequel to "It's a Good Life" that had Cloris Leachman and the kid who played Anthony playing their old roles again had its moments, as did the "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" remake. I suppose that about says it all, eh?
posted by Pope Guilty at 3:10 PM on September 26, 2009


I think Ellison and King were jarringly out of place, though. Not knocking them as writers -- AM knocking them as TZ writers. They either didn't understand the charm of the show, or didn't really care. King's "Gramma" episode (adapted by Ellison, iirc) was so klutzy and amateurish that I'd rather believe that Ellison put it up just to be ... well ... Ellison.

I don't think of them as out of place at all, actually...I mean, Ellison straight-up does all the time the science-fiction-as-social-allegory thing that Serling did in most of his episodes, and King isn't exactly a far cry from Richard Matheson or Charles Beaumont. I'd disagree as well with your assessment of "Gramma"...the only thing I find really regrettable about it is the whole deal with the shadow guys on the walls, which surely worked better on paper. Georgie's approach of the maybe-dead Gramma is suspenseful as hell (YMMV, of course), and while you could quibble about the kid's VO in the scene, I'm not sure the story would work at all as a film without it (although, you know, there's no dialogue at all in the original TZ's "The Invaders," so maybe). I also think it's interesting that no other King adaptation I can think of has ever tried to show its protagonist's interior monologue...depending on your take on how well it's carried off in "Gramma," that's either a good or bad thing, I suppose.

Kittens, I only watched the first season of the '80s series and do remember the heavyweight writing talent being hyped but also remember them being boring and bland. I haven't seen them since, are they worth re-watching?

I think that's sorta contingent upon your level of patience, really. A LOT of people worked on that show, and some of them were vastly more talented than others. I'd say it also depends on how dark you like a show like this. The lighter episodes tend to be the weakest (whimsy wasn't something that came easily to the original TZ, either, to my mind; there are good funny episodes, but there's a reason why they're not what the show is remembered for), whereas generally the grimmer the show got, the better it was. Though it's nowhere near as marketable a name, it might have been more appropriate to make it a reboot of Night Gallery, honestly.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:12 PM on September 26, 2009


Serling's TZ did whimsy okay sometimes. One of my all-time favorite episodes is still Night of the Meek.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:38 PM on September 26, 2009 [1 favorite]


My parents weren't bigs fans of television, so even though we could have easily afforded a much nicer one, the only TV we had when I was 10 years old (1977) was an old black and white set that was down in the unfinished basement, on top of a workbench with a couple of uncomfortable wooden folding chairs in front of it.

Channel 11 in NY ran the Twilight Zone every weeknight from 11:30 PM TO 12:30 pm, I don't remember how I first discovered it, but it was the *perfect* way to watch: sneaking out of bed late at night when everyone else was asleep, tiptoeing ever so carefully down the creaky steps to the dark, dark, basement, pulling up a chair close so I could keep the volume down low, and spending the next hour getting my ten-year old mind blown.

It set my standards very high at a relatively young age -- I knew how good science fiction / speculative TV could be! -- and no doubt set the stage for me discovering Ellison & Vonnegut a couple of years later. I'm quick to give the authors I fell in love with in my early teens a lot of credit for opening my eyes to a lot of crazy shit, but really I ought to be giving Serling a lot more credit.

I remember reading an interview long ago with him in which he basically said (I'm paraphrasing of course): 1/3 of the TZ episodes were kind of corny and lame, 1/3 were pretty decent TV, and 1/3 were really surprisingly excellent. I'd pretty much agree with that, and add that those are ASTOUNDINGLY good figures for a weekly anthology TV show. He was rightly proud of those statistics.

Also: see if you can track down a VHS (I don't think its ever been put on DVD) of the 1956 television movie "Patterns", for which he wrote the script. A corporate drama starring Van Heflin as an executive learning what it takes to move up the ladder, with no TZ elements, and it is brutal.
posted by the bricabrac man at 6:52 PM on September 26, 2009 [2 favorites]


Pope Guilty:Serling's TZ did whimsy okay sometimes. One of my all-time favorite episodes is still Night of the Meek.

Thats one of my favorites as well for exactly the same reason. The Bard is an example of an episode with whimsy and a heaping dose of TV satire.
posted by dr_dank at 9:27 PM on September 26, 2009


« Older Free Recordings of The Mel Blanc Show   |   It is the season to be jolly!!! Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post