Now that we've gotten past the 50th anniversaries of the JFK Assassination and Doctor Who, it's worthwhile to look at some OTHER important things that happened near the end of 1963, like the creation of the first "smiley face", the publication of Maurice Sendak's "Where the Wild Things Are", and a paper by Kenneth J. Arrow, professor of economics at Stanford University, which "founded the field of health care economics" (coming to a conclusion that well-funded Economists still deny today). From one of the best time-capsule blogs on the web: The '60s At 50. [more inside]
On this day in 1959, The Twilight Zone premiered. Here is the orginal pilot with a long pitch from Rod Serling to sponsors explaining the show, and previewing the first season up front
Writer Richard Matheson has died. One of the most prolific and adapted American authors of the last half of the Twentieth Century is gone. [more inside]
"Employers could get waivers to work kids later than that but Landis did not seek one. The exact reason for this failure later became a matter of intense dispute. Either he thought he would not get the waiver because the hour was too late or he knew he could not get approval to have kids around a helicopter and explosives." [more inside]
"It's a Good Life" is a 1953 story by Jerome Bixby, who also wrote It! The Terror From Beyond Space, said to be the inspiration for Alien, and the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" (the one with evil bearded Spock.) It was made into a famous Twilight Zone episode, and is generally considered among the greatest SF stories ever written. Is "It's a Good Life" about God? Communism? 1950s suburban conformity? Or just about the horror of the self-contained world it creates in its few pages and the terrible realization that it would be possible to survive inside it, for a while?
"I ought to warn you, if you haven't read any of my stories, that you may be a little disturbed by some of the things that happen."
Though Roald Dahl is better known in this day as the author of stories for children, he had a parallel career as the author of short stories with more adult, macabre sensibilities. Some of those stories became part of a short-run series to fill the slot of to not one but two ill-fated Jackie Gleason shows. But instead of another game show or talk show, CBS wanted something to pair with the Twilight Zone. That show was Way Out, though it didn't rate well and only ran for 14 episodes (and 5 episodes are on Archive.org). 18 years later, Dahl returned to TV with his sinister stories, but this time it was in the UK, where Tales of the Unexpected lasted 9 seasons, 112 episodes in total. You can view 23 or so episodes online, split into parts (YT Playlist). [more inside]
Richard Matheson—Storyteller - To mark the publication of a book of tribute stories writer and editor Richard Bradley has been blogging about the author's 60 year writing career- covering I Am Legend, Duel, and The Incredible Shrinking Man, not to mention Somewhere in Time (full index here). Of course Matheson is probably most famous for his contributions to the Twilight Zone, being one of it's three major writers and scripting Nightmare at 20,000 feet. Twice.
Ambrose Bierce's "An Occurrance at Owl Creek Bridge" is considered "one of the most widely read, widely anthologized, widely taught, and widely admired short stories in all of American literature." As well as TVTropes' earliest example of [SPOILER] a Dying Dream. An Oscar and Cannes award winning short film was made from the story, "La Rivière du hibou" that was aired on American TV as an episode of "The Twilight Zone" (part one, two, three). Since then, it has been read by 'Front Porch Al' on the CBC's "As It Happens", and been the basis of umpteen other short films. Recently, the original film was 'mashed up' with Jethro Tull's "Thick as a Brick", and now the story has gotten the full Music Video treatment, for the (not really related) song "Unlovable" by Babybird, directed by Johnny Depp. [more inside]
An eerie tribute to countless Twilight Zone episodes, Pixar Animator Rodrigo Blaas has published his animated short film Alma. [more inside]
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. [more inside]
Mike Wallace interviews Rod Serling in 1959, discussing timidity and censorship in television programming, and Serling's upcoming series The Twilight Zone. Part one. Part two. Part three. (TouTube links)
The "terminator" is the dividing line between day and night as seen from on high. This shadow line is diffuse and shows the gradual transition to darkness we experience as twilight. [more inside]
Free Star Trek. The only Star Trek that matters -- the ones with Kirk, Spock, Bones, and the rest. [more inside]
Bernard Herrmann: I've always loved Bernard Herrmann's music (symphonic or film) but I didn't know until this afternoon that he was responsible for the two most recognizable bars of music in the last 30 years: the theme for The Twilight Zone.
The Internet Pinball Database has shots of backglasses, playing tables, and promotional flyers for just about every pinball machine ever created. I loved pinball. Now, it seems impossible to find a machine to play on. Back when I worked at a local pizza shop, we had a rotation of some great machines. I really enjoyed the Addams Family, Star Wars, Lethal Weapon 3 (which i remember as being really easy), and especially the Twilight Zone game, with the special white power ball. A walk down memory lane that served me well. Find a place near you to play some pinball here. Or, you could just go pro.