Thursday, December 13, 2012

Rod Serling

I was sitting here watching television when a commercial came on for THE TWILIGHT ZONE. My wife, mother-in-law and I talked about how great the show was and how amazing Rod Serling was as a creator and innovator of the television medium.

Writer, producer, novelist, actor and more, Serling was a fantastic influence on television and the art of storytelling.A paratrooper in the Philippians in the 40s, Serling lived through the war and survived to move on to radio and slid into the ground floor of television. He carved out a little spot for himself in Kraft Television Theater and onward and upward from there.

In 1959, Serling spearheaded THE TWILIGHT ZONE. His first series was a success and went on for five seasons. Science Fiction and Fantasy filled the ZONE with fantastic flights of fancy from some of the best writers in the industry at the time including Serling himself. Eventually, he ended up selling the series to CBS due to the fact that he wasn't able to consistently make money on the project. He wanted his own studio and production company and was willing to give up THE TWILIGHT ZONE to get it.

In 1969, THE NIGHT GALLERY was born. Evidently, he gave up much of the creative control to Jack Laird and regretted it later. However, it was worth it. The Night Gallery was a fantastic dive into a darker realm than the Twilight Zone lived in. The Night Gallery was creepy, full of shadows and scary. Again, Serling penned over a third of the stories himself, but also had the cream of the crop writing for him as well.

Serling returned to radio in 1973 to host The Zero Hour - a radio drama program that featured tales of mystery, suspense and adventure.  He even wrote some of the scripts. You can still listen to the show in podcast form, though the quality is a bit dodgy. 

Serling was involved in a lot more than writing and feature creation. He was an activist and a go getter. He was anti-war and pro racial equality. But, you can look all of that up on the WIKI.

Serling was an amazing thinker who was ahead of his time in many ways. People aim for innovative television series' like The Twilight Zone and The Night Gallery today and, while there are some great shows being produced, they don't break ground like Serling broke in the 50s, 60s and 70s. If death did not take him at age 50, he might have gone on to produce more amazing work in the 80s and 90s. Sadly, we'll never know.

I would have loved a paring of Serling and King or Serling and Clive Barker somehow. Something deep and dark and hard hitting.

Today's J.J Abrams types are fantastic, but much of the ground that they walk on is pathed by the likes of the genius, talent and exploration of Mr. Rod Serling.

Rod Serling. December 25, 1924 – June 28, 1975.

Happy Birthday!

Twilight Zone - Time Enough at Last Part One

Night Gallery - The Merciful

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