Readers here already know I’m a huge fan of the original Twilight Zone and its creator, Rod Serling. He’s cited as one of three writing influences for my creative work (Stephen King and Robert McCammon are the other two) and for good reason.
The guy was flat out an amazing writer. Sure, he dealt in television script writing, but a lot of what Serling did in that short run time was, truly, as timeless as infinity. Can’t compliment his work enough. It’s freaking legendary.
I’m currently in process of reviewing all 156 episodes of the classic Twilight Zone for this blog. It will, intentionally, take many years to complete this project. Probably more years than I have left on earth, because each episode, each review, is a time portal itself. It takes me back to a place I can only dream any new Twilight Zone could provide and have to dive into that frame of mind for each review. For example, see: TV SERIES Review: The Twilight Zone (1959) S1E1 – Where is Everybody?⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️½ (#1 of 156) which was intentionally published on Valentine’s Day 2020 at a very specific time.
(easter egg alert!)
With the various reboots and sequels, they could go where Serling went, but often they don’t. They are imitations, but not his work. It’s more than his work, it’s his spirit and dedication, as well as the many others around him that put that show lovingly together.
Bless Jordan Peele’s heart for coming as close to what Serling did as anybody else in recent memory. He’s donning the familiar black suit, he released episodes in black and white and the themes and style of the new Twilight Zone episodes are trying to be there. I think the length of the episodes remain one vital, missing ingredient.
Cut the episodes down to 25 minutes max. We don’t need padding, we don’t need too much told to us, just show us the spark and let our imaginations fill in the gaps. Today storytelling is longer and I think that’s often to its detriment. Longer isn’t necessarily better (listen up, Martin Scorsese). Yes, it can be, but the Twilight Zone stories worked best in 25 minutes or less. Even the original fourth season they tried to expand to an hour length and Rod Serling himself admitted that the format didn’t fit the show and the stories they were trying to tell.
Jordan Peele isn’t likely to listen to me, but maybe someday we’ll get a Twilight Zone like the classic series. One that starts out in black and white, is a true homage in every little detail. Use the stock music, sound effects, shadowy lighting which only works in black and white, not in color, BTW. Make a black and white TV show first and secondly a color 4K HD or whatever whiz bang super sharp, clear technology exists.
Peele is a better narrator than Forest Whitaker. I’m not sure if Whitaker was involved as much creatively as Peele, but think more episodes were better under the Whitaker version. Alas, CBS All Access doesn’t offer the Whitaker hosted Twilight Zone, nor does it offer the first sequel in the 80s for comparison. Get with the program, CBS, and put all The Twilight Zone series on your service!
Back to present day and Twitter. I don’t use Twitter that much or involve in many conversations there, but I do read and enjoy following some people there.
One of my favorite people I enjoy following on Twitter is Anne Serling, because she somewhat frequently posts pictures of her father along with quotes by him that are shockingly relevant today. It’s a Twilight Zone moment that many of the same social and political issues, as well as business pressure and conflicts that Rod faced in the 50s and 60s, still exist today in some shape or form.
According to Anne, Serling was once asked what he would want on his gravestone. Serling replied, “He left friends.” Anne said that when she was finally able to visit his grave after coping with his death, someone had left a message on a piece of tape attached to a flag that read, “He left friends.”Rod Serling of ‘The Twilight Zone’ was not ‘this dark, tortured soul’ after World War II, says his daughter
I’d be the first to admit Twitter is full of a lot of crap and time wasting nonsense, but I’ll never tire of reading Rod Serling quotes tweets by his daughter.
Follow Anne on Twitter at @AnneSerling