Tagged: Twilight Zone

Mike Gold: The Dimension of Mind

Twilight Zone

The so-called Golden Age of Television, with its two and one-half channels of network programming, produced an astonishing number of great writers, directors and talent. To name but a very, very few: Barbara Bel Geddes, Paddy Chayefsky, George Roy Hill, Ron Howard, Ernest Kinoy, Jack Lemmon, Sidney Lumet, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Boris Sagal, Rod Serling, Rod Steiger, Gore Vidal, Joanne Woodward… my fingers won’t hold out long enough to type even a “best-of” list.

requiem-for-a-heavyweightYou’ll never guess which of the above pioneers is my favorite.

When Scottish engineer John Logie Baird first demonstrated television in January 1926 (six years before Philo Farnsworth demonstrated the first electronic television), Rod Serling was just a few days over one year old. Baby boomers think we grew up with television; Mr. Serling actually has that honor. And he did a lot more with the medium than we would.

His worldview was clearly progressive; his 1950s work was not the one for which the Conservative movement longed so desperately. His scripts reflected his philosophy and he was left-of-center, but somehow he avoided being blacklisted. To Serling, his great enemy was censorship. “I’ve found censorship always begins with the network. Then it spreads to the advertising agency. Then the sponsor. Among them, when they get through, there isn’t very much left.”

PatternsRod Serling wrote about, and wrote to, the human condition. Most of us are familiar with his creation The Twilight Zone, a high-water mark in the history of the medium. But I urge you to seek out a few of his previous works, in particular Patterns and Requiem For A Heavyweight. Both were originally done on live television, and each was so successful that theatrical movies were produced later – and both movie versions were written – rewritten – by Serling. Patterns was so successful that the broadcast was restaged live with the original cast about a month later. Remember, Ampex didn’t start marketing video tape recorders until 1956, a year after Patterns was broadcast.

Both plays are about the human condition, sans science fiction and fantasy elements. Patterns is about the ousting of a long-time big business executive who fights being phased out due to his age. Requiem is about an aging boxer no longer fit for the ring and his fight to maintain some sense of dignity while trying to cover the rent. Jack Palance starts in the latter (Tony Quinn starred in the film version) and Everett Slone starred in both versions of Patterns. Slone is best known for his work with Orson Welles in Citizen Kane, The Lady from Shanghai and Journey Into Fear; he also was a regular on Welles’ The Shadow and his Mercury Theater radio productions.

I prefer the original video versions because they were initially written for that medium and because live television, particularly in the 1950s, had the ambiance of “holy crap; that guy just tripped over the microphone cable.” The original versions of both plays are available on DVD, or, better still, the three-disk version of Criterion’s The Golden Age of Television.

Many consider Serling’s The Twilight Zone to be the epitome of great television writing. I concur, but it must be noted Rod brought in a hell of a lot of first-class talent to help him turn out those 156 episodes. Serling wrote 80 and the rest were scripted by folks like Charles Beaumont, Ray Bradbury, Earl Hamner Jr., George Clayton Johnson, Richard Matheson, and Reginald Rose. The shadow cast by Twilight Zone is so deep and rich that it tends to overwhelm Serling’s other achievements.

I know there’s more worthy programming on the boob tube these days than any non-shut-in can handle, but when you can arrange for a free second or two, check out the original versions of Patterns and Requiem For A Heavyweight.

 

The Point Radio: DaVINCI’S DEMONS Back For More

In a few days, Starz will premiere the second season of their original series, DaVINCI’S DEMONS. Stars Laura Haddock and Tom Riley give us a preview of what’s coming up on the show, plus bad news for the Big Two in the bookstore and some very cool TWILIGHT ZONE toys are headed to your shelf.

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

Richard Matheson: 1926-2013

Richard-MathesonRenowned science fiction, fantasy, and horror writer Richard Matheson died June 23, 2013 at his home at the age of 87. Matheson is the author of classic SF novels I Am Legend (1954) and The Shrinking Man (1956), among numerous other books. Many of his iconic works have become abiding parts of popular culture, and many of them have been adapted into comics by IDW Publishing. Adaptations of his works included I Am Legend, adapted by Steve Niles and Elman Brown, Blood Son, adapted by Chris Ryall and Ashley Wood, and Duel by Ryall and Rafa Garres.

Matheson’s writing has always been popular for film and TV adaptations, with several of Matheson’s works being adapted, notably film versions of I Am Legend including The Last Man On Earth, The Omega Man, and I Am Legend. The Shrinking Man was filmed as The Incredible Shrinking Man (adapted by Matheson and winner of a Hugo Award for Outstanding Movie). Other novels that inspired films include A Stir of Echoes, Hell House, World Fantasy Award-winning romance Bid Time Return (filmed as Somewhere in Time), and What Dreams May Come.

His horror story “Duel” was the basis for one of the first films directed by Steven Spielberg, with a script by Matheson. He also wrote 14 episodes for The Twilight Zone, including classics “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”; the latter was adapted again as film Real Steel. He adapted his story “The Box” (1970) for an episode of the revived Twilight Zone in the ’80s called “Button, Button”, and the story also inspired film The Box (2009). He also wrote episodes for Star Trek (“The Enemy Within”) and Night Gallery, plus TV and feature films, including horror movies with director Roger Corman.

Matheson was a prolific author of horror, SF, fantasy, Westerns, suspense, and mainstream novels. His most recent books are Other Kingdoms and autobiographical novel Generations.

Matheson’s first genre story was “Born of Man and Woman” in 1950, winner of a Retro Hugo in 2001. His short work and scripts have been collected in many volumes, notably Born of Man and Woman: Tales of Science Fiction and Fantasy and World Fantasy Award winner Richard Matheson: Collected Stories.

Richard Burton Matheson was born February 20, 1926 in Allendale NJ. He grew up in Brooklyn and served in the infantry during WWII. He earned a journalism degree from the University of Missouri in 1949, and relocated to California in 1951. He married Ruth Ann Woodson in 1952, and they had four children, three of whom are writers — Chris Matheson, Richard Christian Matheson, and Ali Matheson.

Matheson won the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 1984 and a Stoker Life Achievement award in 1991. He was named a World Horror Grandmaster in 1991, an International Horror Guild Living Legend in 2000, and in 2010 was inducted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame in 2010.

Our condolences to his family, friends, and fans.

PULP IN THE TWILIGHT ZONE!

“The Obsolete Man”

New Pulp creators Martin Powell, Mark Maddox, Anthony Taylor, and Diana Leto join Bobby Nash and the Earth Station One podcast crew for a look at The Twilight Zone.

On the final episode of our Countdown to Halloween, the ESO crew travels to another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind. Mike Faber, Mike Gordon, and Bobby Nash, along with special guests Anthony Taylor, Martin Powell, Diana Leto, and the award-winning Mark Maddox journey to a wondrous land whose boundaries are only that of imagination. Our next stop: The Twilight Zone! Plus, artist Bret Herholz spends some time in The Geek Seat! All this and the usual Rants, Raves, Khan Report, and Shout Outs!

Join us for yet another episode of The Earth Station One Podcast we like to call: The Signpost Up Ahead Says You Are Now Entering.. The ESO Zone at www.esopodcast.com
Direct link: http://erthstationone.wordpress.com/2012/10/31/earth-station-one-episode-135/

Mike Gold: Icons

Not counting reprints of the newspaper strips, Tarzan of the Apes has been in the hands of no less than seven U.S. comic book publishers. That’s roughly one outfit per decade. Most enjoyed long and healthy runs by the standards of the time, legal quibbles notwithstanding.

Currently The Lone Ranger is in the hands of Dynamite Publishing. In those same 70 years, John, Tonto, Silver and Scout enjoyed lengthy runs at Western Publishing (Dell and Gold Key, which were two separate companies) and a shorter term at Topps.

The 1970s property Planet of the Apes has been kept alive by comics publishers, initially Marvel and now Boom! Studios.

The Shadow? Five comics publishers, extending the life of the original pulp and radio hero by more than a half-century… and counting.

The original Twilight Zone television show was cancelled in 1964; the Western Publishing comic book series ran until 1982.

The list goes on and on. What is it about the comic book medium that keeps iconic characters and concepts alive when their originating media cannot?

Math.

Television audiences are measured in units of one million, and very generally speaking you need at least ten of them to survive. Movie audiences are measured in units of ten million dollars and you need lots of those to survive. Mass-market paperbacks, radio drama, pulp magazines and newspaper continuity strips are virtually dead. In most cases, more than just “virtually.”

Comic book audiences are measured in units of one thousand, and these days you can achieve regular publishing with only five or ten such units, depending upon costs and foreign revenues. It’s a lot easier to grab five thousand readers than it is ten million viewers or one hundred million dollars at the box office. All you have to do is appeal to each property’s hardcore audience.

And this is why comics thrive. Appealing to the hardcore, to the most faithful, requires reaching and maintaining a higher standard of entertainment. Us fanboys and fangirls are damn picky. Unlike the movies we do not necessarily demand “name” talent, but we do demand that the writers and artists remain faithful to the source material while telling their stories in a contemporary manner – while being awe-inspiring at all times.

In comics, we’ve got a special effects budget that has no limit and our turn-around time is usually shorter than that of other media, e-books notwithstanding. We can stay on the cutting edge. We are limited only by our skill and our imagination.

Most important, we have fewer cigar-chomping asshole businesspeople mindlessly calling the shots. Well, certainly at those publishers that aren’t owned by major Hollywood studios.

I’d be impressed – very impressed – if I were to see a Zorro television series or a movie that is half as good as the storyline just completed by Matt Wagner and John K. Snyder III in Zorro Rides Again. But, trust me, I won’t be holding my breath.

When it comes to the icons of heroic fantasy, we do it better.

We do it best.

THURSDAY: Dennis O’Neil

 

Kevin McCarthy: 1914-2010

Kevin McCarthy: 1914-2010

Actor Kevin McCarthy, made famous by his role of Dr. Miles Bennell in Invasion of the Body Snatchers, passed away this past Saturday in Cape Cod; he was 96 years old.

McCarthy, who has been acting since 1938, has had an amazingly long career, acting even to this year, with many roles under his belt in the 90’s as well. A look at his IMDB page includes roles in movies, television, and even some voice-over work. His notable roles included Uncle Walt in the Twilight Zone movie, roles in Innerspace, Dark Tower, The Howling, and even a role as Marilyn Monroe’s husband in the 1961 film “The Misfits”. 

And while some in the later generations may recognize him as the evil R. J. Fletcher of Weird Al’s cinematic opus, UHF, it would be his role in Body Snatchers that would prove to be his most memorable. McCarthy would end up lending his memorable “You’re next!” performance in numerous spoofs and sci-fi projects… he even made a cameo as Dr. Bennell in the ’78 Body Snatchers remake, starring Donald Sutherland. Topping the list of off cameos though, McCarthy ended up appearing as Dr. Bennell in the 2003 Looney Toons: Back in Action movie– still in glorious black and white.

Kevin was married twice, once to Augusta Dabney, and then to Kate Crane. He had five children. Our condolences to his family.

Happy 50th Anniversary to ‘The Twilight Zone’!

Happy 50th Anniversary to ‘The Twilight Zone’!

On this day in 1959, Rod Serling and CBS introduced us to a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a
dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the
middle ground between light and shadow, between science and
superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit
of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area
which we call… the Twilight Zone.

The Twilight Zone ran for five seasons on CBS, then entered the dimension of infinite reruns to this very day– often with rerun marathons on July 4th and New Years Eve in local markets, a tradition that extends to its current home on the Syfy Channel. It won numerous Emmys and Writer’s Guild awards and spawned two series revivals, a movie, a song by Golden Earring, and countless other homages, and may be one of the most influential shows to air on television.

If you’re a fan, you can’t do better than the DVD compilations or Marc Scott Zicree’s Twilight Zone Companion. If you’ve never seen the show– how? Never mind, here’s the first episode for you on CBS’s web site.

Review: ‘Star Trek’ Season One on Blu-ray

Review: ‘Star Trek’ Season One on Blu-ray

All eyes are on what J.J. Abrams and his team have done to reinvigorate public interest in Star Trek. The reason the franchise, created by Gene Roddenberry, needs any attention at all is the result of inept studio focus during the 1990s and beyond. To Paramount’s management at the time, Star Trek was a cash cow to be milked dry as often and in as many ways as possible. Any care about creativity was a lucky happenstance, not by design. Therefore, they let Star Trek: Voyager limp along on their UPN network only to be followed by the even limper Star Trek; Enterprise. The film series, featuring The Next Generation characters, kept hitting the reset button until Nemesis, which had a disinterested director foisted upon the series at a time it really needed to improve its game given the critical drubbing the television version of the franchise was receiving.

By the time Enterprise was canceled and Nemesis got ignored at the box office, everyone agreed it was time to let the entire behemoth rest. Some argued forever, others wisely knew Paramount would never let it go so bet on three to five years.

What everyone seems to have forgotten is what Roddenberry got away with back in the 1960s. Today, we’re reminded of that once more with the release of the first season of the Original Series on Blu-ray. The 29 episodes that NBC aired during the 1966-1967 television season have been carefully restored, remastered, and augmented for today’s technology and audiences.

(more…)

New ‘Twilight Zone’ Graphic Novels Announced

New ‘Twilight Zone’ Graphic Novels Announced

Earlier this year, publisher Walker Books announced that they would be adapting episodes from the classic television series The Twilight Zone into a series of graphic novels. When the announcement was first made in April, the plan was to release two episodes this September and six more in the future. Today, the publisher released the names of the rest of the  episodes they’ll be adapting.

According to ICv2:

In December, The Monsters are Due on Maple St. from Season 1 and The Odyssey of Flight 33 from Season 2 will be released.

Spring 2009 will see The Midnight Sun and Deaths-Head Revisited, both from Season 3.

And in Fall 2009, Walker will release The Big Tall Wish from Season 1 and Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up from Season 2. 

For those who might have missed the initial announcement, Mark Kneece will be adapting the books from original scripts written by Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling. The 72-page, full-color projects will be illustrated by students from the Savannah College of Art and Design’s Sequential Arts Program. The books will retail for $9.99, which seems like a good deal if the projects turn out well.

The first two episodes hitting shelves will be "Walking Distance" and "The After Hours" — with the former holding a special significance in Serling’s life, according to ICv2:

Walking Distance, which is illustrated by Dove McHargue, is one of the most personal of all Serling’s scripts for The Twilight Zone.  It revolves around Martin Sloan, a successful middle-aged man who attempts to re-enter the world of his childhood, (which is based on Serling’s hometown of Binghampton, New York).

(Yes, I know they mispelled "Binghamton." But the books look pretty interesting, eh?)