a review of volume one
The first sentence of Carol Serling's introduction to this book is bold: "If you were born in the last century and had a TV set, chances are that you have heard of The Twilght Zone." But I believe that even that broad statement underplays Rod's influence on Western culture.
The phrase "Twilight Zone" and its concept of the surreal underpinnings of everyday life entered America's consciousnesss while the show was still in its initial run: public figures as diverse as a prize fighter and a politician both used it while The Twilght Zone was still in prime time.
Serling's passionate commitment to equality and justiceand especially his willingness to fight The Powers of the Day for these beliefsanticipated the social turmoil and progress of the latter Sixties. His use of fantasy to illustrate relevant points about the real world transformed drama.
Rod Serling rode the leading edge of culture in his era. His work still resonates today, forty-five years after the debut of his masterwork. That masterwork has been on the air continuously ever since.
That's one hell of a legacy to document, but As Timeless as Infinity: The Twilight Zone Scripts of Rod Serling is up to the task. Its finest touch may be presenting the master's work in its original hand-typed and pencil-edited form. The script pages are as blurry and old-fashioned looking as the black-and-white episodes of Twilight Zone. And Serling's brilliance shines through this time-frozen fog as clearly on the page as it does on the screen.
Submitted for your approval: Rod's background soliloquy for the classic "Eye of the Beholder"...
TO BE USED FOR "THE LEADER'S VOICE" THROUGHOUT ACT TWO
|Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Tonight I shall talk to you about glorious conformity... about the delight and the ultimate pleasure of our unified society... you recall, of course, that directionless, unproductive, over-sentimentalized era of man's history when it was assumed that dissent was some kind of natural and healthy adjunct to society. We also recall that during this period of time there was a strange over-sentimentalized concept that it mattered not that people were different, that ideas were at variance with one another, that a world could exist in some kind of crazy, patch-work kind of make up, with foreign elements glued together in a crazy quilt. We realize, of course, now that...|
(This covers the Leader's
Voice from P.15 through the bandage removal scene.)
(The following covers Janet's running through the corridor on page 22.)
|I say to you now... I say to you now that there is no such thing as a permissive society, because such a society cannot exist! They will scream at you and rant and rave and conjure up some dead and decadent picture of an ancient time when they said that all men are created equal! But to them equality was an equality of opportunity, an equality of status, an equality of aspiration! And then in what surely must be the pinnacle of insanity; the absolute in inconsistency, they would have had us believe that this equality did not apply to form, to color, to creed. They permitted a polyglot, accident-bred, mongol-like mass of diversification to blanket the earth, to infiltrate and weaken!|
(now he shrieks)
|Well we know now that there must be a single purpose! A single norm! A single approach! A single entity of peoples! A single virtue! A single morality! A single frame of reference! A single philosophy of government!|
|We cannot permit... we must not permit the encroaching sentimentality of a past age to weaken our resolve. We must cut out all that is different like a cancerous growth!|
The treat in this speech is emblematic of Rod Serling's talent: the internal consistency makes its outrageousness seem reasonable, while revealing the lunacy at its heart. This is how Rod showed us our own failings as humans. His penchant for offering his characters second chances is how he taught us that we could triumph over those failings.
The scripts are the core of this book, but they have elegant support: touching tributes, heart-felt appreciations, and sublime treats such as original clippings of ads and reviews and telegrams and contracts. And of course production photos. There is something for everyone in this volume, the first of a projected ten. These additional pages lend an unusual authenticity to the book; they frame the time that surrounded yet could not restrain The Twilight Zone.
Perhaps the finest aspect of this book that is external to Serling's work is the editor's commentary which follows each script. Tony Albarella is a lifelong fan and affianado of The Twilight Zone. He offers the same thoughtful analysis that he gave to Earl Hamner's Twilight Zone scripts in an earlier book, and so much more. You are treated to production notes, snippets from interviews, historical background, philosophical comment.
I found myself entranced by the tale of how the projectionst for "Where is Everybody?" got so wrapped up in the story that he left CBS President William Paley sitting in the dark between reel 2 and reel 3 of the audition screening. And my mouth dropped open at the real-life twist regarding Cliff Robertson's brush with death before production of "The Dummy."
You want the details? Buy the book. There's a treasure on every page.
Steve Schlich, www.rodserling.com webmaster
In Volume One:
Rockne S. O'Bannon
In Volume Two:
"A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain"
"King Nine will not Return"
"I am the Night - Color me Black"
"Of Late I Think of Cliffordville"
and autographs planned for future volumes