Long time readers of TG know we’re big fans of Rod Serling, and he’s personally been one of my biggest heroes.
I’ve always joked everything I need to know I learned from the Twilight Zone, as the show taught a lot of great moral lessons that have stayed with me over the years.
I’m sure this was part of Serling’s design, because sci-fi was always his Trojan horse to sneak messages through. Doing normal teleplays, Serling was always subject to network censorship, but when he changed the characters to aliens instead of Republicans, Serling slipped a lot by ’em.
So now there’s a new retrospective coming to the L.A. area, with the UCLA Film and Television Archive sponsoring “Rod Serling: Other Dimensions,” which will run from July 27 to September 19 at the Billy Wilder Theater in L.A.
As the L.A. Times notes, it’s not only going to show Twilight Zone episodes, but films Serling wrote like the political thriller Seven Day in May, the TV drama A Storm in Summer, as well as some of his best Playhouse 90 episodes like Requiem For a Heavyweight, and The Comedian.
JJ Abrams grew up loving The Twilight Zone like many of us, he incorporated some of the TZ episode “Walking Distance” in the film Super 8, and as Abrams told the Times, Serling “cared desperately about the world and wrote about it… The reason we are still talking about Rod Serling is that he knew how to write the kind of pieces that were anything but disposable. They were widely entertaining, deeply meaningful and some of the best work I have ever seen on television.”
Reading this story in the Times, I was sadly reminded that Serling died at the age of 50, but in his brief time on earth he sure got a hell of a lot done. He was able to prove that television didn’t have to be “the idiot box” and could provoke social change.
The fact that he wrapped moral lessons in such an entertaining package is really a remarkable achievement, not to mention we’re still writing about The Twilight Zone after all this time. Consider if you will Mr. Serling, you left a remarkable gift to us that keeps on giving.