I’ve often joked that everything I need to know I learned from The Twilight Zone, but in all seriousness, it was a great show which taught a lot of moral lessons to people of all ages.
I’m certainly glad I watched it backwards and forwards when I was young and impressionable, because a lot of it still sticks with me after all these years.
Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling was a great writer, and a deeply moral man who used science fiction and fantasy as a Trojan horse of sorts to bring strong messages to TV audiences.
Serling had already won an Emmy for the TV movie Patterns, and as Twilight Zone writer George Clayton Johnson says, “Everybody thought Rod was taking a big step backward with these little half-hour plays after having won these Emmys and being the great playwright. And now here he is off there doing these little science fiction things. So what the hell is he up to here? Is he selling out? No. He was a man who recognized the death of live T.V., who saw that everything was becoming film, who was working for several years trying to get this together.
“He had been shaping the idea of doing half hour science fiction stories because that way he could escape some of the worst aspects of censorship,” continues Johnson. “If you want to talk about (racism) in the South, just make them aliens and that’s okay.”
As Serling himself once said, “On the Twilight Zone, I knew that I could get away with Martians saying things that Republicans and Democrats couldn’t.”
Every year there’s seemingly something new with The Twilight Zone, and now a biopic is in the works on Rod Serling, which like a movie on Howard Hughes is long over due. Stanley Weiser, screenwriter of Wall Street, will pen the script, and Carol Serling, Rod’s widow who guards the Twilight Zone flame, is also onboard as a producer.
There have also been reports that another Twilight Zone movie – with Leonardo DiCaprio producing – may also be in the works. (Of course, it remains unknown if the potential movie will recreate Twilight Zone episodes, try to make new ones, what it will be, or if it will ever get made.)
Carol Serling has often expressed amazement that every year there’s new things in development around The Twilight Zone, but she shouldn’t be too surprised. The best episodes, and Serling’s messages, still ring loud and clear, and will always remain topical and relevant.