Twilight Zone: The True Story | NowThis Nerd

Hey everyone, I’m Moose, and today on Nerd, we’re looking at the legacy of TV’s most legendary science fiction series: You've just crossed over into ‘The Twilight Zone’ Why did Rod Serling create the show in the first place? How do its various reboots throughout the years stack up to the original? And what does ‘The Twilight Zone’ mean in 2019? This is The True Story of The Twilight Zone Time can get a little funky inside the fifth dimension, so let’s keep things simple and start at the beginning, with The Origin Creator Rod Serling’s career began in the waning days of radio, where he was able to witness first-hand the medium’s slow decline into irrelevance

Well, if that don't beat the– Serling was disheartened by the lack of quality and ambition he experienced in the world of radio drama, and he was determined not to let the same thing happen with a newfangled invention called television After making the leap to the moving image, Serling’s innovative, insightful scripts began turning heads, although he chafed against censorship and sponsor demands In one script, he was forced to delete the line ‘I need a match,’ because the show was being paid for by a lighter company In another, he had to remove shots of the Chrysler building from the New York skyline, because that show was sponsored by Ford Get the full story at your Ford dealers! Worse than petty pedantic problems, Serling’s sponsors refused to let him address anything controversial He wanted to tackle important social issues, about race, and class, and what it means to be human, but he quickly realized the only way to do that would be to create his own show, So long as you're appealing to a totally commercial entity, who's job it is is to move product, Then wherein lies the challenge for the networks to improve the quality of their product

so he did His first script for what he hoped would become ‘The Twilight Zone’ was called ‘The Time Element,’ about a man convinced he’s travelling back to the day of the Pearl Harbor attack I told you! I told you! Why wouldn't anybody listen to me? I told you! All the classic Serling hallmarks are present, from the trippy premise to the twist ending, and while CBS dug the script, they didn’t want to commit to a series, so they filmed it for a show produced by Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz instead Good evening ladies and gentlement, and welcome to another 'Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse' Ricky Ricardo’s narration doesn’t quite evoke the gravitas of Serling’s stern monologues, but the episode was a hit, and CBS quickly gave the greenlight to ‘The Twilight Zone

’’ ‘The Twilight Zone’ was groundbreaking in more ways than we can count It wasn’t the first dedicated science fiction show on TV, kid shows like ‘Captain Video’ and earlier anthologies like ‘Tales of Tomorrow’ beat it to the screen by a few years, but Serling elevated the genre to the same heights it was achieving on the printed page He used scripts and stories from legends like Richard Matheson and Ray Bradbury, and paved the way for future cerebral shows like ‘The Outer Limits’ and, of course, ‘Star Trek’ [KIRK SCREAMING] Which was also a Desilu production With ‘The Twilight Zone,’ Serling finally had the chance to produce his powerful, political scripts, like ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street,’ an allegory for Cold War McCarthyist paranoia, They're our neighbors

We've known the Goodmans ever since they came here! We're good friends That don't prove a thing! or ‘I Am the Night, Color Me Black,’ where all the racism in the world comes to life and forms a cloud of smothering darkness Look at that It's getting even darker now Look, no one ever said 'The Twilight Zone' was subtle, But, in telling socially conscious stories in the early ‘60s, it was definitely radical Still, as innovative as it was, ‘The Twilight Zone’ was never much of a ratings hit

The show was actually cancelled and revived twice during its five-year run, and by the time the axe dropped a third time, Serling was too exhausted to fight it He owned nearly every aspect of production, writing 92 of the 156 episodes, and hosting every single one, despite his stage fright So gentlemen, please sit back and take your first trip into 'The Twilight Zone' Serling moved on to less taxing roles, like appearing in commercials, hosting game shows and writing the screenplay for ‘Planet of the Apes’ Gosh, darn you all to heck! After ‘The Twilight Zone’ was cancelled, ABC offered to pick it up, with some conditions: They wanted to focus strictly on schlocky horror, and change the title to ‘Witches, Warlocks, and Werewolves’ Rather than see his baby bastardized, Serling sold his stake in ‘The Twilight Zone’ to CBS

Things were different in the ‘60s, reruns and syndication were still in their infancy, and once a show ended, it just languished forgotten in a vault Serling didn’t see any further value in his creation, and for a while, neither did CBS He eventually returned to the world of anthologies with ‘Rod Serling’s Night Gallery,’ and while he could rock a mean set of ‘70s sideburns, without creative control, the horror series never reached the same heights as ‘The Twilight Zone,’ and neither did its many Reboots Through the years, creatives like Francis Ford Coppola and Serling himself pitched the network on potential revivals, but the network didn’t bite Instead, they opted to make a big budget anthology movie in 1983, with each segment helmed by the biggest directors of the day, like John Landis, George Miller, Joe Dante, and Steven Spielberg, who oversaw the whole production Three stories were remakes that upped the budget and intensity of their original episodes, but lacked the sincerity and gravitas that Serling brought to the table

What are you doing? And the only original segment, ‘Time Out,’ is overshadowed by the tragic helicopter accident that killed Vic Miller and two child actors who were working illegally on the set Reviews were mixed, and while it didn’t exactly set the box office on fire, it garnered enough interest that CBS gave the green light for a new series in 1985 They were never big believers in the show, but in a post 'ET' and 'Poltergeist' world, they saw an audience for serious and spooky science fiction

They're heeere The new series had some serious talent behind the scenes, like director Wes Craven, and scripts from sci-fi powerhouses like Harlan Ellison and George R R

Martin There was no shortage of star power in front of the camera either, but still, the show never managed to find an audience Maybe it was the fact that there was no on-screen, Serling-style narrator, or the new theme song from the Grateful Dead was too far out Either way, the ‘80s Twilight Zone was a ratings disappointment, and it was canned after three seasons It’s a bummer, because there were a lot of quality episodes in there, but at least it lasted longer than the 2002 reboot on UPN

The new series righted at least one wrong of the ‘80s version, by tapping Forest Whitaker to fill Serling’s role as the on-camera narrator, but the opening theme by Jonathan Davis from Korn hasn’t aged nearly as well A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind The series was yet another mix of new stories and classic episodes updated for a post-911 world, like a new version of ‘Maple Street’ that substituted terrorism for the aliens of the original, There has to be a beacon, to show the terrorists where to bomb! or a straight-up sequel to the iconic ‘It’s a Good Life,’ where the all-powerful Anthony has an even-more omnipotent daughter We don't want to make him angry, do we? I don't care! I hate him! Sadly, it only lasted a single season, and ‘The Twilight Zone’ returned to the realm of reruns and annual marathons At least, until CBS announced an all new incarnation for 2019, and if you ask me, it’s the perfect time, because the last 60 years of science fiction has been shaped by Rod Serling’s Influence Rod Serling, a lifelong smoker, died of a heart attack on June 28, 1975

He was already an icon among the sci-fi set, Yes, I'm the mayor of this town In fact they named it after me! I'm Mr Zone but he passed long before his true impact could be felt on pop culture ‘The Twilight Zone’ was never a commercial juggernaut, but it lived on through novels, games, one of the greatest pinball machines of all time, and a theme park ride that was so terrifying they made a whole damn movie about it

It’s not just about the merch, either, hundreds of shows throughout history have paid tribute to the Twilight Zone, You're Hitler! No! Eva Braun, help me! Saw it coming from ‘SNL’ to ‘Garth Marenghi's Darkplace’ It might be the most parodied pop culture relic next to Citizen Kane, hell, we did a whole video on how ‘The Simpsons’ paid homage to Serling’s show, and that’s just scratching the surface But beyond references, ‘The Twilight Zone’ is almost single handedly responsible for bringing intelligent, high quality, science fiction with a message to the masses Sci-fi had always tackled social issues through allegory and fantasy, just look at H

G Wells and Jules Verne, but Serling took it out of the book stores, matinee cinemas and pulp magazines, and blew the minds of millions of people around the world ‘The Twilight Zone’ proved that television shows could be smart, socially aware, and yes, scary, without dumbing things down and playing to the lowest common denominator It’s influence can be seen in everything from the cerebral horror and terrifying twists of David Lynch and M Night Shyamalan, to the razor sharp techno-savvy satire of ‘Black Mirror,’ which we all know is basically ‘Twilight Zone but smartphones

’ Anthology series are back in a big way, and given the current state of global politics, the world has never been more ready for a new spin on Serling’s staple And when we found out that noted comedian, actor, writer, director, and ‘How to Kill’ fan Jordan Peele was going to produce and host, we were all in So how will the new ‘Twilight Zone’ stack up to Serling's legacy? Well, only time will tell, but luckily, we’ve got all the time in the world

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