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A treasure trove of ‘The Twilight Zone’ magazine

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Somewhere in your life, a door opens, you enter, and you suddenly find yourself in another dimension—a place beyond that which is known to man. A dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. Or, as we prefer to call it, the Internet—where everything is available and time disappears as you spend hours upon hours drifting in the hell of an Internet K-hole.

Sometimes you’re lucky. Sometimes you avoid the endless loops of cat and baby videos and dodge the fake news and outraged memes about nothing very much in particular only to land safely in a strange repository of mystery and imagination.

One such idyllic location can be found at the Internet Archive where the Pulp Magazine Archive has nearly every back issue of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine. This is the place to spend hours, days even, happily reading, learning, and being thrilled by the very best genre writers of our age like Stephen King, Richard Matheson, Ray Bradbury, Joyce Carol Oates, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Robert Silverberg, and Harlan Ellison.

Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone Magazine started in April 1981 under the editorship of writer T. E. D. Klein and lasted until 1989. It was filled with first-class stories (see above), interviews with writers and directors, film reviews (including Stephen King’s take on Sam Raimi’s The Evil Dead), long illustrated features on films like Blade Runner, Gremlins, John Carpenter’s The Thing, and David Lynch’s Dune, plus book reviews by Thomas M. Disch and Theodore Sturgeon. There were also incredible treats like John Carpenters “lost” short fiction and the story behind H. P. Lovecraft’s “banned book.”

Now, thankfully to one kind dear soul who has lovingly scanned nearly every issue (sixty in total), you too can enjoy the pleasures of entering The Twilight Zone for yourself.
 
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Discover more treasures from ‘The Twilight Zone Magazine,’ after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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11.06.2017
11:08 am
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A gallery of the paintings from Rod Serling’s ‘Night Gallery’
10.06.2015
09:21 am
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“Something in the Woodwork”—click image for larger version
 
When it comes to innovators who have managed to push the medium of television to its absolute limits, the name Rod Serling has to top the list. In his groundbreaking series The Twilight Zone, he used his own original stories (as well as adaptations of works by some of the most imaginative writers in history) to teach simple moral truths by wrapping them up and disguising them in the various cloaks of fantasy, science fiction and horror. You might think you were merely watching a science fiction story, when, in fact, Rod Serling was busy teaching you how to be a more decent human being. The disguise made the truths somehow more interesting and easy to digest, but make no mistake, The Twilight Zone was teaching important lessons about topics as diverse as war, racism, xenophobia, and even standards of beauty.

Night Gallery, Rod Serling’s follow up to the highly successful Twilight Zone series, only lasted for three seasons before imploding under the pressure of internal conflicts. It seems that in a complete lapse of sanity, Jack Laird, the show’s producer, forgot a fundamental maxim of making great television: allow Rod Serling to do whatever he wants to do. Nevertheless, the show managed to squeak out a run on NBC from 1970-72.

The premise of Night Gallery centered around Serling as the curator of a Museum of the Macabre, and he would introduce the shows various segments with a piece of art that represented the basic story on canvas. These stories still mined the areas of fantasy, science fiction and horror which Serling knew so well—again utilizing his own original teleplays as well as adapting works by such writers as H.P. Lovecraft, August Derleth, and Robert A. Heinlein for the small screen—but at an hour’s running time, the show could present multiple segments, some of the more whimsical segments clocking in at under five minutes.

Unfortunately, the show was severely butchered for syndication. It was trimmed down from an hour to a mere thirty minutes, and many of the original segments suffered as a result. Longer pieces had to be edited down to fit, and shorter pieces had to be expanded to fill time. Also, the syndication package damaged the Night Gallery franchise further by coupling the original Night Gallery segments with an inferior show starring Gary Collins called The Sixth Sense and presenting them under the Night Gallery banner. Rest assured; they are not even close to being Night Gallery episodes. The Sixth Sense, too, was originally an hour in length, but it featured a single storyline each week. Editing these awful hour-long shows down to thirty minutes proved to be an example of how presenting less of something horrible can sometimes result in something even worse. Many episodes became downright incoherent.

The three works of art used in the pilot episode of Night Gallery were painted by Jaroslav “Jerry” Gebr, who was later brought back to paint the works used to introduce the episodes of The Sixth Sense that were combined with Night Gallery in syndication. The rest of the paintings for the Night Gallery series proper were done by Tom Wright, who currently works as a TV director (The X-Files, Millennium, The Wire, NCIS).

After Night Gallery was cancelled, many of the artworks used to introduce the stories were either altered for use in other productions, or sold by Universal Studios. Most of them remain in private hands, but occasionally, one will surface at an auction house. Surprisingly, there have been known cases of forgeries of some of these paintings. In December of 2002, two forgeries were offered in an online auction from Sotheby’s through eBay. One of the forgeries was pulled before the auction began, but the fact that forgeries even exist, and that people are willing to risk purchasing one serves as proof that these iconic paintings still generate public interest.

Well, just like in an episode of The Twilight Zone or Night Gallery, your wishes have come true. Now, you can study these paintings online at your leisure. The Night Gallery website has recently published the original pieces used in the series (excluding the pieces that accompanied episodes of The Sixth Sense in syndication, of course). You can now gaze and marvel at these incredible works of art in-between watching episodes of Night Gallery online at Hulu.com.

These paintings REALLY creeped me out as a kid. Somehow, they aren’t quite as pants-shittingly scary as an adult viewing them on a crystal clear office monitor instead of as a kid absorbing them through a staticky 26-inch cathode-ray-tube in a darkened room, but they’re still fascinating works. All of them are available for viewing on the Night Gallery site, but here’s a small day gallery of the best works.

You can click on the image to see a larger version.


“The Cemetery”
 

“Eyes” (Joan Crawford, obviously)
 
The ‘Night Gallery’ gallery continues, after the jump…

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Posted by Christopher Bickel
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10.06.2015
09:21 am
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Rod Serling explains how censorship led to the creation of ‘The Twilight Zone’
12.24.2014
01:17 pm
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By 1959, Rod Serling had had it with the dumbing down of American television by what he saw as overly sensitive TV sponsors who forced writers to edit scripts with impunity during the boob tube’s early years. Most sponsors wanted zero controversy and nothing to appear in a script that might incline viewers to think “improperly” about a particular brand of cake batter, or car or whatever else was being promoted on a given show. In the fiery discussion below, which aired (according to IMDB) on September 22, 1959, we find Serling on The Mike Wallace Interview talking about his early writing career and the heavy hand of corporate sponsorship that led to his creation of a soon-to-debut science fiction and fantasy television series called The Twilight Zone (the first episode would air a little over a week later on October 2, 1959). A passionate exchange about early TV’s potential, thoughts about what Wallace calls “the battle of the writer to be his own man” and copious on-air smoking ensues.

After spending a few years writing promotional testimonial letters for a Cincinnati television station and making $700 during his best year, Serling was bored out of his mind with the “dreamless occupation.” He set out with his wife for New York City in 1951 to try to make a name for himself as a freelance television scriptwriter. By 1959, Serling had done just that, winning three Emmys and distinguishing himself as being possibly the first television author in history to have a live TV drama (1955’s Patterns) aired twice due to rave reviews and audience demand. 

By the way, Patterns is worth checking out.  It’s not a great copy, but you can watch it here on YouTube. The Kraft Television Theatre production addresses an episode panic-inducing jealousy brought on by the hiring of a new upstart corporate employee while promoting light and fluffy Kraft cream cheese during the station break. 

In the interview with Mike Wallace, Serling discusses being shut down by sponsors for trying to address the Emmett Till case, and receiving many complaints from a “lunatic fringe of letter writers” about an episode of Lassie wherein the iconic collie has puppies. Some wacko viewers felt that the episode promoted sexuality. The complaints lead the station to shy away from presenting the birth of puppies in the future according to Serling. He goes on to talk about the backlash caused by writers using the term “gas chamber” in a Playhouse 90 production of Judgment at Nuremberg (an early version of the 1961 film of the same name) by a sponsor who sold gas stoves. “This, I rebel against,” Serling forcefully declares.

Despite some critics being worried that Serling’s insistence on writing for television (and the money that it provided) was holding him back from making important art (a contention that Wallace brings up on a few occasions), Serling comes across as being deadly serious about his belief in TV’s possibility for greatness. Serious enough, in fact, that he was in the process of trying to get out of a quarter million dollar (obviously big money at the time), three-year writing contract with Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer so that he could devote all of his time to The Twilight Zone where he claimed to have more direct control over the relationship with sponsors. Serling indicates he was only guaranteed 26 episodes of The Twilight Zone, and that he would stand to lose a lot of money if the show didn’t carry on beyond that.  Ultimately, it ran for five seasons and 156 episodes were made. 
 

Posted by Jason Schafer
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12.24.2014
01:17 pm
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‘The New People’: Was this obscure 60s TV series the original ‘Lost’?
03.10.2014
06:41 pm
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The New People ran for seventeen episodes in 1969-70 on ABC. An Aaron Spelling production, the series focuses on a group of rebellious lefty college students who have been causing problems for the State Department during a cultural exchange trip to Southeast Asia. They’ve been ordered home, but their plane crash lands on a deserted South Pacific island.

The island had been the site of clandestine testing by the Atomic Energy Commission so there are already buildings and food there (sounding familiar yet?). Thought dead by their families and the government, these made-for-TV hippies decide to create their own world, free from the societal problems and the older generation’s corrupt authority figures back home. But will they succeed or will it get all Lord of the Flies meets Wild in the Streets???

You might be tempted to write this off as goofy-sounding, but the first episode of The New People was written by none other than Rod Serling not long after he turned out his classic script for Planet of The Apes. Although the idea for the series was created by Larry Gordon and Aaron Spelling, Serling—a bleeding heart liberal if ever there was one—had an influential hand in its development.

The New People was one of television’s first real attempts—and a sincere one at that—to appeal to the countercultural zeitgeist of the day. The series aired opposite Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In and Here’s Lucy and so was almost guaranteed a swift cancellation. Tyne Daly, Richard Dreyfuss and Billy Dee Williams made appearances on The New People before they became famous and the theme music was recorded by Kenny Rogers and The First Edition.

An ABC promo for The New People:

 
The Rod Serling penned debut episode:

Posted by Richard Metzger
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03.10.2014
06:41 pm
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Happy Birthday ‘Twilight Zone’: Rod Serling interviewed by Mike Wallace, 1959
10.02.2013
09:10 pm
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The Twilight Zone debuted on the CBS television network on October 2nd, 1959. Created, narrated, and mostly written by the iconoclastic and visionary TV writer Rod Serling, the sci-fi/fantasy anthology series ran for five mind-blowing years. During that run, the show’s name, its eerie theme music, and even Serling’s distinctive speech cadences became - and still remain - catch-all badges for weirdness, irony, horror, and the surreal. The show’s cult has endured for over 50 years - reruns are still being shown on SyFy - and it inspired two televised revivals and a feature film (none of which were on a par with the quality of the original series, though the film certainly had moments), with a possible third TV revival in the works via director Bryan Singer, and a new film being pitched by Leonardo DiCaprio. Copious information on the series can be found online, and home video episode compilations are plentifully available.

In the annals of television, The Twilight Zone is as close to immortal as it gets.

The series began with the last-man-on-Earth drama “Where Is Everybody?”
 

 
It ended with the broadcast of a STUNNING adaptation of Ambrose Bierce’s “An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge.”
 

 
In between, the show featured career highlight performances from the likes of Burgess Meredith, William Shatner, Buster Keaton, Veronica Cartwright, and Dennis Hopper, won two Emmys, and made Serling a household name for championing a style of narrative irony that was half O. Henry and half EC Comics. But he had already made enough of a name for himself before The Twilight Zone to merit this marvelous in-depth televised interview with Mike Wallace in 1959. Serling proves as gifted an extemporaneous speaker as Wallace as he details his struggles to maintain writerly integrity and effectively confront social problems in the face of network and sponsor interference. And holy shit, Wallace chain-smoked his way through the whole damn show - how the hell did he live to age 93?
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Ron Kretsch
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10.02.2013
09:10 pm
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Zsa Zsa Gabor and the psychedelic land of dinosaurs: ‘Pookie? Pookie ver are yoo?’
01.15.2013
10:57 am
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Zsa Zsa Gabor walks through a magic mirror, a portal to a psychedelic prehistorical land complete with dinosaurs, looking for her little dog “Pookie” in a clip from Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. (Somehow THAT bit is easier to believe than her working in a thrift store…).

“Pookie! Pookie ver are yoo? Pookie? Pookie?”

The “Jurassic Park on acid” stuff starts at around 4:30.
 

Posted by Richard Metzger
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01.15.2013
10:57 am
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For Your Consideration: Mr. Rod Serling

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Years ago a friend wrote me a story about how we all started talking but in doing so, stopped listening to each other. It was a short and simple story, adapted I believe from its Aboriginal origins, that also explained how our ears developed their peculiar, conch-like shape.

Like all the best tales, it began: Once upon a time, in a land not-so-very-far-away, we were all connected to each other by a long umbilical loop that went ear-to-ear-to-ear-to-ear. This connection meant we could hear what each of us was thinking, and we could share our secrets, hopes and fears together at once

Then one day and for a whole lot of different reasons, these connections were broken, and the long umbilical loops dropped away, withered back, and creased into the folds of our ears. That’s how our ears got their shape. They are the one reminder of how we were once all connected to each other.

It was the idea of connection - only connect, said playwright Dennis Potter, by way of E. M. Forster, when explaining the function of all good television. A difficult enough thing, but we try. It’s what the best art does - tells a story, says something.

It’s what Rod Serling did. He made TV shows that have lived and grown with generations of viewers. Few can not have been moved to a sense of thrilling by the tinkling opening notes of The Twilight Zone. The music still fills me with that excitement I felt as a child, hopeful for thrills, entertainment and something a little stronger to mull upon, long after the credits rolled.

Serling was exceptional, and his writing brought a whole new approach to telling tales on television that connected the audience one-to-the-other. This documentary on Serling, starts like an episode of The Twilight Zone, and goes on to examine Serling’s life through the many series and dramas he wrote for TV and radio, revealing how much of his subject matter came from his own personal experience, views and politics. As Serling once remarked he was able to discuss controversial issues through science-fiction:

“I found that it was all right to have Martians saying things Democrats and Republicans could never say.”

His work influenced other shows (notably Star Trek), and although there were problems, due to the demands of advertisers, Serling kept faith with TV in the hope it could connect with its audience - educate, entertain and help improve the quality of life, through a shared ideals.

As writer Serling slowly “succumbed” to his art:

‘Writing is a demanding profession and a selfish one. And because it is selfish and demanding, because it is compulsive and exacting, I didn’t embrace it, I succumbed to it. In the beginning, there was a period of about 8 months when nothing happened. My diet consisted chiefly of black coffee and fingernails. I collected forty rejection slips in a row. On a writer’s way up, he meets a lot of people and in some rare cases there’s a person along the way, who happens to be around just when they’re needed. Perhaps just a moment of professional advice, or a boost to the ego when it’s been bent, cracked and pushed into the ground. Blanche Gaines was that person for me. I signed with her agency in 1950. Blanche kept me on a year, before I made my first sale. The sale came with trumpets and cheers. I don’t think that feeling will ever come again. The first sale - that’s the one that comes with magic.’

Like Richard Matheson, Philip K Dick, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Harlan Ellison, Serling is a hero who offered up the possible, for our consideration.
 

 

Posted by Paul Gallagher
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09.19.2012
08:27 pm
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‘Lost’ Rod Serling video interview, 1970
03.13.2012
10:58 pm
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Growing up in the sixties, I was not the kind of kid who watched cartoons or TV shows involving horses, dogs or puppets. I was the kind of twisted little kid that watched The Outer Limits, Thriller and, of course, The Twilight Zone. These were my fairy tales, my fables, my mythology and my introduction to the alternative realities that I would later explore with psychedelics, mysticism and art. The Twilight Zone was a cathode ray jolt to my budding imagination and Rod Serling was the chainsmoking, black-suited Doctor of Darkness who administered my weekly dose of electric medicine.

These “lost” interviews with Serling are a fascinating glimpse into the mind of one of television’s few visionaries.

From the Youtube description:

In 1970 University of Kansas professor James Gunn interviewed a series of science fiction authors for his Centron film series “Science Fiction in Literature”. This footage from an unreleased film in that series featuring an interview with Rod Serling, which wasn’t finished due to problems with obtaining rights to show footage from Serling’s work in television. This reconstruction is based on the original workprint footage that was saved on two separate analog sources since the audio track was separate. Re-syncing the footage was a long involved process as the audio track didn’t match the film and there was substantial sync drift. While not perfect, there’s a lot of interesting information on writing for television in the dialogue with Serling as well as a prophetic statement about his health at the beginning.”

You’re traveling through another dimension—a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s a signpost up ahead: your next stop: the Twilight Zone!
 

 

Posted by Marc Campbell
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03.13.2012
10:58 pm
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