Rod Serling wrote the vast majority of the "Twilight Zone" scripts. He was a visionary whose creative stories spoke of humanity, sympathy for the downtrodden, and the absolute need for tolerance against the social evils of prejudice, racism, and bigotry. He wrote about urban alienation and the atrocities that come with war. His writings also explored such human conditions as depression and mental disorders that can lead people to acts of utter destruction and commit suicide. His intelligent discourse on these very subjects was brilliantly camouflaged through the guise of different genres: fantasy, suspense, horror, science-fiction, superstition, drama, light comedy, and psychological thrillers. This was successfully accomplished to appease the program's sponsors ongoing fears of offending and potentially losing their all-important, dearly coveted product base with the buying public. His masterful application of richly layered dialogue sailed 'over the heads' of most sponsors and avoided a number of potential censorship issues.
Serling's work was especially significant during the middle period of the last century because many of his story lines went far beyond the conventional bounds of popular culture. "The Twilight Zone" was therefore able to prosper during the years of conservative prime-time programming that dominated television in the early 1960s when the series aired.
Many of "The Twilight Zone" episodes also served as morality tales, often concluding with a macabre or unexpected twist. Others contained elements of real nostalgia, where his characters seek to relive the earlier and supposedly happier times and places in their lives. Some of the tales were actually based on Serling's fond recollections from his own childhood and early adult life while living in Binghamton, NY.
The intelligent use of language that permeated all of Rod Serling's fine work served as the essential cornerstone for his magnificent career. This included his early acclaimed writing for 'live' television in the mid-1950s; the subsequent classic "Twilight Zone" years from 1959 to 1964; as a respected Hollywood screenwriter for major motion pictures; and later, the "Night Gallery" television series from 1969 to 1973. All his writing projects have held up immeasurably well in the ensuing years. Serling's incredible body of work is a testament to his outstanding skills as one of the most successfully prolific writers of the twentieth century.
Rod Serling was a remarkable individual, a family man, a workaholic, very much admired by
industry peers and his multitude of fans throughout the world. This has perpetuated into an amazing legacy, which continues to grow and flourish. Serling died much too young at the age of 50 in 1975. As is the case with the classic works of so many great writers and artists, "The Twilight Zone" has outlived its creator and continues to inspire us today and will continue to do so for generations to come.
For my Blog readers who are “Rod Serling” or “Twilight Zone” devotees, here is my personal DVD and book suggestions that you may wish to check out at your local library or purchase for your own collection:
• “The Twilight Zone – The Complete Definitive Collection – 28-DVD Set” (2006) - EXCELLENT!
Twilight Zone Books:
• “The Twilight Zone Companion – Second Edition” – Author: Marc Scott Zicree – Paperback (1992)
• “The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia” – Author: Steven Jay Rubin – Paperback (2017)
• “Dimensions Behind The Twilight Zone” – Author: Stewart T. Stanyard (2007) – Paperback
• “Rod Serling Stories from The Twilight Zone” (Collection) – Paperback – (Original Publication: 1960)
• “Rod Serling More Stories from The Twilight Zone” (Collection) – Paperback – (Original Publication: 1961)
• “Rod Serling New Stories from The Twilight Zone” (Collection) – Paperback – (Original Publication: 1962)
Rod Serling Books:
• “The Rise and Twilight of Television’s Last Angry Man” – Author: Gordon F. Sander – Hardcover and Paperback
• “As I Knew Him, My Dad, Rod Serling” – Author: Anne Serling – Hardcover and Paperback (2013/2014)
Note: I have purposely not included any DVDs pertaining to the following: Rod Serling’s celebrated ‘live’ television writing credits (mid-1950s); the “Night Gallery” television series (1969-1973), which he contributed a number of scripts, but did not have the same control of content and tone as he had on “The Twilight Zone” series; the major film writing credits for motion pictures in later years; and television documentaries, which he aptly served as the narrator with that unmistakable voice.
My intention here was to confine this discussion to Rod Serling, a visionary man, his universal appeal, and to honor his most famous creation, "The Twilight Zone." Most all of Serling's other superb television and motion picture writing credits are also available on DVD and discussed in the two Serling books which I have listed above by Gordon F. Sander, and Serling's daughter, Anne Serling.