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Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone: The 50th Anniversary Tribute: The Official 50th Anniversary Tribute
 
 

Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone: The 50th Anniversary Tribute: The Official 50th Anniversary Tribute [Kindle Edition]

Carol Serling , Douglas Brode

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Product Description

2009 marks the fiftieth anniversary of The Twilight Zone, arguably one of the most popular television shows ever. Drawing on photographs and personal remembrances, Rod Serling's widow, Carol, gives commentary on some of the series' most memorable episodes. Veteran film historian Douglas Brode gives in-depth descriptions of these episodes and why they were so resonant with viewers.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2337 KB
  • Print Length: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Barricade Books; 50th edition (27 Jan 2009)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005S0KGJW
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #239,265 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Amazon.com: 3.5 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
61 of 66 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Submitted for your approval... 8 Feb 2009
By Richard Masloski - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
"Submitted for your approval (or disapproval in this case), one Douglas Brode, an ersatz Rod Serling who in 26 pages of this new 'Tribute' has convinced me that while his feet may be planted on terra firma, his head is definitely NOT in the Twilight Zone!"

Why do I say this? Well, firstly because I was really looking forward to this book - and am thus far in the reading of it thoroughly disappointed. How it ever got so many grand blurbs from not only TZ writers but other media luminaries is utterly beyond me. But there is one egregious blurb on the inside front cover from TZ writer George Clayton Johnson that is totally at odds with the thrust of this book - and that is Rod Serling's literary masterminding of the Zone (a grand theme, mind you, but poorly executed herein for reasons outlined below). But back to Johnson's blurb: "Rod Serling as 'the producer' was the contractor. The writers were the map makers and architects. The Director played the part of foreman on the job, but it was the actors who built the shrine called THE TWILIGHT ZONE, transforming the scripts into the sights and sounds that make up a film. Here at last is the definitive book on THE TWILIGHT ZONE, the first ever to accurately describe the working process for that great series." Now - I have quoted this blurb in full (and it is on the inside front cover flap) because it is obviously written by someone who has not read the book they are commenting upon. The book is NOT 'definitive', it tells next-to-naught of the 'working process' of the series, it insults Mr. Serling by relegating him to the role of 'contractor' and does NOT include him as one of the map-maker writers and falsely claims that it was the actors who built the shrine of the classic series. Well, I admire Mr. Johnson's contributions to the TZ immensely - but in this blurb he seems to be zoned-out (and not in the good sense). Come on - an actor is only as good as his lines, and the 'sights and sounds' are more than great actor's voices and faces (and TZ had some of the best acting anywhere, in this dimension or the fifth!): but what about the settings, the lighting, the editing and, my God, the wonderful, magnificent music of each show! And the Director is much more than a "foreman on the job"!

Back to Mr. Brode: I knew this book was sinking while reading his introduction. On page xviii Brode uses the word "coda" where he should have used "code." No big deal, a typo perhaps. (Where were the proof-readers?) But wait. Let's go on: on pages xxvi and xxvii: "Week after week, ZONE offered modern Grand Guignol, the theatre of horror, a freak show...Frankenstein, Dracula, and the Wolfman, once blood-curdling visages, now appeared...quaint and curious. The book now closed on what horror had once meant. A new volume opened for the likes of Rod, Richard Matheson, and Ray Bradbury to fill." Wow! Even the gracious, grand Carol Serling (in her own foreward) understands that "in actuality only a few of the programs were intended to scare." So what is Brode waxing ecstatic about a new volume of horror for? "A theatre of horror" - poor words to describe the magical, mystical, metaphorical mysterious realm of the ZONE!

But there is more: further on page xxvii we have this tortured sentence that means absolutely nothing: "Between ZONE's initial conception and its premature demise, the series survived the Eisenhower era's final years and pushed into Jack Kennedy's New Frontier. However brief-lived, at the time (and on the show) a spurt of youthful optimism emerged, only to be shattered that day in November 1963 when the global community learned of the president's blood spilling out onto a Dallas street." Now, I somehow sense that Brode is attempting to sound like Rod Serling, but his is a poor imitation. His sentence and syntax are completely ludicrous, as is the meaning of it all. The TZ did not have a premature demise; even Rod Serling realized this. And is Brode trying to connect the death of the TWILIGHT ZONE series somehow to JFK's assassination??? And instead of 'global community' why not just say 'world' - and as to 'the president's blood spilling out onto a Dallas street'....I might expect such a description from a sixth-grader but not from a man with 30 books to his credit! (Then again, I haven't read anything else by this fellow.)

On more item in the zany introduction: "ZONE was never subtle; elitist sophistication was not Rod's way. Nor is it for popular entertainers, influenced by him, such as Stephen King and Steven Spielberg. Let others worry about the literary/arthouse crowd.." What is Brode actually saying here? TZ wasn't 'literary' or worthy of an 'arthouse' or ever 'subtle'? It was ALL of these and more! I think Brode wrote this introduction..just to write an introduction.

Once we're into the book, all it is is a wordy rehash of what the shows so eloquently say for themselves - except that in Brode's recounting there are several errors which lead me to believe he hasn't watched the episodes he lamely philosophizes about for some time. A few examples should suffice: In "Walking Distance" the merry-go-round is not on an "amusement pier." (Maybe Brode was confusing this episode with "In Praise of Pip"?) When Martin Sloan talks to his just-injured youthful self, he doesn't "whimper" his eloquent ode to childhood. There are other errors in describing this episode....but let's move on briefly to "A Stop at Willoughby": Brode believes the two boys William's sees in that imaginary town are the actual Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn when there is NO reason to suppose this. He also assumes that all of the other business executives at the meeting that opens the episode all "harbored creative desires" and "each junior exec inwardly cheers Williams on.." when he blasts back at the boss. There are no grounds to draw these conclusions. Brode also exonerates the bitch-wife of this episode, even though it is, indeed, she who helps "push, push, push" her husband over the edge and off the train - especially when she hangs up on him in his hour of ultimate need! In Brode's account of "Where is Everybody?" he has Mike Ferris realize he is air force when, in the movie theatre, he sees the film of a jet taking off. According to Brode: " The manner in which we discover our identities by watching moves" is addressed in this scene. The trouble is, Ferris realizes he is air force when he sees the poster of the movie and not while watching the movie. On pages 23-24, Brode goes into a full paragraph about the ringing telephone and the fence that is there in one scene and not in the next, saying that most viewers are so absorbed in the story that they don't notice it - and those who do write it off as a "continuity film-flub". "Here is one incident during Ferris' mental odyssey that isn't explained when we reach the final revelation" concludes Brode, meaning that the disappearing fence is a Zone mystery til the end, unexplained even after we learn that Ferris is an astronaut in training. "Such a theory (somethings can't be logically justified), antithetical to Hitchcock, provides ZONE with its unique identity," continues Brode in his confused and jumbled way. Trouble is: the fence is in every shot of the sequence discussed!!! One last example: jumping ahead in the book, in describing "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" Brode believes that the Ida Lupino character literally dies at the end, despite the maid telling the agent that the actress is nowhere to be found and despite the fact that Martin Balsam's character runs the film and sees Barbara Trenton alive and on the screen where she always wished to be. Even Rod Serling's closing narration admits to a dream come true...since this is, afterall, the Twilight Zone! Oh, and "The Lonely" was not the "series' second episode" as Brode claims on page 23. It was the 7th.

Anyway - I love the Twilight Zone - was lucky enough to have been a child when it first entered our homes - and love it with a love that is more than love - thus my disappointment in this book that claims to be "The 50th Anniversay Tribute." I'm sure more sorrows and disappointments are to come as I read on. Perhaps one day a book truly worthy of the classic series will come along! Until that day, we have the classic episodes to watch and rewatch. Thank YOU, Mr. Serling!
44 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Dud 11 Feb 2009
By Michelle Smith - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Two biographies have been written about Rod Serling, both endorsed by Carol Serling, his widow. The reason I purchased them was because I read Carol Serling's endorsements in magazine articles some fifteen or twenty years ago. In Stewart Stanyard's book, she was interviewed and commented that the books do not portray her husband in the right light. Repeatedly she has publicly blasted those biographies so I assumed one day she was going to do it herself.

So when I heard that she co-authored a book about Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone (because that's what the title of the book reads) I assumed this was going to be the book she's been working on for decades. The "Rod and I" autobiography. Family photos, lasting impressions and candid thoughts of him coming home late from work, you get the idea. Her father did not approve of their marriage but Rod Serling rose to fame and fortune. They had a house in Calfiornia and a maid and a gardener and so on. That is success.

The book arrived the other day and my jaw dropped open. There's only three photos that are not Twilight Zone DVD screen captures and two of them had appeared in magazines in the sixties. I suspect Carol Serling did not write the book but Douglas Brode because she only wrote the introduction and at the end of her intro she states "I know that Rod would approve of Douglas Brode's remarkable book and the insight that he offers into Rod's work." That means the dust jacket for the book is misleading. It should read "by Douglas Brode with a foreward by Carol Serling."

Worse, before you even get to page one, there are mistakes galore. On page xvii, Brode states that Arch Oboler created "Lights Out." This is incorrect. Wyllis Cooper created "Lights Out." Oboler was one of the script writers for the series. On page xx he incorrectly titles an Orson Welles program with the wrong title. On page xxi, he states "Serling persuaded New York agent Blanche Gaines to send his scripts around to Manhattan TV producers." This is incorrect. It was she who persuaded Serling to allow her to send scripts to producers (and even then it took him a year and a half to sign up with her because he didn't want an agent). On page xxvi, he incorrectly states Hitchcock's movie "The Lady Vanishes" was released in 1937. It was 1938. Other movies he doesn't list the year of release at all. On page xxvii, he incorrectly claims "Twilight Zone-The Movie" was released in 1978. It was 1983!!!

I was not nit-picking for errors. These were the ones that stood out as I read the book. There is no in-depth production notes about the program. Instead, the book is nothing more than critiques, analysis and opinions from repeat viewings of the episodes. I gained no insight reading these.

In closing, this is not a "Rod and I" book that was expected. Press releases and announcements for this book heavily suggested this so I guess I am not the only person to have been duped. If you love books that offer psychological viewpoints of fictional characters and how one episode might have influenced Serling to write another of the same subject matter than this book is for you. If you are looking for a book that offers trivia, production notes, behind-the-scenes stories, then buy Marc Scott Zicree's book or Martin Grams' book about The Twilight Zone. As a fan who has every book ever written about the Zone, this came as a disappointment. Final chapter in the book is titled "Why Should We Take Serling Seriously?" The author did not.
19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Pretty Pointless 10 April 2009
By ricardo_guerrero - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
If you paid more than $0.01 for your copy of this book, you paid too much.

Why this book was even done is way, way beyond me. Okay, where do I begin? It's obvious that Carol Serling had nothing to do with this book outside of writing the introduction.

A cursory reading of even one of Brode's "analyses" will reveal that he doesn't have anything new to offer. He has a few interesting ideas that pop up from time to time, but nothing that can't be found on an internet message board or some other venue, or even in a casual conversation between TZ fans. Brode makes all kinds of creative presumptions and attempts to find some deeper meaning in episodes whose "meaning" is already very self-explanatory. When I first got the book, I leafed through it and on every one of the five or six pages I leafed through, I found either misspellings of actors' names, or just glaring typos (examples: he refers to Suzanne Cupito aka Morgan Brittany as "Susan Capito", Doc Stockton of "The Shelter" is suddenly "Doc Stanton", and the caption under the pic of Shatner and Chris White from "Nightmare at 20K Feet" says 'Bob and Ruth Wilson' when in fact Chris' character's name is Julia...this is an old, old error from the TZ Companion book that Brode obviously just copied straight out. Boo!!!!!!) But this is just one of a vast number of disappointing things. Here's a list of the major flaws:

(1) The author doesn't even cover all 156 episodes!
(2) The author has basically said what has been said over and over about most of the episodes for the last 50 years.
(3) The author constantly pokes at Marc Scott Zicree and his mis-readings of certain episodes! Now, maybe I am not the biggest fan of Zicree's TZ Companion but it's sure better than THIS one! But criticizing Zicree over and over again is just tactless and pointless.
(4) The author often doubles or triples up on his reviews of certain episodes ("Living Doll" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" are lumped together.)
(5) There are tons of typos - apparently the author couldn't be bothered checking the spellings of the names of actors, or even running spell check before submitting the manuscript to the publisher.
(6) The author writes parenthetically much of the time (yes, in parentheses, just like this!) It's annoying.
(7) The photo gallery is pointless and consists of screen grabs from random episodes plus a couple pictures of Rod's hometown. Again, ALL been done/seen before.

In short, this book is neither a reference book nor a proper tribute. It is a waste of paper. So much for a good 50th Anniversary book on the beloved TV series that many call the greatest TV show ever. I'm surprised any publisher picked this thing up at all. To quote the great book publicist Godfrey Harris, "Every book deserves to be written. NOT every book deserves to be published."
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Not about Rod Serling 6 April 2012
By Dave - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was hoping to learn much more about Rod Serling. Instead this book goes into alot of detail about individual TZ episodes themselves. Definitely not a bio of the genius himself.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Themes and Patterns. 16 Sep 2009
By Kendal B. Hunter - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
As I began reading, I was expecting this book to be a puff-piece. Co-authored by Serling's widow, I knew it would have a bias. And it does. It is friendly, laudatory, and even hagiographic.

But in a way, this is beneficial. We clearly get passion, which is always enjoyable. And it also offsets Zicree's nit-picking (The Twilight Zone Companion).

And as I read, I discovered that this book has other merits.

Let me step back for a moment. One of the difficulties in analyzing The Twilight Zone is how to categorize the episodes. Zicree and The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic follow the chronological method--date by date, season by season. This is helpful in following Serling's evolving thought, and works with the obvious flow of time (A Brief History of Time)

But Brode and Serling follow a thematic approach, which was pioneered on an internet fan-page. This trade-off makes the book stronger. We see patterns of ideas emerge, and can discover Rod's thinking and philosophy (Philosophy in The Twilight Zone).

They find these themes, or elements to Rod's writing:

1. The Lonely. Rod loved the underdog, the outcast, and the hobbits in society. His was a "Fanfare for the Common Man."

2. The Time Element. Like Hamlet, time was always out of joint. Clocks are omnipresent.

3. The Ticket. This expression comes from Rod's rewrite of "Where is Everybody?"A ticket is a tangible proof that the odd experiences are real.

4. The Long Distance Call. Not only are clocks omnipresent, but so are long-distance calls. They further the plot, and are really love letters from the angels and demons that roam the Zone.

5. The Second Chance. Rod always balanced Justice and Mercy, which, as we all come to learn, are two sides of the same coin. The meek get mercy and the proud get their just desserts, with a cherry on top.

6. Death Light. This is more of a cinematography element, than a writing element. Before they are embraced by the light, people are given a glow-warning.

7. Mirror Image. Are we backwards, or is the world upside-down?

8. Size. See "Last Night of a Jockey," "The Invaders," and "Four O'clock."

9. Masks and Identity Crisis. Who are we, really?

10. Homewood. The gnawing throb for a return to our own personal Edens.

I have been watching The Twilight Zone since 1981, but I have never paid much attention to overarching themes. I applaud Brode and Serling of the hours our watching and ultimately abstracting these themes. Like Campbell, Rod had his own Unimyth. So this book is The TZ-specific version of The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Bollingen Series).

This may be why The Twilight Zone has such an appeal. There is a coherent and stable philosophy behind the writing. Also, Serling has tapped into universal truths, and had no fear in proclaiming them. This is not to say that "Serling is G-d," but to suggest he may be a literary prophet in the vein of Crime and Punishment or A Christmas Carol, both which could have been written by Serling ("The Obsolete Man," "The Class of '99," "Night of the Meek," "The Messiah on Mott Street").

Flaws.

The painful one is the odd boldfacing-italicizing of the word The Twilight Zone. It makes the word jump out, but it is an unusual editorial call.

Another flaw that I honestly missed was revealed in the last pages. Broade and Serling just analyzed the best episodes of the Zone (p. 233). They write that by allowing the weaker, or even the "turkeys" as Rod himself describes some episodes, Rod's legacy is diminished.

I disagree. The Rod Serling Image is a cultural icon, like Elvis or the Statue of Liberty--you ever see the pinball machine? Not even Rod Serling could destroy Rod Serling.

But more to the point, the worst episode of The Twilight Zone is better than the best episode of the contemporary prime-time rot. I would rather watch a low-def, black-and-white third-rate Serling turkey than anything on TV nowadays, regardless of it being in hi-def and living color.

[Applause line]

The last flaw, and this is not book specific, has to do with Serling-ology. Serling did work before The Twilight Zone, and work after The Twilight Zone. We have yet to see a book that incorporates all of his career. We need to integrate Patterns with The Twilight Zone with Planet of the Apes with Night Gallery.

Of course with Night Gallery, we should follow this books lead of focusing on "The Best Of" episodes and exclusively use Serling's segments.

Until this happens--and may this book can midwife better Serling-ology--read this book and notice the patterns.
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