It's radio day, apparently. On Morning Edition, Present at the Creation covers the original Twilight Zone. Yeah, just in time for the premiere of the new show on UPN, but let's ignore this for now. Besides, Forest Whitaker is cool.
Then again, so was Rod:
Even before he began work on The Twilight Zone, Serling was a well-respected television writer with a flair for dramatic and topical scripts. He had won three Emmy awards for dramas such as Requiem for a Heavyweight, but as his widow Carolyn recalls, he was interested in telling stories that reflected his views on the America he saw around him.
But he met some resistance from the networks. One of his pre-Twilight Zone teleplays was based on the story of Emmett Till, a young black man lynched in the South. Sponsors balked at the idea of advertising alongside something so provocative, and the network revised the script before it could hit the air, turning the victim into an old man in the East.
Frustrated with the reaction of the network, Serling came up with a creative solution. Instead of tossing up issue-laden scripts like softballs that executives could easily hammer out of the park, he would fire his controversy under their radar, disguised as harmless fantasy.
"He had said, 'You know, you can put these words into the mouth of a Martian and get away with it,'" remembers Carolyn Serling. "If it was a Republican or Democrat they couldn't say it. I mean, he wanted to deal with the issues of the day. We're looking at bigotry, racism, prejudice, nuclear war, ethics, witch-hunts, loneliness. All of these things were verboten."
Luckily, executives are much more willing to air controversial content these days, and audiences are more than willing to watch challenging. . . who am I kidding? Lucky if the new show lasts half a season.
Try The Fifth Dimension for more info on The Twilight Zone series and movie instead.