There's the signpost

Picture a man with an Achilles Heel.


Actually, you don't have to picture him because I've done it for you. The subject of our first discussion is the gentleman depicted on the left. If you don't already know who Rod Serling was, or even if you THINK you know, here's a little background.

He was a genius, of course, though he'd never say so. He was deeply fervently in love with the American Ideal and hoped to remind his audience of the meaning and importance of that ideal with the best tool he had, namely, his writing.


His Achilles Heel? Small-minded people and the heart disease inspired by his chain smoking. He died too soon but not too late to leave his mark on the minds of millions, perhaps billions, of people. I am proud to be one of those people. I am honored to be so marked.


I discovered Mr. Serling as a child watching, of course, the television series for which he is most famous, THE TWILIGHT ZONE. As a child I did not understand the subliminal aspects of Mr. Serling's work. I was just thrilled to get a daily dose of high quality fantasy or science fiction, for free, from the lovely magic box in the living room. As I matured, I began to realise what the series actually was: a delivery system for notions of common decency, human connections, the beauty of aspiration and self-sacrifice, the tragedy of dreams deferred by evil.


If you've never seen the Original Twilight Zone, and I can't imagine that there's anyone out there who hasn't seen at least one episode, please do not get it confused with any of the subsequent attempts to recreate it.


While I would never disparage the work of any creators who tried to keep Mr. Serling's child alive in the minds of current generations, many of whose talents and accomplishments far outstrip my own, I respectfully believe that they, with the exception of SHATTERDAY (by Harlan Ellison, Alan Brennert and Wes Craven), missed the point of his work in both of these last attempts.


Yes, there were spooks and aliens and interdimensional gateways. Yes, there were monsters and genies and humans trapped in alien zoos. Yes, yes, yes. But nearly all of these were meant to illustrate aspects of our condition as humans, notions that Mr. Serling thought needed shoring up in the turbulent times following WW2, the KOREAN WAR and the awfulness that were the McCARTHY, VIETNAM and JIM CROW eras of American life.


It's a tiny little planet we live on. There are more things binding us as humans than can ever keep us apart. The universe is a big, scary, wonderful place and we might want to give it the awe and the attention it's due. We might want to open our minds to the possibilities.


These are some of the constant underlying themes of the speculative depictions in Mr. Serling's signature series. The magic and hyperscience were just window dressings to make the point.


I think, somewhere along the line, people got caught up in the quirky stacatto speech pattern and the bells and whistles of the show and, in recreating it, kept bringing us the box without providing the miraculaous gift that should have been contained inside.


It's doubtful I will ever be as talented or as brave as Mr. Serling. The challenges facing our generations are less stark in many ways, less clear cut than those of the Twilight Zone era. Though things have gotten better on a lot of fronts, the sun has dipped a little closer to the horizon on others. It behooves those of us who loved Mr. Serling's work and, more, loved what he was attempting to do wtih that work, to try and keep the ball rolling.


So.


Welcome. Take off your coat. Have a drink, put your feet up. And remember: there's nothing in the light that isn't there in the Dark.

6 Comments:

Anonymous Bill said...

Hey. Thought I would drop by after seeing your post in the TZ group at MySpace. You are right, Rod was a genius and he is missed.

I would have to say, that along with Shatterday, the Christmas one about the Star of Bethlehem (I think it was called "The Star") was also very good. Not many in the 80s version were great, but there were a couple.

18:38  
Anonymous Michael Green said...

Wow, Geoff. Nice work. Glad to see you're still pushing the edges.

10:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i navigated from scifi and would just like to give you a pat on the back for an excellent job done on the meridian.
I know i will definetly be popping back to catch the next installment

13:47  
Blogger Gabe said...

Geoff,

I'm blown away by the vision and the creativity behind your media opus. I now more fully understand the pantheon of literary, media, and scientific greats that greets visitors to your site. You've assumed the mantle of taking new gen tech to bring us future versions of the Twilight Zone/Outer Limits/etc. And it appears that you're wearing it well. Most impressive, brother.

15:46  
Blogger Redjack said...

I'm trying to light a candle. I hope people dig it, that's all.

22:31  
Blogger Gabe said...

Red,

I just wanted to reiterate how much I appreciate what you're doing. It really is a 'new thing' and I can't wait to see what you're going to pull out next. It's radical stuff, man.

In the words of Dr. Emilio Lizardo...
'More power to you!'.

Peace and success.

19:54  

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