Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone: The Official 50th Anniversary Tribute
by Douglas Brode
Review by Drew Bittner
Barricade Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781569803585
Date: 25 January 2009 List Price $24.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
A volume full of loving recollections and incisive critique of a beloved series, Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone is a must-have for fans and SF enthusiasts alike.
Co-written by Douglas Brode and Carol Serling (widow of the late writer/producer), the book includes anecdotes about key episodes of The Twilight Zone, but goes beyond a making-of history to discuss the underlying themes upon which the show was built.
From an introduction that explores the life of Serling, and the many influences upon his great body of work, Brode segues into a journey through Twilight Zone as the vehicle for social, political and cultural commentary which made it so enduring. More than just thrill-packed entertainment, the show was one of the first to take television's half-hour dramatic format seriously. Brode describes Serling's forays into screenwriting, his days as a suburban family man, and the way in which his personal consciousness paralleled that of an era that saw Kerouac taking a different route through the American psyche.
Make no mistake, Twilight Zone was about exploring the flipside of the American dream. This is a basic observation made by nearly every reviewer to write about the show, but Brode's dissection of the episodes, and the overarching themes embraced by Serling and his incredibly talented group of writers, substantiates what might otherwise be a trite, disposable comment. He articulates a host of conceptual cornerstones--including nostalgia, angels, identity crises, death, aliens, and even television itself. A number of episodes are identified to support each theme, but this is not a listing of plot, actors, etc.--it is more a discussion of how and why these episodes embodied those ideas.
The book, as noted, is a must-have for fans of the series or Serling himself. It's a rare quest to discover the keys upon which the show turned, the ideas that helped make it immortal (and indeed, inimitable). See if you don't find yourself reliving some of those best-loved episodes through Brode's eyes; the book becomes a page-turner if you've seen even a few minutes of Twilight Zone. Brode and Serling have created a loving, critical and invaluable peek into that long-ago world (can it really be 50 years since the show debuted on CBS?). Fans and TV enthusiasts will enjoy this book for hopefully at least 50 years to come.