Rod Serling on Writing for Television

September 11, 2010 § Leave a comment

Yesterday I was delighted to receive the first season of The Twilight Zone on blu-ray. The set isn’t technically out until Tuesday, but you won’t hear any complaints from me. The series has never looked or sounded better, and I’m flailing around like Kermit backstage at the Muppet Show with the prospect of all these process junky extras. Dozens of commentaries from actors and experts. Radio plays. Isolated scores. And most exciting of all, audio of Rod Serling himself lecturing at Sherman Oaks college, reconstituted as commentary tracks over some of the episodes.

I’m watching “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” right now, just one of the quintessential episodes from this season. I remember my introduction to this story, not as a Twilight Zone episode, but as a play collected in one of my elementary school English treasuries. I don’t remember what year we read the play, but I seem to remember we were still on the first floor of the building. That places it somewhere between the first and fourth grade. It’s a story that’s stuck with me, and I’ll probably always count it as an influence on my own writing. “Maple Streets” is one of my favorite examples of science fiction parable, genre writing for the purpose of exploring the human condition. It’s a story about paranoia, prejudice, and fear, and it accomplishes so much in the space of a half hour. It’s but one example of Serling’s forward thinking genius.

In raving about this set and of Serling himself on Twitter, my friend Dan Hill directed me to some videos. Collected here are 16 clips of Rod Serling discussing the subject of television writing with some exceptionally lucky young students. This, for me, is either the very definition of Heaven or pornography at its purest. Take it over, Mr. S.

15 more clips after the jump.


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