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The Rod Serling Experience

Rod Serling was one of the most influential writers of the 1950s and 1960s, creating the memorable teleplays “Patterns” and “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” the screenplays for “Seven Days in May” and “Planet of the Apes” and a certain TV show that takes us traveling into another dimension. On this episode of “The Online Movie Show,” Nicholas Parisi, author of “Rod Serling: His Life, Work, and Imagination,” discusses Serling’s remarkable career.

The episode can be heard here.

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Planet of the Apes (1968)

planetoftheapesIN LIMITED RE-RELEASE July 24th and 27th — It’s pretty exciting that two of the most important pieces of cinema ever released, “Night of the Living Dead” and “Planet of the Apes” would come in the same year and pack the same intellectual punch.  Written by non other than Rod Serling, “Planet of Apes” is like an extended episode of “The Twilight Zone” filled with terror, and social commentary. And much like the aforementioned George Romero horror film, “Planet of the Apes” garners an absolutely shocking ending that is still one of the best delivered finishers in film history. Though the title says it all, “Planet of the Apes” is still a rather unique genre experience, mainly for its willingness to avoid showing the apes until a good portion of the movie has passed.

Charlton Heston gives an iconic turn as Colonel George Taylor, an astronaut who crash lands on a distant planet after a space expedition and learns the hard way that apes are rulers of this world. Primitive and yet completely organized in class systems that are identified through the species of apes, much like the human race, Taylor is stuck in a world he’s completely unfamiliar with, and can barely muster the strength to rebel, as the sights startle him. Pierre Boulle’s source material is drastically different from the film adaptation, but none of the impact is lost, nor is the commentary on the way we relegate our animals to the lower echelons of our society.

There’s the irony of our primitive counterparts becoming rulers of a jungle land while humans are servants, pets, and test subjects for medical experiments. Meanwhile the various ape species garner their own system of classes and aristocracies, mulling over the structures of their own society. The gorillas are police officers, military, hunters and workers, and the orangutans are administrators, politicians, lawyers and priests, while and chimpanzees are intellectuals and scientists. As Taylor watches his friends die, he inevitably begins to fight back, and, much to the shock of the apes, speaks back defiantly. This sparks an immediate rebellion, and prompts the ape society to completely re-think the way they operate.

“Planet of the Apes” features a world and society that’s different from ours and yet perfectly similar, even alluding that the apes are still in their early stages of evolution as a species. Franklin J. Schaffner’s production from the Serling script is masterful, with a massive cast of brilliant performers offering great performances. Heston’s turn is immortal, all the while folks like Kim Hunter, Roddy McDowall, Maurice Evans, respectfully transcend their ape visages to convey very unique and complex characters all around. “Planet of the Apes” is a pitch perfect science fiction film, that still conveys sharp social commentary and will win over the hearts of science fiction purists old and new.

Buy Tickets now at Fathom Events.

The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fifth Season (DVD)

TZIf you’re going to go out, go out with a bang. The fifth season of “The Twilight Zone” is the final season of the legendary horror anthology show. Incidentally it’s also the season that features some of the best and most incredible episodes of the series ever made. It’s by far some of the best television ever produced, and it’s here for the taking. Reading down the list of episodes on the back of the DVD I was ecstatic to re-visit some of my all time favorite episodes of the series, many of which have influenced me for many years.

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The Twilight Zone: The Complete Fourth Season (DVD)

Ah the season of “The Twilight Zone” where every episode were extended in to one hour without any of the pacing and punch of the first three seasons. It’s a shame that “The Twilight Zone” adopted this format for a while because the hour long episodes of the series are admittedly weaker and demand much more attention than their shorter counterparts. They’re still pretty good television all things considered, but they’re still not as good as what we’ve seen on the show and what the writers are capable of.

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The Twilight Zone: The Complete Third Season (DVD)

Tb75dbvAs a hardcore “The Twilight Zone” fan who spent his but every new year in front of the television watching twenty four hours of Rod Serling’s iconic series, I have to say that season three of “The Twilight Zone” is among some of the best television ever produced. It’s also some of the most brilliant genre entries you’ll ever find. Let’s face it, there was never anything like “The Twilight Zone” and there never will be again. With stars like Carol Burnett, Cliff Robertson, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Redford, Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Montgomery, and Dean Stockwell appearing in some truly noteworthy installments, this is a season set absolutely worth owning.

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Our Top Ten “The Twilight Zone” Episodes of All Time

Twilight Zone

As I’ve learned this year, there are still people out there who haven’t seen “The Twilight Zone” and are not aware of the often brilliant and shocking twists hiding within the mysteries that master storyteller Rod Serling composed in the fifties and sixties. As many know “The Twilight Zone” is one of the best and more influential anthology series of all time, a show that was at times scary, funny, and compelling while also serving a purpose to comment on issues like poverty, death, the war, the holocaust, crime, infidelity, greed, and the debate of heaven and hell along with theology and the flaws of the human soul.

At rare times it was merely a form of escapism, and not every episode was a bonafide masterpiece, but almost all of the time Serling’s seminal science fiction show was about something. It had a statement to make, it was important and that’s why it continues to be look at as the standard for modern pop culture influencing thousands of television shows, authors, and musicians across the world and is basically larger than life. It’s garnered two pretty underwhelming feature films, a respectable but mediocre eighties reboot, and a very bad, and quickly cancelled millennium reboot, all of which have paled in comparison to Serling’s original series. While we left out many good episodes of Serling’s science fiction horror series, these are the episodes we consider the best of the best and our absolute favorites.

Warning: If you’ve yet to fully indulge in the entire legacy of the series, be cautious there will be spoilers within this list as we offer up our ten favorite episodes of “The Twilight Zone” of all time.

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Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) (DVD)

What would have been my idea of a great Twilight Zone movie? How about grabbing excellent writers and telling your own stories with twists and commentary. Instead, what we received were remakes of the best episodes of the series regurgitated in to mediocre installments with semi-horror bookends that seemed awfully shoe horned into the script. That’s not what I would have preferred as someone who absolutely loves the series with all his heart. And it’s simply not in keeping with Serling’s brilliant storytelling that’s painfully missed during the run time.

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