Rod Serling, creator of The Twilight Zone, is arguably one of the greatest television writers in the history of the medium. Not only was he incredibly prolific through a good portion of his career, but he also revolutionized the type of content that was coming from our major broadcast stations. In a day where corporate advertisers were in complete control of network content, Serling managed to create allegorical content rife with political and social overtones, which, considering the political climate of the United States in those days, was a tremendous feat. Here's his story, in documentary form, which contains plenty of insight for aspiring film and television writers.
Rod Serling: Submitted for Your Approval is an episode of the PBS series American Masters from 1995. It's an extremely low-res video, but the content is as compelling as any other character documentary out there. Check it out:
What is perhaps the standout feature of Serling's career is that, in spite of the fact that he faced enormous pressure from studios and corporate sponsors to make his content less controversial, he managed to do it anyway and, in the process, become one of the most successful television writers of his time.
The genius behind the Twilight Zone is that it's not only a fantastic commercial product in that it's completely entertaining, riveting, and oftentimes terrifying (in certain episodes), it's also structured in such a way that it allowed Serling to explore social, political, philosophical, and personal ideas and issues through the lens of "fantasy stories." And that's what The Twilight Zone inherently was -- an exploratory tool for a man with a unique perspective and a lot to say.
What do you guys think about Rod Serling and his unique approach to storytelling with a social purpose? Let us know in the comments.