December 9, 2013

Submitted For Your Approval: A Documentary on Legendary TV Writer Rod Serling

rod_serling_25508 (1)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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9kZcHylU2t8

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.

Link: Ron Vail Channel - YouTube

Your Comment

8 Comments

Incredible writer.
Today no-one seems to bother with sly allegory - whatever message they have they just hit you over the head with it. Repeatedly.

December 9, 2013 at 9:39PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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marklondon

It's pretty hard to argue that he isn't one of the greatest TV content creators of all time. (Plus, he was a top notch feature writer as well) Being a military/WWII history buff, the "Quality of Mercy" episode really stood out for me.

December 9, 2013 at 11:26PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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DLD

Without looking it up, I think that is the "Japanese" episode with Dean Stockwell, which is I agree was excellent.

December 10, 2013 at 4:42AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Saied

Tthe twilight zone is one of the greatest television series of all time. Rod Serling deeply inspires my work.

December 10, 2013 at 12:20AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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wow

December 10, 2013 at 10:41AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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werwr

i wouldnt say twilight is all serling but he did lay the groundwork for other great writers on the series like Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont to name a couple.

December 10, 2013 at 10:46AM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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werwr

Was this post inspired by the recent article in the NY Times?
http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/08/arts/television/artists-reflect-on-end...

And a new box set of DVDs:
"CBS and Image Entertainment have released a new no-extras DVD boxed set of all 156 episodes for $170, a considerable savings from past sets, which went for as much as $300."

December 10, 2013 at 12:35PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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earnestreply

Apart from the writers, the show gives a good record to great actors with crossover from both cinema and TV. Robert Redford had a very early role, and I liked "Two" with Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery (Death Wish meets Bewitched !). William Shatner is a guilty favourite too.

Recently I caught a big chunk of a film called Real Steel with Hugh Jackman, budget $110, 000, 000, and was reminded of the Zone episode about the fighting robot with Lee Marvin effectively in the same role. Amazing stuff.

December 10, 2013 at 12:52PM, Edited September 4, 11:21AM

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Saied