×

The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling’s Lost Classics

The Theater

With:
Host: James Earl Jones.

The Theater

Writer: Richard Matheson. Story: Rod Serling.

Cast: Amy Irving, Gary Cole, Heidi Swedberg, Priscilla Pointer, Scott Burkholder, Don Bloomfield, Michael Burgess, Grey Silbley, Alex Van, Deborah Winstead.

Where the Dead Are

Writer: Rod Serling.

Cast: Jack Palance, Patrick Bergin, Jenna Stern, Julia Campbell, Peter McRobbie, Bill Bolender, Malachy McCourt, J. Michael Hunter, Stan Kelly, Tony Pender, Hank Troscianiec, Mark Joy, Richard K. Olsen, Chris O’Neill.

Pair of unproduced Rod Serling dramas — one from a Serling treatment, the other a Serling script — make it to the screen thanks to the late writer’s widow, Carol Serling. Richard Matheson, who penned many of the early “Twilight Zones,” has adapted Serling’s “The Theater” concept, and Serling’s own script has been used for “Where the Dead Are.” Neither’s top-drawer Serling, and the second, longer effort plays more like bottom-of-the-trunk material.

Opening 30-minute opus, “The Theater,” working with hallucinations and forecasting, has Amy Irving turning down a marriage proposal from a doctor (Gary Cole). She heads for a movie theater, and Cary Grant and Rosalind Russell are replaced onscreen by a rerun of Irving’s confab with Cole, followed by alook at upcoming violence in which she’s involved. Cole tries reassuring her, but she insists on enduring her destiny, and Cole learns a minor philosophical point.

Concept works OK. Matheson, knowing a thing or five about the scare genre, intelligently builds his script. Once he’s reached the denouement of Serling’s concept, though, the drama falters.

The smooth production, acting and direction are admirable, Christiaan Wagener’s production design’s smart, with Jacek Laskus’ lensing flirting with German expressionism.

But the outcome is inconclusive no matter what host James Earl Jones’ voiceover opines.

“Dead,” 90-minute period piece about surgeon Patrick Bergin visiting retired pharmacist Jack Palance on sinister, isolated Shadow Island, goes for Gothic horror and creeks badly.

Production’s first two-thirds, filmed in sepia tones, revels in 19th century excesses; final third picks up momentarily as the meller turns into a zombierama.

Badly in need of rewriting, Serling’s teleplay uses overripe dialogue, shopworn characters and amusingly horrific situations.

The writing and Robert Markowitz’s unrestrained direction beg for Mel Brooks and Madeline Kahn.

Bergin makes his way to Palance’s isolated house, where he lives with his niece (JennaStern). Palance, confined to a wheelchair, sits awaiting his own doom after giving a life-saving berry concoction to three-quarters of the islanders. Chewing considerable scenery, Palance without coaxing tells Bergin a terrible secret.

Neither Bergin nor Stern delivers much credibility, while Palance whacks relentlessly away at the tortured ex-druggist. Secondary cast members have to cope with tough-to-play, overblown material; not many manage.

Julia Campbell’s suggestive barmaid went out with silent pix. But toward the end of the vidpic, Chris O’Neill as a desperate Bainbridge punches life into the exercise. Wagener’s production design is, if familiar, appropriate. Patrick Williams’ somber score tries bolstering the telepic, and Laskus’ lensing reaches for eerie.

Though filmed in North Carolina, “Dead” looks like Universal’s 1930s backlot.

Looks like Serling was using his head when he left these two in the trunk.

The Twilight Zone: Rod Serling's Lost Classics

(Thurs. (19), 8-10 p.m., CBS)

Production: Filmed in Wilmington, N.C., by O'Hara-Horowitz Prods. Executive producers, Michael O'Hara, Lawrence Horowitz; supervising producer, Carol Serling; producer , S. Bryan Hickox; director, Robert Markowitz.

Crew: Camera, Jacek Laskus; editor, David Beatty; sound, David John West, Nello Torri, Craig Hunter; music, Patrick Williams; production designer, Christiaan Wagener.

Cast: Host: James Earl Jones.

More TV

  • "Raven's Home" Executive Producer, Eunetta Boone.

    Eunetta Boone, Showrunner and Creator of 'One on One,' Dies at 63

    Writer-producer Eunetta Boone, creator of the UPN comedy “One on One” and showrunner of Disney Channel’s “Raven’s Home,” died Wednesday at her home in Los Angeles. She was 63. Boone was found dead at her home of an apparent heart attack. Boone had most recently worked as showrunner on the third season of the Disney [...]

  • Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Series

    Global Sales for ‘Les Miserables’ Starring Dominic West Ahead of Series Mania

    The BBC and Masterpiece adaptation of “Les Miserables” will play on a numerous international channels after a raft of deals were sealed for the series, which features Dominic West, David Oyelowo, and Lily Collins. Andrew Davies’ adaptation of Victor Hugo’s classic has been acquired by broadcasters in Scandinavia and southern Europe, and by several buyers [...]

  • Kevin Hart

    TV News Roundup: Kevin Hart Netflix Comedy Special Drops First Trailer

    In today’s roundup, Netflix releases the official trailer for the comedy special “Kevin Hart: Irresponsible” and Josh Charles joins Showtime’s Roger Ailes series “The Loudest Voice.” DATES Season two of “Yellowstone,” starring Kevin Costner, will premiere on Paramount Network on June 19 at 10 p.m. ET/PT. The sophomore season will continue the story of rancher John Dutton [...]

  • adidas game of thrones

    5 New 'Game of Thrones' Collaborations Coming in Time for the Final Season

    Some of the biggest lifestyle brands in the world are jumping on the “Game of Thrones” bandwagon this spring, hoping to capitalize on the fandom and popularity of the HBO hit, as it enters its eighth and final season. From sneakers to spirits, these officially-licensed collaborations extend the characters and colors of the show beyond [...]

  • Nicole Richie

    Nicole Richie Joins Fox Comedy Pilot 'Richard Lovely'

    Nicole Richie has been cast in a series regular role in the Fox single-cam comedy pilot “Richard Lovely.” The project follows Richard Lovely (Thomas Lennon), the disgruntled author of the best-selling children’s book series, “Mr. Mouse.” He doesn’t hate children, but rather just everything about them. After a publicity fiasco involving an unexpectedly savvy 9-year-old [...]

  • Gabrielle Union Marketing Summit

    Gabrielle Union on Building a Brand as a ‘40-Year-Old Black Woman From Nebraska’

    When New York & Company approached Gabrielle Union to be their new brand ambassador and the face of her own clothing line, the actress reacted with “disbelief.” “We are not supposed to be getting those offers, I’m not supposed to be having a career resurgence, my value isn’t supposed to be this high,” Union explained [...]

  • Lachlan Murdoch

    New Fox CEO Lachlan Murdoch Announces All Employees to Receive Stock in Company

    The new standalone entity Fox Corp. held a town hall on Thursday, just over a day after the official closing of the 21st Century Fox-Disney merger. Fox Corp. chairman and CEO Lachlan Murdoch led the meeting, at which sources say he announced that all employees would receive stock in the new company. The amount of [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content