Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Submitted for your approval....

Traditionally with October, the TV Crossover Hall of Fame gets into a Halloween/Samhain frame of mind - in the past, Frankenstein's Monster, Dr. Bombay, Exigius 12 1/2 (Uncle Martin the Martian), and real life monsters like Jack The Ripper and Lee Harvey Oswald have been inducted into the Hall of Fame during October. This year, since we're inducting one new member every week for four different categories, in celebration of the Hall's tenth anniversary, we're going to begin with someone from the League of Themselves - someone who made his name scaring the bejabbers out of the TV audience.


As the host of 'The Twilight Zone' and of 'Night Gallery', Rod Serling lent his name to the Toobworldian concept in which TV characters can talk directly to the audience viewing at home: "serlinguism". The "T-Zone" stories he presented were not always taking place on the main Toobworld, but instead in other dimensions and sometimes on other planets, But he was always firmly planted on Earth Prime-Time, and in fact was actually part of one story - the first season finale, "A World Of His Own" (which is an integral part of the Toobworld mythos, by the way).

'The Twilight Zone' and 'Night Gallery' were not Serling's only contributions to the world of television; he created some of the greatest dramatic presentations ever seen on the Toob: like "Patterns" and "Requiem For A Heavyweight". And it was a behind-the-scenes look at the production of the live broadcast for "Requiem" that garnered another appearance by Serling in Toobworld.

"The Man In The Funny Suit", presented by 'The Desilu Westinghouse Playhouse' told of the travails suffered by Keenan Wynn in making sure his father Ed Wynn would be able to deliver a straight performance in the play without falling back on his clownish material in case he flubbed up. With reassurances by fellow clown Red Skelton, Rod Serling was persuaded to let Ed Wynn continue and he ended up delivering a solid performance.

In this teleplay, Rod Serling, Red Skelton, Keenan Wynn, and Ed Wynn all played themselves. (This is definitely something I'm going to look for the next time I'm at the Paley Center for Media!)

Finally, it's a mention of Rod Serling that nabs him the coveted spot in the TV Crossover Hall of Fame, League of Themselves wing. And it's not just any mention, many a sitcom would name check Serling, usually as part of a joke. (Jackie Thomas, in an episode of 'The Jackie Thomas Show', confused him with Rod Steiger when he was talking about 'The Twilight Zone'.)

But in this reference, 'Perry Mason' mentioned to a client that he knew Rod Serling, considered him a friend, and that he'd persuade the TV icon to look at the client's manuscript. A relationship with a fictional character can fully integrate a real world person into the world of the Toob. And even though we didn't get to see it, who's going to doubt the word of Perry Mason? The really nice thing about this supposed honorific is that it happens in the month in which 'The Twilight Zone' celebrates its 50th anniversary. It's just a shame that Serling died back in 1975 at the age of 51 while undergoing heart surgery. It might have been nice for him to be around for that celebration, if not for this one.....


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