Tag Archives: Twilight Zone

T.G.I.F. – Happy Birthday, Harlan Ellison

Harlan Ellison is not warm and fuzzy.

And neither are his stories. Ellison caught my fancy when I was a young man with a vivid imagination and ample time to read (oh, for those days!); he’s a master of speculative fiction who most often tills the ground between Rod Serling and Issac Asimov. Ellison’s scope embraces short stories, screenplays, novels and scripts, and his ideas and concepts about humanity and social conscience have influenced a sea of followers, as well as his contemporaries.

I was fascinated by this man who joined a street gang in Brooklyn as research for a story, whose prescient takes on space travel and future societies were as pensive as his religious allegories and tales of authoritative madness. And while everyone was using a typewriter forty years ago, I’m intrigued that this self-described curmudgeon still steadfastly refuses to write his stories any other way but banging them out in his trusted Olympia, even in 2011. Not a big fan of social media, computers or the Internet, either…

“Why do people keep insisting that I join the 21st Century? I *LIVE* in the 21st Century! I just don’t want to be bothered by the shitheads on the internet!”

Must be working – he just won the 2011 Nebula Award – his fourth – for his short story “How Interesting: A Tiny Man“. But awards are nothing new for Ellison; he’s the world’s most honored living writer.

So this week’s TGIF wishes a Happy 77th Birthday to Harlan Ellison with Ten Terrific Tangents you must check out. Thanks for a lifetime of mind-blowing words, HarlanI even forgive you for The Oscar.

(01) – The Glass Teat: Television reviews in his unique style

(02) – Web Of The City: Gang days. Also see Memos From Purgatory

(03) – Angry Candy: From the late 90’s, one of his best collections.

(04) – Ellison Wonderland: The early anthology that made a huge mark.

(05) – Shatterday: Title story was an 80’s Twilight Zone episode

(06) – The Essential Ellison: A fifty-year retrospective of his work.

(07) – I Have No Mouth And I Must Scream: Even better than the title.

(08) – Harlan Ellison’s Watching: more biting criticism

(09) – Deathbird Stories: Dark, sinister, and amazing.

(10) – Dreams With Sharp Teeth: a wonderful documentary.

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Catch ‘Em While You Can

Don’t it always seem to go
that you don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone?

That classic Joni Mitchell line doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue, but you get my point. Artists come and go, books and albums go out of print, and in the world of television, sometimes that great show just doesn’t catch on with enough viewers fast enough, and…poof.

Some of TV’s most iconic programs were not instant successes. In the early days, frankly there wasn’t enough left to replace them with, so a Twilight Zone could have time to build an audience. And it wasn’t unusual for a show to become a staple over time, whether it was a groundbreaking program like M*A*S*H or All In The Family or a pop culture nugget like The Munsters or Gilligan’s Island.

Star Trek probably came out of the 60’s with the strongest credibility, but that show was a bomb when originally aired. And has the ratings been as nervously distilled for Hill Street Blues as they are today, you wouldn’t even know the name of just another cop show that bit the dust.

The next great epic, Boardwalk Empire

So I’m thrilled that HBO has already renewed Boardwalk Empire after just one episode, even if I haven’t seen it yet. After leaving fans of Carnivale and Deadwood in the lurch, perhaps they have learned from Lost that if you are going to try to bring an ocean liner to a halt, a smooth deceleration works better than a dead stop. If this year is successful and DVD sales are solid, they’ll hopefully give the writers and producers another notice next year so that story arcs can be flexible enough to either ascend or wrap up.

At the opposite end of the spectrum is the wonderful Better Off Ted, which got the axe with only two shows left in the can. Eight months later, ABC still hasn’t been able to find a time slot to burn off those two shows – again, already filmed and produced, just sitting there – so those of us who appreciate well-written comedy can have one last hour of enjoyment. The UK picked up the show and those episodes aired in England…yet this week in the States, ABC filled a third of its prime time schedule with four hours of Dancing With The Stars and a new show regurgitating both Jerry O’Connell and Jim Belushi. Thanks a lot.

Thankfully Britain is our friend. Since the DVD of season two might never appear, enjoy those last two episodes here, won’t you?

Episode 12It’s My Party and I’ll Lie If I Want To.

Episode 13Swag The Dog

This intelligent comedy is brought to you by Veridian Dynamics

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