Thursday, October 12, 2017

Review: 'The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia'


The Twilight Zone ran for 156 episodes written by 40-something different writers and featuring way more actors and actresses than I’m willing to count. You can literally fill an encyclopedia with this stuff, and that’s just what Steven Jay Rubin literally did with The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia.

Running for 424 packed pages, Rubin’s book discusses every episode, every writer, every director, every major theme (aliens, children, time travel, etc.), every significant location or item (Sunnyvale Rest home from “Kick the Can”, Talky Tina from “Living Doll”, etc.), and nearly every actor and actress who appeared in the series’ original run (understandably, people like Phil Arnold, who played “Man” in “Mr. Dingle, the Strong” and Jimmy Baird, who played “Boy” in “The Changing of the Guard” are a bit too much for our valiant author). And the original run is Rubin’s main concern, which he makes very clear in his book’s introduction, although he still manages to slip in a good deal of information about, for example, Twilight Zone: The Movie in his entry on “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”.

Rubin doesn’t make room for potential entries about such original series-related items as all the merchandise The Twilight Zone spawned or The Simpsons’ “Treehouse of Horror” episodes that so wonderfully parody so many classic Zones, but we do get a lot that saves the book from being redundant in light of The Twilight Zone Companion, Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic, IMDB, and Wikipedia. There are quotes from new interviews with a slew of people involved with the original series, odd bits of trivia (example: Russ Meyer was a still photographer for the series! Nina Roman-Rhodes, who played the maid in “Miniature”, was one of the few people who reported seeing a second gunman at the site of JFK’s assassination!), and quite a few unusual photos (my favorite: Gary Crosby of “Come Wander with Me” monkeying with an electric bass). Ten pages of Rod Serling’s final interview is a cool addition too even though the creator barely mentions The Twilight Zone at all.
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