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Richard Matheson’s The Twilight Zone Scripts Volume Two edited by Stanley Wiater

01/06/2002. Contributed by Geoff Willmetts

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pub: Edge Books/Gauntlet Press, US. Price: $16.95 (US). ISBN: 1-887368-52-3).

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Matheson’s name is synonymous with the original TV anthology series ‘The Twilight Zone’ despite the fact that he only wrote 14 scripts for the series.

This was no doubt because they struck such a sympathetic chord with the viewers and were a sharp contrast to Rod Serling’s own material.

This book presents the last six episode scripts that Matheson wrote for the series and includes gems such as ‘Nightmare At 20,000 Feet’, ‘Steel’ and ‘Night Call’ - the latter having a slightly less menacing ending to how it was presented on screen (wasn’t it done again in the new Twilight Zone series?).

In many respects, episodes like ‘Mute’, ‘Spur Of The Moment’ and even ‘Death Ship’ appear dated these days. With the first two, it is more to do and illustrates how the American health and care services have changed in the past 40 years.

The best way to learn how to become a scriptwriter is to study successful scripts. With two hour and four half-hour stories here, the astute reader should be able to grasp some of Matheson’s artistry as to how they were done.

The visuals come across quite strongly here. Between each episode, there are footnotes by Matheson plus information as to the original cast. I quite forgotten that Lee Marvin was the boxer in ‘Steel’ although everyone remembers it was Bill Shatner seeing a gremlin attacking the aircraft engine in ‘Nightmare’.

Although the book hasn’t been given a UK release, the ardent readers amongst you should know how to pull the book from the States.

The promotion I was given with the book also indicates this publisher is going to be releasing a lot more of Matheson’s work so worth adding a ‘Favourites’ link to keep up to date.

GF Willmetts

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