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Thursday, December 20, 2007

You Are Entering a Dimension of Sight and Sound

By Keith Schmitz

Rod Serling was proof why early television had its wonderful moments. The New York Times this morning ran a piece about Serling's dark adaptation of the "Christmas Carol."

Read the article to pick up on the brilliance of Serling. Set against the background of nuclear warfare, the 90 minute television special featured Sterling Heyden, Eva Marie Saint, Ben Gazzara and lounge singer Steve Lawrence doing a heavy dramatic turn as a World I soldier as the Ghost of Christmas Past. Music was by Henry Mancini.

As fascinating as this program sounds, at this time there is no plans to offer it up as a DVD and certainly not as a rebroadcast. This is no "Year without Santa Claus" or Merry Christmas Charlie Brown."

There was something unique Serling added to the classic tale.
Serling’s biggest (and most bizarre) departure from Dickens is an original character, Imperial Me (Peter Sellers), the leader of a ragtag group of doomsday survivors. Clad in a pilgrim outfit and a 10-gallon hat bearing the glittering legend “ME,” he exhorts his howling mob to follow an every-man-for-himself philosophy.

“Each behind his own fence!” he yells in a twanging Texas accent. “Each behind his own barricade! Follow me, my friends and loved ones, to the perfect society! The Civilization of ‘I’!” When Grudge’s black butler (Percy Rodrigues) pleads with Imperial Me’s followers to obey the rule of law, a boy in cowboy garb shoots him to death.

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