To paraphrase the old Saturday Night Live gag, Rod Serling’s been very very good to me. Not just thanks to this book and the various Twilight Zone home video products I’ve produced, but also the many opportunities I’ve had to write storylines and scripts inspired by The Twilight Zone.
The first of these occurred in 1985, when CBS brought back Twilight Zone – minus Rod Serling, who had died ten years earlier. The show was irregular in quality but had some bright spots and a terrific writing staff that included Alan Brennert, Rockne O’Bannon (later to create Farscape, Alien Nation, Seaquest, Defiance and Cult), Harlan Ellison (writer of Star Trek’s “City on the Edge of Forever” and Outer Limits’ “Soldier” and “Demon with a Glass Hand”), George R.R. Martin (later to create Game of Thrones) and Michael Cassutt.
At that time, I had a thriving career as a television writer, and naturally I was dying to sell to the show. I went in and pitched a story entitled “Knife Through the Veil” to the entire writing staff, plus showrunner Phil DeGuere. They reacted with enthusiasm, and it sold quickly. I wrote the script, which was then scheduled for production.
By then I was good friends with Douglas Heyes, one of the greatest directors of the original series, whose episodes included such classics as “Eye of the Beholder,” “The Invaders,” “The After Hours” and “The Howling Man.” I asked Doug if he’d direct “Knife Through the Veil” and was thrilled when he agreed.
Then one week before prep the CBS censors pulled the plug on the episode, claiming as their reason that it was too violent. The fact that the story’s whole point lay in rejecting violence in favor of mercy held no sway; their decision was final.
I was devastated.
A few years later Doug died, and so we never got to work together. But thanks to the wonders of the Internet and the book you’re now reading, you can read that version of the script yourself: