June 29, 2013


He Is Legend : There will never be another Richard Matheson (DANIEL J. FLYNN, 6.28.13, American Spectator)

One theme in Matheson's televised yarns relates to supernatural life preservers saving characters from their sinking lives. In Twilight Zone's "World of Difference," Matheson depicts an actor with a harpy wife and a declining career who opts to stay permanently in character over living in his depressing reality. In "The Doll," originally written for The Twilight Zone but produced two decades later for Steven Spielberg's Amazing Stories, two lonely hearts escape their sad lives through the interdiction of a dollmaker-matchmaker.

Matheson wrote one of the better Star Trek episodes. In "The Enemy Within," Captain Kirk splits into two personages representing very different parts of his soul. The more pleasant, and more passive, Kirk realizes he needs the more decisive, and devious, version of himself to be a complete leader. Matheson's scripts showed up on The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, Boris Karloff's Thriller, and Night Gallery. A sort of last hurrah for these anthology programs came in the form of the '80s revival of The Twilight Zone, which featured Matheson's "Button, Button." Therein, a button awarded its presser with a large sum of money and the knowledge that a stranger has died because of it. The ending, like so many of the best Twilight Zones, leaves viewers stunned.

Matheson penned perhaps the greatest television movie ever broadcast. Kolchak: The Night Strangler blended the fantastic with the all-too-real in a story of a vampire emerging from the urban underground to quench his thirst during the crime-ridden '70s. It launched a television program starring Darren McGavin, and then, a few decades later, it inspired another, The X Files. The scripts of two of the best episodes -- Squeeze and Tooms -- paid homage to Kolchak: The Night Strangler.

Give  I Am Legend a read as an allegory for conservatism.

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Posted by at June 29, 2013 1:25 PM

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