Sunday, November 20, 2016

In 1961, Roald Dahl Hosted His Own Version of 'The Twilight Zone'

In 1961, Roald Dahl Hosted His Own Version of 'The Twilight Zone': Looking back at the macabre delights of the famous author's forgotten TV horror show.

6 comments:

Deb said...

Wasn't Dahl associated with another horror anthology show--possibly made for British television in the 1970s? I have a vague memory of an episode with Joan Collins (?) as an unfaithful wife whose husband somehow persuades her to stick her head through the open oval of a Henry Moore-type sculpture--with predictable results.

/I can never think of Dahl without thinking of what an awful person he was to Patricia Neal when he divorced her after umpteen years of marriage and many children so he could marry his young assistant--who now runs his estate (hence, Johnny Depp in "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory").

Mike Doran said...

Deb:

The show you're thinking of was called Roald Dahl's Tales of the Unexpected - at least at the beginning.

This was mainly a British production, originating with Anglia Ltd., one of GB's independent companies.

It was intended for sale to the USA as well as GB, and this led to Roald Dahl making separate introductions for each nation; the American intros were done on a limbo set, but the British ones were apparently done in Dahl's own home study (or at least a remarkable simulation). The contents differed subtly between the two markets.
As they were finishing up the initial set, the producers found that they were running out of Dahl stories, and began to add stories by other writers. Dahl obligingly provided intros for these at first, but ultimately opted out of the series altogether.
Subsequent seasons of the British version had no host; the title was reduced to simply Tales of the Unexpected. In the USA, the newer shows were introduced by John Houseman, then deep into his "anything for a buck" phase.
To further confuse matters, Anglia ordered up extra shows which were produced in the USA under the supervision of Norman Lloyd. My understanding is that these aired in GB as part of the original run, but disappeared in subsequent syndication.
Years ago, Acorn Video put out DVD sets of the British-produced episodes; the earliest ones have Dahl's cozy introductions, the later ones have no host (meaning no Houseman), and the American shows are MIA. I think the DVDs are out of print now; if you can find them , they're probably pricey as all get out.

'Way Out only lasted for 14 episodes.
Finders Keepers, a C2C outfit (see Martin Grams's site for a link), has ten of the 14 out on DVDs; I'm guessing they're holding out the final four for reasons of their own.
Of course, if CBS or the David Susskind Estate decides to put out a complete restored set ...

Bill Crider said...

Thanks for all that info, Mike!

Gary R. said...

'WAY OUT being shot on video tape, rather than film, might've been a factor in its difficulty to attract a larger audience.

Mike Doran said...

Gary R.:

'Way Out aired on Friday night on CBS; its competiton was 77 Sunset Strip on ABC and Sing Along With Mitch on NBC. These two factors probably did more to affect 'Way Out's viewership.
My childhood recollections of 1961 are that tape vs. film was pretty low on that list of considerations, at least as far as my parents were concerned.

By the way, check out the L&M commercials in the embedded episodes - especially the one at the end of "William And Mary", featuring those smoky folkies The Limeliters.
It'll just make your day!

Gary R. said...

Those shows were tough competition, Mike!