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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Conversations with Alan Brennert, part 1

So, as I might have bragged earlier on, I have recently got in touch with mr. Alan Brennert, a very important figure in the history of 80s Twilight Zone. Mr. Brennert served as the executive story consultant on the 80s Zone, generally keeping himself busy with the show throughout, contributing several stories and teleplays, the most memorable probably Her Pilgrim Soul. Mr. Brennert, who outside of the Zone is a novelist, was kind enough to answer a few fanboy questions while being busy with writing of his newest novel...so here you go folks - some inside stuff from our favourite show !

First of all, I had to ask if something was cut from Nightcrawlers. To this date, I find the sudden "bonding" between the waitress and Price oddly paced and awkward...

Alan : As far as I can recall, there was nothing major left out of the air version of "Nightcrawlers." Maybe there was a line in the script in which Price said his name and it got inadvertently cut, but I don't have a copy of Phil's script handy for reference.

Ever wondered why Alan used a pseudonyme in The Healer, then ... ?

Alan : We were so unhappy with the final film that we did lots and lots of recutting to minimize the damage, but in the end I felt like the finished product fell so far short of what I'd hoped for (in what would be my first original TZ episode to air) that I just took my name off it out of sheer embarrassment. The continuity glitch (I wondered how comes only Eric Bogosian felt the inverse effects) you cite might have been the result of the recutting, I can't recall; I do remember having to change the ending (in which Vincent Guardenia winds up becoming the unlucky recipient of all the diseases the healing stone took away from others) because of atrocious makeup, which admittedly we should've caught before it ever got before the cameras.

Whose decision was it, to remake the episodes which were remade ?

Alan : The thinking at first was to select stories that we thought could be interestinglly changed or improved upon: the sex-switch in "Dead Woman" gave it a new twist, while "Night of the Meek" was originally shot on videotape and looked a little visually rough because of it, so we thought we might be able to do it a little more slicker, visually. "Shadowplay" I think was one of Jim Crocker's favorites and he wanted to do it. "After Hours," I have no idea!

Remember me wondering why the hell does a set in Quarantine get replaced with that cheap-o matte shot ?

Alan : Boy, you got me. It was a full-blown set, I was on it and have photos of it -- why they cut to a matte for that last shot I have no idea. It was either Phil's idea or Martha Coolidge's, and alas Phil is gone and Martha I'm no longer in touch with.

And finally, yours truly gets set straight over what both he, and John from tzone.the-croc.com, thought was a ghastly error...

Alan : I'm afraid you're dead wrong about "The Star." In the scene inside the asteroid, when Captain Durant enters she says, "There's a computer secion on the fourth level...language equivalents, too. We're finding datafiles that seem to contain their entire history as a people. From what we've deciphered so far..." Etc.

"Language equivalents" in the computer section -- in other words, a computerized codex to the alien language, which is exactly what the guy in "To Serve Man" didn't have. And she says they've already starting translating some of the material. So they have plenty of reference to the alien language and culture available to their computers, and the poem at the end doesn't come about "magically," it's all been set up in the previous scene. I don't know how it could be clearer!

***

Well, that's it for this edition...I'm sorry it took me so much, but expect a beginning of season two reviews somewhere within the next 24 hours ! Thank you still for reading, as I'm getting visits overall, and again, many thanks to mr. Brennert for making this feature possible.

On a sidenote, Alan passed me the info that both Rockne S. O'Bannon and Patrice Messina have read and enjoyed this blog. So that's even more Zone celebrity points for me. :) Keep on reading folks, I'll finish this baby up...mark my words. Onwards, season 2 !

Comments on "Conversations with Alan Brennert, part 1"

 

Anonymous John said ... (5:49 AM) : 

I agree with Mr. Brennert. I guess I wasn't listening to the part he mentions. It's always great to wail on something, and then realize that you're wrong. Oh well, at least it's not the first time - for me anyway!

 

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