The Twilight Zone is perhaps my favorite show of all time, and time has only magnified my appreciation for it. There's a simplicity in the show that's often absent in comparable genre anthology shows, including its own revivals. Absent the effects and production values of movies (or for that matter, modern prestige TV), The Twilight Zone sold itself on the fundamentals of live visual storytelling, especially writing and acting.
A great example of this dynamic - and one of my personal favorite episodes - is "A Game of Pool," starring Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters in, to quote Rod Serling, "the story of the best pool player living and the best pool player dead." This is a thirty minute program with few distractions - two actors, one simple set, a plot that's laid out in its entirety within the opening minutes. From that point on, everything is presented through dialogue and camera angles, and the creators needed nothing else.
If you're going to steal, steal from the best. "Kill Screen" is one of several stories I've written that are based on Twilight Zone episodes, and is one of my favorites. It is not a direct one-to-one adaptation, nor is it meant to be. The aesthetics of an arcade are very different than those of a pool hall, and they attract very different crowds. "A Game of Pool" was a quiet, isolated match between two men with that isolation adding to the suspense, whereas "Kill Screen" uses the growing crowd and chaos to generate a different sort of tension.
"Kill Screen" is also one of my longer stories, mainly because as I wrote it I found myself bringing more and more outside references. Aside from being a Twilight Zone homage, it is also a love letter to retro video games. Some of those references are obvious - the cabinet itself, with its deadly legacy, is a reference to the 1980 game Berzerk, and the antagonist bears more than a slight resemblance to recently disgraced arcade icon Billy Mitchell. As I wrote it, though, I had a hell of a lot of fun dreaming up colorful figures for Jimmy's list of victims, who constitute a Cavalcade of People Who Take Video Games Too Seriously (a list that includes Jimmy himself, though he's too egotistical to acknowledge that).
Very interesting! Thanks, Andrew!
Check out "Kill Screen" and the other stories on May 31, 2019!