Allie Valentine writes “Fifty Years After Twilight Zone, New Series, New Host Carry Its Storytelling Torch;DARK MATTER DVDs recapture the golden era of TV with fresh voices, ideas and fans can try them free.
HOLLYWOOD – For many, Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone represents television’s watershed moment and that all TV that followed was a slow devolution leading to today’s reality show carnival. For generations of Americans, a certain nostalgia for the kind of stories Serling dished up remains to this day. Morality tales, twist endings and irony were all part of the mix that equaled one shining slogan to count on: Expect the unexpected.” Read More for more details. It sounds interesting – although the more recent The Outer Limits ran for many years, I’ve felt that anthology series can be tough to produce as viewers don’t have anything to get attached to other than the storytelling itself, and that needs to be exceptional to bring them back over and over. Perhaps this is another medium for which these tales can now be told…
But TV has become all too expectable and what people have come to expect, they don’t like.
Enter DARK MATTER, a new anthology series hosted by George Noory, who also happens to host Coast to Coast AM, the largest overnight radio show in North America, by far.
For the uninitiated, dark matter is an invisible force in the Universe responsible for a wide variety of unexplained phenomena scientists believe exists but can’t see or prove with current technology or knowledge. In that spirit, DARK MATTER, brings its viewers stories they would never have seen before that all have that certain Serling-esque storytelling style to them.
“There’s an entire generation of filmmakers and storytellers, including myself, who’ve grown up on shows like Twilight Zone that are completely dismayed that there’s no outlet for them to tell their stories,” relays Alexander Vickers, the creator and executive producer of DARK MATTER. “I’ve created two series for television that covered the topics DARK MATTER explores that just got no traction because TV executives don’t think audiences are smart enough for them.”
“The good news is that with technology making filmmaking possible even without a studio or network behind someone, these filmmakers aren’t being stopped by the short-sightedness of the TV executives. The bad news is that there’s no distribution infrastructure or marketing support for these stories to be seen,” laments Vickers who equates the dilemma to the famous zen koan about the tree that falls in the forest with no one to hear it.
“There are a ton of people who want these kinds of stories. I know. I hear from them every night,” says Tom Danheiser producer of Noory’s radio show. “What you have is a whole lot of people not being served by network and cable TV and a lot of great stories being produced with no vehicle to connect them with the people who want them.”
Vickers operates Dreamscape Studios, a movie marketing firm that produces trailers for film and provides marketing consulting, along with producing events like a musical tribute to Quincy Jones last year.
“I created DARK MATTER to showcase these unseen stories, to bypass the networks altogether and to get right to the folks who are missing the kind of entertainment Twilight Zone and Outer Limits brought to them,” continues Vickers. “No filter, no middlemen. Just the best stories you’ve never seen sure to give you the same goosebumps Twilight Zone did.”
Every great anthology needs a master of ceremonies to initiate audiences into the surreal world they’re about to enter. For Vickers, the choice to tap George Noory for the role was a no-brainer.
Noory’s no stranger to well-told tales of the bizarre and unexplained. Each night he speaks to an audience of 3.5 million (according to TALKERS magazine) about the paranormal, the metaphysical and the frontiers of science.
“George channels Rod Serling,” according to Marc Zicree author of The Twilight Zone Companion. “DARK MATTER really is the only thing out there in this format that Twilight Zone and science fiction fans can embrace. It’s that simple.”
Just like Twilight Zone was Serling’s outlet to tell stories he couldn’t tell on mainstream shows, DARK MATTER is made available monthly and direct-to-DVD to avoid meddling by TV executives.
At http://www.darkmatterdvds.com, fans can get a free DVD of one of the series’ volumes plus bonus gifts related to science fiction and Coast to Coast AM as long as they pay a nominal shipping fee and while supplies last. If they like it, they receive future volumes at the normal price of $19.95.
Judy Reynolds is a science fiction fan and says she’s hooked on the series already, “It’s awesome. I thought these stories were gone. I grew up on Twilight Zone and Night Gallery and watching these films kind of makes me feel like a kid again.”
Deborah Pratt, co-creator of TV’s Quantum Leap agrees, “Nothing like this could be told on TV nowadays so it’s amazing sci-fi and fans of good stories period have this invaluable service.”
So what kind of stories does DARK MATTER deliver? For your consideration (as Serling would famously say), five stories exploring diverse topics such as the end of the Mayan calendar, choice vs. freewill (delivered via a story about four pulp fiction novel characters stuck in a seedy bar waiting for the writer of their lives to get on with it), privacy and fascism, what happens when time begins to flow in reverse and the implications of paranoia and self-destruction as experienced by a wounded soldier under the care of his comrades behind enemy lines.
“We’ve created a series that not only bypasses TV, it transcends it. Our DVDs are designed to stimulate conversation and speculation on a level TV just can’t compete with,” claims Vickers who has built in provocative questions that get posed to the viewer after each story to spur conversation between viewers.
Vickers says that the response has been overwhelming and that the service has met projections not expected to be met for another six months.
As for the future vision for DARK MATTER? “Our plan is to create a community of people who love these stories and to keep them coming to them,” reveals Vickers.
When asked if he ever worries they’ll run out of stories to tell Tom Danheiser informed, “No chance. If the stories ever dry up, Alex has literally 200 story outlines that could be scripted and in production with a month’s notice. He’s got it handled.”
For the time being at least, it looks like television’s black and white past has a bright future in DARK MATTER.
DARK MATTER DVDs are available at http://www.darkmatterdvds.com