While I’m on the subject of Rod Serling, I wanted to write a little about great television writers. I’m sure that Rod Serling would make anybody’s list, not just for The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling’s Night Gallery but, even more importantly, for his incredible work in the early television drama anthologies, e.g. Playhouse 90, Armstrong Circle Theater, Kraft Television Theater, Requiem for a Heavyweight, Seven Days in May, and so much else.
There are a number of other writers I think are first-rate writers of teleplays. These include Richard Matheson, Carl Reiner, Larry Gelbart (who wrote some of the most signal episodes of M*A*S*H e.g. The Interview), and Donald Bellisario, some of whose episodes of Quantum Leap are, I think, among television’s very finest work.
IMO television writing has fallen on hard times. So have acting and direction, but that’s another story. I hate to speak ill of the dead but I blame Aaron Spelling. It’s so much easier to put nubile young women on the screen and strip them down to their skivvies (or beyond) than it is to write solid television. And it probably reaches a larger audience.
Who are your nominees for the greatest TV writers of all time? Sometimes it’s hard to distinguish great writing from solid acting. I think that House, for example, is competently written (at best) but brilliantly acted. David Chase? I don’t like crime dramas so I’m a poor judge.