Reaching beyond the grave, and The Twilight Zone, to hype one of its hits for this month's ratings "sweep," NBC has enlisted the late Rod Serling to introduce a 3D episode of its supernatural drama Medium.
The November 21 broadcast of Medium, starring Patricia Arquette as a psychic crime solver, will feature several spooky three-dimensional effects, and the network is distributing millions of 3D glasses, most of them through TV Guide magazine, ahead of the episode.
The most novel element of the broadcast for those viewers without glasses, perhaps, will be the 45-second opening sequence in which Sterling is "reanimated" in an altered film clip taken from The Twilight Zone, the often-creepy sci-fi anthology he hosted on CBS during the 1960s.
"He basically explains to people about the glasses, when to put them on, and reassures people who don't have them that they'll be able to enjoy the episode," executive producer Glenn Gordon Caron said Wednesday.
About two-thirds into the sequence, Serling will appear in 3D.
Caron said the black-and-white clip of the master of irony is being incorporated into next week's Medium courtesy of Serling's estate and his wife, Carol. The playwright and producer died in 1975 at age 50.
"It's very flattering to be allowed to do this, to use his image and take advantage of the extraordinary legacy that he has," Caron said.
He said the episode, titled Still Life, was conceived in part as a device to promote interest in the show during the November "sweep," when networks go all-out to give the ratings of local affiliates a boost.
Medium, which debuted last season, is one of the few bright spots on NBC's schedule, as the network seeks to reverse a ratings slump. The show averaged more than 12 million viewers a week so far this season, ranking in the top 20 among all scripted series in prime time.
The drama is based on the experiences of real-life forensic psychic Allison DuBois, played by Arquette, who helps police solve crimes through her ability to commune with the dead.
In next week's episode, disturbing three-dimensional visions emerging from the work of a popular artist lead Allison to believe the painter may have a deadly secret.
Caron said the 3D sequences include a butcher's cleaver being thrown across a kitchen and a woman lying in the woods, who reaches her hand out from under a tarp as she's about to be buried alive.
Medium is not the first TV show to dabble in 3D, though the effect is more common in movies. Other TV series to experiment with the effect in recent years have been The Drew Carey Show and 3rd Rock from the Sun.