The writing is, aside from the one minor solecism I noted, virtually note-perfect, and the acting, from the three main participants, is nothing less than outstanding. Kiley and Begley show a wonderful rapport, in just a few scenes, that believably establishes their growing friendship, whereas Sloane simply dominates the screen as the despotic tycoon. But, secondary characters also shine- especially the females in the cast, including Staples’ wife, Fran (June Dayton), and the company secretaries (Elizabeth Wilson, Joanna Roos, and Elizabeth Montgomery). There is some interesting camera work, early on in the play, and on the breaks in to and out of commercials, and in montages of small aspects of the corporate offices (especially empty and at night), but this play really shows how riveting great writing can be, and how superfluous many of the other elements of television and film can be. None of the characters is without flaws nor virtues. Andy Sloane is a decent man, but an alcoholic. Fred Staples is decent and principled, but willing to be used. Ramsie is a cold hearted bastard, but an honest bastard. Fran Staples is an inveterate social climber, but fiercely loyal to her man.
Patterns stands as a great and brilliantly insightful work of art, and it is heartening to realize it was recognized as such in its day. Serling won the first of his six Emmy Awards for writing for this teleplay, and it was well deserved. The same is not true today, however, and I doubt that such a damning indictment of the monied powers could even get looked at, much less produced, in these times. Too bad. Television, an the arts, need more Rod Serlings….in this or any other dimensions.?