“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension – a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into…The Twilight Zone.” – Rod Serling, as he introduced the original Twilight Zone series.
The Twilight Zone turned 50 years old on October 2nd, 2009! Thank you Rod Serling, for the Twilight Zone! The original series was started by Serling in 1959, and its first episode Where is Everybody aired on October 2nd, 1959. Serling was the creator, producer and writer for most of the episodes. Excellent guest writers of fantasy, horror and science-fiction of the day, such as Ray Bradbury, also penned episodes. Serling was also the host of each show who delivered the opening lines and often appeared on camera smoking a cigarette.
The Twilight Zone was a near-obsession of mine for many years as I was growing up. Ok, I was obsessed! I watched every rerun episode I could on late night TV, and watched each revival of the series as they debuted before my eager eyes and ears. The series, particularly the original first run, had style, class, dealt with deep issues and also scared the crap out of you! I still get goosebumps thinking about the shows, and the black and white photography in the original series made the wild stories even more surreal.
I also watched The Night Gallery, Serling’s colour series after the ‘Zone that carried many of the same themes of The Twilight Zone forward in a more paranormal, paranoid, modern fashion. Then, there was the revival of The Twilight Zone in 1985 with theme music by The Grateful Dead! That was fun was well, but no show has ever captured the gravitas of the original Twilight Zone in my opinion.
One of my favourite episodes is The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street. “You’re a bad man! You’re a very bad man!” Careful, or the kid will wish you into the cornfield!
Then, there is To Serve Man. A warning that not all advanced aliens from space will be out for our best interests, though they may consider us very interesting indeed! I remember the shock I felt at the twist ending of that episode when I first watched it as a little kid! I won’t ruin it for those who have not seen it!
And, who could forget William Shatner as the freaked out passenger in Nightmare At 20,000 Feet?
From the great opening montage of sights and sounds, to Serling’s ominous welcome and warning as we enter The Twilight Zone, that series captured a magic of the times, and of the huge amount of creativity that was bought to the massive endeavor of creating 156 episodes in its original run from 1959 to 1964. The second series ran from 1985 to 1989 and produced 65 episodes, and a third run went from 2002 to 2003, with 44 episodes.
There were so many great episodes and I could go on and on, but I’ll wrap it up. If you’ve never seen The Twilight Zone, you are in for a treat! And, if you remember the shows, then now is a time of fond remembrance and to give thanks to Rod Serling for his tremendous accomplishment, may he rest in peace, and to all of the talented people who made such great TV art that is timeless. They took us on “a journey into a wondrous land of imagination.”