No television series challenged the very notion of reality quite as artfully as The Twilight Zone. You could easily find yourself trying to figure out where you were, when you were, or even who you were.
Here in our own dimension, matters tend to be a bit more concrete. Facts are facts. So here are 10 facts about Rod Serling’s brainchild that are familiar only to truly diehard fans (and perhaps regular readers of this blog and my Twitter page):
1) “There is a sixth dimension …” Wait, what? It’s true. When Serling first drafted his description of that elusive fifth dimension, he added an extra one … until the producer asked him to name the fifth.
2) Serling was not the first choice for narrator. They were setting their sights on such famous voices as Orson Welles, but in the end, they went with You Know Who. (You can hear how TZ almost sounded at this link.) Read the rest of this entry
Henry Bemis and his all-too-breakable eyeglasses? Check. Talky Tina? She was there. Agnes Moorehead, battling two tiny aliens who crash-land on her roof? Front and center. A gremlin on an airplane wing? He flew in just for the occasion.
Yes, the roster of fifth-dimension All-Stars was long at the Syfy channel’s annual two-day Twilight Zone marathon this New Year’s. From the tension-filled houses on Maple Street to the lush cornfields of Peaksville, Ohio, hardly anyone missed the festivities.
But although the schedule was packed with fan favorites, a few gems were conspicuously absent. We all would have been better served if replacements for clunkers such as “What’s in the Box” and “Caesar and Me” had been pulled from the following list:
Season 1, Episode 21 – February 26, 1960
Parallel planes. Disappearing doppelgängers. It’s a metaphysical mind-trip of the first order, one that definitely deserved a spot on Syfy’s schedule. I’m blaming Vera Miles’s wily twin for making this classic vanish from the marathon. Read the rest of this entry
There’s nothing like ringing in the new year with a party. And if you’re a fan of The Twilight Zone, you know the best one around is the one thrown by the Syfy channel.
I mean, two days in the fifth dimension, bingeing on your favorite episodes, and maybe discovering some “new” ones? Whether you go the distance, or dip in here and there for a few short excursions into the unknown, it’s hard to pass up.
A lot of fans consider the Dec. 31/Jan. 1 TZ marathon more essential than a glass of champagne and a list of resolutions. For many, it’s the only time they’ll watch the series all year.
And that’s kind of a shame. Not because they should watch it more often (though I wouldn’t discourage that, of course). Because they’re not seeing The Twilight Zone at its best. Read the rest of this entry
If there’s one thread that unites the many different characters that populate the fifth dimension, it’s the unexpected.
An ordinary drive? A typical day at work? Guess again. You suddenly veer down a very different path.
I had that experience recently. Just as the New Year’s Eve marathon was getting underway, a serious family matter came up out of the blue. So after welcoming hundreds of new followers to my Twitter page, I tweeted for only one out of the following three days.
I certainly expected to throttle down after two days of high-intensity updates, but 48+ hours of radio silence wasn’t the plan. Read the rest of this entry
So my “Gal Friday,” and I decided to chronicle them throughout December, with our daily #TZMarathonCountdown tweets. I took the “odd” days, while Wendy took the “even” days. Here’s what we came up with:
Day 1: The “What You Need” guy is stocking up on popcorn, chips, and caffeine pills.
Day 2: Gregory West uses his dictation machine to program the marathon with all of Mary’s favourite episodes.
Day 3: Jason Foster orders the favors for his New Year’s Eve TZ Marathon party: TZ character masks for each guest. Read the rest of this entry
Imagine spending Christmas Day at the hospital. Sounds horrible, doesn’t it? Unless you were Sam and Esther Serling, and you were there on December 25, 1924, to welcome a baby boy into the world. A boy who would someday welcome the rest of us … to the Twilight Zone.
The Serlings already had one son, Robert, born in 1918. But a bout of yellow fever prior to that had almost killed Esther. Anne Serling, author of “As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling”, picks up the story:
After Bob is born, the doctor gives them the crushing news: this will be their only child. He says it is impossible for her to carry another, and true to his warning, a baby girl is stillborn a few years later. Seven years later, however, the doctor is proven wrong. Read the rest of this entry
“I dare you.”
Even after we become adults, the old school-yard taunt never quite loses its power.
Oh, we find more sophisticated ways of expressing it, if only to reassure ourselves that we’ve grown up. We’re not kids anymore. But the sting of being thought a coward is still so abhorrent that shaking off a dare isn’t easy at any age.
Just ask Conny Miller. I wouldn’t expect a quick answer, though, now that he’s buried in the old cemetery near Pinto Sykes. Dead … because of a dare. Read the rest of this entry
With its twist endings and ironic turns of fate, even the most die-hard Twilight Zone fan might have trouble believing there’s much to give thanks for in the fifth dimension. But it turns out there are reasons to be grateful even in that elusive “middle ground between light and shadow”.
So here, to peruse sometime after the pumpkin pie and coffee is served, are the Top Ten Reasons to be Thankful in the Twilight Zone:
10) You finally got that new bomb shelter built — just in time to show the neighbors!
9) Global Airlines is offering half-off fares to the Jurassic era.
8) All that canned turkey you found? The old man in the cave says it’s safe to eat!
7) Maya the Cat Girl has a new roller coaster she can’t wait to show you.
Read the rest of this entry
50 years ago today, it was an ordinary Friday in November. For a while, anyway.
The Twilight Zone aired on Fridays during four of its five seasons. And on November 22, 1963, Richard Matheson’s “Night Call” was set to air. But when an assassin’s bullet cut down President John F. Kennedy earlier that day, every network immediately shifted to continuous coverage of the tragic news.
Every American alive then can tell you where he or she was when that news first hit. They wept. They prayed. And in the case of Rod Serling, they wrote. Read the rest of this entry
Recently I was contacted by a reporter working on an article about the latest release of The Twilight Zone on DVD. We talked about many aspects of the show, but the first thing he asked was why I thought it continues to have such lasting appeal.
It’s a fair question. I mean, it’s been 50 years! TV shows come and go by the truckload. In an age of digital streaming and CGI wonders, what accounts for the popularity of some black-and-white series that premiered back when Dwight Eisenhower was president?
There are many ingredients you can point to: the acting, the photography, the twist endings. And quite rightly; TZ was a first-class affair from top to bottom. Read the rest of this entry