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.
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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
Planning to give the gift of imagination this Christmas? For the fifth-dimension fans in your life, The Twilight Zone on DVD is hard to top. But if you like extras on your discs, it will soon be hard to get.
That’s because Image Entertainment will stop offering their “Definitive Collection” DVDs on Dec. 1. Soon only independent vendors on Amazon, eBay and other websites will carry them.
That doesn’t mean the series won’t be available on DVD anymore. In fact, Image has been re-issuing the series a season at a time over the last year or two, and will unveil a boxed set of the whole collection on Nov. 19. Read the rest of this entry
It’s one of the most vital aspects of any movie or TV show, and one of the easiest to overlook: the score.
Music can make or break a film. Alfred Hitchcock, for example, had planned for the shower scene in “Psycho” to be silent (save for the sounds of running water and Marion’s screams) … until Bernard Herrmann played his iconic shrieking violins for the Master of Suspense, who agreed that it greatly enhanced its effectiveness.
Herrmann’s talents also made their way to the small screen. The legendary composer wrote scores for seven episodes of The Twilight Zone (and his musical cues were recycled in many others), including one that leads many top 10 lists: Serling’s bittersweet masterpiece “Walking Distance.” Read the rest of this entry
It’s a Halloween staple that ranks right up there with spooking trick-or-treaters, carving pumpkins and wearing outlandish costumes: watching a scary-movie marathon.
But in an age of digital streaming and high-quality DVDs and Blu-rays, why limit yourself to movies? Why not program a few chills right from the fifth dimension?
True, The Twilight Zone is generally considered a science-fiction series (although I think it’s so unique that it defies easy classification). And yes, the stories dreamed up by Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont and other TZ writers were usually designed more to intrigue and edify than to disorient or frighten viewers.
But every now and then, the series gave us some old-fashioned scary moments that might cause even your favorite vampire to glance over his shoulder. So here, in the spirit of October 31st, are 13 Twilight Zones that may make you think twice about turning out the light (click any title to go to the Hulu link and watch it):
Season 5, Episode 6 – November 1, 1963
Some tips for those who find themselves near Talky Tina: If she says she hates you, don’t laugh at her. If she threatens you, don’t mock her. Erich Streator (a pre-Kojak Telly Savalas) did, only to discover that Tina is very serious about protecting her young owner. DEADLY serious. Beaumont (aided by an uncredited Jerry Sohl) gives us a creepy tale that does to dolls what Hitchcock did to birds. Read the rest of this entry
“I was on an airplane. I looked out the window and thought, ‘Jeez, what if I saw a guy out there?” — Richard Matheson, writer of “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”
I know what I saw. I’m NOT crazy.
Easy to say, sure. And why should they believe me? What I’m saying would sound crazy if the most sane man on the face of the earth said it. And I’m far from that.
See, I had a little breakdown a while back. Spent some time in the Waldorf for wackos. Recovered nicely. The doctor said I was cured, my wife came to get me, I boarded the plane … which was probably a mistake. I mean, this happened before on a plane.
But face your fears, right? Get back up on that horse, they say. So I did. I boarded the plane. We took off. Then I looked out the window. And I saw …
I saw a man. On the wing. Read the rest of this entry
The Twilight Zone without Rod Serling’s voice? Unimaginable. Yet it almost happened.
It was only at the last minute that Serling stepped in and recorded the narration that would introduce millions of viewers to that elusive fifth dimension. Up until then, it was going to be Westbrook Van Voorhis, a very well-known announcer at the time. Oh, and there was an extra dimension:
A sixth dimension? Producer William Self explains:
I said, “Rod, what is the fifth one?” He said, “I don’t know. Aren’t there five?” I said, “I can only think of four.” So we rewrote and rerecorded it and said, “There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man…”
The Twilight Zone has a little something for everyone. Mystery, drama, morality, redemption, and a touch of fun. At the helm was series' creator Rod Serling, who along with a number of other supremely talented writers – Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson, to name a few – penned the richly chilling, thought-provoking scripts my best friend Paul and I have come to hold so dear.
I have news for you, ladies and gentlemen. I have discovered that … people are alike all over.
Fortunately, I’m not saying that from behind the bars of an interplanetary zoo. No, the resemblance I’m referring to is much more benign than a penchant for treating other races as if they were a species to be gawked at.
I’m talking about a love for the works of Rod Serling, and more specifically, his landmark TV series, The Twilight Zone. It’s been exactly three years since I began hosting the Night Gallery Twitter page, and if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the last 1,096 days, it’s that you can find Serling fans everywhere.
Men and women, adults and children, from every race, creed and color you can imagine. People from every spot on the political and religious spectrums. Individuals who would never talk to each other in “real life” follow this page, united in a love for the work of one of the 20th century’s most beloved writers. Read the rest of this entry