Delve into the Bizarre: Serling Outlines What The Twilight Zone Is and Isn’t

If someone who had never seen The Twilight Zone asked you to describe it, what would you say?

Delve into the Bizarre

Even if you’ve seen all 156 episodes, it can be hard to capture exactly what the show is about. So let’s check with the ultimate Zone authority: Rod Serling. Shortly after the series premiered in October 1959, he took a stab at defining it for TV Guide:

Here’s what The Twilight Zone is: It’s an anthology series, half-hour in length, that delves into the odd, the bizarre, the unexpected. It probes into the dimension of imagination, but with a concern for taste and for an adult audience too long considered to have I.Q.s in negative figures.

The Twilight Zone is what it implies: that shadowy area of the almost-but-not-quite; the unbelievable told in terms that can be believed.

Here’s what the program isn’t: It’s not a monster rally or a spook show. There will be nothing formula’d in it, nothing telegraphed, nothing so nostalgically familiar than an audience can usually join actors in duets.

More than 50 years later, amid the many carbon-copy sitcoms, police procedurals and “reality” shows that litter the hundreds of channels on our TVs, it’s easier than ever to appreciate a show that was a) unique and b) intelligent. And one with “a concern for taste,” too? Wow. No wonder we still flock to Zone marathons.

Night Call

Can we define the show even more succinctly? Yes. Here’s what Serling told his daughter Jodi when she was still a young girl: “I’ll tell you what it’s about. It’s about the mysteries of life that you’ll never learn in school.”

Amen. Talk about a class you’ll never want to cut.


For a daily dose of Serling, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Pinterest. You can also get email notifications of future posts by entering your address under “Follow S&S Via Email” on the upper left-hand side of this post. Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!

About Paul

Fanning about the work of Rod Serling all over social media. If you enjoy pics, quotes, facts and blog posts about The Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and Serling's other projects, you've come to the right place.

Posted on 09/14/2011, in Twilight Zone and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Paul, all of your posts are not only interesting and informative, but they’re so well written and enjoyable. It is always such a pleasure to read new posts, and to go back and reread the old ones.

    But much like everyone has a favourite episode of the Twilight Zone, I have a favourite Paul-post. And this is it.

    I’m not saying it’s your best post, per se. That wonderful in-depth Night of the Meek piece is incredible (as are ALL the others). But this is my favourite of your posts. I can’t explain it, it just is!

    • I’m flattered! It’s a pleasure to write these posts, but nothing tops how very gratifying it is to know that they’re read and appreciated. Thank you!

      I wonder if this post appeals so strongly because it’s attempting to get at the reason WHY the show endures, and why it’s as entertaining and thought-provoking today as it was when it first aired. I know I’M still trying to figure it out. I have theories, like anyone, but I can’t pretend to have it all worked out. Sure is fun to try, though. :)

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