A Trip Into The Past
What would The Twilight Zone be without time travel? So let’s go back for a moment to September 13, 2010. Yes, exactly two years ago.
That was the day a Rod Serling fan named Paul went looking for a Twitter page that paid tribute to the most imaginative TV series of all time. After all, you can find fan pages for some of the most obscure pop-culture obsessions imaginable. Surely there would be one exploring that “middle ground between light and shadow,” right?
Yet my search was largely in vain. There was one page, yes, but it simply posted rolling excerpts from Serling’s TZ intros, with no engagement with followers at all. (It also abruptly stopped on December 31, 2010.) Otherwise, zip — no official, nothing unofficial. Just the “vastness of space” that Serling describes in the TZ pilot.
How could this be? One of the most popular series that ever aired, virtually ignored on one of the fastest-growing social-media platforms? And there I was, with a shelf full of Serling/TZ books and discs, and a penchant for quoting nearly every classic movie and TV show out there.
Sounds like a calling, doesn’t it?
I created a page on the spot. (It really was a spur-of-the-moment decision.) I selected the username “TheNightGallery” — for reasons I explain here — and voilà. You and I were on a collision course, and we didn’t even know it.
So here we are, two years, 3,700+ followers and 14,000+ tweets later, tuned in to what I immodestly call “the ultimate marathon.” Every day, I post quotes not only from the show, but about it, along with behind-the-scene facts and just about anything else Serling-related that seems interesting.
That’s a particular interest of mine, in fact: highlighting the excellent work Serling did both before and after TZ — books, movies, documentaries, live teleplays. The fact that much of this work is out of print and/or not on disc makes this task even more crucial, I believe. The cultural legacy he left behind deserves to be celebrated, not neglected.
My interest in doing that led to “Shadow & Substance,” the blog you’re reading right now, in fact. (And if you haven’t yet bookmarked it, and/or signed up to follow it and get e-mail notifications of new posts, I hope you’ll consider doing so.) After all, it’s tough to say everything you want to say within the 140-character limit of Twitter.
What’s the best part about doing the Twitter page? You might think it would be posting the quotes and facts. And believe me, I’m enough of a geek (or nerd, or whatever the favored term is now) that I do get a tremendous kick out of doing that. Doing the research involved to update this page daily is a labor of love, and I still get goosebumps while watching certain episodes.
But no, the best part has been getting to know a lot of good people. Answering their questions. Hearing their enthusiasm when a favorite episode is quoted. (“I love that show!”) Trading theories. “Arguing” about top-10 lists. Discovering TZ fans in every corner of the globe. And making some good friends along the way.
That’s what it’s all about in the end. Reaching out to other people. Bridging the gap. The Twilight Zone was a sci-fi/fantasy series, yes, but mostly on the surface. You don’t have to watch for long before you see the real reason for its success: its humanity.
Serling was constantly reaching out to people through his writing. He entertained us, to be sure, but he simultaneously appealed to the better angels of our nature. And when we listen to that plea, and respond in kind, we’re at our best. Sharing that positive message has been one of the most rewarding aspects of doing this over the last two years.
So whether you’ve been following from the beginning, or just got on board: Glad to have you along for the ride. Look, there’s the signpost up ahead …
Photos courtesy of Wendy Brydge. 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. WordPress members can also hit “follow” at the top of this page.
Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!