A Sixth Dimension?

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:

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…”

That settled, the question of whether Van Voorhis was right for the series came up. They reportedly found him “too pompous-sounding,” which I think just about any Zone fan can echo. Second choice? Orson Welles. He might have been a better fit, but his asking price was too high. Then, according to Self:

Finally, Rod himself made the suggestion that maybe he should do it. It was received with skepticism. None of us knew Rod except as a writer. But he did a terrific job.

In retrospective, of course, it seems like such an obvious choice. Serling’s voice carried an authoritative ring, but it had a warmth that Van Voorhis lacked, and a much-needed human touch — the very qualities that marked his writing.

The opening theme would change repeatedly over the course of the show’s run (though I’m partial to this original opening). But it was clear from the first minute of “Where is Everybody?” that we were in the hands of a master storyteller — and a legendary voice.


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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 10/02/2013, in Twilight Zone and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 14 Comments.

  1. His voice was perfection. It just had to be Rod. Enough said.

  2. Victor De Leon

    Awesome post! Really good info, here, I love Serling’s voice and I can’t imagine any one else doing that incredible VO and narrating work that he did.

    I am a big fan of his narration in the Judgement Night and Willoughby episodes.The first season opening remains my favorite of them all. My kids love when I go around doing the opening. It freaks them out. Good job!

    • Thanks, Vic! I had written about the pilot before in two other posts, but I thought today was the perfect opportunity to tell everyone about what might have been. You’re right, having anyone other than Serling do it is inconceivable. Glad it all worked out!

  3. I’m with you, Paul, I’ve always liked the first season opening the best. I suppose it is too much to hope it might be resurrected in some way, shape, or form in any new TZ projects. (Would make a great “easter egg” for those in the know!)

    I have to confess, also, my favorite use of the more familiar, Marius Constant music was in the title sequence to the 1980s Zone. It may have emphasized horror a bit too much, as well as the very-real, of-the-day fear of nuclear annihiliation, but I still get chills when the Marius Constant music makes its brief appearance as Serling’s ghostly visages flickers across the screen…

    Hard to imagine the Zone without Serling’s voice, no argument there. I was so pleased that the Twilight Zone ride at Disney World uses clips of him (as well as a passable, though not quite perfect, Serling imitator).

    • I enjoy the later openings, too, but the original always struck me as being so perfect in setting the mood for what would follow. And you make an interesting point about the ’80s TZ and how it used the iconic theme music. Hearing it, and seeing Serling, really sets the stage in our minds for the excitement of what will follow. It’s a great formula. Thanks, Mike!

  4. CardinalIron

    Rod Serling’s literally brought something unique, that of a on screen presenter to the episodes. I love seeing Serling’s on-screen narrations, in his suit, cigarrete in hand. Compared to the series The Outer Limits, which had no on-screen narrator. When more famous personalities did their own anthologies later they would do on-screen introductions as well, Ray Bradbury, and Alfred Hitchcock come to mind whose shows came after The Twilight Zone. I think his classic suit and tie look also said to the viewer these were not flight of fancy sci-fi stories for the most part, that this series was for the thoughtful viewer.

  5. “…the pit of man’s fears and the sunlight of his…no, wait…peak of his…er…summit of knowledge”

  6. In retrospect, it simply had to be Serling. His voice was perfect, and so was his insight and his ability to subtly focus us on the things that mattered both in the opening and concluding remarks. I get scared even thinking that it might not have been him. What if, in another reality, it’s someone else?

  1. Pingback: 10 Little-Known Facts About The Twilight Zone | Shadow & Substance

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