Why Has The Twilight Zone Lasted? The Writer of Some Classic Episodes Explains

“I think that sometimes in television, scripts reach the level of literature. Often, I think, it’s junk, and stuff is just spewed out with no thought other than to get a script done. But I think sometimes it reaches the level of television literature — something that says something, something that’s lasting, something that’s worthwhile.”

The speaker: Earl Hamner Jr. The subject: Rod Serling and The Twilight Zone, for which Hamner contributed eight scripts, including such fan favorites as “The Hunt” and “Stopover in a Quiet Town”.

This quote — an excerpt from the short video below — sums up well why the Zone has endured long after many other vintage shows have faded into obscurity. Many scripts are just “spewed out”, either because of time constraints or a lack of talent. Not so on The Twilight Zone.

Hamner touches on several other interesting points in this interview, including the idea that Serling may have had a premonition of his death. It’s only about five minutes long — and if you’re a fan of Hamner’s signature series, The Waltons, get ready to hear a very familiar 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 11/27/2020, in Uncategorized and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Good Evening. Is it going to be a New Years Day Twilight Zone Marathon?

    • Hi, Regan. Looks like we will, though I don’t have official confirmation just yet. But they haven’t missed in many years, so let’s hope we can escape the curse of 2020 at last. Seldom have we needed a TZ marathon more!

  2. I wholeheartedly agree that many of Rod Serling’s scripts achieved the level of literature. What a joy it was listening to Earl Hamner’s reminiscenses of Serling. Fascinating to think that the speed with which he wrote, and the fact that he was so prolific may have been due to a premonition of early death. Thanks for posting this.

    • My pleasure, Kathy. We’re so fortunate that Serling was not only an excellent writer himself, but a generous one who recruited other excellent writers. Very glad you enjoyed this video. :)

  3. Howard Manheimer

    Many of the TZ stories leave an open end, give us a chance to think about different ways the story could finish, like “The Hitchhiker”, “The Odyssey Of Flight 33”. I wish to add that maybe many more wonderful tales could have been told, if the CBS executives weren’t so anxious to cancel the show.

    • Very true. Many of them are very thought-provoking; that’s surely a big part of the appeal. Rod even said once: “l don’t have to write a third act. The third act is: That’s the way it is in the Twilight Zone!”

      And yes, I wish CBS had better appreciated what they had, though by today’s cancellation-happy times, 156 episodes over five seasons is an absolute GIFT. Still — would love to have had more!

  4. “Television literature” – that’s a fitting description for so many Twilight Zone episodes. There are some that I feel young people should be required to watch, to study. I’m so glad that the series has established its own momentum, and lives on almost 60 years later. I keep watching, and I keep hoping we will solve these problems at some point.

    • Ha, yes — it’s something we may never solve, but what a joy it is to “research”. And your comment reminds me of what a fantastic teaching tool TZ is. I just read this week (where, I don’t recall at the moment) about a teacher who managed to energize an apathetic class simply by showing an episode of TZ in class. The subsequent discussion was apparently very lively! That’s the power of TZ, though.

  5. I think because he did tell tales about the common man they endure.

    I didn’t recognize the voice. Was he the narrator on the Waltons?

  6. Serling was a trailblazer and much is owed to The Twilight Zone. It is an American treasure and, in my opinion, the best scripted 30 minutes of television in the history of the medium.

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