Twilight Zone’s Season 1 Opening Credits: A Perfect Passport to Serling’s World
Ask Twilight Zone fans to describe the opening to each episode, and you can be sure that many will mention the swirling vortex that spins into the vacuum of space, followed by the shattering title letters.
Or they may bring up the shattering window, the opening eye, the clock, the diver, the “E=mc2” equation. And quite a few, you can bet, will imitate the iconic “do do do do” music.
But as much as I love those elements, I can’t help thinking they got it right the first time — specifically, the opening theme for Season 1:
Bernard Herrmann’s haunting, dream-like music has a lot to do with it. It truly sounds as if we’re being ushered into that “middle ground between light and shadow.”
Rod Serling’s narration, meanwhile, is ideal — both in what he says and how he says it. His description of that land “between science and superstition” can’t help but intrigue a potential viewer, and the unhurried pace of his words sets the mood perfectly. We feel drawn in. Almost seduced, in a way.
I realize that, once The Twilight Zone was an established series, a longer, more leisurely paced opening wasn’t necessary. Serling could afford to get in and get out, allowing himself and the other writers an extra half-minute or so (which can really help when you’ve got barely 25 minutes to tell a story).
But for my money, the credits that prevailed almost to the end of Season 1 provide a passport par excellence to “the dimension of imagination.”
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Hope to see you in some corner of the fifth dimension soon!