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The First Twilight Zone Episode I Ever Saw Hooked Me For Life. Here’s Why.

Can you name the first Twilight Zone episode you ever saw?

I’m a fan of many classic shows. I grew up watching reruns of I Love Lucy, The Andy Griffith Show, Leave It to Beaver, Perry Mason, Mission: Impossible … the list goes on. I still watch many of them today, in fact, either on disc or on a streaming service. But I couldn’t name the first episode I saw of any of those shows.

And yet I doubt you’ll be surprised to learn that I do recall my first Twilight Zone. Oh, yes. It was “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”.

It made quite an impression on my kid mind, as you can tell. (I was about eight, I think.) Here was a series that didn’t look or sound like anything else on television. TZ is utterly unique.

Even if you don’t recall your first TZ, you know what I mean, I’m sure. Just ask Fox Mulder. In Season 11’s “The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat,” the X-Files agent is flummoxed when someone claims that the episode Mulder recalls as his first TZ doesn’t exist. He searches feverishly through his books and VCR tapes for confirmation. Scully, as usual, doesn’t understand what the big deal is. Read the rest of this entry

“I Just Poured on the Coal”

“What’s going on here?! Where are we?! WHAT are we?!”

If you’re a Twilight Zone fan, you “heard” those sentences in your head. And they were spoken — or should I say bellowed? — by one of the most well-known actors to appear on TV in the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s: William Windom.

William Windom Cropped

His first and most memorable role on TZ came in Season 3’s “Five Characters in Search of an Exit”. Murray Matheson gives a scene-stealing performance as the unflappable clown, but Windom’s hot-headed, impatient army major is the real focal point of the story.

His determination to find a way out of their odd, cylindrical prison brings him the answers to the questions quoted above. But being The Twilight Zone, he probably wasn’t happy with what he found out. Read the rest of this entry

Are TV Marathons Passé?

For many people, the SyFy channel’s annual July 4 Twilight Zone marathon is a summer tradition. They binge on their fifth-dimension favorites, enjoy a cookout, and watch fireworks. Having been tagged in quite a few tweets by excited fans, I know firsthand how much people look forward to it.

Don and Pat

The same dynamic plays out on an even larger scale when SyFy shows a longer TZ marathon over New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. Everyone, it seems, becomes a kid again as they watch episodes that somehow seem as fresh today as they were 50 years ago.

So I was surprised to read the article “We Come to Bury the Fourth of July TV Marathon” by Gilbert Cruz, which appeared on Vulture.com. It begins:

Cast your mind, if you can, back to a time before streaming. To the time in which most popular movies and TV shows weren’t readily available on Netflix or Hulu Plus or iTunes or Amazon Prime or any of the other myriad Internet-based services that populate your Xboxes and Blu-Ray players and Apple TVs and Roku boxes. To the time of the holiday TV marathon, a tradition that all this streaming has effectively killed.

the passerby

Killed? More than a few TZ fans would beg to differ, myself included. But before you assume this sentiment is based more on nostalgia than reality (a tricky concept when it comes to the Serling-verse, we can all agree), let me explain why I think Mr. Cruz’s analysis at least partly misses the mark. Read the rest of this entry