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
Welcome, ladies and gentlemen. Please step inside. A dark and stormy night may seem ill-suited to an art tour … at least until you see the unsettling works we have in store for you.
As our founder, Rod Serling, once said, “You won’t find the works of the masters here, because in this particular salon we choose our paintings with an eye more towards terror than technique.” Our paintings and sculptures have an unmistakably sinister edge.
I know our museum is more shadow-laden than most, but don’t worry. You should be quite safe. We haven’t lost anyone yet. Well, almost no one.
“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.
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
It’s been 40 years since the last painting was hung in the darkened display known as Rod Serling’s Night Gallery. But for those who enjoy a good campfire story — something light on gore and heavy on shivers — the doors have never closed. The cobwebbed corridors still beckon.
But be careful. You never know who might be looking over your shoulder.
So let’s take a look around. Alas, Mr. Serling can’t be here, so I hope you don’t mind if I serve as your tour guide today. I’d like to show you some of my favorites … Read the rest of this entry
Occasionally someone will notice the location I have listed on my Twitter page, “Tim Riley’s Bar,” and ask if Tim Riley is my real name.
It’s not. It’s a reference to one of the most powerful stories to appear on Night Gallery, “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar.” In fact, it’s one of the best things Serling ever wrote — something that even he, his own harshest critic, didn’t bother to deny.
In his last interview, Serling was asked which of his works he particularly liked. He named three: 1) his 1956 Emmy-award winning teleplay “Requiem for a Heavyweight,” 2) one he had just written (“A Stop Along the Way”) and 3) “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar.” He was clearly proud of it — and justifiably so.
If you’ve ever seen Twilight Zone‘s “Walking Distance,” then you have some idea of the territory that Serling mines here. A middle-aged salesman named Randy Lane, played to perfection by William Windom, is marking his 25th anniversary at the plastics company he works for — and trying desperately to battle both loneliness (he’s a widower) and the young, brash assistant who’s gunning for his job. He longs for the old days, when he, his wife and his friends would gather for drinks, music and laughs at Tim Riley’s Bar. Read the rest of this entry