Show Type: Sci-Fi Anthology
First Telecast: October 2, 1959
Last Telecast: July 31, 1987
In First-run syndication during the 1987-88 season
Rod Serling (1959-1965)
Charles Aidman (1985-1987)
Robin Ward (1987-1988)
Playwright Rod Serling, who had been a great contributor of dramas for many of the more prestigious live anthology shows including "Requiem for a Heavyweight" for Playhouse 90, turned to the world of sci-fi with this hit series. In addition to serving as host, he wrote many of the teleplays that were presented on The Twilight Zone. The stories were unusual and offbeat, often with ironic twists.
For example, there was "Escape Clause," starring David Wayne as a hypochondriac who, in an effort to escape his dependence on pills and fear of his environment, made a pact with the Devil. In exchange for his soul, he won immortality. Filled with self-assurance, he killed a man expecting to be sentenced to death (which was impossible for him) in the electric chair. Instead of a death sentence, he got life imprisonment - much too long of a time for someone who was immortal.
In another episode, "Time Enough At Last," starred Burgess Meredith as a bank teller who could never find enough time to read. One day at lunchtime, while he tucked himself away in the banks' underground vault reading a book, there was a nuclear attack that killed everybody outside. Now he had all the time in the world to read! A happy ending - until he broke his glasses!
In "The Eye of the Beholder," a young woman who had been born with a horrible facial deformity had just undergone her last possible operation to try and make her less hideous. Her head was bandaged up and all the doctors and nurses were dimly seen standing in the shadows around her bed. It was time for the bandages to be removed and there she was - beautiful (to us!) and hideous to everyone else! Only then were the faces of the doctors and nurses (and even the President!) revealed to be grotesque. She lived in a world where our "beauty" was considered horribly ugly. At the end of the show she was led away to her society's equivalent of a leper colony.
Some well-known actors appeared on The Twilight Zone, but it was the stories rather than the actors that made the show so popular. Serling's original opening narration to the show set the scene perfectly: "There is a fifth dimension behond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call - The Twilight Zone."
After three successful seasons in the traditional 1/2 hour format, The Twilight Zone expanded to a full hour in January 1963. The longer format was abandoned the following year, but some of the longer episodes were rerun during the summer of 1965.
In the fall of 1985, following the highly successful release of a 1983 theatrical movie of the same name, The Twilight Zone returned to TV. It had been 10 years since it's original creator, Rod Serling, had passed away and 20 years since the original show had left the airways. The new version ran in an hour-long format, with two or three stories in each episode. It still had the same mix of sci-fi, fantasy, whimsy and the occult, but it was definitely a different show. It was now in color, the special effects were more elaborate and, although some of the original episodes were redone, most of the stories were new. The were some minor tensions when Harlan Ellison, who had been serving as creative consultant, left the show in late 1985 over a dispute with the network over the content of the Christmas episode.
When the new color version of The Twilight Zone went into syndication in the fall of 1987, as a 1/2-hour series, thirty first-run episodes had been added to the the ones that had aired on CBS. Robin Ward replaced Charles Aidman as the off-camera narrator.
[Back to SHOW TITLES - T] [Back to THE MAIN PAGE]