October 1st, 2009
02:43 PM ET

Re-entering... "The Twilight Zone"

Doo-doo-doo-doo, doo-doo-doo-doo... "You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead – your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"

I'll admit it, I'm in the "Zone" this week. Tomorrow marks the 50th anniversary of the airing of the first episode of the classic sci-fi show, and amid a 15-episode marathon on the SyFy Network and celebrations in Binghamton, New York — series creator Rod Serling's hometown, and where he taught at Ithaca College — comes a bit of casting news that reminds us Hollywood is still fascinated with the imaginative, larger than life stories Serling loved.

Yesterday I saw an item in "Variety" that Hugh Jackman is in talks to star in "Real Steel," set in a world where robots have replaced human boxers. Hmmm, I thought. That sounds suspicously like the "Twilight Zone" episode "Steel," set in the far- flung "future" of 1974 (hah!), where, you guessed it, robot boxers have replaced humans. The late great Lee Marvin plays a down-on-his-luck former boxer who's now "managing" an android pugilist. When the robot breaks down, Marvin puts on his mask, takes his place in the ring and fights the good fight. He loses, of course, but makes enough money to repair his robot.

My first thought was the film producers should call it "Real Steal," because they totally ripped that off! As Serling would say, "File this under P for plagiarism, or L for lawsuit." Then I saw the fine print in the article: "Real Steel" is based on the same Richard Matheson short story as the "Zone" episode.

For me, the best part of "Steel" was the closing narration by Serling: "Portrait of a losing side, proof positive that you can't outpunch machinery. Proof also of something else: that no matter what the future brings, man's capacity to rise to the occasion will remain unaltered. His potential for tenacity and optimism continues, as always, to outfight, outpoint and outlive any and all changes made by his society, for which three cheers and a unanimous decision... rendered from the Twlight Zone."

And that's one of the things I love about the show. Yes, the twist endings and the diversity of the settings (from the American Civil War to outer space) are superb. But I love those often poetic, fiercely brilliant last thoughts by Serling at the end of the episodes. He was good at celebrating humanity at its best, but even better when he took it to task for its bigotry, selfishness, and greed. Lord knows he'd have his hands full writing about the stupidity and superficiality that exists in our own time. What do YOU think? What would Serling have made of the world we find ourselves in?

But before I go, submitted for your approval, three top examples from the man who knew how to "close":

"The Monsters are Due on Maple Street": " The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices. To be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and the frightened, thoughtless search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own: for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things can not be confined to the Twilight Zone."

"Deaths-Head Revisited":  "All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes — all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the Earth into a graveyard. Into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all, their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance, then we become the gravediggers. Something to dwell on and to remember, not only in the Twilight Zone but wherever men walk God's Earth. "

"Walking Distance": "Martin Sloan, age thirty-six, vice-president in charge of media. Successful in most things but not in the one effort that all men try at some time in their lives—trying to go home again. And also like all men perhaps there'll be an occasion, maybe a summer night sometime, when he'll look up from what he's doing and listen to the distant music of a calliope, and hear the voices and the laughter of the people and the places of his past. And perhaps across his mind there'll flit a little errant wish, that a man might not have to become old, never outgrow the parks and the merry-go-rounds of his youth. And he'll smile then too because he'll know it is just an errant wish, some wisp of memory not too important really, some laughing ghosts that cross a man's mind, that are a part of the Twilight Zone."

soundoff (121 Responses)
  1. Trampolines

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    May 12, 2012 at 6:40 am | Report abuse |
  2. Talky Tina

    One of the best TZ episodes that no one mentioned yet is "Five Characters in Search of an Exit". Very clever ending!

    October 5, 2009 at 1:56 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Critter

    Twilight zone is the greatest show! I can remember watching the episodes as a child, I loved that show, now when they do the marathons every year I check the listings for the titles to my favorite ones. like the one where god turned out to be a computer, or the one where the annoying, needy grumpy old man put his brain in the robot before he died to come back and continue to drive his wife batty. those where great, or the one where the man is on trial for being Obsolete, and of course the Best one where a pretty girl was considered ugly in a world of freakish monsters. That old style play like presentation where the yet to be famous actors would sweat and panic complete with wide eyed close ups and the film noir camera angles and lighting. Classic stuff, The twilight zone will live on forever, I liked the Outer limits too but that show wasnt as clever, it was more sci-fi-ish with more aliens and alot of "strange entities" a little more shocking and just plain weird than the t-zone.

    October 4, 2009 at 2:56 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Marge

    I can only repeat what others have said. I, too, like some episodes better than others but I think it also depends on my life, and my mood, at the time. I have often commented also about the great actors (some to become even better known later) That, and the writing, worked together to make a great show. I also agree the b/w rather than color viewing added something special to TZ. (Of course, I didn't even have color TV to compare it with until the 1960's anyway) I often wonder what else Rod Serling could have accomplished or if he could have even reched greater heights because there aren't many people and TV Shows still remembered and loved as well 50 years later. Sometimes it was as though he could see into the future.

    October 3, 2009 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Scott

    I have been a fan of The Twilight Zone for 25 years, and enjoy watching them over and over. Rod Serling was definetly ahead of his time with most of those episodes.

    October 2, 2009 at 9:44 am | Report abuse |
  6. Susan

    My kids and I watch this show whenever the marathons come on SyFy. The greatest thing is they are more spooked and impacted by the clever intelligence and subtle innuendo of Serling's shows than by any of the blood & gore, shoot-em-up, blow it up nonsense being manufactured today. He truly was and IS a genius and a master! Today's directors would be wise to take a lesson.

    October 2, 2009 at 9:33 am | Report abuse |
  7. Teri

    Ben and other posters mentioned some of the magnificent actors who appeared in TZ. How about Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery in "Two" !!

    October 2, 2009 at 9:22 am | Report abuse |
  8. Thee Ox

    My favorite show was " Willoughby" . I get actual Goosebumps every time I watch that show. That particular show was where I was at a point in my life – where I wished I could go to a time and place where the biggest event was catching fish and the town parade. And I am at that point once again. Rod's show was a mirror on our society, then and now.

    Rod Serling – Rest In Peace brother – You, sir, will never be forgotten. I have no doubt another journalist will be writing an article as this one when Twilight Zone celebrates 100 years.

    October 2, 2009 at 6:54 am | Report abuse |
  9. V'ger

    Think about it... an entire generation subverted intellectually by... The Twilight Zone!!!

    Love it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    October 2, 2009 at 6:51 am | Report abuse |
  10. Redcap

    Twilight Zone will never be obsolete ...

    October 2, 2009 at 6:12 am | Report abuse |
  11. Allen Ayers

    Tremendous article – the memories came rushing back. The "Twilight Zone" was not only an entertaining, masterful TV show, but as it turns out, a for real guide to the then future (now the past), and the future still to come. Even so, let's hope that ten year olds will never be able at to make it snow in Summer ruining crops and change men into jacks-in-the-box at will!

    October 2, 2009 at 6:01 am | Report abuse |
  12. Dewi

    Long live The Twilight Zone!!! Any chance of it to be aired back in Indonesia?

    October 2, 2009 at 4:02 am | Report abuse |
  13. Serling

    Forget what it's called but 3 astronauts crash land and stranded on a desert planet. Struggling for survival, their true human nature comes out and two of them end up killing each other. The third guy makes it over a hill and sees a telephone pole. They were on Earth the entire time. You don't get that anymore. Love ya Rod. You're my biggest creative influence. I also love A Stop at Willoughby. Glad I'm not an ad exec!

    October 2, 2009 at 2:23 am | Report abuse |
  14. Jon

    Wasn't there one about Pearl Harbor with Wm Bendix and the thing kept happening over and over? or am I mixing it up with another show?

    October 2, 2009 at 1:58 am | Report abuse |
  15. Geoff

    Incredible show from an incredible pool of the best writers of modern science fiction and humanity. I've got seasons 1-3, 5 and will be watching them again for the 50th anniversary.

    October 2, 2009 at 1:45 am | Report abuse |
  16. R. J. Vincent

    I grew up watching the "Twilight Zone". A friend in elementary school learned to play the theme song on the guitar. I don't know if I have a single favorite episode (I've seen just about all of them more than a few times), but I do like seeing now famous actors in early roles. It's a thinking person's show and it gets its message across without being preachy. You know it's had an impact when you realize that "twilight zone" is listed in the dictionary with a specific definition and the term is part of the national (and probably international) lexicon.

    October 2, 2009 at 1:37 am | Report abuse |
  17. D. Jensen

    The Twilight Zone is my all-time favorite television show. Rod Serling was a genius (check out the greatest movie ending ever, Planet of the Apes) and probably the best writer in the history of television. The Zone remains the coolest show ever!

    October 2, 2009 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  18. RSH

    A side note to my previous post.
    To any of you who have read "Childhoods End"
    It is spooky to listen to the CD "Dragonfly" by Jefferson Starship afterward.
    It could be the soundtrack

    October 2, 2009 at 12:20 am | Report abuse |
  19. Patrick

    "in praise of Pip" is one of my favorites and makes me want to hug my kids more each day. Brilliant.

    October 2, 2009 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  20. RSH

    For all those who like TZ there are a couple of things you should enjoy.
    One is a movie that came out in the '60s "The Illustrated Man"
    Was very TZ in style and story. It has been on broadcast and cable, but haven't seen in a few years. Too bad it's a keeper !
    The other is a book by Arthur C. Clark, "Childhoods End"
    Is kind of dated and starts out slow.
    Once into it, it's hard to put down. I can't remember how many times I've read it cover to cover non-stop !
    Why it hasn't been picked up by a movie studio has amazed me for years.
    If Serling lived longer He would have been the one to produce it.
    It's a classic !
    Too many mornings I've gone to work zombied out from too much late night TZ.

    October 2, 2009 at 12:11 am | Report abuse |
  21. Al

    Just a personal note on "Walking Distance". I remember watching it as a boy in a working class household and enjoying it, but not really catching the meaning. Forty years later, I watched it on my iPod in my office in a Manhattan skyscraper.

    Hearing the following dialogue:

    Robert Sloan: Martin, is it so bad where you're from?
    Martin Sloan: I thought so, Pop. I've been living on a dead run and I was tired. And one day I knew I had to come back here. I had to get on the merry-go-round and listen to a band concert. I had to stop and breathe, and close my eyes and smell, and listen.

    Wow. I hit the pause button and sat there in my expensive suit and cried, remembering the quiet summer nights and bike rides and amusement parks of my youth and I finally got it. I knew exactly how Martin felt; I feel it everyday. Very powerful television indeed.

    October 1, 2009 at 11:46 pm | Report abuse |
  22. bert f.

    Twilight Zone might not ever have existed if not for the interference that Serling experienced with other works prior to Twilight Zone series. He turned to Twilight Zone to escape the constant 'rewrite' requests from producers of his previous works. Twilight Zone allowed him to express his ideas through fantasy stories. Check out a book called "The Twilight Zone Companion" by Marc Scott Zicree!

    October 1, 2009 at 11:26 pm | Report abuse |
  23. QDV

    Room for one more, honey!

    "Heaven, Mr. Valentine? Whatever gave you the idea that you were in Heaven? This _is_ the other place!" You never looked at Mr. French the same way again, that's for sure. And how many times have we all been flying, itching to yell "There's a man on the wing of the plane?"

    Today, TV truly is a vast wasteland, full of mind-numbing "reality" shows. I dare someone in the entertainment industry to come up with a show as good as the Twilight Zone.

    October 1, 2009 at 11:22 pm | Report abuse |
  24. Peggy McLenithan

    I love the Twilight Zone. When I watched the new season premiere of
    The Good Wife, I was thrilled to hear her ring tone was " The Twilight Zone " theme song!

    New Years Eve – I watch the Twilight Zone!

    October 1, 2009 at 11:01 pm | Report abuse |
  25. Justin M

    All these are good, I haven't seen a mention of a few of my favorites. "One for the Angels" about a pitchman that convinces death not to take him until he give one great pitch, and "The Invaders" I don't want to say too much about it in case some of you haven't seen it. Plus I thought some of the 80's episodes where pretty good (maybe because I saw them as a kid), some of the better ones being "A Small Talent for War", "Her Pilgrim Soul", "Quarantine", "The Star", and "Button, Button" which was remade into a movie "The Box" which will release this year. Oh so many great stories. Great Show

    October 1, 2009 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  26. Brant Rusch

    The Twilight Zone remains, bar none, the greatest Science Fiction series to ever grace the screen. Its stories are timeless, and are as entertaining today as they were when they were first broadcast, the show is just that good. I'm glad they finally issued the show on DVD with exceptionally cleaned up prints, I've never see the episodes look that good before.

    October 1, 2009 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  27. Patty

    One of the best shows every produced in television history. The genius that was Rod Serling will never be replicated. One of my favorite episodes...."The Howling Man."
    Happy Anniversary TZ!!!!!!

    October 1, 2009 at 9:44 pm | Report abuse |
  28. Kendall

    For me, one of my all time fav episodes was "The Obsolete Man". Brilliant in writing and acting.
    "You cannot erase God with an edict!".
    Who ever dreamed that the actor that played Batman's "Peguin" (Meredith Burgess) could have been so good? He played the devil, Mr. Wordsworth and an everyday man given super strength. Sterling did fantastic writing, but he also had some great actors as well.

    October 1, 2009 at 9:23 pm | Report abuse |
  29. Dolphin

    There are so many great episodes! My faves:
    -To Serve Man
    -Eye of the Beholder (the pig people were sooo weird!)
    -the dummy episode where the dummy comes to life and switches places with the ventriliquist at the end.idk what it's called, but that one freaked me out and gave me nightmares! But that's why I like it...lol!

    October 1, 2009 at 9:18 pm | Report abuse |
  30. JB

    I just finished reading all the comments! RS would be thrilled there are so many of us who still "get it." I too have seen almost all the episodes 100 times, and watch the marathons as much as I can to see if there was one story I may have missed. There are so many favorite episodes that can still make me cry or crawl in bed thinking about the human specie for days to come. And then there are the creepy episodes like the one with young Bill Mummy playing this horrible little boy who has complete control of a town....and the one about a stranded traveller who gets taken in by these monks who are keeping a mysterious stranger locked up in a cell... and then there is "The Hitchhiker," which takes on a life of its own whenever I have to drive alone at night....

    I can't wait for the marathon, and I am definitely not waiting for someone to give me the box set for Christmas. I am going to buy it this weekend if I can find it!

    Long live "The Twilight Zone."

    October 1, 2009 at 9:11 pm | Report abuse |
  31. Jim

    The best show ever-

    Isn't that Mike Wallace's voice in To Serve Mankind? I believe his voice was used in other episodes as well.

    October 1, 2009 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  32. MB

    Twilight Zone is the best show of all time. I love the way Rod Sterling wrote about the nation's ills and made you think. I liked the newer version but nothing can stand up the orginal.

    October 1, 2009 at 9:03 pm | Report abuse |
  33. Yvonne

    I loved the Twilight Zone & watched it faithfully back in the day. In fact – my son was born during one of the Friday night episodes on Aug. 18, 1961 – so I had to miss it that night. I'm a great grandmother now but I wish I knew the name of that particular show that was on that night. I'd love to finally watch it after all these years. Anyone out there know?
    As it turns out – that son, Scott, became a fan of the Twilight Zone show too & we'd watch it together when he got older & it's been a topic of our conversation every now & then throughout the years. What a good enjoyable TV show! Happy 50 years & thank you for the memories.

    October 1, 2009 at 8:57 pm | Report abuse |
  34. leonard

    "I don’t know that I would call what Rod Serling did “science fiction”.

    Some of his stories did have a science fiction flavor to them, but Serling was more about getting to core of what makes humans tick, and he used whatever tool that fit best to tell those stories."

    That is what sci-fi is. The spaceships and ray-guns just allow for more candidness. But the truly remembered sci-fi is much more about the humans than the CGI.

    "fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible.""fantasy is the impossible made probable. Science Fiction is the improbable made possible." – Serling

    October 1, 2009 at 8:47 pm | Report abuse |
  35. lvtucker

    "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street", is the show I liked best. For years after I would think about how real people would respond to a situation like that. I grew up in a similar neighborhood during the cold war, if I went outside early in the morning when it was dark, or just acted different than my neighbors, or believed things not so mainstream, I could see how the people could go nuts in a fearful situation. Then you see all the tea party stuff. It totally creeps me out. Rod Serling's shows were 50 years ago. What a master of human nature. And the creepiest thing of all is that it seems so many people today are more nuts.

    October 1, 2009 at 8:39 pm | Report abuse |
  36. carol kesling

    the tower of terror at california adventure at disneyland calif.. WHAT A RIDE !!!!! if anyone has not been on it GO!!!!!! awesome....one of the best rides of all time !!!!

    October 1, 2009 at 8:18 pm | Report abuse |
  37. Terminus Est

    I can only echo all the praise heaped upon TZ in the previous posts – yes indeed, TZ is truly a gem.

    But I have to mention the episodes in which Jack Klugman appeared – all of them good: In Praise of Pip, Death Ship, A Passage for Trumpet, and my favorite, A Game of Pool. Klugman offered some fine dramatic performances, as did Jonathan Winters in A Game of Pool.

    Oh, and I have to mention two more favorites: The Midnight Sun, with Lois Nettleton, and The Hunt, with Arthur Hunnicut and Jeanette Nolan (not to forget "Ol' Rip" the dog). I love watching TZ episodes for actors who were early (or not so early) in their careers.

    Yes indeed, TZ is a gem. I might have to break out the DVDs and watch a few tonight...

    October 1, 2009 at 8:17 pm | Report abuse |
  38. carol kesling

    i have 5 collection set i bought about 5 years ago, love it !!!!!! i grew up on twilight zone..... nothing better... rod zerlng was one of the best, what a mind !!!!! i agree with cullpepper 89, hands down BEST SERIES OF ALL TIME !!!!! i will be watching tommorow... they have it on every year, even though i have them i still watch it on t.tv.

    October 1, 2009 at 8:16 pm | Report abuse |
  39. Robert Wyatt

    What about "The Zanti Misfits-" space insects exiled to earth? I try to watch some TZ every time a marathon comes on. A great program.

    October 1, 2009 at 8:14 pm | Report abuse |
  40. Thomas

    My "Complete Definitive Edition Collection" of the entire series on DVD, including some supporting documentaries, is proudly displayed in our house....within easy reach. My Bachelor's and Graduate degrees are in a closet... somewhere....

    October 1, 2009 at 8:09 pm | Report abuse |
  41. Eric Nicolas

    What Serling did was tell stories, in the classic short story form. Sometimes if was Science Fiction, sometimes fantasy, sometimes just a little moral fable. That entire era from about 1958 to 1964 was a particularly good one for tv: The Twilight Zone, Have Gun Will Travel, Perry Mason, etc. Fortunately still available to us on DVD (no this is not an ad). I hardly ever watch current tv – but I watch that stuff.

    October 1, 2009 at 7:48 pm | Report abuse |
  42. Zoning in Long Beach, CA

    "will the real martian please stand up" is my son's favorite.

    My faves – Time Enough at Last, The One with the old lady getting phone calls from a grave, The girl with a fever having nightmares of the earth slowly melting, Kick the Can. Oh, my list is getting too long. Too many greats to list here.

    Great acting, writing, thought provoking.

    October 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  43. Phil Slattery

    Beautiful article. I wish I could write prose as poetically and turn out the poignant plots as Rod Serling could.

    October 1, 2009 at 7:41 pm | Report abuse |
  44. "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up"(Episode of TWZ)

    This is my favorite episode where there are 8 people in a diner on a snowy day but the bus that brought them there says there are only 7 on it's passenger list. One couple looks at each other & the woman says she doesn't remember something about her husband & vice-versa & it's played out in a semi-serious/sci-fi way that makes in tense in a way only Rod could write it. THANKS for the great memories, Rod!

    October 1, 2009 at 7:31 pm | Report abuse |
  45. laura

    Rod Serling gave us something that is missing from television today.

    He challenged us to think, to face ourselves.

    The most popular programs today are gory crime investigations, or real people behaving badly.

    Gone is introspection and reflection

    Our souls, and our society, have suffered because of it.

    October 1, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Report abuse |
  46. Zoning in Long Beach, CA

    LOVE THE SHOW!!! I'm even loving the comments. I always record the marathons and my 11yr old son and I watch them all. The DVDs have been on my wish list for a while, but no one gets the hint. Guess I better save up and buy it myself. There will never be anything like the Twilight Zone. I will watch them over and over again.

    How about the man who re-visits the concentraton camp he once was a soldier at? Very deep.

    October 1, 2009 at 7:19 pm | Report abuse |
  47. annie

    I watch the TZ with the closed captioning on. That way I can see the beauty of those perfectly formed, punchy sentences come to life in print as well in spoken word form. Our vocabulary has been so diminished in the last 50 years. Understanding has been devalued. The shows remind me why I always wanted to be a writer. But how to be one in a world where what you write is not "reality"? Thank goodness people still "get it."

    October 1, 2009 at 7:17 pm | Report abuse |
  48. TZ Lover

    Everyone should read the Twilight Zone Compendium I and 2.

    It sums it all up. TZ was an awesome way to view human nature and man's frailties.

    My favorite all time TV show. I DO have the entire DVD set and every year I recorded on VHS tape each marathon show. I have commercials from the 1980's that are funnier than most of the current TV shows on the big networks. I even have the Twilight Zone Pinball machine.

    October 1, 2009 at 7:16 pm | Report abuse |
  49. lighthouseboy

    and Night Gallery wasn't too bad either!

    October 1, 2009 at 6:52 pm | Report abuse |
  50. Justso Yaknow

    Many of the episodes of The Twilight Zone are available for viewing online at a CBS site. Search or Twilight Zone.


    October 1, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Report abuse |
  51. stan

    You'd be surprised how much the Twilight Zone episodes were copied, to some extent or the other. I even saw an episode that had a antagonist that always nibbled on his little finger, a la Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers movies that were made decades later.

    No doubt, "It's a Good Life" is the perfect Twilight Zone episode, and would make a heck of a movie in current times.

    October 1, 2009 at 6:35 pm | Report abuse |
  52. Ambergris

    My favorite episode will always be the one with Keenan Wynn (A World Of His Own) as writer Gregory West, whose tape recorder created...reality...

    The ending is hilarious...and classic Twilight Zone at its best.

    October 1, 2009 at 6:33 pm | Report abuse |
  53. Culpepper89

    The Twilight Zone is the best television series of all time. Creative, interesting, thought provoking...wonderful.

    October 1, 2009 at 6:32 pm | Report abuse |
  54. Sean Barton

    Every New Year's Eve, my Father, Brother and I watch as much of the marathon as we can. The classics like 'To Serve Man', 'Time Enough at Last' and 'Talking Tina' are great, but nothing beats 'The Obsolete Man' about the Librarian deemed obsolete and must be put to death. Or 'Night of the Meek' where a drunk department store Santa (played by Art Carney) is fired and then, as he walks the street, he finds a bag that gives and gives until it can give no more. He has become the real Santa. Also a favorite is one called ' I am the Night – Color me Black' about a town set to hang a man at sunrise. But sunrise doesn't come. Their bloodlust and desire for vengeance casts them into darkness. As the blackness overcomes the town, you hear a radio broadcast stating that the same thing is happening all over the world '...in Selma Alabama, Berlin, Germany, Moscow... wherever evil was taking place.

    Amazing stuff. Thank you Mr. Serling.

    October 1, 2009 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  55. Gary Bala

    Long live The Twilight Zone and Rod Serling!
    And long live their legend!
    Happy 50th!

    October 1, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  56. Vincent Bitetti

    In 1996 I published a Twlight Zone screen saver unde license from CBS. I had the privilage of meeting Carol Serling at her home and worked very hard to produce a product that included the best episodes and some lesser known but just as cool stories. With Rod Serling, it was about the stories and one of the recent comments was right on – about time the SyFy channel gets back to its roots!

    October 1, 2009 at 6:16 pm | Report abuse |
  57. Domilama

    I was 10 yrs. old as T-Zone debuted & it was obvious Rod Serling was way ahead of his time. How about the creepy "Going my Way" hitch hiker who stayed ahead of that pretty gal on the highway. Arguably one of the best series of all time.

    October 1, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  58. In the Zone 4ever

    I agree with everyone's wonderful comments about show, writers, creators, and of course RS! But for me the absolute purity of the black & white filming gives the series the unique look and feel. Saw the remake in the 90's and stories were good, but it just wasn't the same. So many of the episodes captured the look and feel of the time – it was easy to get into the zone and leave the modern world. I encourage everyone to watch the shows in BW and pay attention to its importance – Never ever colorize these shows!!!

    October 1, 2009 at 6:15 pm | Report abuse |
  59. whatfor

    The Twilight Zone was such a great series. What I wonder is why they can't make shows like that anymore. TZ didn't have to use all the stunts, props, and computerized imagery that most shows have to use today; it made you think and you usually got the point of the show by the end – which was very revealling of human nature and the human condition.

    October 1, 2009 at 6:10 pm | Report abuse |
  60. Larry

    Rod was certainly the 'genius..Thanks for giving us a monumental tv show, Theatre, really;Liked some of the "Live" teleplay ones, like Billy Mumy and the 'telephone that his grandmother gave him to talk to her after she died!! ok; Two more fav's of mine: Janet Tyler in "Eye of the Beholder- she gets 11 operations, plastic surgery to make her 'beautiful again-only to find that society recognizes MUTANTS to be the norm!! and then there was Little Girl Lost; a girl dissappears under her bed- when her crying at night makes parents 'search for her; she went into a 'nether-world behind the wall, a dream-like state..they try desperately to get her back! WOW! Still my abs. fav is Nan Adams in The HITCH-HIKER.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:57 pm | Report abuse |
  61. dennisk

    Love the shout-out for "Walking Distance," which may be the single best episode of the entire series. Brilliant writing and directing, wonderfully modulated performances from all the actors, and a score by film music god Bernard Hermann. Who could want more?

    October 1, 2009 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
  62. Chris

    Judging by the responses, Doug touched a nerve with this tribute. Or rather a brain - Twilight Zone lives on because of the taut and smart scripts, the quality of the performances and production values and its timeless ability to stir deep feelings and wonder.
    I was bowled over by a college lecture by Rod Serling shortly before he died - he was brimming with imagination, passion, insight and wit. Somebody in this message thread says the postscripts excerpted in Doug's piece were written by Matheson - that's not correct. Those are pure Serling. Read the Serling biography.
    Or just watch "Walking Distance" - the most autobiographical Zone that Serling wrote and produced. Gig Young is Serling's alter ego in that one, and it's certainly not science fiction. Nostalgic, sentimental and impossible - yet poignant and evocative in a way that is unforgettable. That's the Twilight Zone

    October 1, 2009 at 5:44 pm | Report abuse |
  63. JT

    There are a lot of great comments on this thread! I own DVD box sets of "Night Gallery," "Night Stalker," "The Outer Limits," and TZ...they don't make 'em like they used to, huh?

    My all-time favorite TZ episode is "To Serve Man" but the episode that TOTALLY scared the bejebus out of me was "Eye of the Beholder" when the bandages are finally removed from the woman's face and...as God as my witness, what happened afterward terrified me indescribably. I couldn't watch that episode for many years to come! (shudder)

    October 1, 2009 at 5:41 pm | Report abuse |
  64. Ben

    The Twilight Zone is simply profound. It is a treasure. The effects were not special the story was special. Science Fiction does not have to have special effects The Twilight Zone dealt with ideas something that much of todays television is devoid.

    The Twilight Zone reaches across age groups too. I was never around for an original episode but dearly love any chance to see one.

    My favorites include:
    "To Serve Man" & "Time Enough at Last"

    Just think of who all acted in this series
    Burgess Meredith
    William Shatner
    Lee Marvin
    Jack Klugman
    Ed Wynn
    Martin Landau

    October 1, 2009 at 5:40 pm | Report abuse |
  65. eelpie

    @Andy, the one with the old mountain man and his dog was a great one, but you got it a little wrong: Heaven DID take him and his dog, that's how he figured out the other place was ...
    ...not heaven.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Report abuse |
  66. RJ

    "Deaths-Head" is an extraordinary episode. "The Masks" is a favorite of my father's; he used to tell us the story and then we'd keep an eye out when it played in the yearly marathon.

    There were certainly some clunker episodes, but there were a lot of brilliant ones too. I think my all-time favorite (because I'm warped) is "Living Doll."

    "I'm Talky Tina.... and you better be nice to me..."

    October 1, 2009 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  67. sam cady

    Does anyone remember the episode where Death was played by Robert Redford? Remarkable idea for the story and the casting.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  68. Denise Spears

    I love the Twilight Zone. this is real science fiction. My favorite "Next Stop Willoughby."

    October 1, 2009 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  69. LoveTV

    Thank You! Love The Twilight Zone!!! I love the episode "The Silence" that is the one were the man who talks to much makes a bet with a supposedly rich man that he can't keep his mouth shut for I think it was for a couple of months or longer. The man knew he wouldn't be able to make it so he had his vocal cord severed. He figured it wouldn't matter since he would have lots of money. I think it was $500,000 which was a lot of money back then. In the end he finds out that the man he made the bet with has absolutely no money!!! Classic episode. And don't forget about "The Masks", 4 greedy adults waiting for their father to die to get money. They wore the masks and there faces were permanently fixed just like the masks they wore which was how they were on the inside. The list of good episodes go on and on.

    I love it when SyFy does the marathons on 4th of July and New years Eve!!! And yes as much as I love watching I to find episodes I have never seen before

    October 1, 2009 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  70. The Vicar

    Rod Serling was a chain smoking genius who alternately frightened, enlightened and, in the final analysis, gently but firmly fanned into a roaring inferno the smoldering imagination of a five year old mid-western boy. He took that child to the dark places and to the stars – to the bottomless pit that can be the human heart and the places that needed that magical illumination that only Serling could provide. He taught that boy that tears aren't only for when you're hurting, that laughter isn't only for when you're happy and that human beings were the most terrible and wonderful mystery going. Rod Serling may not have been The God, but he was undoubtedly A god. And God do I wish he were still with us.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:20 pm | Report abuse |
  71. chris wynes

    Does anybody remember an episode where there was a never ending dance going on in a nightclub? Music was I believe by the Platters. Chrus

    October 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  72. Andy

    I think it's called "A Stop at Willoughby"...at any rate the late James Daly (father to Tyne and Tim) plays a stressed out business man who longs for a simple quite town away from it all. He finds it – in a way. Complete with old style brass bands playing in the park, kids fishing, on a summer day. One of my favorites...and certainly one I can relate to.

    And I like the one where the old guy dies and Heaven won't take him if he brings his dog with him.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  73. Judith

    Does anyone remember the one about a man that disappears into a bank wall and he is found years later when they tear down the building? That one has haunted me all these years...

    October 1, 2009 at 5:15 pm | Report abuse |
  74. Garry-Arkansas

    I agree, Twilight Zone was and is one of the best shows ever produced and Serling was a star among stars when it came to making one tingle.
    Comments concerning SYFY aka SCI-Fi are right on. It wuld appear that the ONLY audience they are concerned with is the younger group and to hell with the older ones who grew up with Twilight Zone.
    Personally I HATE the new movies SyFy has, and have written and told them so. Their new shows suck...
    I suggested getting back to the group who actually made Sci-Fi the hit is used to be..the 35-55 age group but I was ignored.
    Does anyone remember the shows from the early sixties called Chiller and Thriller??? Saturday mornings were wonderful watching giant dinasours attack a city or sea serpents roaming through New York.
    THAT was entertainment..not this crap they are producing now for the 12 year olds!
    Twilight Zone will always remain a huge favorite long after Sci-Fi dies away.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |
  75. Judy

    You could not pull me away from the TV set when this show was on. This show, Alfred Hitchcock and Outer Limits were the best! I still watch TZ when I get the chance.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:12 pm | Report abuse |
  76. Doc Shew

    In my opinion, the original Twilight Zones were masterpieces. The telling of the story was what grabbed you held your interest. Unlike today, where the special effects come first and the story (if there even is one) comes last. Pure and simple – Rod Serling was a genius of the teleplay. Happy Anniversary Twilight Zone !! RIP Rod.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:03 pm | Report abuse |
  77. Ann Carroll-Lawson

    I'm in total agreement with the previous comments and not at all surprised there wasn't one negative comment. I believe that goes to show, the Twighlight Zone was and continues to be not only one of my favorite TV shows of all times (I watch the marathons as well) but many others out there as well. After reading this article, I plan to purchase the complete series as well.

    October 1, 2009 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
  78. GreenWoman

    Thank you for your thoughts, and for those quotes. Just ... thank you.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:57 pm | Report abuse |
  79. Eva

    My favorite program. Still so relevant today–I look forward to SyFy's 4th of July marathon all year! 50 years old. Wow.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:56 pm | Report abuse |
  80. Brian

    "Time Enough at Last" is one of the most brilliant episodes with Burgess Meredith as one of the series' greatest sad-sacks...

    October 1, 2009 at 4:55 pm | Report abuse |
  81. Mike

    The best episode: "To Serve Man", closely followed by the Agnes Moorhead episode, The Masks, The Obsolete Man, – heck too many too list!

    P.S. Mr. Hyde – thaca College is NOT located in Binghamton, NY. It's located in Ithaca, NY, about an hour north of Binghamton on the south shore of Cayuga Lake.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:51 pm | Report abuse |
  82. Sarah in Toledo

    INTERESTING FACTS: Rod Serling, a bantam 5'2", was also a boxer like his character in "Steel", also he was in the army and witness his best friend be crushed when a giant piece of freight accidentally fell on him. Also, CBS tried to cancel this masterpiece in season 3, 4, and tenaciously won out after "The Bewitching Pool" aired in '65. I have deep-rooted animosity towards CBS for this atrociousness.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  83. Greg in Buffalo

    I can't wait to watch. My favorite episode is "Talking Tina"....you better be nice to her!!!!

    October 1, 2009 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  84. Patty

    okay, how weird. we were just reading "the monsters are due on maple street" to demonstrate stage direction in class today, and my best friend read those very lines just a few hours earlier! creepy..... lol

    October 1, 2009 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
  85. Teri

    "To Serve Man" gave me nightmares for YEARS: aliens landed on my street and set up strange cooking devices. I tried to run but of course in dreams you can't. The details of those nightmares will never leave me. How profound.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  86. Brandon

    Plus there's a remake of Death Ship on the way eventually

    October 1, 2009 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
  87. Tom

    My favaorite episode was Devil Doll with talking Tina, I scared my sister when we were kids by sneaking in her room and sliding her doll up the foot of her bed, and imitating Tina famous I'm going to kill you line, I think I got the worst beating of my life from my mother when my sister stopped screaming.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:44 pm | Report abuse |
  88. muchogroucho

    Serling was a genius. The Twilight Zone episodes were like fables all with moral messages designed to make you reflect various attributes of the human condition like:

    Compassion – a ww2 hawk commander intent on storming a cave to kill a helpless japanese soldier gets to feel what its like on the other side.

    Meaning – upon his impending retirement ghosts come back not to haunt but to praise the life lessons from the teacher who feels like his life had been a waste.

    and on and on and on....

    Then of course there are the episodes that were just fun:

    "I'm talking Tina – and I'm going to kill you!"

    He died WAY too young thanks to the cigarettes that always dangled from his fingers. I can watch the Twilight Zone all day and night – the same episodes I have seen 100 times and not get sick of it. Kudos Rod – happy anniversary!!


    October 1, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Report abuse |
  89. Anonyme

    There has never been better television in the 50 years that followed this series...and that is just another sad fact from the Twilight Zone.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  90. Mark Diaz

    I am thrilled any time we celebrate all that was "The Twilight Zone". At the same time, it is a sad reminder of how much commercial television has failed in its efforts over the past fifty years. While all living species evolve or die off, television has crawled back into the proverbial Primordial Soup from which all life began and has regressed to the lowest quality entertainment available. Where are the Rod Serling's of the world?

    October 1, 2009 at 4:37 pm | Report abuse |
  91. johnrj08

    "Twilight Zone" was not science fiction. It wasn't even science fantasy, which is more like what we saw on "Outer Limits". Serling wrote a unique combination of fantasy and speculative fiction, and it's almost impossible to pidgeon-hole him into a single genre. The man was brilliant. Few people know that he also wrote the screenplay for "Seven Days in May". I remember, growing up, looking forward to the Friday night broadcast of Twilight Zone. Sterling gave an entire generation a powerful anthology of morality tales that captivated our imagination while delivering potent commentaries on the human condition. There will never be another Rod Serling.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:34 pm | Report abuse |
  92. boocat

    I love the Twilight Zone. One of the most shocking Twilight Zone episodes I ever saw was "To Serve Man." I never saw that ending coming. "It's a cookbook!"

    October 1, 2009 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
  93. Dave

    the original twighlight zone was probably one of the best tv shows of all time. It's amazing to me how they are still good after almost 50 years. A lot of stars got their start on the show as well. Every once in awhile I find an episode that I haven't seen, but it's rare. I ran across a book at the library years ago that had all the original stories from the show, along with who the actors where and the original airing date.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:32 pm | Report abuse |
  94. KS

    Yay TZ! Besides the great ones mentioned, I love The Masks, The Obsolete Man, Still Valley, No. 12 Looks Just Like You, and The After Hours. They're all great though! Believe it or not, I even like the last episode, Bewitchin' Pool. Bad acting and sound quality, but great script!

    October 1, 2009 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  95. T

    The show that would not die....

    Aired in the '50s, came back in the '80s for three years and again in the new millenium for a year w/ Forest Whitaker.

    I liked the episodes: Time Enough at Last, The Last Flight, 18mm Shrine, Oddessy of Flight 33, Back There and my favorite, Walking Distance.

    Anybody remembers that "Weird Science" tv show episode that did a take on the Twilight Zone show where Gary and Wyatt get trapped in various episodes of the "Sci-Fi Zone" ?

    October 1, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Report abuse |
  96. Larry

    They should show ALL the episodes; My fav's? "Hitch -hiker with Nan Adams seeing old, grey mousey shabby suit man each town she passes through in her 50's Boat-of a car..across the Highways..Scary! and ::"Midnight Sun; Woman and girl in a NYC walk up apt..Sun gets little too close to the earth, heat's up everything..reminds me of my old building in the West Village while in my 20's!!LOL! Never get tired of Twilight Zone.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:27 pm | Report abuse |
  97. t. shults

    Great as it is now to people seeing it for the first time, try to imagine or recall the impact at the time when most of the rest of TV was pretty bland. This was a very subversive show to the McCarthy Era values extant. But my very conservative aunt introduced me to it. She just liked being scared! And my parents thought if it was okay with her, it couldn't do me any harm. Little did they know. ..

    October 1, 2009 at 4:25 pm | Report abuse |
  98. huhwhut

    ...just goes to show that the originals will a always be the best... all u internet fanboys have no real sense of the way things should be done... if you want to learn how to tell a story watch The Twilight Zone... PEACE

    October 1, 2009 at 4:24 pm | Report abuse |
  99. Mark

    I love the Zone and watch the marathon every year. I'm hoping to get the DVD set this year for Christmas. My favorite episode is "To Serve Man"

    "It's a cook book, it's a cook book!"......classic line.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:22 pm | Report abuse |
  100. DJ

    Bravo Rod, bravo…such an insightful man. Happy 50th Anniversary!

    October 1, 2009 at 4:21 pm | Report abuse |
  101. Steve O

    Rod Serling was a jewel, I think I have seen every episode including "The Night Stalker" series from the seventies. Shows like that and "The Outer Limits" are priceless. Hollywood has run out of Ideas. We need a great mind like Rod's to spark interest these days. So far it's just boring.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:20 pm | Report abuse |
  102. Reader

    Douglas, if you're in town, you ought to stop by the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on October 30 for our TZ celebration. We'll be showing several episodes, plus there will be special guests. There is some info on the website.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:16 pm | Report abuse |
  103. flossmore

    Libbyanne.....This is one of the best episodes T-Zone has to offer, and I still get tearie-eyed when Mr. Bemis (Burgess Merideth) finally has all the time in the world to read....but now he breaks his glasses!

    October 1, 2009 at 4:15 pm | Report abuse |
  104. greg

    It's probably worth pointing out that the closing narration you cited was, in fact, written by Richard Matheson, not Serling. Matheson, along with Charles Beaumont and others, was one of several writers who wrote for the original tv series.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:09 pm | Report abuse |
  105. Steve

    My favorite TV show of all time. I was twelve years old when the first episode aired and I still watch the reruns.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
  106. flossmore

    Good point Len....fifty years from now, will anyone care about "Jon & Kate" .... Paris Hilton.... or Hanna Montana?
    I think Not!

    October 1, 2009 at 4:06 pm | Report abuse |
  107. Ab

    Man I'm busy Friday and Saturday otherwise I'd be glued to SyFy (by the way agree with the first comment calling SyFy back to its roots of Sci Fi). Love the Twighlight Zone and I remeber these episodes clearly. Deaths-Head Revisiting is one of my all-time favorite episodes just because how haunting it is to think of going back to the scenes of such horror. It was beautifully done. First time I saw it I choked up. No lie. Powerful

    October 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  108. Alex

    Glad to see that fans of The Twilight Zone are still around. On a side note: Leonardo DiCaprio’s Appian Way studio is officially remaking The Twilight Zone as a "film trilogy." DiCaprio seemingly envisions a big-budget CGI extravaganza with little of the heart and soul that defined the original series.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:05 pm | Report abuse |
  109. David

    The Twilight Zone was a wonderful show. Sometimes funny, sometimes frightening, often thought provoking, always entertaining. One of my favorites from my youth. While the sets, costumes and, certainly, the special effects are nowhere near what you see today, the writing, acting and overall quality of the shows has stood the test of time.

    October 1, 2009 at 4:03 pm | Report abuse |
  110. Vincenzo

    My DVR is all set.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:56 pm | Report abuse |
  111. Leslie

    Since my family hasn't taken the hint yet (maybe this Christmas) and I still don't have the whole collection of the Twilight Zone, I get so excited when Sci-Fi runs the Twilight Zone marathon. I usually have to take a vacation day afterwards, though. I find myself forgetting to get any sleep. There has never been, and never will be, anything that comes close to the genius of Rod Serling and the Twilight Zone.

    All together now....Doo-Doo-Doo, Doo-Doo-Doo-Doo

    October 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  112. Libbyanne

    Another episode that I think should be included is "The Shelter" that originally aired in September 1961. It was a great example of how men will turn on each other when threatened. It's interesting that this aired almost exactly one year before the Cuban Missle Crisis.

    I watch the Twilight Zone marathons everytime they come on. My favorite episode was "Time Enough At Last"

    October 1, 2009 at 3:54 pm | Report abuse |
  113. Radagast

    I too love the Twilight Zone – having just recently purchased the complete series DVD set. "Fiercely brilliant" – what a wonderful description of Serling and his writing. He would indeed have his hands full writing about the stupidity and superficiality that predominates today, and would no doubt be dismayed concerning our lack of progress in how we treat each other, and how we take care of this (our only) world. Even today, many seem set on making of it a graveyard.

    What a contrast too, between quality television like the Zone, and the reality/celebrity dreck that passes for entertainment today. You can have all the special effects and graphical glitz and polish that today's technology delivers, but it still amounts to putting lipstick on a pig. I'll take the Zone, 1960's production quality and all, any day.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  114. Shaka

    The Twilight Zone is the best show ever, period. As a kid raised in a color TV world, this was the first program that was so captivating that I didn't even mind the black and white.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:53 pm | Report abuse |
  115. Larry Risko

    They should have a 3-4 day Marathon of "Twilight Zone" to show people, just "Once -was" as in tv entertainment. Each episode, brilliant, and mostly, not only were they spooky, but they taught valuable lessons, about humanity, values and so on.... Loved the actor's characters..and memorable dialogue. Thanks!

    October 1, 2009 at 3:48 pm | Report abuse |
  116. Len

    One of the most, if not THE most, profound, compelling, intellectually stimulating programs of all time. So many of Rod's warnings, predictions and observations of the future of mankind have proved to be true.

    If only modern day television could come up with a show that caused the viewer to think and contemplate as much as the Twilight Zone did, instead of the current trove of dumbed down, narcisstic, so called 'reality' shows, and other mindless banter, that are the norm these days.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:44 pm | Report abuse |
  117. Ida

    Thanks for the memories. I live in the city where the genius Rod Serling grew up, and we're having a festival this weekend.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:41 pm | Report abuse |
  118. kevin

    I don't know that I would call what Rod Serling did "science fiction".

    Some of his stories did have a science fiction flavor to them, but Serling was more about getting to core of what makes humans tick, and he used whatever tool that fit best to tell those stories.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  119. Tim

    And three cheers for you Douglas. Rod and the Twilight Zone were the best, and still are. Thanks for remembering the 50th anniversary for all of us.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:33 pm | Report abuse |
  120. Robert

    Excellent article. I couldn't agree more. I still get goose bumps reading the epilogue to Death's Head Revisited.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:26 pm | Report abuse |
  121. Debbie

    I'm glad to see SyFy getting back to it's roots in REAL science fiction. Most of the crap they show now is just remixes of every monster movie ever made, dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Rod Serling represented true science fiction at its best.

    October 1, 2009 at 3:20 pm | Report abuse |

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