Next Stop The Twilight Zone

I spent some time watching The Twilight Zone marathon overnight on SyFy. Twilight Zone premiered in 1959. Pardon me while I gasp! That’s a long time ago.

Why do the episodes still work today?

Great writing.

Great casting.

Rod Serling himself wrote 92 of the 156 episodes. That seems crazily prolific by today’s standards.

Even with that volume, the stories are incredibly tight with smart dialog and unexpected plot twists. C’mon, did you really expect the aliens attacking Agnes Moorehead (in an episode with virtually no dialog) would be American astronauts?

In one episode as ‘the heavy’ walked toward a graveyard I saw the seam connecting two painted flats that provided the distant sky. It made no difference. The heavy was Lee Marvin. His presence trumped production values.

Big stars, or actors who would become big stars, populated every episode.

My childhood memories are vivid enough when I saw Billy Mumy last night in “Long Distance Call,” I instinctively changed the channel. Too weird.

Truly classic television.

7 thoughts on “Next Stop The Twilight Zone”

  1. One of my college highlights at Ithaca was Bruce Morrow visiting WICB, but the absolute highlight was Rod Serling’s Radio-TV major lectures in ’66 and ’67. Absolutely awe-inspiring.

  2. Have to say that even to this day, as the Metro North goes between Noroton Heights and Darien stops, I say to myself “Next stop, Willoughby….”

  3. My mother went to Antioch, as did Serling. She told me this referring to him as a playwrite. She had no idea he did television, too, even though my dad spent the first 20 years of his career in television (different network).

  4. My favorite is still the Santa episode with Art Carney. I was disappointed that it was either not run, or I missed it during the marathon.

  5. I loved the one where Anne Francis is shopping for a thimble in an eerie department store. It turns out she’s really a mannequin on her one day per year that she’s allowed to be a real person. Fantastic episode. I was thinking of it just the other day at Macy’s in Manhattan where, on the upper levels, the escalators are the old, original wooden ones.

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