You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension. A dimension of sound. A dimension of sight. A dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both style and substance of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone
The Twilight Zone is a classic Science Fiction television show which originally aired 1959-1965. Now found on the Sci-Fi channel in insomniac time-slots and in wonderfully long holiday marathons.
Rod Serling was the genius behind The Twilight Zone. Serling was previously a successful writer for the CBS show Playhouse 90. He took advantage of his fine situation and created The Twilight Zone for the same network. Serling wrote most of the episodes (Serling wrote 92 of the 156, Richard Matheson wrote most of the other good ones) and introduced and concluded them all with a cool monologue.
The best Twilight Zone episodes entertain us while and give us a nice mind fuck, making us attempt a little suburban philosophy while sitting in our living rooms. The worst ones are cheesy 30 minute horror movies. Fortunately, there are many more good episodes than bad episodes.
If you're a Simpsons fan, you've already seen about half the Twilight Zone episodes. 80% of the Treehouse of Horror episodes are parodies of Twilight Zone episodes. I'm as big a Simpson's fan as the next guy, but I can’t help think that they 'parody' a little too often for good taste.
It's been 37 years since the original Twilight Zone series ended yet almost every episode is entirely watchable today. This is quite a feat for a Science Fiction program. Think about it, early 90s Sci-Fi movies and television shows have already started getting cheesy. If you look at the individual elements of a Twilight Zone episode, they’re just as awful as anything else from that era. I mean, when they talk in detail about the spacecraft and robots, it can get ridiculous. But the premises are so great; the cheesy Sci-Fi elements really don’t interfere.
The Twilight Zone was remade in 1985 and now again in 2002. The 80s version isn’t bad, but it never reaches the level of the original. And I personally haven’t seen the newest version.
Twilight Zone: The Movie was made in 1983, with 4 of the classic segments remade... IN COLOR!!!!
The following Twilight Zone episodes have embedded themselves in pop culture. These are the ones you ought to know about, and probably already do:
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
"Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown, the onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one, on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home - the difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson's flight was terminated by the onslaught of his mental breakdown. Tonight, he's traveling all the way to his appointed destination which, contrary to Mr. Wilson's plans, happens to be in the darkest corner of the Twilight Zone."
The Twilight Zone episode. Why is it so famous? Because it's The Twilight Zone at its best? No, it's a very good episode, but certainly not the best. The fact that William Shatner stars in it might be a little more of a rational explanation.
Anyway, when we watch a movie or a television show, we tend to take the main character's side. But in this episode, we know the main character could very well be crazy, and this whole thing might be a hallucination. But we're not sure. And that's what makes it great.
A Kind of Stopwatch
"Submitted for your approval or at least your analysis: one Patrick Thomas McNulty, who at age forty-one is the biggest bore on Earth. He holds a ten-year record for the most meaningless words spewed out during a coffee break. And it's very likely that, as of this moment, he would have gone through life in precisely this manner, a dull, argumentative bigmouth who sets back the art of conversation a thousand years. I say he very likely would have, except for something that will soon happen to him, something that will considerably alter his existence - and ours. Now you think about that now, because this is the Twilight Zone."
The "stopping time" idea is great in itself, but this is another Twilight Zone episode that has an ending that is, simple put: perfect.
It's a Good Life
"Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States, and there's a little town there called Peaksville. On a given morning not too long ago, the rest of the world disappeared and Peaksville was left all alone. Its inhabitants were never sure whether the world was destroyed and only Peaksville left untouched or whether the village had somehow been taken away. They were, on the other hand, sure of one thing: the cause. A monster had arrived in the village. Just by using his mind, he took away the automobiles, the electricity, the machines - because they displeased him - and he moved an entire community back into the dark ages - just by using his mind. Now I'd like to introduce you to some of the people in Peaksville, Ohio. This is Mr. Fremont. It's in his farmhouse that the monster resides. This is Mrs. Fremont. And this is Aunt Amy, who probably had more control over the monster in the beginning than almost anyone. But one day she forgot; she began to sing aloud. Now, the monster doesn't like singing, so his mind snapped at her, turned her into the smiling, vacant thing you're looking at now. She sings no more. And you'll note that the people in Peaksville, Ohio, have to smile; they have to think happy thoughts and say happy things because, once displeased, the monster can wish them into a cornfield or change them into a grotesque, walking horror. This particular monster can read minds, you see. He knows every thought, he can feel every emotion. Oh yes, I did forget something, didn't I? I forgot to introduce you to the monster. This is the monster. His name is Anthony Fremont. He's six years old, with a cute little-boy face and blue, guileless eyes. But when those eyes look at you, you'd better start thinking happy thoughts, because the mind behind them is absolutely in charge. This is the Twilight Zone."
Long read, eh? Easily one of the best premises ever. They turn a little kid into the most horrific being you've ever seen.
Five Characters In Search Of an Exit
"Clown, hobo, ballet dancer, bagpiper, and an army major - a collection of question marks. Five improbable entities stuck together into a pit of darkness. No logic, no reason, no explanation; just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. In a moment we'll start collecting clues as to the whys, the whats and the wheres. We will not end the nightmare, we'll only explain it - because this is the Twilight Zone."
In my opinion, the epitome of a Twilight Zone episode. A piece of beauty. Five characters stuck in a doorless room. They don't know how they got there. They don't know what they're doing there. And in the end, it all makes sense.
To Serve Man
"Respectfully submitted for your approval - a Kanamit. Height: a little over nine feet. Weight: in the neighborhood of three hundred and fifty pounds. Origin: unknown. Motives? Therein hangs the tale, for in just a moment we're going to ask you to shake hands, figuratively, with a Christopher Columbus from another galaxy and another time. This is the Twilight Zone."
"IT'S A COOKBOOK!"
The various show openings:
There is a sixth dimension beyond 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, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the sunlight of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area that might be called the Twilight Zone.
There is a fifth dimension beyond 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 which we call the Twilight Zone.
1st season alternate:
You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!
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!
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. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!
4th and 5th season:
You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension - a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.