Z is for The Twilight Zone

Remembered by Kerry E.B. Black


The inspiration for anthology storytelling, Rod Serling’s masterful “The Twilight Zone” invited audiences to think about the world around them in different ways. The show ran from 1959-1964, was revived from 1985-1989, and experienced a second revival in 2002-2003. Sure there were other shows that presented short stories for the American viewing audience, including “Tales of Tomorrow” (1951-1953), but none captured the collective imagination like “The Twilight Zone.”

Rod Serling introduced and recapped each episode after introducing the idea of a fifth dimension. Entering “The Twilight Zone” often examined such weighty subjects as racism, war, societal ills, and the flawed nature of humanity and its government. Although Rod Serling penned a great number of episodes for the series, other contributing writers included Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Earl Hamner, Jr., and George Clayton Johnson, and classic works were also adapted. Composer Marius Constant’s eerie music set a thrilling feel to the show.

The excellent science fiction and horror writing of the series taught dogs belonged in Heaven, dreams can be scary places, and the monsters of Maple Street sometimes wear human faces. An old man just wanted to find the quiet to read, but at the end, he broke his glasses. The sun blazed before its inevitable death. A young man ate the sins of others to ease their transition to death, and a robot grandmother helped a troubled teen to love again.

The series inspired a 1983 movie, games, a radio show, novelizations, and comics. At several Disney Parks, The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror immerses riders in the story before subjecting them to a changeable, demon-drop of a ride.

The original series filmed in black and white. It won acclaim and awards and endures as an iconic, inspirational anthology television series.