The Twilight Zone

Twilight Zone

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of the debut of Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone (Wikipedia article).

“Despite his esteem in the writing community, Serling found The Twilight Zone difficult to sell. Few critics felt that science fiction could transcend empty escapism and enter the realm of adult drama. In a September 22, 1959, interview with Serling, Mike Wallace asked a question illustrative of the times: “…[Y]ou’re going to be, obviously, working so hard on The Twilight Zone that, in essence, for the time being and for the foreseeable future, you’ve given up on writing anything important for television, right?” While Serling’s appearances on the show became one of its most distinctive features, with his clipped delivery still widely imitated today, he was reportedly nervous about it and had to be persuaded to appear on camera. Serling often steps into the middle of the action and the characters remain seemingly oblivious to him, but on one notable occasion they are aware he’s there: In the episode “A World of His Own,” a writer with the power to alter his reality objects to Serling’s unflattering narration, and promptly erases Serling from the show.”

I was seven when the show first aired, although at first I was a viewer of something on a competing channel. I no longer recall what it was, perhaps Walt Disney. Within a short while, certainly before the end of the first season. I began to become aware of schoolmates talking about this new show with fascination and devotion. It was the first time I was sensitive to being out of the swing of things, and my insistence I be allowed to watch it was the first time I recall asserting myself against my parents’ preferences for me. The Twilight Zone thus not only played a pivotal role in my coming of age but, I am sure, shaped my lifelong interest in the eerie and macabre.

Here is an episode listing of the original five seasons of the show. If you are old enough, which do you recall? Which was your favorite? I would have to list “It’s a Good Life”, “Nightmare at 20,000 Ft” and, of course, “To Serve Man.”