You may know that “The Twilight Zone” was a killer thriller TV series. You may know that Rod Serling created The Twilight Zone, movie and comic series. You doubtless recognize the TZ theme song. Here are some little known facts about the Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling created “The Twilight Zone” and wrote many of the episode storylines. Rod Serling was an articulate, intelligent New Yorker with a gift for voice impersonation. Rod Serling was outspoken in politics and opposition to racism and war, although he himself had seen military service during WWII in the Philippines.
Every Twilight Zone episode was noted for culling from the best in acting talent. TZ often featured young, up and coming actors, who would go on to bigger things: Russell Johnson, George Takei, James Best, Morgan Brittany, Earl Holliman, Jack Klugman. Twilight Zone also excelled at setting actors known for certain types of roles, in new and unique roles: Ann Blythe, Donald Pleasance, Neville Brand, Robert Cummings, Burgess Meredith, Lee Marvin. Rod Serling had the gift for characterization. The Twilight Zone had an uncanny knack for matching story line with actors, in a way that few television shows have been able to duplicate.
Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone episodes were free-standing short stories, complete with plot, theme, mores, climax and usually, a plot twist. Episodes of The Twilight Zone can and have been used very effectively in high school and college level classes. Not simply as examples of film techniques, Twilight Zone episodes are particularly useful as the basis of psychology, sociology, literature and history classes. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”, is commonly used in Literature classes.
Twilight Zone episodes explored political issues of 1950 and 1960s. War, the Red Scare (the threat of communism), facism, post-war memories from Korea, WWI, WWII and even the American Civil War. Often, TZ episodes based on historical events involved time travel and ‘Rip VanWinkle’ themes.The Twilight Zone explored social themes of racism, bigotry, economics. TZ also explored universal issues like aging, beauty, love, truth, justice. Twilight Zone episodes often took pot shots at preconceived notions, stereotypes and prejudices.
Twilight Zones episodes evoke intense emotion, beyond just fear. Ask any Twilight Zone viewer about their memories of the series; whether they liked the show or not, most everyone who has ever seen TZ can list memorable episodes that ‘stuck with them’. Serling used the visual cues of filmography techniques of his day to create psychological tension, just as he and others had used voice and sound in radio. Twilight Zone episodes are notorious for leaving viewers reeling. Even five and six decades later, The Twilight Zone compels audiences.