• Craig Hunter

PT - TV - 020 - The Twilight Zone part 1

Updated: Jan 26

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The Twilight Zone, the complete original series, on Amazon: https://amzn.to/2zFawoN

Show Notes

from wikipedia ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Twilight_Zone_(1959_TV_series) ) "The Twilight Zone (marketed as Twilight Zone for its final two seasons) is an American anthology television series created and presented by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964.[1] Each episode presents a stand-alone story in which characters find themselves dealing with often disturbing or unusual events, an experience described as entering "the Twilight Zone," often ending with a surprise ending and a moral. Although predominantly science-fiction, the show's paranormal and Kafkaesque events leaned the show towards fantasy and horror. The phrase “twilight zone,” inspired by the series, is used to describe surreal experiences. The series featured both established stars and younger actors who would become much better known later. Serling served as executive producer and head writer; he wrote or co-wrote 92 of the show's 156 episodes. He was also the show's host and narrator, delivering monologues at the beginning and end of each episode. Serling's opening and closing narrations usually summarize the episode's events encapsulating how and why the main character(s) had entered the Twilight Zone."


Rolling Stone, on it's "100 Greatest TV Shows of All Time" article from September 2016, ranks The Twilight Zone the 7th best tv show of all time right between Saturday Night Live (8th) and The Simpsons (6th). This is a very high ranking considering the recency bias on display in this and other top tv show lists. For example, Rolling Stone ranked only two shows in their top 10 where the bulk of the show's run took place before 1990 (The Twilight Zone, All in the Family), and an additional three shows ( M.A.S.H., Stark Trek, Cheers ) in their top 25. The top 50 has 13 total shows where the bulk of the show's run took place before 1990. On a "TV Guide Names Top 50 Shows" article from April 2002, The Twilight Zone is ranked 26th and on a Ranker.com article it's ranked 10th.

Rod Serling

from wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rod_Serling ) "Rodman Edward Serling (December 25, 1924 – June 28, 1975) was an American screenwriter, playwright, television producer, and narrator known for his live television dramas of the 1950s and his science-fiction anthology TV series, The Twilight Zone. Serling was active in politics, both on and off the screen, and helped form television industry standards. He was known as the "angry young man" of Hollywood, clashing with television executives and sponsors over a wide range of issues including censorship, racism, and war." Joined the army after high school in 1943 and fought in the Philippines and Japan. Was disappointment to not be sent to Europe to fight Hitler.in 1946 (postwar) he went to college and worked in a radio station.Married his wife Carol in the summer of 1948Began his professional writing career for television and radio in 1950At the end of 1954 his agent convinced him to move to New York because that's "where the action" isBig break came in 1955 when the Kraft Television Corporation broadcast of "Patterns" aired https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patterns_(Kraft_Television_Theatre)Then in 1956 he wrote "Requiem for a Heavyweight" In autumn of 1957 he and his family moved to California. Shows had begun being taped (rather than airing live) so the business could expand into the Pacific time zone.

Corporate Censorship

(section from wikipedia) "The early years of television often saw sponsors working as editors and censors. Serling was often forced to change his scripts after corporate sponsors read them and found something they felt was too controversial. They were wary of anything they thought might make them look bad to consumers, so references to many contemporary social issues were omitted, as were references to anything that might compete commercially with a sponsor. For instance, the line "Got a match?" was deleted because one of the sponsors of "Requiem for a Heavyweight" was Ronson lighters.[3] Gould, The New York Times reviewer, added this editorial note at the end of a glowing review for A Town Has Turned to Dust, a show about racism and bigotry in a small Southwestern town: "'Playhouse 90' and Mr. Serling had to fight executive interference ... before getting their play on the air last night. The theater people of Hollywood have reason to be proud of their stand in the viewers' behalf."[23] Frustrated by seeing his scripts divested of political statements and ethnic identities (and having a reference to the Chrysler Building removed from a script sponsored by Ford), Serling decided the only way to avoid such artistic interference was to create his own show. In an interview with Mike Wallace, he said, "I don't want to fight anymore. I don't want to have to battle sponsors and agencies. I don't want to have to push for something that I want and have to settle for second best. I don't want to have to compromise all the time, which in essence is what a television writer does if he wants to put on controversial themes."[3] Serling submitted "The Time Element" to CBS, intending it to be a pilot for his new weekly show, The Twilight Zone. Instead, CBS used the science fiction script for a new show produced by Desi Arnaz and Lucille Ball, Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse, in 1958. The story concerns a man who has vivid nightmares of the attack on Pearl Harbor. The man goes to a psychiatrist and, after the session, the twist ending (a device which Serling became known for) reveals the "patient" had died at Pearl Harbor, and the psychiatrist was the one actually having the vivid dreams.[3] The episode received so much positive fan response that CBS agreed to let Serling go ahead with his pilot for The Twilight Zone.[3]"

The Twilight Zone

(section from wikipedia) "On October 2, 1959, the classic Twilight Zone series, created by Serling, premiered on CBS.[5] For this series, Serling fought hard to get and maintain creative control. He hired scriptwriters he respected, such as Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont. In an interview, Serling said the show's science fiction format would not be controversial[26] with sponsors, network executives or the general public and would escape censorship, unlike the earlier script for Playhouse 90. Serling drew on his own experience for many episodes, frequently about boxing, military life, and airplane pilots. The Twilight Zone incorporated his social views on racial relations, somewhat veiled in the science fiction and fantasy elements of the shows. Occasionally, the point was quite blunt, such as in the episode "I Am the Night—Color Me Black", in which racism and hatred causes a dark cloud to form in the American South and spread across the world. Many Twilight Zone stories reflected his views on gender roles, featuring quick-thinking, resilient women as well as shrewish, nagging wives."

Cultural and Political Context

McCarthyism (late 1940s through 1950s)cold war (1953-1962)Civil Rights Movement (1954 - 1968)space race (1955 - 1976)Cuban Missile Crisis (1962)some common episode themes that emerged out of thisnuclear holocaustspace travelracethe supernaturalunpredictability of death While Rod Serling injected aspects of his own life experiences into the show like boxing, military life, pilots, the unpredictability of death, there was also a political context that the show was born out of. The show began in 1959 and the cultural and political context that the show was born out of was the period after WWII. A period that included McCarthyism, the Cold War and the threat of nuclear holocaust, the Civil Rights Movement, the Space Race, and the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Some of the recurring themes in episodes seem like they were heavily influenced by the cultural and political context of the period including 1) nuclear holocaust and the tension of pending destruction, 2) space travel and man as a space faring civilization in the future, 3) race, 4) time travel, 5) the unpredictability of death, and 6) the supernatural.

Theory of The Twilight Zone

In each episode, the notion of the episode is introduced...explore it, explore it, explore it, twist. Main character's journey in an episode: groping, groping, groping...truth. Ratings Poor 1 Fair 2 Average 3 Good 4 Great 5

Episodes Season 1

1 x 01 Where is Everybody Starring: Earl Holliman Rating: 4 out of 5 nuclear warheads Summary ...a man finds himself walking on a country road into a small town...he doesn't know who he is or remember anything and he can't find anybody in the town, but he feels like he's being watched. My Thoughts Love the opening shot that pans down from the sky to the protagonist walking along the country road towards us. It was like a metaphor for the show entering into your life. This is the kind of episode that I think of when I think of the Twilight Zone. A idyllic small town where everything seems perfect interesting to note that in this first episode, the protagonist is not actually in "the Twilight Zone", in the sense that at the end he turns out to be hallucinating in an isolation chamber, whereas in other episodes there seems to be a more undefined mingling of the protagonist's reality and everyone else..."the Twilight Zone". 1 x 02 One for the Angels Starring: Ed Wynn Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: Death comes for an old man who sells trinkets on the street. The old man doesn't want to go and he's a bit of a hustler so he swindles death into giving him an extension, but death must take someone in his place. My Thoughts: Supernatural; Watch it once 1 x 03 Mr. Denton on Doomsday Starring: Martin Landau Rating: 2 out of 5 Summary: An old west town drunk and former gunslinger gets freed from his past with the help of a travelling salesman named Henry Fate. My Thoughts: Supernatural; Skip it

1 x 04 The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine Starring: Ida Lupino 3 out of 5 First World Problems Summary A ageing movie star alone in her mansion watching her films of 25 years ago can't accept getting older. She wants to forever live in the glory of the past and in the end she does. My Thoughts Supernatural; there was a Columbo episode that was a variation on the story of a ageing starlet who can't let go of the past as well. "Forgotten Lady" season 5. She kills her husband when he refuses to finance her big comeback attempt. The ending of this episode has Ida living in the reality of one of her films. This seems like an early variation on the living in a simulation or in a virtual reality. There was a great Star Trek The Next Generation episode in season 5 "Ship in a Bottle" where professor Moriarty is awakened on the holodeck and, in order to stop him from taking over the ship, the crew traps him in a simulated reality. 1 x 05 Walking Distance Starring: Gig Young Rating: 5 out of 5 ad executives Summary: A stressed out ad exec stops at a gas station to fill up while driving in the country. From the gas station he walks to the nearby town that he grew up in and finds that it's just the same as when he left it 25 years ago. My Thoughts: Time Travel; Again with the opening shot of panning down from the sky and the protagonist's car approaching on a country road, giving the feeling of the beginning of something. Gig Young gives a great performance. Fantastic episode. Time travel. He wants to help the younger him but ends up harming the younger him and this effects the older him but the older him benefits from the experience. Star Trek was heavily influenced by this type of story and called it a pre-destination paradox, see Deep Space Nine season 5, episode "Trials and Tribble-ations" as an example. 1 x 06 Escape Clause Starring: David Wayne Rating: 1 out of 5 highballs Summary: A hypochondriac makes a deal with the devil My Thoughts You can skip it. 1 x 07 The Lonely Starring: Jack Warden Rating: 5 out of 5 hotbots Summary: A lonely man on a deserted prison asteroid is given a robot for a companion. Overtime he falls in love with his companion and is no longer lonely. When the supply ship arrives with word that he has been pardoned and has to leave immediately My Thoughts: Makes you think about the notion of punitive incarceration and what it means to be human. Has a shockingly cruel ending. 1 x 08 Time Enough at Last Starring: Burgess Meredith Rating: 1 out of 5 Summary: A bank teller who loves reading is the only survivor of a nuclear holocost My Thoughts: You can skip this one. It's too silly. He loves reading but is bad at him job so he retreats to the bank vault to read and at that moment, there is a nuclear holocaust. The entire town is destroyed and he is the only survivor. He goes to the library and is elated with thoughts of reading in solitude for the rest of his days...then his glasses break. This episode was parodied on Family Guy and probably other shows. I actually saw it listed near the top 10 on some bs lists of the top 100 tv episodes of all time--which immediately invalidated the list.

1 x 09 Perchance to Dream Starring: Richard Conte Rating: 3 out of 5 headshrinkers Summary: A man is afraid to fall asleep because he thinks that his dreams with kill him. My Thoughts: Great twist at the end.

1 x 10 judgement Night Starring: Nehemiah Persoff Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: A German U-Boat commander in 1942 suddenly finds himself on a British steamship at sea without a convoy. My Thoughts: At first he doesn't know who he is or how he got on the ship but slowly he begins to recall the details of his past and what fate will befall their ship. Then it all begins again. There is a top notch Star Trek The Next Generation episode from season 5, "Cause and Effect" where the Enterprise get's caught in a time loop and repeats the same couple of days period. 1 x 11 And When the Sky Was Opened Starring: Rod Taylor Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: After returning from a mission, three astronauts begin disappearing from history. My Thoughts: Rod Taylor has a great chin...I have chin envy. I liked the left turn that it took when, after following Rod Taylor's experience of his colleague disappearing, Rod Taylor's then disappeared. I would have thought that he was going to be the last one to disappear. I really liked that the characters were wiped from history not only physically, but from memory, and details were altered to support the lie. example Harrington dropped a drink in the bar but after he disappeared there was no spilled drink. 1 x 12 What you need Starring: Steve Cochran Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: An old peddler who knows exactly what people are going to need in the immediate future becomes the target of a greedy hood. My Thoughts: Noir, thugs 1 x 13 The Four of Us are Dying Starring: Harry Townes, Phillip Pine, Ross Martin, among others Rating: 5 out of 5 Summary: A grifter who can change his face poses as people who have dies or disappeared and takes advantage of those that were left behind. My Thoughts: Noir, gangsters I feel like the season 3 X-Files episode "Pusher" was influenced by this. In that episode a contract killer had a super ability to influence people and used it to his advantage.

1 x 14 Third from the Sun Starring: Fritz Weaver Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: Some middle class skilled workers are planning an escape from the world in anticipation of the pending nuclear holocaust. My Thoughts: Cold war anxiety, McCarthyism, a good twist at the end. 1 x 15 I Shot an Arrow into the Air Starring: Dewey Martin, Edward Binns, Ted Otis Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: A rocket is sent into space and crashes on an asteroid...maybe? My Thoughts: The Spacerace. A good twist at the end. The evil guy kills everyone and survives and gives the following soliloquy (clip twilight zone - jungle) 1 x 16 The Hitch-Hiker Starring: Inger Stevens Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: A woman alone on a cross-country trip sees the same hitch-hiker throughout the journey. My Thoughts: Supernatural Inger Stevens was very attractive. Great twist (she turns out to be a ghost). I take it she was killed by the hitch-hiker.

1 x 17 The Fever Starring: Everett Sloane, Vivi Janiss Rating: 1 out of 5 Summary: a guy who abhors gambling gets the fever. My Thoughts: Destiny, addiction, messed up ending. See it once for the ending. 1 x 18 The Last Flight Starring: Kenneth Haigh Rating: 1 out of 5 Summary: a pilot from 1917 travels forward in time to 1959 My Thoughts: Time travel. Obnoxious American military personnel. 1 x 19 The Purple Testament Starring: Dick York Rating: 1 out of 5 Summary: A military guy can see who in his unit who is about to be killed. My Thoughts: Military, supernatural. 1 x 20 Elegy Starring: Cecil Kellaway, Jeff Morrow, Don Dubbins Rating: 4 out of 5 Summary: Three astronauts in the future land on a planet that looks like earth and everyone is frozen. My Thoughts: The future. Space Travel. This looks like it may have influenced the film Westworld. Good twist at the end. 1 x 21 Mirror Image Starring: Vera Miles Rating: 2 out of 5 Summary: A woman in a bus station is replaced by her doppelganger. My Thoughts: I love how this guy calls the police and they race over and grab her and take her away without questioning her at all, just based on this guy's report to them. Also, they frame this as a criminal problem and not a mental health issue. I like the idea of the doppelganger replacing the person but not the execution of the episode. Some Columbo crossover with Vera Miles as the guest villain from "Lovely but Lethal" episode one of season three. 1 x 22 Monsters are due on Maple Street Starring: Claude Akins Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: Paranoia strikes the residents of Maple Street when they believe human-looking aliens have invaded the neighborhood. My Thoughts: Pan in from the sky intro. McCarthyism. The resident's fear that they have been infiltrated by an outside force and become paranoid and accusatory. A good twist at the end 1 x 23 A World of Difference Starring: Howard Duff Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: A man suddenly realizes that he may just be an actor playing a character. My Thoughts: Inspiration for "The Truman Show". Living in a simulation. Good ending. Howard Duff was married to Ida Lupino from 1951 to 1984 1 x 24 Long Live Walter Jameson Starring: Kevin McCarthy Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: A man who doesn't age has his secret revealed. My Thoughts: Supernatural, no twist 1 x 25 People are alike all over Starring: Roddy McDowall Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: Two astronauts crash on Mars My Thoughts: Space travel; Fear

My favorite part was when they locked up the imperialist in a zoo. 1 x 26 Execution Starring: Albert Salmi Rating: 5 out of 5 Summary: A man is is transported 80 years into the future just as he is going to be hung in 1880 My Thoughts: Time travel I like how the scientist wasn't clear on the details of who he brought in from the past. The process didn't give him information about what he was pulling into the future. He had to ask the outlaw who he was. It was well done how the outlaw was overwhelmed by the noise and ran around in a aggressive panic. Sort of what you would expect from a person who lived in a time that was more immediate brutish. 1 x 27 The Big Tall Wish Starring: Ivan Dixon Rating: 2 out of 5 Summary: A boy can change events with his wishing power. My Thoughts: Supernatural; over-acting; boring 1 x 28 A Nice Place to Visit Starring: Larry Blyden Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: After a lousy crook is shot by trigger happy police, he meets the angel Colonel Sanders who takes him on a thrilling adventure to his own personal Heaven (actually Hell). My Thoughts: Supernatural; the crook is a stereotype of a dumb, born to lose type...except he dances like he's on Broadway. 1 x 29 Nightmare as a Child Starring: Janice Rule Rating: 5 out of 5 Summary: A little girl helps a schoolteacher resolve her memory of a horrible incident from her past. My Thoughts: Time-travel; Very creepy episode...a must watch. 1 x 30 A Stop at Willoughby Starring: James Daily Rating: 2 out of 5 Summary: Riding home on the train one day, a man falls asleep and dreams it is 1880, and he is entering a small town called Willoughby. My Thoughts: Unpredictability of death; I liked the idea but there wasn't much to this episode. 1 x 31 The Chaser Starring: George Gizzard Rating: 2 out of 5 Summary: A man, desperate to win the affection of a beautiful woman, slips her a love potion. My Thoughts: Meh 1 x 32 A Passage for Trumpet Starring: Jack Klugman Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: A trumpet player who's convinced he'll never amount to anything attempts suicide and finds himself in a world where no one can hear or see him. My Thoughts: Unpredictability of death; Supernatural; Man dies then lives in the world where he is dead so that he can gain an appreciation for how good life is. Meets an angel. 1 x 33 Mr Bevis Starring: Orson Bean Rating: 1 out of 5 Summary: A man (Bevis) meets his guardian angel. My Thoughts: Supernatural; skip it. 1 x 34 The After Hours Starring: Anne Francis Rating: 5 out of 5 wooden ladies Summary: A woman discovers that the floor of a department store, on which she bought a gold thimble, doesn't exist - and that her ""saleslady"" is really a mannequin! My Thoughts: Supernatural; Brilliant episode 1 x 35 Mr Mighty Casey Starring: Jack Warden Rating: 1 out of 5 Summary: A robot plays minor league baseball. My Thoughts: This feels like the kind of episode that critics would love but no one actually likes. Skip it.

Fictional Sports Teams: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_fictional_sports_teams

1 x 36 A World of His Own Starring: Keenan Wynn Rating: 3 out of 5 Summary: A playwright makes characters come to life. My Thoughts: Supernatural; You have to stick with this one for a while because it gets a lot better at the twist.