“The Twilight Zone” is 50 years old
- Branko Brkic
- 30 Sep 2009 (South Africa)
Iconic TV show creator Rod Serling’s famous introduction: "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'" was first aired 50 years ago.
“The Twilight Zone” is 50 years old Iconic TV show creator Rod Serling’s famous introduction: "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'" was first aired 50 years ago.
"The Twilight Zone," resonated with viewers from generation to generation with memorable stories carrying universal messages about society's ills and the human condition, built upon post-nuclear apocalypses, alien invasions and psychological thrillers. Famous episodes like ‘The Monsters on Maple Street’ that posited a presumed alien invasion of a typical suburban neighbourhood became emblematic of the deep fears that gripped many Americans during the cold war. Other episodes dealt with controversial issues such as race relations or the end of civilization as people fought for the chance for survival in ‘fallout shelters’ as the atomic bombs came raining down in a final nuclear exchange. Memorably, one episode, ‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’, featured a young William Shatner as an airline passenger who sees gremlins destroying the plane’s engines.
While it has not been on the air for decades (except in late night reruns) the show endures, deeply embedded in American culture. The original show ran for five seasons, 1959-1964 – and spawned a feature film and endless references in books, Web sites, blogs, comic books and magazines and a radio series. It even inspired music from the Grateful Dead, Rush, Golden Earring and Michael Jackson.
Rod Serling, himself, was one of the first important playwrights who focused on serious television drama. One major work that came from this period was the acclaimed ‘Requiem for a Heavyweight’. Following his feeling that he would never have artistic control unless he was his own producer, he developed the idea for ‘Twilight Zone’ and spent several years finding a home for it until he was able to place it on the CBS television network, where it ran for 156 episodes. Although he wrote the majority of the screenplays, influential science fiction authors such as Ray Bradbury contributed other scripts. The resulting shows often featured leading film and stage character actors.
nHe also wrote a number of screenplays with an avowedly political focus, including ‘Seven Days in May’ (1964) about an attempted military coup against the President of the United States; ‘Planet of the Apes’ (1968); and ‘The Man’ (1972) about the first African American President.
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