How the Twilight Zone Stories hold up


I have been watching the original series of the Twilight Zone from the late 1950’s and early 1960’s. It has dawned on me that the stories have held up remarkably well a half century on.

At the beginning of widespread broadcast TV, the Twilight Zone was a trend setter.
At the beginning of widespread broadcast TV, the Twilight Zone was a trend setter.

First, they were prolific. 35 episodes a season, where today a show struggles to deliver 12 or 14 episodes. Of course, this was possible as the sets were simple, the stories weren’t contiguous, and the actors were changed often. Rod Serling is a consistent thread though, and he was the driving force.

Second, the episodes were 26-ish minutes. Today, a 30 minute show yields about 22 minutes of footage.

Third, there was a revolving door of great actors. Burgess Meredith, Jack Klugman, Don Rickles, William Shatner, and others. They brought a lot of talent, and fun to the show.

Time travel, magic gift sacks, aliens, nuclear armageddon were staples of the show, but not the major props in the episodes. The stories were solid, and have been repeated over and over again in shows like The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad, and many more.

Good stuff, and the iconic image of Rod Serling, smoking his Pall Mall.

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By geoffand

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December 2013

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