Vintage Television - The Twilight Zone

Over Fifty Years Ago...

Called the most innovative program on television, The Twilight Zone first aired in 1959. It ran for five seasons; until 1964.

The brainchild of Rod Serling, who was the host and wrote over 80 of the 150 episodes.

The first episodes did not have the theme music nor the more famous introductory words. Each episode ended with a bit of time left over for Mr. Serling to discuss and describe the next week's episode.

The Twilight Zone received a great deal of respect from the station and the public.

Watching Online Today

I recall when The Twilight Zone first aired. I did not see many episodes. It was later, during the re-runs that I was exposed to a scattered number of episodes of this program.

To be able to watch the full, uninterrupted episodes, in order, presented today as they were then, is one of those peculair journeys.

Like looking at old pictures so much now is revealed.

Interesting historical asides

As late as 1959 men in America still wore suits and ties and hats. Women wore calf lenght dresses and corsets,

In those days everyone smoked. Almost every scene has someone lighting up, smoking, stamping out a smoke.

As the episode would deal with some off the wall event/concept/twist everything had to be absolutely normal to set the scene and couch the shock. If things were not exactly as the viewers knew them, i.e. the people dressed oddly, their behaviour was not common, then the episode wouldn't have worked.

Hence, despite the show dealing with supernatural/fantasy/strange twists everything else was just the way it would be in 1959 so that the viewer would feel part of the reality until it became unreal.

The dialogue was not rushed, there were pauses, and various views of places, so that the 25 minutes of each episode seemed much longer. There was no haste in the show, unlike modern American offerings. The writer/producer, Mr. Serling, did not want to leave anyone behind. Did not want the viewers to miss important bits by garbled speech or hurried exposures.

Each episode began with Rod Serlings voice, introducing what the Twilight Zone was, and then, voicing over the first scenes so that one would know who to focus on, what the story would be about to enough extent that the viewer would have all that was needed to understand what they were going to see.

Each episode ended with a few sentences by Rod Serling, putting it into perspective.

The protoganist in most episodes was a man in his mid thirties. The female characters were often adjuncts to the story. Although a few had central female characters, most were that besuited and hatted gentleman with the tie.

Not to Spoil

As each episode has its 'twist' to go into synopsis would not simply spoil the story, it would make it unnecessary to view, for knowing the denouement is like skipping over clues and going directly to the answer in a murder mystery.

Some episodes are that side of possible, some are this. Some events may happen in the character's mind, while others are 'real'.

Watching the Twilight Zone today, for the first time, one might say; 'trite' not realising that this is the root from which many other ideas have come.

More recent productions by other writers have consciously or unconsciously 'copied' much of what was first created in The Twilight Zone. This is where it all began.

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