Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Twilight Zone

Many years before “Twilight”, there existed an excellent television series  called The Twilight Zone.
This show was created by the brilliant writer Rod Serling, it mixed science fiction, psychological drama, suspense and fantasy together in one half-hour story that usually ended with a bizarre twist of fate.
Serling wrote for radio and was a fan of pulp fiction stories. If you ever listen to the old radio show X-Minus One, the premise is similar to Serling’s Twilight Zone.
Unlike Twilight the series, the Twilight Zone episodes were made up of 156 unrelated stories. The first episode aired in 1959. This was an era of racism, civil injustice, big government, McCarthyism, mass hysteria, and the Cold War with it’s fear nuclear inhalation. 
The Twilight Zone took on all of these topics and was the first television broadcast to take on such forbidden topics.
Rod Serling wrote approximately two thirds of the episodes. This list of prestigious writers that wrote the remaining episodes is classic and include Charles Beaumont, a great short story writer, Ray Bradbury, whose science fiction novels are famous, Earl Hamner Jr., writer of The Waltons and a friend of Serling when the both worked at WLW radio in Cincinnati as staff writer, George Clayton Johnson, who went on to write Logan’s Run,  Richard Matheson, a science fiction and horror story writer, and Jerry Sohl, who wrote for Alfred Hitchcock Presents, The Outer Limits and Star Trek.

Their stories were presented in the form of fables and always left the viewer with something to think about. This was an era of a lot of censorship of radio and television. By presenting these dramas in the form of a modern fable, the author could make their point without reprisal from the censor for being too inflammatory.

The shows opening music featured an erie and repetitive 4 note guitar solo, played by Barney Kessel and a bongo drum that leads into a modern rhythmic theme right before Mr. Serling's voiceover.

Rod Serling always introduced this show. He had a wonderful and distinct deep voice. He used a number of opening lines, but my favorite has always been;

"You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"

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