Greetings from the Twilight Zone

 Greetings from the Twilight Zone
Rod Serling

Greetings from the Twilight Zone!   Yes, ever since my last post, it’s been one strange thing after another.

The weather has been acting weird, too. Winter may take a break, as it did on Saturday, but weather never takes a holiday here.  So, we’re back in subzero  wind chills, again.  And  more snow….

As a consolation,  I offer for your consideration, the classics of the Twilight Zone.

Hosted by  Rod Serling, the Twilight Zone ran from 1959 to 1964. It was a half-hour format. Rod Serling wrote or co-wrote many of the 156 episodes, and other great writers also contributed  stories. Among them –Ray Bradbury, Charles Beaumont, Earl Hamner, Jr.  and Richard Matheson.

Many now- famous actors had early parts on the show–These include William Shatner, Jack Klugman, Robert Redford, Dennis Hopper, Elizabeth Montgomery,  Anne Francis, Charles Bronson, Jean Marsh, Dick York, Claude Akins and John Astin!

Each episode is a masterpiece of writing, acting and visual production. There is no filler, no wasted words, no reliance on special effects.  This is storytelling at its best.  If you want lessons in tight writing (and screenwriting) you can learn alot.  If you enjoy a really good story, these episodes do not disappoint.

There’s time travel and cowboys, boxers and jazz musicians, aliens and diners, love and magic, death and redemption. There’s usually a plot twist, and a moral to the story.

Many of the stories in the Twilight Zone are  set in “the present”  at the time, or a near future. They deal with suburban life, computers, robots, space exploration, post WWII, the Cold War, air travel, civil rights, workers’ rights, conformity. Such topical issues still have a message for us today. These are  really timeless stories, always intelligent and thought-provoking, even if the show was produced  over 50 years ago.

These are stories that ask you to question reality and  maybe what it means to be human. There are so many good stories, it would be  hard to pick just one. Among my favorites are, “Number 12 Looks Just Like You,” “What You Need,” “The Lonely,” “A Stop at Willoughby” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” (I imagine meeting Rod Serling in a place  like that–a diner somewhere. We would have coffee and smoke cigarettes. He would have four hands. I would  have a third eye. We would talk about writing and reality, and other things.)

Another favorite is “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.”  It’s a perfect summer afternoon in a suburban (or city) neighborhood. Suddenly, there’s a mysterious power outage. In that  afternoon and evening, everything falls apart. Neighbor turns against neighbor. If you think it couldn’t happen today, imagine what could happen without internet access, and the phones don’t work.

If you want to learn more about Rod Serling, and his writing, this article by  John Pietaro  is an excellent start.

The SyFy channel will be having its annual  Twilight Zone marathon starting on New Year’s Eve, going all day New Year’s Day and through January 2.  Here is the schedule, set for Eastern Time. Not  a bad way to start off the new year.

For those of you who don’t have cable (I don’t, either) the Twilight Zone airs Monday thru Friday at 10:00 PM on  WCIU, Channel 26.3.  Hope to see you there!

Do you watch the Twilight Zone? Do you have a favorite episode? Please share in the comments below.

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like this post, Remember Prairie Vortex?


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  • As I read your post, WG, I could hear that inexorable Twilight Zone theme, as chilling as the tales themselves.

    Nice post and thanks FYI about the marathon showings. I'm going to tune in. Favorite? Hard to say. Maybe the one about the old people's home and the universal yearning to be young again. It hits home even more today.

    BTW, "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" was the basal reader when I was still coping with adolescent attention spans.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you so much, AW. Big snow for days, the TZ marathon is looking better and better. I can't imagine what it would be like to sit through the whole thing....

    Is that "Kick the Can" you're thinking of? Such a good story. I think some of these episodes really hit home more, now.

    Recently, I saw "I Sing the Body Electric" (Ray Bradbury wrote it). It's about a robot grandma, but it's about love, really.

    That's wonderful "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" could be a teaching aid! Just about perfect storytelling. Yes, kids could relate to it, too.

    Thanks again for reading. And best wishes in the New Year!

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    My SO recently reminded me that when Bradbury died, he had pages and pages of titles that he'd collected or had come to him over the years that he'd had yet to use. Some of them came from other sources "I Sing the Body Electric," for example . . . but others were his alone. I love that he collected them. John Cheever was another writer who did the same. He and his grown daughter, Susan, also a writer, fought about who was going to get to use the title they came up with together: "Home Before Dark." Cheever died; Susan ended up using it for her biography of her father.

    I wonder how many other writers out there, both published and non-, have titles kicking around their heads for stories yet to be told?

  • In reply to Maggie McReynolds:

    Greetings, and thanks for reading! Are you going to check out the TZ marathon, too?
    That's so interesting about collecting titles. Do you? I used to collect phrases when I worked at the law firm.

    Untold stories....what a collection that would make....

    Thanks again for stopping by. And Happy New Year!

  • Untold stories... hmm, to use a favorite "Twilight Zone" reference,
    "IT'S NOT FAIR!"
    FYI, did you know that TZ is the term for an actual place? It's how far the light will get in the deepest reaches of the ocean... Marianas Trench, I think.

  • In reply to MargaretSerious:

    That's one of my favorites, too.

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