“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.’’— Rod Serling
Long before the age of twilight saga and Vampire mania, there was a classic CBS Series with almost an identical title and a completely different subject matter.
The Twilight Zone (CBS 1959-64) is one of the most loved and highly acclaimed classic T.V series of all time. It gave the television audience something so unique and entertaining that it changed the face of future T.V anthologies and series for ever. In all respects, the original series by Rod Serling was way ahead of its time. It is extremely hard to define the genre of this series. It overlaps between Fantasy, science fiction, drama, tragedy, comedy, horror, mystery and sometimes all at one.
The series consisted of short and unconnected episodes that explored many themes ranging from morality, hope, despair, jealousy, happiness, justice, revenge and death. Rod Serling authored most of the scripts himself. The Twilight Zone is probably best remembered for ingenious plots and fantastically twisted endings that most often than not left the audience disconcerted. Almost every episode had a moral ending in the Aesopian fashion. The fable is told in such metaphorical ways that some episodes have layers of meaning. Perhaps the idea is to question ourselves more about such moral issues. So, even when a particular episode ends with a twisted ending and leaves us uncomfortable; the reason is to make us think more. The outstanding story telling by Rod Serling only reaffirms the power of human imagination. His efforts were duly recognised and he was awarded various awards including Golden Globe and two Emmy wins.
The Twilight Zone always presented a simple story about ordinary people who found themselves in extra ordinary circumstances and at times super natural situations by no fault of their own. Through twisted endings the guilty gets punished in the end. Some stories also present a much gloomier picture of human condition. A notorious episode that comes to mind is ‘Time enough at last’. This episode through simple story line tells us that life is intrinsically tragic and unjust where most horrible things can happen to good and innocent people. Similarly another episode named ‘He’s alive’ tells us the story of an American Neo-Nazi. The moral of the story is that racism will persist as long as there is ignorance and prejudice among people and societies. Another of my favourite episode named “Deaths-Head Revisited” dealt with the issue of justice. It was actually inspired by the real life trial of Eichmann.
Twilight Zone The Movie, a big-screen adaptation that featured individual segments produced by Steven Spielberg, Joe Dante, John Landis and George Miller was released in 1983. Tragically, the movie is better remembered for a horrible helicopter accident in which three actors (two of them children) were killed during shooting.
To sum it up, Twilight Zone single-handedly inspired the future of T.V anthologies and even science fiction movies. Series. The plot of Christopher Nolan’s Inception definitely had an uncanny resemblance to Rod Serling’s style of storytelling. Most television shows even today continue to borrow liberally from the original Twilight Zone. So, this classic gem is a must watch for all those who are sick and tired of the boring stuff the show on T.V these days. Five stars out of five. Two thumbs up!