The Twilight Zone (1959)

A dreamlike masterseries redefining what was possible on TV & paving way for anthological horror while interweaving social commentary amongst incredibly imaginative dystopia, The Twilight Zone is one of TV’s greatest series of All-Time. 10/10.

Plot Synopsis: A strange mix of horror, science-fiction, drama, comedy, and superstition, Emmy Award-winning Rod Serling serves as narrator, host, writer, and creator of this series that went over 150 episodes and features premiere actors of the day like Burt Reynolds, Roddy McDowell and Robert Redford while serving as a cornerstone for TV anthologies.

*Possible spoilers ahead*

CLC’s Best #TheTwilightZone Episodes: 1. Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, 2. The Howling Man, 3. Escape Clause, 4. The After Hours, 5. Living Doll, 6. Where Is Everybody?, 7. The Hitch-Hiker 8. The Dummy, 9. Mirror Image, 10. The Fever, 11. Night Call, 12. The Eye of The Beholder, 13. One For The Angels, 14. Time Enough At Last, 15. The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street, 16. A Kind of a Stopwatch, 17. I Am The Night; Color Me Black, 18. The Bewitchin’ Pool, 19. The Man In The Bottle, 20. A Nice Place To Visit

Review

A Dreamlike Masterseries That Rewrote The History Books Of What Was Possible On TV

‘You have now entered a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man.. You have now entered: The Twilight Zone‘. Few more immortal words have ever been uttered in television history than Rod Serling’s stark, omen-ic intro to each episode of the classic 1959 series that changed the trajectory of small-screen entertainment. Never before it was anything as revolutionary, wide-spanning, epic-scale, or rule-breaking attempted in sci-fi or horror, blending every genre of cinema into a swirling 150-episode, Emmy-winning nightmare of trance-inducing reverie narrated, hosted, written, and created by the definitive television host to this day: R. Serling. A dreamlike masterseries redefining what was possible on TV & paving way for anthological horror while interweaving social commentary amongst incredibly imaginative dystopia, The Twilight Zone (1959) is one of the greatest TV series of All-Time.

The Blend Of Genres, Social Commentary, Existential Discourse, & Tonal Mystification

The Twilight Zone’s biggest triumph is its extreme artistry in exploring weighty, levity-full themes through the guise of a sci-fi/horror TV series. Themes like the dual-edged sword of immortality, death’s importance in the human condition, man’s need for social reciprocity/companionship, the overdoseable nicotine-addictiveness of gambling, paradoxical jealousy/secretive resentment or coveting of neighbors’ belongings in American & Christian societies taught expressly against it, nostalgia’s ability to shroud progress and kill advancements, conformity, xenophobia, the subjectiveness of beauty, and infinite more are explored masterfully – and, oftentimes, not even revealed until the very end if you’re not carefully dissecting every line and shot placed for a reason in the metaphorical/symbolic story’s screenplay. These are core messages and topics core to the human and experience of life – brought to life in a dark-tripped, macabric-sweet tooth way through tonal mystication and beguilement of the weird and wonderful that’s unlike anything else that came before or after it, as can be clearly seen by the episode ideas amongst the most creative, visionary, entertainment-heavy, and dystopian you can possibly imagine.

The Writing, Direction, & Production Value Decades Ahead Of Its Time (+ TV’s Iconic Host)

The Twilight Zone boasts a set of intangibles amongst the most complete in cinematic history – delivered on every major aspect of critical checklists. The writing is taut and tight-as-a-drum in storytelling some of the most complete and mystifying tales to ever grace the screen in a crunched package of only ~20 minute segments you turn in for weekly – each its own separate self-contained mini-film that feels as high-budget and elegant as feature-length pictures from Hollywood’s Golden-Age. This is not an easy thing to accomplishment and decades (or even half a millennium-plus) ahead of its time, proof-of-concepting what now has taken the world by storm in streamable television series Netflix, Hulu, HBO, Disney+, and the millions of forthcoming competitors are now throwing billions of dollars trying to capitalize on the immense resources this new frontier and wild, wild, west has to offer away from box office receipts and theaters. The series was visionary and almost prophetical in that way, feeling extremely-comparable to a number of anthologies it paved the way for now amongst the most popular television series in the world today: American Horror Story, Black Mirror, American Crime Story, Love/Death/Robots, Castle Rock, and the 60-year anniversary modern reboot coming in 2019 with modern-provocateur Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us) set to host. No one will ever be able to top Rod Stewart: his cool, calculating, suave demeanor, cascading turns of phrases vocabulary-advanced in clever wordplay/alliteration, detached narration stylism with a hint of existential sorrow recounting the tales of characters he helped create as showrunner whose every genius stroke of his pen can be felt bleeding love and pouring his life into the series in every facet of its translation to screen.

The Pedigree Of Dystopian Storylines & Prophetic Scenarios With Subtextual Lessons

Each episode of The Twilight Zone (1959) bursts with imagination and inventive dystopia still rooted in morality and teachable moments/lessons subtextually – while still keeping entertainment value and storytelling first and foremost as a breathtaking blend of the two difficult to balance in sci-fi/horror. From gremlins haunting you at 20,000 feet forever ruining flying and airplanes for many of us to the bliss-turned-horror of being the last man on earth to aliens hiding amongst us to devil contracts to puppets-come-alive to a world of perpetual darkness to a stranger who follows you across the country to stopped time to casino slot machines alive to pools into alternate realities and over a hundred more, the Twilight Zone boasts an idiosyncratic idea-resumé more imaginative than perhaps anything else in television history – lifting the show into a rarified air of science-fiction and cinema that touches on themes that have mystified and fascinated man since the original stories were told alonside cavemen’s fires, while creating tons of genre tropes itself prophetically. The ideas of TTZ are so brilliant and ahead of their time, mere throwaway or just-another-episodes of 150+ have become some of the world’s biggest franchises and blockbuster smashes – like Chucky taken from ‘Living Doll’, Toy Story from ‘Five Characters In Search Of An Exit’, Poltergeist from ‘Little Girl Lost’, Time Lapse from ‘A Most Unusual Camera’, Clockstoppers from ‘A Kind Of Stopwatch’, The Invisible from ‘A Passage for Trumpet’, Us from ‘Mirror Image’, and infinite more. Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and TTZ is perhaps the most influential sci-fi/horror TV-series of All-Time in how much its prophetic tales and ideas are omnipresent in the genre even 60+ years later – going along with its cinematic counterparts in Star Wars (1977), The Cabinet Of Dr. Caligari (1925), and Psycho (1960) as the greatest and most game-changing of its entire genre and amongst cinematic history.

The Cinematography, Set/Costume Design, & Orchestral Score (+ That Iconic Opening Theme)

The cinematography is absolutely sublime, feeling big-budget and as classic picture palace/cinematic as anything of the time holding up well even to the test of time to this day. Much of that is due to the truly mythic set/costume design skill utilizing the comparatively nonexistent resources and skill-over-technology back then to create such wowingly-transportive trips into the fifth dimension with the help of the camerawork’s textbook technique traversals, shot constructions, and compositional awareness to populate every frame with disorientative esoterica. Of course, nothing is perhaps more iconic and original/instantly-recognizable as that opening theme of arpeggiated, hypnotic dissonant piano octave cascades serving as almost a ritualistic passing point into the dreamlike imagination of the series’ auteurs. The entire series is beautifully-orchestrated for full cinematic depth and a mysterious, mythic feel that’s truly unlike anything else on television – a signature hallucinogenic trip that feels almost third-eye opening or religious-experiential every time you pass through into a new chamber of the Zone.

Performances By An A-List Of Iconic Actors Of The Day, Legacy, & The Test Of Time

Finally, the performances and everchanging cast of the original Twilight Zone gives finalized punctuation to this mastercanvas by an A-List of iconic actors and the mega-famous of the time. Burt Reynolds, William Shatner, Roddy McDowell, Inger Stevens, Henry Jones, John Williams, Mary Laroche, Robert Redford, and dozens more populate the landscape of top-tier acting the series boasts, supported by a cornucopia of newcomers hungry enough to prove themselves with majestic skill for not an amateurish note or performance to be found in show history. This is almost unconscionable given such a massive world-building feat of 150+ episodes, each painting a completely different canvas with almost a completely new cast every time – but summarizes better than anything how tirelessly the showrunners worked to make sure every week’s episode was cinematic brilliance, lusciously-dark, and sensationally-macabre.

Flaws

(If There Were Any)

The only remotely conceivable flaw in this miraculous series is the sheer multitude of episode numbers – sometimes leading to a few episodes being repeated subjects or ~overlap. This is entirely understandable and ~forgiveable considering the canvas of, in-essence, 150 completely-different short films with limited TV-budgetary and period resources as well as imaginative constraints and weekly deadlines I could not bare to actually subtract in the grand scheme and history: a perfect canvas of science-fiction and anthological TV too brilliant to nitpick.

Conclusion

One Of The Greatest & Most Revolutionary TV Series Of All-Time

Another Dimension Of Sci-Fi/Drama/Horror/Comedy/Superstition Beyond Cinematic Box Limits

Overall, The Twilight Zone is pure science-fiction and television at its peak potential. Blending every genre cinematically, weaving social commentary and existential discourse, tonally-mythic, prophetically-imagizing themes core to the human and existential experience, and doing so displaying the heights of filmic pedigree, there is not one major flaw to be found in this perfect coup-de-maître amongst the most influential and important works in mankind’s journey into screens. A dreamlike masterseries redefining what was possible on TV & paving way for anthological horror while interweaving social commentary amongst incredibly imaginative dystopia, The Twilight Zone (1959) is one of the greatest TV series of All-Time.

Official CLC Score: 10/10