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.
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. Escape Clause, 2. The Howling Man, 3. Nightmare At 20,000 Feet, 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
‘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’s one of the greatest (and most game-changing/important) TV series. A dreamlike masterseries redefining what was possible on TV & paving way for anthological horror while interweaving social commentary amongst incredibly imaginative dystopia, TTZ is one of TV’s greatest series of All-Time.
The writing, direction, cinematography, and nostalgic production value. The Twilight Zone is one of the greatest products TV has ever seen because it first delivered on every major aspect of cinematic checklists. The writing and direction are masterful being mostly-spearheaded by Serling himself as narrator, host, writer, and creator of the series; it being his baby and caring deeply about it so much so that every genius stroke of his pen in imaginative dystopia can be felt on screen. The cinematography is way ahead of its time using wowingly-sculpted shots, an extreme variety of production design, and textbook camera shooting styles across the vast landscape of its episodes.
Performances are equally sensational involving mega-famous kingpin actors of the time like Burt Reynolds, Roddy McDowell, and Robert Redford, while also taking newcomers who display serious acting chops and working them into new ways – there is not one performance across the entire series that was not serviceable and that is a massive achievement for a 150-episode show utilizing different ones ~every time. Finally, the production value is so unbelievable it’s still talked to and hailed to this day 60+ years later and in public consciousness when many films and TV series of the day are partially or wholly forgotten by (non-cinephiles) in the general public. The Twilight Zone’s enduring legacy is mostly attributable to its sensational macabre.
Inventive dystopia, nuanced social commentary, existential deliberation, tonal mystification. The Twilight Zone’s biggest pro is its extreme artistry is exploring weighty, levity-full themes through the guise of a horror TV show. Themes like the dual-edged sword of immortality, death’s importance in the human condition, man’s need for social reciprocity/interchange, overdoseable nicotine-addictiveness of gambling, paradoxical jealousy/hidden resentment of neighbors in American Christianic society, nostalgia’s ability to shroud progress and kill advancements, conformity in humanity’s tricky primal desire to lash out against societal norm-threats, differential assignments of beauty, etc. are masterfully explored – and, oftentimes not revealed until the very end if you’re not carefully dissecting every line and shot surgically placed for a reason across these horror-ful, mysterious, dark, dystopia-ic episodes rife with the most imaginative concepts you can think of (while still palatable to mass audiences with a dark-kick or macabre-sweet-tooth). Never before has a series balanced so many genres too ranging from pure white-knuckled horror to alienic sci-fi to hot-sun western to even black comedy, while still managing to keep a central idea and signature blend so perplexingly and masterfully.
Finally, its legacy and importance in cinematic history. Accomplishing all the above facets in perfect half-hour weekly installments different each time, 150+ times seems frankly impossible. Yet that’s the exact lightning in a bottle The Twilight Zone managed to capture and put on display. To say it changed cinematic history and what’s possible on TV is truly an understatement. Nearly every anthological series that followed owes most of its existence purely to The Twilight Zone. Many horror tropes from alive dolls to fear of flying to devil-contracts to alternate dimension versions of ourselves – all currently rocking modern horror by different names like Chucky to Jordan Peele’s Us – can also be traced back to it, and that’s nothing compared to how much it blew the hinges off the door to television being one of the forefathers to show industry executives that you could deliver phenomenal, top-tier storytelling not just in mega-budget film format, but TV too opening up possibilities to many of the great and mini-film-like television series we’ve been blessed with today. Incredible.
The only conceivable flaw in this miraculous series is the sheer multitude of episode numbers – sometimes leading to a few episodes being inconsistently-weaker or repeated subjects. This is entirely understandable and ~forgiveable considering you’re creating, in-essence, 150 completely-different short films with limited TV budgetary resources and imaginative constraints, but is one (small) objective flaw that’s a lot when you’re first presented with it and leads to some ep’s being better than others and better assisted by things like episode guides we tried to provide above.
Overall, The Twilight Zone is a dreamlike masterseries that redefined what was possible on TV & paved the way for anthological horror and TV series, as well as most of the TV series you see today by blowing the door off in possibilities for the medium. Its interweaving of brilliant-but-sly/hidden social commentary amongst incredibly imaginative dystopia, tonal mysticism, and macabre elevates it into the stratosphere of TV series as one of the greatest shows ever made.
Official CLC Score: 10/10