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What is the Twilight Zone?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 02 December 2016
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The Twilight Zone was a television series which originally ran from 1959-1964 on CBS, spawning a number of spin-offs and revivals. It is widely regarded as a classic of American television, where a number of notable writers and actors got their start, and episodes continue to be aired on several networks, along with episodes from revivals of the series. Many people are familiar with the Twilight Zone in some way or another, as the show has become intimately linked with American pop culture.

The show's creator, Rod Serling, originally approached CBS in 1957 with a pilot, hoping to spin it into a weekly series. The pilot was initially shelved, airing more than a year later and becoming an instant hit, somewhat to the surprise of CBS. A full series was ordered, and the Twilight Zone went on to be quite a popular series. In addition to the original television show, there are also Twilight Zone comic books, novels, films, radio programs, and later interpretations of the show; the most recent Twilight Zone spinoff began airing in 2002.

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The distinguishing feature of the Twilight Zone is the extensive use of fantasy, science fiction, and horror in the episodes, which often feature ordinary people in extraordinary and weird circumstances. Over the course of the episode, the characters are forced to figure what is going on, and they often find themselves averting a disaster; at the end of each self-contained episode, the guilty are punished and the characters move on with their lives.

In addition to writing many of the episodes, Serling also acted as the narrator, and many people are familiar with the lines from the opening voiceover, which ends with the famous statement: “It is an area which we call...the twilight zone.” At the end of the episode, Serling would also offer commentary on what had happened. Some of the episodes were political in nature, providing thinly veiled commentary about what was going on in the world, a somewhat novel feature in network television.

The success of the Twilight Zone could be attributed to a number of factors. The show was certainly novel for the time in which it appeared, sparking conversation and debate about the paranormal, and some people probably also just viewed it as good entertainment. This show has become quite the cultural icon, especially in the United States. References to the Twilight Zone often pop up in popular culture, and many people are familiar with the eerie and distinctive theme music, although they may not be aware that it is linked with the television series.

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turquoise
Post 3

@SarahGen-- Not just TV shows, but many films, novels and other works have been inspired from the Twilight Zone episodes. It is definitely a pioneer in science fiction and I think it is one of the major reasons why science fiction is so popular in America today.

My all time favorite Twilight Zone episode is "Nightmare at 20,000 feet." It was one of the first episodes I watched and it was fantastic. I later saw the same exact idea in many films, it has been copied so many times by so many people. The Twilight Zone is a classic and no remake or inspired work can do justice to the original. That's for sure.

SarahGen
Post 2

Does anyone feel that the Twilight Zone is the father of newer popular shows like Dr. Who? There are may shows featuring paranormal activity and strange occurrences nowadays. And I think that the Twilight Zone has been the pioneer in this area.

discographer
Post 1

There are always The Twilight Zone reruns on TV. Frankly, I've only seen a few episodes of the show in my entire life. All I remember from those episodes is the rather impressive monologue that runs in the beginning of each show. It describes what a twilight zone is. I've found that very interesting. I haven't had much of an opportunity to really immerse myself in the series even though I find the concept interesting. I ought to reserve a weekend and just watch as many of the episodes as possible.

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