OCTOBER 2 – The day we crossed over into The Twilight Zone

 

On the evening of October 2, 1959, CBS aired the first episode of a new television series created by Rod Serling called The Twilight Zone.

It became one of the most popular TV shows ever made and is still shown in reruns.

The name of the series itself became an idiomatic term to describe a situation that seems weird and strange. And, lines and phrases from the introductions spoken by Serling at the opening of the show became famous.

During the show’s original five year run, Serling’s opening lines changed several times.

His voiceover during the animated title sequence used for the first episode and other early Season One episodes goes like this:

“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.”

During the last four episodes of Season One, Serling recites a different intro that ends with a line about the “next stop”:

“You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Serling came up with yet another beginning for his intros in Season Two, though its ending kept the “next stop.” During the first three episodes of Season Two he said:

“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Starting with the fourth episode of Season Two, Serling modified that intro a bit by adding the famed “signpost” ending:

“You’re traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the signpost up ahead. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

Serling’s intro for the episodes in Season Three was similar but had a different ending. He says:

“You are traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop, the Twilight Zone!”

During Seasons Four and Five, Serling used an intro that mixed new opening and ending language with a few words and phrases from previous versions. During the final two seasons of the original series, he introduces the episodes by saying:

“You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You’re moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You’ve just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.”

The haunting theme music most fans think of as the music for The Twilight Zone wasn’t used until Season Two.

That opening music begins with the nervous-sounding staccato notes some fans (like me) jokingly mimic with their voices when something is spooky: “dee-dee-dee-dee / dee-dee-dee-dee.” It was written by avant-garde French composer Marius Constant.

Constant’s version was used for Seasons Two through Five of the original series and, with re-recorded elements, for later iterations of The Twilight Zone, including the 1983 movie, the 1985 series, the 2002 series, and the 2019 series. That’s why it seems so familiar.

The original opening music used during the first season was also eerie, but different. It was written by legendary soundtrack composer Bernard Herrmann, creator of many memorable film scores, like the music for Psycho (1960).

The star of the premiere episode of The Twilight Zone was Earl Holliman.

Holliman appeared in scores of movies and TV shows, but he’s best remembered for his portrayal of the male cop partnered with Angie Dickinson in the TV police drama Police Woman during its run from 1974 to 1978.

The first Twilight Zone episode is titled “Where Is Everybody?” In it, Holliman plays a man in an Air Force jumpsuit who inexplicably finds himself in a town where all the people have disappeared.

Just in case you haven’t seen “Where Is Everybody?” I won’t say any more about the plot or the final twist at the end (an element that became a hallmark of the show).

And, if you haven’t seen it but want to after you read this post, here’s a link to watch it on Vimeo.

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