Classic TV Worth Watching: The Twilight Zone

If you’re like me you would await every New Year’s Eve or Fourth of July for eager viewing of the Twilight Zone marathon on the WB network. That is, until the Syfy network grabbed the rights to it in recent years. Well for us Twilight Zone fans who don’t have cable, this isn’t an obstacle anymore. Netflix now has the whole original series in its instant-streaming library (you can read me gush more about Netflix at my respective blog).

For those of you who live under a rock and have never heard of the Twilight Zone, allow me to inform you. Before “The Outer Limits“, before “Tales From The Darkside” and before HBO’s “Tales From The Crypt” there was the original “Twilight Zone” series by Rod Serling. The Twilight Zone is an anthology series that presented self-contained episodes which delved into the mediums of the paranormal, mystery, supernatural, psychological thrillers, suspense and the whimsical. These stories usually ended with an unexpected or disturbing twist. They would also be infused with themes that would comment on social issues of the day (racism, war, society, government, etc.)

The Twilight Zone is such a well written show that it appeals to all audiences, from the big-thinker to one who just likes to watch a good story. Despite the fact that this series was done back in 1959, it still holds up to the test of time (something that isn’t easy for most sci-fi shows). I can’t gush enough about the skill of writing that was put into this production. The dialogue and exposition are so compelling in each episode that you’re not fazed by the stylized acting of that time. Every human emotion of anguish, contempt, fear, anger etc., is so brilliantly displayed in each episode that you can’t help but want to watch more.

For the Twilight Zone fans out there with a Netflix account, I tell you to rejoice! Add the series to your queue and re-watch some of your favorite tales and more. To those out there that have never had a chance to experience Rod Serling’s brilliance, I tell you to stop dilly-dallying and immediately add TZ to your queue. You won’t regret it.

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About Julio From NY

A dreamer, a dabbler and an urban wanderer.

Posted on May 26, 2011, in Television, Movies, & Anime and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 35 Comments.

  1. You know as a big Sci Fi buff I never got into that show maybe its the fact that I’m such a chicken shit when it comes to horror but its not horror idk maybe it was just too dated for me. But on the other had my aunt god rest her soul loved the hit out of that show and would watch it ever New Years. Maybe ill have to give it a try i see that they have Mystery science theater 300 the movie I just wish they had the series

    • Funny enough, I never got into Mystery Science Theatre. I just don’t see the point of watching a bad film just to make fun of it. I rather spend my time watching something I want to watch.

      If you like good stories and good writing you should definitely give TZ a shot. Just watch the first episode (you have Netflix, right?). There isn’t anything scary about the first episode. It’s just suspenseful and mysterious and you wonder what’s going on (don’t want to give anything away but it’s a good watch).

    • You definitely have to suspend your belief enough to appreciate how masterfully-done the show was. It can be a bit dry for some, I know.. But it’s great. Maybe you’ve seen the wrong episodes! I mean, if I got into Doctor Who in the Matt Smith story arc, I may not be the fan I am today. =oX

      Mystery Science Theater was a hoot. I don’t think I ever sat through an entire “episode”, though. It’s strange because I can appreciate cheesy, campy movies.. If I have nothing better to do. =oP

      Isn’t it funny how we’ll get pissed if people talk during a movie but some of us will watch MST? Their witty exchanges, voice-overs, and critiques certainly help, I’d say.

      • I think that’s also why I never gave MST a chance. The concept of talking during a movie confounds me. I’m definitely more open minded about things than I have been in the past. I guess I’ll give it a rewatch in the future.

      • It’s like watching a movie with Jay Sherman sitting right next to you, am I right? =oP

        Seriously, some episodes have rather smart writing so it’s worth a looksy. I was never a huge fan (rarely am) but it was fun. I’d still say temper your expectations because MST is not filled with an abundance of substance. =oX

  2. “Just watch the first episode. There’s nothing scary about the first episode.”

    If I knew nothing about you guys, I’d be scared that there was, in fact, something terrifying in the first episode.

    And maybe there is.

    *cue eerily dramatic music*

    Twilight Zone is a classic…and I even have the theme stuck in my head, thank you very much.
    I’d actually forgotten about it… Completely forgotten about it…… but hell, it would definitely be with watching again.

    BTW, I like the way you blog/write. The first line *always* managed to draw the reader (that’d be me) in, even if it’s just out of curiosity, to read the post, and the rest of it is written in such a way that it’s almost like a story. Makes me think a bit of a scary before-bed story that you tell to your kids. =]

    I wasn’t actually going to read it – not a big TV person, regardless of the fact that I like the TZ – but then I had to go and read the first sentence… and here I am commenting. =p

    • Yes, I like that about his writing too. I have mentioned before that he makes for a good story teller =)

      • We certainly have a very gifted writing team, I’d say! NoF has transitioned into more of a creative geek social group than the video game geek clan we were known for. I think I’m okay with that!

        You should guest blog for us, JJ. I hooked you up on Dogs And Tails (And Tales Thereof) so you owe me the honor now, DAGNABBIT!

        I’m just teasing.. You’re even more busy than I am.. And that’s saying something! I may go as far as to say that you are the hardest working person I know. =o)

  3. Aw shucks! I’m blushing (^-^). Thanks for the compliment. If I’m passionate about anything it’s good fiction. In all its mediums. I just love good escapism. And now thanks to NOFGAGPP I have a platform to focus all my fiction passion which will give my other blog room to focus on my more introspective ideas and have a clearer sense of direction.

    I used to also dream about being a cartoonist or a fiction writer back in high school and I guess I haven’t quite lost the knack for making subjects sound interesting. It definitely helps that I’m passionate about it :)

    • I was toying with the idea of launching a cartoon site where you, KD, and I can throw up some doodles, comic strips, and the like. I think it’s a huge market and it’s something we’d enjoy.. Of course, it’d take a whole lot of commitment to be persistent with updates. We also don’t want to end up like FunnyJunk and all those sites that just “borrow” content, though we could supplement our own content by creating formal syndication channels… What do you all think? Would this excite you? 8)

    • I agree.

      Pity that you didn’t become a fiction writer; it certainly wasn’t due to lack of talent.

      A cartoonist? Do you draw too?!

      I could see you on story board for video games, cartoons, or even syndicated comic strips. (You remind me of the Pearls Before Swine strip, if you’ve ever seen it. My favorite, btw.)

      • Oh. Em. Gee.

        I heart Pearls Before Swine.. It’s one of the few strips I know by name nowadays. I mainly like smart, or at least clever, writing. White Ninja used to be good. Ill Will Press was good for a time as well.

        Julio and I used to be in a cartooning club together back in “the good ‘ol days”. it was definitely fun times. Jayman, remember that Pete Hambusi character? That cocky prick purposely lost one of my best comic strips when he was supposed to ink it.

        His Chinese cohort was also a prick. He used to criticize our art styles because we had more originality and they couldn’t stand it. Damn pin-up copycat artists! >_<

      • That is so funny that we said almost exactly the same sentence. We also just happen to be writing at the same time which is why I only saw this now.

        Great minds and all that. Yeah I remember Peter and Vincent. I think Peter did become a comic book artist though I can’t be sure. Dayfree press use to be a cool little network for indie web comics but they’ve all seem to branch out. Most notably Jeph Jacques of “Questionable Content” fame (pretty good strip btw. I plan on writing about it soon. Not that he needs more reviews lol).

      • Ah yes.. Questionable Content was a fave of mine. Funny how some start off small then go big and lose their magic/soul.. Not always, but often enough. Call me Mr. Anti-Mainstream. I’d have to check in and see what has changed, if anything.

        VG Cats is also pretty neat. They make video game references that may elude most, present party inclusive, but it’s a fun comic strip. NewGrounds ane eBaumsWorld used to both be great places to kill time.. But I don’t have much of that to burn (it was more fun during downtime at the old office job LOL). [o=

      • Never heard of VG Cats. The video game related comic strip that I read regularly is PVP. Never got into Penny Arcade though I hear good things about that one.

      • I am on the flip side. Did the VG Cats and Penny Arcade (which I believe features VG Cats) but not PVP. Red Vs. Blue was supposed to be good but was mainly for Halo fanboys. LOL

      • Just read 2-3 strips of VG Cats. Good Stuff. I guess the reason PVP piqued my interest more than the two you got into is that PVP is more than just about games. It’s geeky pop culture references more than anything. The characters work at a gaming magazine I believe and it revolves around their lives and their geeky interests. There was one story arc where their parody of foursquare was all the rage and they were all competing for the mayorship of the local starbucks-like coffee shop. There’s also a kickass Panda with a bad attitude who pops in from time to time and apparently he hates one of the characters in the strip.

        VG Cats and Penny Arcade seem more entrenched in gaming and as you know I’m not much of a gamer so a lot of the jokes in those strips are sometimes too-inside-the-loop for my preference. The few strips I’ve read are funny though :)

      • You’re on the money there, bro. They get to be a bit much for even me. Like I mentioned before, these sub-culture type comic strips make references that are more for the hardcore followers than the casual readers. It works for their target audience but does make them rather exclusive for most. That’s why Red VS. Blue never really did it for me: it’s more like Halo propaganda and I’m not much for that universe. [o=

      • OMG! I totes <3 PBS XD. Rat is my favorite douchey character lol. After him I love the croc Larry (or is it Bob? Names are my weakness) and his failed attempts to eat Zebra. Oh so many great story arcs. Remember the grenade holding lemmings (or was it groundhogs.? Dammit names)? Duck's buddy, the villainous Cat is hilarious too :D

        As for me drawing, I used to do little strips in high school. In college I minored in art but didn't follow through. I still doodle faces here and there. It's a nervous habit more than anything. I can't stay still. I joke around that I'm like a landshark. I have to keep moving or I just shut down. I always fell asleep at job meetings. I just can't stay inactive for too long.

        So yeah I still doodle. Anatomy and drawing female characters are a huge flaw in my abilities. I still toy with the idea of doing a webcomic but like Yomar said, who has the time?

        Regarding writing fiction. I'm my own worse critic. I shoot everything down. I also minored in writing in college and did great in fiction courses. Dialogue is definitely a strength of mine (at least last time I wrote any). It's creating the setting, outlining the beginning, middle, and end, figuring out the conflict you want your character to have, do I write in 1st person, third person-limited or omniscient?… You get the idea.

        This year I've written more in general than I have in years. Making a pledge to the wordpress post a week program has been key in this new commitment. It has made me more confident in my abilities. Do you ever catch yourself thinking how everything that's simple for you or anything you know in general most likely it's the same for everyone else? Well I definitely have that. At least Claudia keeps telling me because she finds it hard to write and I pretty much do it naturally.

        I definitely see that I have a knack for writing. Taking it to the next level boils down to commitment, persistence and doing the dirty work. I've not been much for hard work when it counted for things that I love (ironic I know b/c I'm a hard worker when it comes to working a job). Like exercise, it's a routine I'm trying to set in place.

        Damn… I wrote a lot didn't I? Lol. Now I can't criticize Yomar anymore. Glass houses and all.

  4. I really enjoy the Twilight Zone so much so that I cannot even remember when I first starting watching it because I watch it every year. Watching for New Year’s has been our tradition and people found it weird that those were our plans to bring in the new year, lol. But now that it’s in Netflix I think it’ll be the first time we can actually watch the episodes in order. I don’t even know if I’ve ever watched all episodes.

    • Don’t think we have. Oh what fun it’ll be to find some undiscovered treasures now found :D

    • Back when I watched TV, that was certainly something to look forward to, when I wasn’t sucked into some supposedly fun party or social gathering. I enjoyed the other shows that took notes from the Twilight Zone playbook but, compared to the original, they do seem like cheap imitations.

      Hmmm.. JJ mentioned the opening theme for The Twilight Zone. That was one that definitely messed with your head and stuck with you.. The theme to Tales From The Dark Side was no slouch, though! That opening was pretty hardcore and I am rather thick-skinned when it comes to scary things these days… Watch it and you’ll see exactly what I mean!

      Anyone know who composed that theme music? That’d be neat to know and I bet we can find other good horror and sci-fi that way too. Good music helps the exposition, if you ask me. 8)

      • I forgot to comment on the theme music. As per Wikipedia the composer of the theme music is by Gregor F. Narholz. I don’t find it scary. I find it more eerie and disturbing, maybe even anxiety-inducing. But that’s what I love about it so much!

        I agree with you Yomar, music does help set the mood. For me the TZ theme music makes me excited about the upcoming episode. What idea are they going to knock on its head? What concepts are they going to make me mull over in my head in the long hour of the night? What catharsis is going to befall me?

        It’s a mental game of Russian roulette and I can’t stop playing :D

      • Eery and disturbing are definitely better words.. Maybe unnerving even! I still find the theme to “Tales From The Dark Side” to be quite creepy or (fill in your preferred adjective here).

        Russian roulette.. Wheeeee! =oD

      • Yes tales of the darkside has a great score. Not to discredit your suggestion, I just had tunnel vision when I was writing about TZ. you can never go wrong with George Romero :). I may have to revisit that series and write about it in the future. The difference between the two shows I believe is TOTDS which later morphed into Monsters was more about inducing fear. TZ was more about making you think and questioning your set of values. Which is probably why it’s more remembered.

      • Right on.

        Twilight Zone certainly has that surreal aspect to it. It makes you question reality, and other things.. I forgot all about Monsters. Wow.. Good memory.

      • Lol. I’m a tv geek after all. To be honest, I did look up all the shows mentioned in the blog post for fact checking purposes. I didn’t want any bold statements or praise of TZ to blow up in my face :)

      • Good show, old chap! I like the slight reference to my recent article on building online conversations and taking criticism well when sharing bold statements. Haha..

        Either way, we’re entitled to our opinions, unsubstantiated or not. The only real risk is when you infringe upon someone else’s opinions. That’s when the drama starts. To that end, never share a conflicting opinion with a fanboy. Dangerous stuff right there!

        Twilight Zone sounds good now but I must catch up on social media/networking stuffs! [o=

      • I understand. It’s on Netflix so it’ll be waiting for you ;)

      • …You bastard. ;o)

  5. Good call!

    I always loved The Twilight Zone. I’m reminded of the movie (and that creepy little brat with the magical mental powers) but, to a greater degree, I think of the one episode with the visitors from outer space. They helped mankind fix their problems with resource dependencies and waste management.. But you know a cruel twist awaits and WHAT a good one it is!!

    Exposition is the key word. Each episode paints an intriguing scene with curious characters that make you get glued to the TV (or computer) to learn more. Twilight Zone is certainly a timeless work.

    Geez, it’s going to take more will power now to avoid going into couch potato mode.. Thanks! LOL

    • Ah yes “To Serve Man”. An excellent episode. So good in fact that many shows have done homages to it. The Simpsons’ Halloween episode comes to mind.

      My favorite TZ episode of all time is “Time Enough At Last” with Burgess Meredith. Maybe because it’s a constant theme in my life but I can totally relate to wanting more time for the things I enjoy :)

  6. Burgess Meredith is known as The Penguin from the campy Batman TV Show and as Rocky’s coach in the Rocky Movies also Jack Lemmons extra horny old father in Grumpy Old Men, just to help jog your memory.

    Anyway the episode I’m referring to is about a bookworm who works at a bank and who wants nothing better to do then sit someplace in peace and quiet and get his nose in a good book. Somehow his wish comes true but the twist in the end just tears at my heartstrings.

    • Aaahhh.. Now I know who you’re talking about! That’s a pretty epic name, though I thought for a second it was a girl, focusing on the “Meredith” part.

      Hmmm.. The episode in question sounds vaguely familiar. I’m thinking about the twist and your comments have me on the verge of a spoiler….. =oX

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