The Twilight Zone

200There was a Twilight Zone marathon on television over the New Year’s holiday. It was a delight in its black-and-white originality. Like the original Star Trek, the episodes are pretty dated; stiff acting and unrealistic props make the episodes occasionally uneasy to watch.  But if you get past the technical blips of 50 years ago, you will see the beginning of real science fiction.

In 1955, Rod Serling branched out into television script writing with the TV business drama Patterns. Patterns earned Serling his first Emmy Award. His second Emmy win came a year later, with the 1956 production ofRequiem for a Heavyweight, starring Jack Palance.

What I didn’t know was that during the late 1950s, Serling fought the CBS network when they insisted on editing his controversial scripts. CBS got its way and heavily revised his script about lynching, entitled A Town Has Turned to Dust, and another about corruption in a labor union, called The Rank and File.

In a television era today where the bloodier/sexier/bolder the better, it’s hard to imagine such censorship laid the early foundation of storytelling. Fortunately for us, instead of continuing to fight inevitable censorship, Serling turned from realism to the sci-fi fantasy genre in 1959 with the iconic series The Twilight Zone.

Side by side in the world with Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke and Ray Bradbury, Rod Serling was able to take the politics of the day and turn the truth into something real and foreboding. The themes that ran through The Twilight Zone continue to be relevant in 2015. Our horrors, our problems, may seem much more complicated these days, but we are not so different than those who feared the Cold War or alien invasions.

The real purpose of this blog was to read the “description” of Rod Serling’s leap to other worlds. It sums up the reason why writers write. No matter if it’s biography, science fiction, poetry, mysteries, or editorials. The reason we write is to escape into the “fifth” dimension. That world that exists beside us, beneath us, inside of us. Whether we can see it or not, the story is there. No matter where creativity lies, it’s waiting there for us. To open the door. To open the mind.

Listen:

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”.

Isn’t that ALL art?

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6 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone

  1. I used to love that show. Haven’t seen it in years. It’s a testament to the show’s strong writing that it appealed to all ages. I enjoyed it as a high school student as did people older than me at the time. Great quote, and it does help sum up why writers write.

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