Thursday, April 30, 2015

Zone of Twilight

Z - the final letter in the alphabet. It's the last day of April, and the last day of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge.

It's the last day of writing a post based on the day and the letter of the alphabet it represents.  The last day of repressing my almost-boiling-over desire to blog about Spring.

But wait.  There's one more post needed, for a word beginning with "Z".

The choice is obvious.  It's time to honor the Zone.

The Twilight Zone, that is.

As I write these words, I wonder how many people reading this post (given that I have a number of international readers, and readers who weren't born when this show aired on U.S. network TV) remember Rod Serling.  How many would recognize these words:  "Submitted for your approval".
Rod Serling on the cover of a classic TV Guide
We remember him well in Binghamton, well enough to have a local museum partially devoted to him.

I want to submit this post about a TV show called The Twilight Zone to you for your approval, because I have come full circle in my theme of America the Beautiful.  But don't expect me to show up at the end of this blog post, smoking a cigarette.

On the last day of this Challenge, I mention Binghamton, New York, the city where I work, the city where I lived for a brief time many years ago..  This was where Rod Serling, the man responsible for The Twilight Zone and other TV shows, grew up.  I've blogged about Rod Serling's childhood neighborhood and the junior high and high schools he went to.

This and above photo taken at Bundy Museum of History and Art Binghamton, NY, with permission
I've blogged about the park he played in, which Serling incorporated into several Twilight Zone episodes.   I can even show you an old library circulation card with his oldest known signature.

But I haven't blogged that much about the Twilight Zone TV series itself.  These shows, first broadcast between between 1959 and 1964, had a big influence on me.  Even as a child (I was born in 1952), I knew there was something special about this TV show that was unlike the normal run of Westerns and variety shows filling TV schedules in those years.

And, somehow, Serling kept coming back to the beautiful Binghamton and upstate New York of his childhood again and again in these shows.

There was always a twist in the story.  They were stories that made you think, made you question, made you angry, made you wonder.   Nothing was ever what it seemed, in the Twilight Zone.
The original Cobra Phone featured on the Twilight Zone, Bundy Museum
 Many featured actors and actresses who were either already famous or would become famous played roles on The Twilight Zone.  Burgess Meridith.  Cloris Leachman.  Charles Bronson. Elizabeth Montgomery.  Robert Redford.  William Shatner.

Here is a sample of episodes for your approval. (Note, if you click links, you will find full length videos. Some are 30 minute shows and others 60 minute shows.)

Eye of the Beholder: A deformed woman is awaiting the results of her plastic she hopes will make her beautiful, like the people around her....

The Hitch-Hiker - a young woman survives an incident with her car and continues a drive cross country, where the same hitchhiker keeps trying to hitch a ride with her, over and over...

It's a Good Life - I still get chills when I see a cornfield.

Living Doll - why you should never mess with your children's toys....

The Monsters are Due on Maple Street - if you think you live in a neighborhood where everyone cares about everyone else, think again...

Time Enough At Last - what would you do if you were the last man on Earth?

Walking Distance - what happens when a harried man tries to return to his childhood?  (People who know Binghamton will recognize a certain park and carousel...)

The Midnight Sun - the Earth's orbit has changed, and the Earth is heading towards a fiery end - or, is it?  This is one of my personal favorites.

This is a Zone you may or may not want to enter. But if you dare (I've included links above to several full length episodes available on IMDb above), you will be richly rewarded.

Tomorrow - back to my regularly scheduled blogging except for May 4.  Stay tuned!


  1. We are raising a generation who think Serling is "that guy from the Disney ride." They don't understand the dimension not of sight or sound but of mind.

  2. Congrats on finishing the A to Z Challenge! Maybe I'll finally do it next year. Actually I was considering unofficially doing it on one of my blogs for May!

    Ah yes, the Twilight Zone - such a classic!

    1. I've wanted to do A to Z for three years but I always had an excuse. This time I did it, and I haven't been this energized about blogging in years. Please, consider it for next year.

  3. This was one of my favorite shows. I was just old enough to be allowed to stay up and watch by myself. Some episodes scared the dickens out of me. Congrats on finishing the challenge.

    Life After Retirement - My Russian Adventure

    1. I've learned so much about Rod Serling in the years since I moved to the Binghamton, New York area. I love exercise walking in his childhood neighborhood. Some of those episodes traumatized me - others helped to ignite a lifelong love of SF.

  4. Syfy still does a marathon every holiday. Don't they? It's still around.

    Did you know "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street" is actually in English textbooks now? 7th or 8th grade. I run across it sometimes, and the classes actually read it. And learn all about The Twilight Zone.

    1. I think SyFy still does the New Years Eve marathon. Our local public library, needless to say, has all the episodes released on DVD. No, I didn't know that "The Monsters are due on Maple Street" was in English textbooks now.

  5. COngrats on completing your A to Z challenge. I once tried it and got to T and then fell out of love with it. The last few letters can be tough.

    As for the Twilight Zone, I've watched some episodes but not many of them. I didn't grow up in the era but I love sci-fi. My parents grew up in that time and watched it, which led to me watching it :) There was an episode that I remember briefly but I can't remember what it was called. It had something to do with certain people were genetically changing so they could go outdoors and live as normal, but others had to remain indoors because of something to do with the sun. When I saw The Midnight Sun up there, I wondered whether that was the episode I'm thinking of.


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