The Twilight Zone Marathon: A History of a Holiday Tradition

It’s a New 12 months’s Eve customized that has outlasted Dick Clark, and identical to the ball dropping in Events Sq., as eagerly anticipated…by Twilight Zone followers, that’s! 

The New 12 months’s Eve Twilight Zone Marathon on Syfy (the place it has been working the earlier couple of years after a quantity of a few years on regional syndicated stations), kicks off on December 31st and runs until January 2nd at 3:30 am. Within the occasion you’re looking out for favorite episodes, the full schedule could also be found proper right here.

Twilight Zone followers have a tendency to interrupt down the sequence’ 156 episodes into “good ones” and “harmful ones,” the inevitable wheat/chaff ratio ensuing from churning out any weekly television sequence (and an anthology one at that), a format Serling honed by way of the 1950’s “Golden Age” of keep, 90-minute TV drama, after which perfected with the filmed, half-hour Twilight Zone episodes. Nevertheless finally the pressure to create genuine, top quality half-hour anthology drama burned Serling out, and Twilight Zone started displaying cracks in its Emmy Award-winning (two for Serling and his writers, one for George Clemens, TZ’s cinematographer, the Gregg Toland to Serling’s Orson Welles) patina, and fairly early on (Serling’s 1960 second-season opener, “King 9 Will Not Return,” is mainly a rewrite of his private pilot episode of a 12 months sooner than, maybe one of the most effective pilot episode in television historic previous, “The place is Everybody?”).

By the ultimate season (Fall ’63), the sequence was repeating itself with alarming regularity (creator and future creator of The Waltons Earl Hamner’s “Stopover in a Quiet Metropolis” is his private sort out “The place…”), and the TZ gimmick of gorgeous, ironic twist endings and O. Henry-like comeuppances had worn skinny and predictable (the anthology sequence, in any case in its weekly, half-hour sort, didn’t survive previous The Twilight Zone each).

Serling, who wrote a whopping 89 of the sequence’ 156 episodes (science-fiction luminaries identical to the recently-passed Richard Matheson and Charles Beaumont scripted a bulk of the others), wrote some of the most effective (main for years on TZ fan polls, the eerie “Eye of The Beholder,” or as you might perceive it colloquially, “the pig faces episode”) and a few of the worst (select any last-season episode, like “The Concern”—the one issue it has in frequent with its title is how frighteningly talky it’s, the draw again of Serling’s conduct of dictating his scripts on a tape recorder).

And whereas there seems to be a widespread consensus amongst Twilight Zone followers on the “good ones”— Burgess Meredith breaking his glasses inside the malevolent universe of “Time Enough at Remaining” to the “It’s a put together dinner e ebook!” punch line ending of “To Serve Man” (a darkish horse episode that has emerged these days to prime “Beholder” and “Time” in heaps of a poll, most probably as a result of of its main plot being lifted twenty years later for the sci-fi television sequence V, every the ’83 genuine and its 2009 “reimagining”)—there’s a lot much less settlement on the underside 156. One man’s good episode (say, “Twenty-Two,” the hospital morgue episode with the immortal line, “Room for an additional”) is one different’s worst (“Nevertheless the performing by the female lead is just too shrill!”).

study additional: How The Twilight Zone Impressed Stylish TV and Film

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One issue every camps agree on is that the sequence’ actors had been a Who’s Who of Hollywood big and small-screen stars-to-be, like (in alphabetical order) Charles Bronson, Carol Burnett, James Coburn, Robert Duvall, Buddy Ebsen, Peter Falk, Anne Francis, James Franciscus, Dennis Hopper, Jack Klugman, Martin Landau, Lee Marvin, Patrick Macnee, Roddy McDowall, Martin Milner, Elizabeth Montgomery, Billy Mumy, Leonard Nimoy, Warren Oates, Sydney Pollack, Donald Pleasance, Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Don Rickles, Cliff Robertson, Telly Savalas, William Shatner, Inger Stevens, Dean Stockwell, Lee Van Cleef, Dennis Weaver, and Dick York! Collectively, they make watching the Twilight Zone Marathon moreover a sidegame, “Guess the Twilight Zone Actor’s Future Movie or TV Sequence.”

So there’s one factor for everyone in The Twilight Zone Marathon. Within the occasion you don’t like one episode, drink one different cup of egg nog, take a nap, exit for a smoke, come once more in a half-hour—a “good one” might come on subsequent. 

The origins of The New 12 months’s Eve Twilight Zone marathon are in bit of a twilight zone of their very personal; no one is conscious of which regional TV station syndicating Twilight Zone reruns started them – New York’s WPIX (Channel 11) or Los Angeles’ KTLA?—or whether or not or not they even began on that trip the least bit. “The first one we did was on Thanksgiving in 1980,” acknowledged KTLA program director Mark Sonnenberg in a 1991 article inside the LA Events. In a 1981 cowl story, “The Good Twilight Zone Revival: Why Rod Serling’s TV Conventional Lives On,” Totally different Media journal well-known that this main Thanksgiving marathon, solely eight hours prolonged, acquired a 16% share.

“The July 4th marathon started in 1983,” Sonnenberg continued. “It’s turn into a Southern California customized, correct up there alongside along with your totally different Fourth of July actions: barbecues, picnics and fireworks… people can activate their TV items and do their fully totally different actions and take a have a look at the marathon.” Once more on the East Coast, New York’s native station WPIX Channel 11, which had been syndicating The Twilight Zone given that early ‘70s (weeknights at midnight, correct after The Honeymooners), started working their Twilight Zone marathons throughout the same time, and had been perhaps the first station to run it on New 12 months’s Eve.

Nevertheless just because the New 12 months can convey every pleasure and anxiousness, so can the Twilight Zone Marathon. For all its many televised pleasures, the marathon moreover induces spasms of excessive cringing from extreme Twilight Zone watchers, people who private the sequence pristine on DVD, or see them full on Netflix, and bemoan the unmerciful enhancing of the episodes to make room for more and more commercials. Complete scenes are literally being lifted from the physique of each episode, which, in a twist as ironic as any Twilight Zone episode, mirrors exactly what Serling decried most about neighborhood television in his time: the gross intrusion of selling that gave the “big wasteland” (infamously coined by FCC Chairman Newton Minow) its title.

study additional: The Phrases of Rod Serling’s Twilight Zone Are Additional Associated Than Ever

Commenting on commercials all through a 1959 interview, Serling carped, “How in God’s title can you preserve a theatrical mood when every twelve minutes the thrust of the drama is stopped and onto the show display screen gallop twelve dancing rabbits with toilet paper?” Generally prescient of him to predict the Energizer Bunny, however when Serling’s watching what they’ve completed to his brainchild from the great Twilight Zone previous, you’ll be capable to wager the earlier Indignant Youthful Man of Television is an indignant outdated one.

However you gotta love The Twilight Zone Marathon regardless of how chopped up they’re, and regardless of the place you rank on the Twilight Zone totem pole of trivia and/or information, as a end result of these Hall of Fame television episodes—these gems of storytelling substance and monetary system, saying additional philosophically and metaphysically in 23 minutes than totally different reveals muster in a complete season—these works of video art work one might give to the aliens as guide of one of the most effective television earthmen ever made—are merely, as creator Hamner instructed Marc Zicree, author of the definitive episode info, The Twilight Zone Companion (full disclosure: I designed the quilt), “…good tales successfully instructed.”

That they had been of their time, and, if the rising amount of Twilight Zone blogs that features opinions by thirty-somethings new to the current is any indication, along with the persevering with fame of the New 12 months’s Eve and July 4th marathons (it seems the Thanksgiving iteration was short-lived)—which have completed the heavy lifting of transmitting The Twilight Zone to a new expertise, the kids of the Little one Boomers who grew up on the current—Serling and Co.’s recurring themes of identification loss, science and superstition, the particular person versus The State, and, to quote one of Serling’s closing voiceover narrations, “…the bizarre and wondrous mysticism that’s a simple act of dwelling,” have confirmed timeless and immortal.

study additional: A Have a have a look at George RR Martin’s Twilight Zone Revival Episodes

“I watched the Twilight Zone marathons with my mom, who always instructed the story of how my grandparents spent a day with Rod Serling,” acknowledged TV producer (Ghost Adventures on Journey Channel) Eric Paulen. “After I acquired married, my partner beloved watching them too. The coolest issue is that now our daughters, 14 and 11 years outdated, have fallen in love with the sequence as successfully.”

Rod Serling might be proud.

ARLEN SCHUMER wrote and designed Visions From The Twilight Zone, the one espresso desk art work e ebook regarding the sequence, wrote and designed the Paley Center for New Media’s web page for the 50th Anniversary of the sequence in 2009, and continues to present a multimedia current primarily based totally on the e ebook to universities and cultural institutions throughout the nation, along with at Ithaca School’s 2013 Rod Serling Conference in Los Angeles.

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About the author

James Ashley

James Ashley is a 2006 graduate of De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines. After working over a decade as an additional writer at USA News, he decided to start his own news publication. He mainly focuses on technology, sports articles and editorials. He likes to listen to music and play chess in his free time.

Email: [email protected]