Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Twilight Zone: Series 1 (1959) Film Review
The Twilight Zone is about as famous a TV series as you could imagine. Its theme tune is hummed by people any time something mysterious happens and its narration, declaring it to be "a dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind" is equally well known. It originally ran for five seasons between 1959 and 1964, although various revivals and new versions have been cropping up during the last 20 years. Season 1 features 36 half hour episodes, with each episode telling a separate mysterious story.
I'd always heard The Twilight Zone described as a seminal science fiction show and decided that meant it wasn't really my cup of tea. Despite it being such a famous show, I'd never seen it and finding out that it wasn't simply robots, Martians and spaceships was a very pleasant surprise. Whilst the stories are based in an altered reality, they're only a step or two away from the truth. The varied themes of the episodes are strongly applicable to all viewers, with isolation seeming to be creator Rod Serling's particular favourite.
Although the ground it broke can only be broken once, it's clear to see why The Twilight Zone has been so respected, influential, copied and parodied since it first appeared, nearly 50 years ago. Its inventive plots and tight allegories are choice examples of storytelling made visual. Add to this, direction and cinematography that keeps the viewers on their toes, without playing silly games and becoming distracting, and you have a hit on your hands.
I wouldn't go so far as to call it perfect. A couple of the episodes are speculative about the nature of space travel, which dates them more than the rest and leaves the audience disconnected. The formula of the episodes is soon apparent - there's something slightly different about the world, which has an effect on the main protagonist and which comes back to bite him at the end - and some episodes come dangerously close to repeating what has gone before. With 36 entirely different stories being required, the momentary lapses in originality are perfectly understandable and excusable.
With each actor's part only comprising a tiny fraction of the whole season, it's hard to pick out any performances of note. The level of consistency throughout is astonishing, however, considering that almost everything about the show is so varied. Burgess Meredith, as Henry Bemis, the man who loves to read but never has the time, certainly made a strong comical impression, but it would be unfair on all of the others to say he was best.
Discovering The Twilight Zone was a great treat for me. You probably already know just how good it is!Reviewed on: 02 Sep 2005
If you like this, try:Night Gallery: Season 1