Rod Serling on the importance of being ''original''

Alien neighbors and nuclear apocalypses was as original as it could get.

Image credit: The Everett Collection

The Twilight Zone (1959) can be described using a variety of words: Eerie, magical, mind-bending, and original. "Original" is the term of the decade for creator Rod Serling who believed that originality was the key to good art.

The Twilight Zone was as original as it could get. With everything from creepy dolls, aliens, and gremlins; There were all kinds of characters that could only come out of Serling's imagination.

Serling created more than 150 episodes of the iconic series and left such an impact on viewers that the original prompted a 2019 remake narrated by Jordan Peele with the same title. 

With so much creativity, many wondered what kind of man was behind the words. According to Serling, most of the episodes and stories within The Twilight Zone were based on real things — kind of.

In a 1960 interview with The Courier-Journal, Serling said that television's biggest need was originality. 

"Every communications medium in history has discovered the truth of those two maxims," Serling said. "You cannot fool an audience forever. The audience demands not only original stories and ideas, it demands a variety and originality in the presentation."

With hundreds of family shows like The Brady Bunch, dozens of Westerns like Gunsmoke, and a few shows pointed at rural humor such as Green Acres - there seemed to be no show that dared to take us to the same places The Twilight Zone did.

According to the interview, Serling said selling a drama series like his to the American public was a lot harder to do than trying to sell a run-of-the-mill sitcom.

"Some of the episodes were too different," Serling said. "Of the first 36, I think I am proud of about 18. There are others I liked, and there were some I wished we had never heard from in the first place."

The Twilight Zone was based on things that happened to people who were between reality and the unreal. Many fans enjoyed entering into a new world each week and would write Serling letters to let him know that. 

According to Serling, he would get letters from fans suggesting new ideas and asking for script changes. One of those changes requested by fans all over the country was to have more of a balance between the light stories and the down-beat stories.

"We will do more of our shows with tongue-in-cheek," Serling said. "We will also have more women as leading characters. We will avoid some of the 'real-far-out,' endings which leave no alternatives for the viewer. We have found our audience wants to think."

Because of Serling's originality, The Twilight Zone became one of the most popular, important, and strange television series of its time. 

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WhiteRook 4 months ago
Another tv actor from Binghamton NY was Anthony George who resembled Rod a little. In the TZ episode "Will the real martian please stand up" The trooper played by John Archer is actress Annie Archer's dad.
kito 4 months ago
TV’s “Young Angry Man.” Everything a TV writer should be, minus the smoking 3 packs of cigarettes a day part haha
brscph 4 months ago
Yes, Rod Serling was great & Twilight zone was and is still a great show , one of the best TV shows ever produced , but credit should also be given to EC Comics , where many of the ideas. where taken directly from.
JeffPaul76 4 months ago
Rod Serling was from where I live now, Binghamton, New York and he went to and graduated from what was then Binghamton Central High School, & is now just Binghamton High School. My Mother knew him well, as well as Richard Deacon, who was also from Binghamton.
JHP 4 months ago
case closed - just love the show:)!
jimmyvici 4 months ago
Original, brilliant, way ahead of its time, and still better than anything on tv today. 😤
JHP jimmyvici 4 months ago
the thing would have fewer viewers now considering the feces the networks show because of the dum dums that watch them
Tresix 4 months ago
I think “Twilight Zone” and “Night Gallery” should be shown together. Starting at midnight, the witching hour.
Runeshaper 4 months ago
Serling was an original and he was brilliant!
cperrynaples 4 months ago
That's a weird photo to post! It's from "The New Exhibit" where wax figures come to life and murder!
cperrynaples cperrynaples 4 months ago
Sad Fact: It was the first Charles Beaumont script that was ghostwritten! Sadly, he was in the early stages of Alzheimer's so his buddies secretly wrote under his name!
justjeff 4 months ago
"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." - Rod Serling
Andybandit 4 months ago
TTZ was a great show. With great actors and actresses on it.
dominicanbride1 4 months ago
Loved this show. Still watch it every nite
IndianaRockz 4 months ago
Rod Serling's "The Twilight Zone" is still as relevent & popular today as it was in the beginning. How many of us today say "I feel like I'm in The Twilight Zone!" when in a crazy situation?!? I never tire of that show. 😎
JHP IndianaRockz 4 months ago
everytime I have to watch the news
Stoney 4 months ago
And this is why The Twilight Zone is still remembered nearly 60 years after its final episode aired! Utter brilliance
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