Carol Serling, the widow of Rod Serling and keeper of the Twilight Zone flame, often expresses amazement that The Twilight Zone still keeps going year after year.
Serling is approached all the time with new ventures and ways to keep the series alive, and now that the entire series is available on Blu-Ray, fans can’t help remark at how well the show still holds up, especially with new technology making the episodes sharper and clearer than ever.
The black and white camerawork on the show was remarkable, so high quality in fact that several episodes were shown theatrically in L.A. several years ago. Almost every episode had the same cinematographer, George T. Clemens, who gave the show a distinctly noir look.
“George had worked for better people before he worked for Rod Serling and they were lucky to get him,” says George Clayton Johnson, who wrote the episodes Nothing In the Dark and Kick the Can, and also co-wrote Logan’s Run. “All that was coordinated by one set of eyes. The kind of lighting they used was (inspired by) German expressionism.”
Tim Lucas of Video Watchdog magazine wrote on his Facebook page, “The Twilight Zone in Blu-ray is stunning. Odd things suddenly leap out, like a silver lamp in ‘The Sixteen Millimeter Shrine.’ Dan Duryea in ‘Mr. Denton on Doomsday’ is now upstaged by the minute and many freckles on Jeanne Cooper’s decolletage, back and shoulders. At one point a fly landed on her back and I believed it was actually in the house, landing on the TV screen.”
In addition to the great look of The Twilight Zone, Serling and producer Buck Houghton knew how to present a tight story that didn’t cost a lot of money to shoot that got you involved in the characters, and effectively yanked the rug out from under you, all in twenty-three minutes without commercials. “Buck understood the formula of only one miracle per story,” Johnson continues.
“The girl can’t read minds and levitate objects too. Also, plain people in plain circumstances because we have plain sets in the background and we can put those together. If you start asking for a pasha’s temple, we haven’t got the set.”
As for why The Twilight Zone is still alive and well after all this time, Carol Serling told Creative Screenwriting, “Many Twilight Zones address social ills. I think that’s one reason they’re still around. It hasn’t changed that much and I think that’s why they’re still popular. People who’ve never seen them before say, ‘Oh my God, that’s great,’ because those problems have not gone away. I think some of [Rod’s] best work was when he felt the most strongly about what he was writing about.”