"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."
In my house, The Twilight Zone is no foreign concept. The beloved TV show, which first appeared on air in October of 1959, has proven itself episode by episode to be one of the most mind bending shows ever created. Spanning only thirty minutes, each segment ends in some cringe-worthy twist, leaving the audience in knots. Having first seen the show as kids themselves, my parents introduced it to my brothers and me, and now we anxiously await the next Twilight Zone television marathon. By now, I would wager to say that we've seen 98% of the episodes, if not all of them. We've even gone so far as to watch Rod Serling's similar spin-off series, The Night Gallery.
Among the 150+ episodes that we've seen, obviously there are some that stand out above the rest. A few of my own personal favorites include:
"Eye of the Beholder" (1960)
In this classic, a woman finds herself in a hospital following her 11th facial reconstruction surgery. Crying, the women begs with her doctors for their help, wondering aloud how someone can be judged based on what they look like. Once her surgery is again proved unsuccessful, the audience is confused- the woman is beautiful, with skin beyond any comparison. So what could be wrong? Just wait until you see behind the doctors' masks...
"To Serve Man" (1962)
After a group of aliens make contact with Earth, the human race is in uproar. However, soon, the seeming invaders present themselves as peaceful, amiable visitors who want to help the Earth cure problems like hunger and disease. It doesn't take long for humans to begin leaving with the aliens on trips to their own planet...or so they say?
"The New Exhibit" (1963)
When a man's office building- which happens to be a wax museum- is going to close, he chooses to bring home the figures of famous murders throughout history. Yet despite her husband's enthusiasm, the wife decides to attempt to turn off the home air conditioning so the figures will melt. However, before she realizes what is happening, the figures come to life and kill her. After similar mistakes made my the man's brother-in-law and best friend, they too meet their demise. By the end, the wax figures are sent to a museum in a special exhibit for infamous killers, and this time there is a new member among them.
"Living Doll" (1963)
As the episode opens, a mother is seen giving her daughter a new doll. The doll is presented as "Talky Tina" because of her ability to relay simple phrases. However, the mother's new husband is verbally abusive, and he is not fond of the doll's repetitive sentences. When left alone with the doll, Talky Tina has a few choice words for him as well. "My name is Talky Tina, and I don't like you," she tells him in a scarily upbeat voice. Later, when the new husband trips over Tina and falls down the stairs to his death, no one is surprised when Tina relays the message- "My name is Talky Tina, and you better be nice to me!"
"The Masks" (1964)
An older man who happens to be dying, is visited by his children- but not for the reasons you would think. The man's daughter and her family are there to see what they can milk out of the old man's wealth before he dies. Knowing their intentions, the man asks them to placate him just one more time. Since it is on the eve of Mardi Gras, he gives them each a mask that they will don until midnight. As the minutes click by, the family only becomes more impatient- and more uncomfortable. By the time the clock strikes 12:00 AM, the family understands the age-old caveat: "If you aren't careful, your face will get stuck that way."
Last week, my grandparents, parents, uncle, cousins, brothers, and I all went to Disney World over our fall break. Since my parents had taken my brothers and I to Disney before, we knew exactly where we wanted to head first- The Hollywood Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. As we walked inside the lobby of the supposedly abandoned hotel, the TV show once again came alive before our eyes, the resounding voice of Rod Serling following our every move. In short? It was awesome.
Especially with Halloween approaching, The Twilight Zone becomes more relevant than ever before- all the way into that fifth dimension.