'The Twilight Zone' First Episode: THR's 1959 Review

Courtesy Everett Collection
'The Twilight Zone' in 1959

"This debut scored with dramatic impact infrequently found when the TV camera attempts to focus on the fringes of fantasy."

In fall 1959, CBS debuted The Twilight Zone for television audiences on Oct. 2. The Hollywood Reporter's original review of the first episode is below:

The lonely literati of TV’s Word Watchers and Significance Seekers Marching Society may be constrained to discover that, contrary to coffee house gossip, Rod Serling, first-class Frankenstein to the electronic monster, can commit himself to a weekly series without necessarily compromising his craft on the altar of commercialism.

This debut scored with dramatic impact infrequently found when the TV camera attempts to focus on the fringes of fantasy, and while short on insight, it was strong on style and solidly suspenseful.

It was also sans the IQ insults of practically all the so-called science fictioneers that depend on mystical miscellany to resolve their improbable plots. The mock flight hallucinations of an overstressed astronaut, convincingly rendered by Earl Holliman with an assist from James Gregory, were logically explicable. However, it may be hoped that future excursions into the dimension are brought back to reality with something less comparable to the gimmick of awakening from a nightmare.

George Clemens’ mobile camera, Bill Mosher’s tight editing, Bill Ferrari’s sets, Eugene Feldman’s music and Robert Stevens’ direction blended into a dramatic unity. Buck Houghton produced for Serling and William Self in the exec seat, with Sanka and Kleenex in the money zone.

Unfortunately, the debut title, “Where Is Everybody?” posed a question that could best be answered by another network, but when word gets around, Twilight should give the competition a run for their ratings. – Harvey Karman

 

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