History




   The creator of The Twilight Zone, Rod Serling, was a well known name in the television world by the mid-1950's. He produced more than 70 teleplays between 1951-1955, most receiving very positive critical acclaim. Serling received a major break when he won his first Emmy for his Kraft Television Theater script, "Patterns." After this success, Serling went on to work for MGM and was a writer for CBS's Playhouse 90. While he was very successful writing for CBS, he was constantly changing and reediting his works. These constant changes aggravated and frustrated the producers and it was decided that the best way to overcome the obstacles and frustrations was for Sterling to begin his own series.
   
    Rod Serling wanted to make a show that featured the traditional science fiction aspects, such as robots, alien invasions, and alternate worlds, while still being able to express his political views in a subtle way. The original story pitch for the series was called "The Time Element." "The Time Element" featured a man who travels through time and is sent back to Honolulu in the year 1941. He tries to warn of the impending attack on Pearl Harbor, but proves to be unsuccessful. Serling submitted this story to CBS and it was produced as a part of Westinghouse-Desilu Playhouse. "The Time Element" received much attention from fans and success in the eyes of critics. The excitement caused by this pitch prompted CBS to fund Rod Serling and his new television series, The Twilight Zone.
   
    Since Serling had already produced "The Time Element," the pilot episode for The Twilight Zone had to be something new. The first episode, "Where is Everybody?," premiered October 2, 1959. While critics were very impressed with the episode, it was not received as positively about the episode. The ratings were very low for the first several episodes, which threatened the continuation of the series. It wasn't until the show had been airing for more than a month that it was finally able to catch the attention of audiences and ratings really started to increase. The shows popularity only continued to grow from then on.
   
    
When Rod Serling had first began the contracting with CBS for The Twilight Zone, he had speculated that he would be the writer for 80% of the show's first season. The only other two writers who contributed to the first season were Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson. As the season went on, the series began to incorporate more and more writers ranging from Ray Bradbury to younger writers, such as George Clayton Johnson. While more and more authors were writing for the series, Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont and Richard Matheson were the main writers for the series, contributing a total of 127 of the the 155 episodes. Rod Serling himself accounted for more than 50% of the 155 episodes, although his contributions decreased as the series went on.
    
    The Twilight Zone would continue on for a total of five seasons. Over the course of the show, it won a total of three Emmy Awards, three World Science Fiction Convention Hugo Awards, a Producers Guild Award, and Director Guild Award and numerous other awards. After the fifth season, CBS announced the cancellation of the series. The show was no longer earning the rating necessary for CBS to rationalize the cost of producing the show. ABC offered to take the show on their network, under the new name, Witches, Warlocks and Werewolves, but Serling was not tempted by the offer since he believed that ABC wanted to change the show into something that was no longer his vision. Without changing networks, the show aired its last episode, "The Bewitchin' Stone," in June of 1964.