The Twilight Zone is an American science-fiction/fantasy anthology television series created by Rod Serling, which ran for five seasons on CBS from 1959 to 1964. The series consists of unrelated stories depicting paranormal, futuristic, kafkaesque, or otherwise disturbing or unusual events; each story typically features some sort of plot twist and a moral.
The Twilight Zone premiered the night of October 2, 1959 to rave reviews. "...Twilight Zone is about the only show on the air that I actually look forward to seeing. It's the one series that I will let interfere with other plans", said Terry Turner for the Chicago Daily News. Others agreed. Daily Variety ranked it with "the best that has ever been accomplished in half-hour filmed television" and the New York Herald Tribune found the show to be "certainly the best and most original anthology series of the year."
The series is notable for featuring both established stars (Joan Blondell, Ann Blyth, Buster Keaton, Burgess Meredith, Ed Wynn) and younger actors who would become more famous later on (Veronica Cartwright, Bill Bixby, William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Robert Duvall, Mariette Hartley, Burt Reynolds, Dennis Hopper, Robert Redford). Rod Serling served as executive producer and head writer; he wrote or co-wrote 92 of the show's 156 episodes. He was also the show's host and narrator, delivering monologues at the beginning and end of each episode. Serling's opening and closing narrations usually summarize the episode's events encapsulating how and why the main character(s) had entered the Twilight Zone. The Twilight Zone itself is not presented as being a tangible plane, but a metaphor for the strange circumstances befalling the protagonists.
In 1997, the episodes "To Serve Man" and "It's a Good Life" were respectively ranked at 11 and 31 on TV Guide's 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time; Serling himself stated that his favorite episodes of the series were "The Invaders" and "Time Enough at Last". In 2002, The Twilight Zone was ranked No. 26 on TV Guide's 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time. In 2013, the Writers Guild of America ranked it as the third best written TV series ever.