LOS ANGELES, CA - OCTOBER 29:  Author Steve Rubin's book "The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia" at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on October 29, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Brandon Williams/Getty Images)
Movies - TV
How A Failed Experiment From Network Execs Taught The Twilight Zone Its Limits
Rod Serling’s “The Twilight Zone,” described as a “series of imaginative tales that are not bound by time or space or the established laws of nature,” revolutionized broadcast television in the 1960s. The show ran for five seasons, but lost some of its appeal around the fourth, which saw Serling’s dwindling involvement in the series.
One of the Season 4's biggest flops was network executives’ demands to extend “The Twilight Zone” episodes to an hour in length. Paste Magazine explains, “The Twilight Zone’s high-concept premises tended to work best when they were built up quickly and fluidly to their payoffs, without time for the audience to anticipate the twist.”
When "Twilight Zone" episodes were stretched to the 60-minute mark, each payoff felt cheap and unearned. Serling’s storytelling goals worked well within the half-hour time slot, but a longer runtime meant repeated tropes and dull pacing that couldn’t replicate the success of the first three seasons, making the experiment a failure.