Submitted for your approval, it’s a good day for fans of the original “Twilight Zone.”
The show turns 60 this year, and today hundreds of theaters are celebrating by showing six classic Twilight Zone episodes.
That includes “Time Enough At Last,” the one where bookworm Burgess Meredith sneaks into a bank vault to get in some reading time, only to find a catch or two with his plan.
There’s one episode that’s not on the screening schedules today, and it’s a very unusual episode: the one time the Twilight Zone had a laugh track.
The episode is called “Cavender Is Coming,” and in some ways it’s what you might expect from a Twilight Zone episode.
The story, written by Rod Serling, features veteran character actor Jesse White as a kind of guardian angel in training, who can earn his wings if he can help a clumsy, awkward misfit (played by Carol Burnett!) to be happy.
As was standard for Twilight Zone episodes, this was a one-time story. But TV network executives thought they might be able to spin Jesse White and the Cavender character off into their own comedy series.
And to play up that comedic potential, they added pre-recorded laugh tracks to the episode, the only time there was a laugh track on The Twilight Zone.
The spinoff series, suffice to say, did not happen.
And when the episode was re-released for TV syndication and for home video, the laugh track was removed. Or perhaps, banished… to the Twilight Zone.
Maybe my favorite Twilight Zone episode is “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” where William Shatner’s character sees someone on the outside of the plane that no one else ever sees?
That problem might be solved by a concept for a windowless airplane.
Instead of little portals to the outside world, the plane’s interior would have floor to ceiling LCD screens that could show all of what’s outside – even if there’s a man out there.
Dimensions Behind the Twilight Zone: A Backstage Tribute to Television’s Groundbreaking Series by Stewart Stanyard
The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration
Windowless planes: is this the future of flying? (The Telegraph via YouTube)