THE TWILIGHT ZONE COMPANION 3RD EDITION Book Review – A Must-Have for Anyone Entering the Dimension of Imagination
Published by Silman-James Press
Labor Day, New Year’s Day, even The 4th of July: In addition to being some of America’s most celebrated day’s off from work, they often coincide with another tradition that, for many of us, is a holiday by itself: I’m talking about Twilight Zone Marathons! These events were an integral part of my coming of age, especially as it pertains to my love of horror. When you only had 4 channels to choose from, a Twilight Zone Marathon was unavoidable for any kid with a TV addiction. But it wasn’t long before I went from oblivious to intrigued to terrified—and utterly hooked. With a voice so comforting it could soften a power drill, Rod Serling beckoned me into the Dimension of Imagination and, in many ways (not unlike the child in Little Girl Lost) I’ve never truly returned.
I’m hardly alone in my reverence for the seminal horror/sci-fi series that ran from 1959 through 1964. If you want to instigate hours of enthusiastic conversation among a crowd of horror fans (even complete strangers) just ask, “What’s your favorite episode of The Twilight Zone?” Though its earnest reboots in the 1980s and early 2000s failed to recapture the original’s magic, Oscar Winner Jordan Peele is currently producing another incarnation for CBS All Access. It’s a testament to the enduring grip the series maintains over genre aficionados of a certain age. Of course, there was something magical about Twilight Zone: The Movie, specifically the intro and John Lithgow’s harrowing performance in the remake of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, but that’s yet another conversation.
If you still find yourself unable to surf past a Twilight Zone Marathon, even with hundreds of channels competing for your attention, The Twilight Zone Companion is a must-have. The 3rd Edition has just been released by Silman-James Press, and (as you can probably imagine) it’s an impressive tome. While it’s not a book you’re necessarily expected to read start-to-finish, you certainly could. Like the series, there’s something instantly addictive about exploring its pages. The Episode Lists up front encourages you to look up your personal favorite, but on the way to page 384 (The Living Doll), you’re halted by photos of gems you may have forgotten how much you love. “I’ll read about The After Hours next, then To Serve Man, then The Hitch-Hiker…” Then it’s many more hours later than you expected, but you still don’t want to stop.
Each entry is bookended by Serling’s poetic meditations (you can almost smell his lingering cigarette smoke), includes a concise recap, photos, and offers readers a deeper look into each episode’s historical context and enduring legacy. The 3rd Edition benefits from Zincree’s expanding knowledge of the series and its influence on millions of ardent fans. The new edition also features a poignant introduction, one that pays tribute to Serling, a man he declares “perhaps the finest writer who ever worked in television.” He goes on to explain how previous editions have culminated in this definitive companion. The Epilogue includes extensive interviews with Jody Serling and George Take, both conducted in 2017. A convenient index makes it possible to look up episodes by an actor (Shatner, William), troupe (time travel), or title (The Dummy).
While it’s not quite a coffee table book, it’s nonetheless a must-have for hardcore fans of The Twilight Zone, those of us who can’t resist semi-annual marathons that continue strong in the 21st Century. It’s a testament to the show’s endurance, a treasure trove of trivia, and almost impossible to put down once cracked.