November 17 in Twilight Zone History: Celebrating the 1961 premiere of 'The Midnight Sun'

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Nov 17, 2017

Today, November 17th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1961 debut of "The Midnight Sun."

The ultimate global warming episode, it stars Lois Nettleton as Norma, an artist living in a New York City apartment building at a time when Earth has shifted its orbit and is moving towards the sun. Today, of course, climate change is on everyone's mind, but 56 years ago the idea of our planet shifting out of its comfortable position in the solar system and heading for oblivion was just plain scary.

Lois Nettleton portrayed Norma, an artist trying to survive in sweltering New York City in "The Midnight Sun."

Decades before The Walking Dead and The Road Warrior, this was also one of the first television programs to deal with what looks like the end of the world – everyone is sweating up a storm, liquids are running out fast, and people are turning desperate. Nettleton was excellent in this episode, as was Betty Garde as her neighbor, Mrs. Bronson. A special nod here to the art department for creating another memorable set, replete with Norma's paintings – the oil of which would soon drip off the canvas.

Norma (Lois Nettleton) comforts her neighbor, Mrs. Bronson (Betty Garde) as she begins to lose it in "The Midnight Sun." 

In many ways, The Twilight Zone defined what a memorable television episode was, and episodes like this make you realize how consistent the quality was in Rod Serling's television universe – and how his powerful anthology showcased so many terrific stories. I loved The Sopranos television series on HBO, and I savored every episode, but I couldn't sit here and name a favorite episode by name (okay, maybe the baffling finale). However, here and now I can give you the names of 20 favorite TZ episodes.

So let us hoist one last bottle of fruit juice to Lois Nettleton and her fellow survivors in New York City, hanging on by a thread in the tantalizing creative orbit of The Twilight Zone