Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone premiered on October 2, 1959, and over the course of its five-year run would churn out 156 episodes and cement itself as a classic of science fiction television. Its influence would be felt in any number of shows and movies that would follow -- from The Walking Dead to Stranger Things -- and beyond, becoming one of the enduring pop culture staples of its era. This Day in Twilight Zone History presents key commemorative facts about the greatest science fiction/fantasy television series of all time, presented by author Steven Jay Rubin, whose latest book is The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia (arriving this October). Whether it’s a key performer’s birth or death, the date an episode debuted, or any other related fact, This Day in Twilight Zone History presents a unique aspect of the rich history of this television series and the extraordinary team that created it.
Today, August 20, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers director Ted Post, who died on this day at 95 in 2013. Ted directed four very cool episodes – “A World of Difference,” “Probe 7, Over and Out,” “Mr. Garrity and the Graves,” and “The Fear.” Like Stuart Rosenberg, who we recently honored, Post was another director who moved aggressively into the feature world – helming, among others, Clint Eastwood’s terrific western Hang ‘Em High, Beneath the Planet of the Apes, Magnum Force (again with Eastwood), and the gritty Burt Lancaster Vietnam War flick Go Tell the Spartans. Whether it was style or insight, Post always brought something special to his directing assignments. In “Probe 7, Over and Out,” he helped actor Richard Basehart expand upon a basic story of a downed astronaut, marooned on an alien world, who is able to get beyond his injuries and disillusionment to begin a new life. And in “The Fear,” in addition to dramatizing a tense alien encounter of the third kind, he was able to add a smoldering sexuality between leads Peter Mark Richman and Hazel Court (quite unusual for a Zone episode). Here’s to Post and the Zone helmers who brought that extra touch to the classics.