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, Aug. 25, This Day in Twilight Zone History remembers director Perry Lafferty who died on this day in 2005 at age 86. Lafferty was drafted during the fourth season of one-hour episodes, helming three good ones – “In His Image,” “The Thirty-Fathom Grave,” and “Valley of the Shadow.” Because of their length, the hours don’t surface as often in the marathons as the half-hours, but having recently watched all 18, there are some true gems. I always remember “The Thirty-Fathom Grave” from my youth, because it gave me nightmares. I heard the ghostly clanking on the hull of a sunken American submarine in my mind for years.
I’m also a big fan of ”Valley of the Shadow,” because it’s such an understated piece. Journalist Philip Redfield (Ed Nelson) is just looking to fill up his tank on the way to Albuquerque, but he makes the mistake of stopping in Peaceful Valley, the most isolated of 'burbs. It gave a whole new meaning to the mysterious small towns of America – guarding their secrets at all costs.
And “In His Image,” which led off the fourth season, is just weird and creepy, as we follow another one of those Twilight Zone characters who may or may not exist.
If you want a true TZ treat, find these Perry Lafferty-helmed hours – and feast.