I first discovered The Twilight Zone in the summer of 1982, right before I entered the 7th grade. KPTV-12, a local TV station (which is now Fox 12), started airing the show on Saturday nights. They'd air an hour-long episode at 10:00, then a half-hour episode at 11:00. A I recall, my normal Saturday evening routine was as follows: I had church youth group meetings, from which I'd get home around 9:30, then I'd watch TV until I fell asleep (I was 12 years old and there was no internet; what else was there to do?). It was this routine that led me to The Twilight Zone: one fateful night, as I was flipping through the whopping four channels on the dial (this was before cable or satellite TV, at least in my house), I stopped on KPTV-12 and witnessed something altogether strange and mystical, beautiful yet foreboding.
There was a doorway, suspended in space. An eyeball floated by, its fake eyelid lazily rising. Then a scuba diver swam across the screen, complete with a trail of oxygen bubbles (it would be years before I'd discover that it was actually a mannequin with flowing hair). A mathematic equation, a ticking clock, and then… the words appeared before my quizzical, adolescent eyes:
The Twilight Zone.
I believe the episode was Jess-belle. I recall being entertained, but not monumentally so. The TV Click (The Oregonian's TV Guide knockoff) indicated that another episode would follow at 11:00, this time only half an hour in length. I decided to keep watching, and what I saw next changed my life. That half-hour episode was more than entertaining. It was fascinating. Moody, complex, scary. I'd never seen anything like it before in my life. From that night forward, I was hooked.
That episode celebrates its 50th anniversary tonight.