Monday, May 3, 2010

Season 1 Opening Sequence (1959-1960)

The opening sequence of a television series is crucial to setting the tone of what's to come. We hear the theme music, we see the main characters, we sometimes see clips from various episodes, showing the characters in action. This applies to dramas and sitcoms, or any series with a recurring cast of characters. A typical opening sequence will run a minute or less in length, but sometimes they can run as long as two or three minutes (Stephen J. Cannell's various series throughout the 80's and 90's, for example).

Anthology series are different, and therefore require a different type of opening sequence We still hear a theme song, but there's no recurring cast of characters, and no clips to suggest the type of show we're about to see. If there's a major name attached to the series, then focus is placed on that individual (Alfred Hitchcock Presents comes to mind), but otherwise the anthology series' opening sequence is designed to do two things: Name the series, and establish the mood.

For The Twilight Zone's first season (well, most of it), the opening sequence (designed by UPA) ran 40 seconds long. It featured haunting music by Bernard Herrmann and narration by creator Rod Serling. There would be a total of six distinct opening sequences throughout the series (which we'll cover, in good time). but this first one is slower, more somber, more mysterious. It's also my personal favorite.

There is a fifth dimension...

...beyond that which is known to man.

It is a dimension as vast as space, and as timeless as infinity.

It is the middle ground between light and shadow....

...between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears...

...and the summit of his knowledge.

This is the dimension of imagination.

It is an area which we call...

...The Twilight Zone.

Here it is in full motion, sadly downrezzed by Blogger limitations:

I probably should've published this entry when I started my weekly coverage of season one, but in all honesty, spotlighting the opening sequences hadn't occurred to me at that point. So from here forward, I'll spotlight each different one as they first appear within the chronology of the series. A new opening sequence was created for the tail end of season one and, since we're almost there (a week or two from now, I believe), you'll be seeing my spotlight on it very soon.

It appears Wikipedia covers EVERYTHING. Case in point: they actually have a fairly extensive article devoted to ---you guessed it --- opening sequences. The Twilight Zone isn't mentioned, but many TV shows are, and it's definitely worth a read. Check it out here.

No comments: