Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Alternate Season One Opening Sequence (aka the "Eye" intro) (1960)

A few weeks ago I spotlighted the opening sequence for this first season of The Twilight Zone. History reports that, as the first season was approaching its end, an entirely different intro was created. It would be simpler, shorter, more direct, and would feature an alternate version of the theme music by Bernard Herrmann (with a prominent bass drum). An entirely different introductory narration would be heard from Rod Serling. This new opening sequence (commonly referred to as the "eye" opening; a joint creation by MGM and Pacific Title) would ultimately be used for a scant five weeks:

"Mr. Bevis" (6/03/1960)
"The After Hours" (6/10/1960)
"The Mighty Casey" (6/17/1960)
"Mr. Denton on Doomsday" (repeat) (6/24/1960)
"A World of His Own" (7/01/1960)

For "Mr. Denton on Doomsday," the standard opening sequence was replaced (on the original negative, as I understand it) with this new alternate opening.

It was determined that altering the remaining 32 season one episodes would be too costly; therefore, the "eye" opening was never used again after "A World of His Own." The intro would fade into further obscurity when three of the episodes in question ("The After Hours," "The Mighty Casey," and "A World of His Own") were altered to include the season two opening sequence when they were reran in 1961. "Mr. Bevis" was never repeated (which is a good thing; we'll get to it later this week), so it and "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" represent something of a mystery. I believe (perhaps falsely) that both were ultimately altered to include the standard intro (from either seasons 1 or 2) when the series was prepped for syndication for uniformity's sake. I base this on the simple fact that I have no recollection of ever seeing the "eye" opening throughout years of watching the show in reruns (and videotaping every syndicated episode). In fact, I never saw it at all until the series was released on DVD.

Without further ado, here it is.

You are about to enter another dimension.

A dimension not only of sight and sound, but of mind.

A journey into a wondrous land of imagination.

Next stop...

...The Twilight Zone.

I love this intro. It's brief, to the point, and that eyeball is absolutely mesmerizing. Seriously, just stare at it for a few minutes and see where your mind wanders. It hangs there in midair for no good reason, inviting questions, offering no answers. It evokes, among other things, a production painting Salvador Dali did in preparation for the dream sequence he designed for Alfred Hitchcock's Spellbound. We've actually shown this painting before, as part of our Arlen Schumer spotlight from March:

And of course, a much more famous eyeball will show up later in the intro for seasons four and five:

I vastly prefer the season 1 eye. The "eye" opening deserved an entire season, but sadly it wasn't to be. Here's a somewhat-illuminating discussion on this very topic over at the Twilight Zone Cafe.

Oh, and here's this thing of beauty (unfortunately severely downrezzed by Blogger) in full motion:

Addendum (6/03/2010):

HOLD THE PRESSES!!!! A bit of back 'n forth with Dan Hollis over at the Twilight Zone Cafe earlier today (see here) found him staunchly insisting that the "eye" intro was actually first seen when "A Passage for Trumpet" premiered, the episode before "Mr. Bevis." It got me thinking.... well, what if he's right? What if the Definitive Edition DVDs are wrong? What if Martin Grams (author of the wonderfully detailed The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic) was wrong? And (horrors!) what if my own memory is wrong?

There was only one thing to do: dig deep into the recesses of my garage, dig out my box of home video recordings from the mid-80's, hook up a VCR, and see for myself. The results, as they say, were quite illuminating. Hell, they were downright shocking. See for yourself:

It's the "eye" intro all right, which I had no memory of EVER seeing prior to the series coming out on DVD in the late-90's, but more surprisingly, the episode it's attached to is... "A Passage for Trumpet." Dear God.

I have serious doubts that the "eye" intro would have been tacked onto "A Passage for Trumpet" after its initial airing (which was done for "Mr. Denton on Doomsday," as noted above); in fact, it's far more likely that the season 2 intro would have been added (since it was reran in the middle of season 2), a likelihood given even more credence by the fact that the episode's first appearance on DVD (pre-Definitive Edition) had the season 2 intro on it. If the Definitive Edition DVDs are transferred from the original camera negatives as Image Entertainment claims, then... well, how the hell did this happen? I suppose we'll never know for sure.

One thing IS for sure: I'm clearly obsessive when it comes to The Twilight Zone!

So in checking my old worn-out VHS recordings, I checked all five (okay, six) episodes in question. "The After Hours," "The Mighty Casey," and "A World of His Own" all had the season 2 intros on them (which made sense, since they were all repeated during season 2). "Mr. Bevis" also had the "eye" intro (a pleasant surprise; the only pleasant thing about that monstrosity). Finally, I had a look at "Mr. Denton on Doomsday," which did not have the "eye" intro... rather, it had the standard season 1 opening. Have a look:

Seriously, what the hell???? How did this episode start out with the standard season 1 intro, then get changed (on the original negative, no less) to the "eye" intro, and then BACK AGAIN for syndication? The mind reels. I just don't get it.


Robert Treat said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ellenfrancis67 said...

Reality shift a.k.a. mandela effect. Trust your memories.