MeTV’s One-Hour ‘Zones’

The Twilight Zone, which originally aired for five seasons on CBS (1959 to 1964), achieved well-deserved cult status in syndication.

Filmed in beautiful black-and-white (as most shows were at that time), its genius creator, host and prolific scribe Rod Serling managed to craft stories, usually with an O’Henry twist, that appealed far beyond the traditional science fiction universe. They were parables that unapologetically embraced fear, wonder, humor and pathos, neatly packed into a 30-minute time slot — except for the 18-episode fourth season, when episodes expanded to one-hour.

Those hour-long episodes seldom air these days, but MeTV is about to rectify that injustice.

Starting Sunday, March 11, the over-the-air channel will broadcast the hour-long Twilight Zone episodes as part of an evening block called “Sunday Nightmares.”

The block will kick off at 11 pm ET with Night Gallery, Serling’s follow-up to The Twilight Zone. That series, which lasted three seasons on NBC (1969 to 1973), again positioned Serling front and center. In the signature opening, Serling guided viewers through an art gallery, stopping at a painting that teased a creepy tale to come. Serling also wrote some of the one-hour episodes, including all three segments of the 100-minute pilot.  One segment, “Eyes,” was directed by newcomer Steven Spielberg and starred Hollywood legend Joan Crawford. (Schedule note: ‘Night Gallery’ will also air weekdays at 5:30 am, starting this Monday, March 5.)

Then, at 12 am: Twilight Zone. Noteworthy among the one-hour entries are “Jess-Belle,” written by The Waltons creator Earl Hamner, Jr.; “Death Ship,” starring The Odd Couple’s Jack Klugman, The Wild, Wild West’s Ross Martin and Fredrick Beir; and “Miniature,” starring Robert Duvall as a man obsessed with a doll house and its special resident. (Schedule note: The 30-minute episodes air weekdays at 12:30 am.)

After that, at 1 am, if you’re too wired to fall asleep, you can catch two episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents, which aired from 1955 to 1960 on CBS and continued on NBC from 1960 to 1962 . Ever the ham, Hitchcock hosted, and even directed a few, of the 30-minute episodes that involved crime, mystery, horror and morbid humor. Like The Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock Presents was famous for its tale-ending twists, as evidenced in the episode below:

Like Twilight Zone, Alfred Hitchcock also tried a 60-minute version, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour, which lasted a respectable three seasons on NBC (1962 to 1965). The hour-long Hitchcock episodes will not be part of the Sunday Nightmares block, but you can catch that series Saturday and Sunday nights at 2 am and 3 am on rival over-the-air channel Cozi TV.

The complete downloadable “Sunday Nightmares” schedule is available for the Eastern/Pacific and Central/Mountain time zones.

You can watch MeTv for free with an antenna hooked up to your TV set. For the channel number in your area, check MeTV.com/wheretowatch.

Streaming Options

The Twilight Zone — You can stream all five seasons with a Hulu subscription (plans are $7.99 and $11.99 monthly); or buy individual episodes for $2.99 on Amazon. The four seasons with half-hour episodes can also be streamed with subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Night Gallery — Seasons two and three (37 episodes) can be streamed for free, with ads, on Yahoo View. Unfortunately, season one is not available to stream though it can be purchased on DVD for $22.08 from Amazon.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents — Seasons one through four can be streamed for free on Yahoo. All seven seasons are available on DVD from Amazon. The Alfred Hitchcock Hour‘s three seasons are available only on DVD.

Twilight Zone Trivia

For its first three seasons, the show was called The Twilight Zone. The “The” was dropped with season four.

The Twilight Zone was late finding a sponsor for its fourth season. As a result, it was not on the fall schedule in 1962, its slot having been taken by a comedy, Fair Exchange. When the fourth season finally debuted in January 1963, Twilight Zone replaced – what else? – Fair Exchange.

Season five returned to half-hour episodes.  Marc Scott Zicree, in his excellent book The Twilight Zone Companion, said of the extended episodes, “The network’s experiment had failed: Twilight Zone’s expanded size had not made for an expanded audience.”

About Larry Greenberg

A former local beat reporter and film critic, co-founder Lawrence Greenberg has more than 25 years’ experience as a writer and public relations executive.

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