|This article is written from the|
Real world point of view
The CBS Video Library produced a series of The Twilight Zone video cassettes exclusively available through a mail-order service, later distributed through Columbia House. For the fee of $29.95 (following an introductory volume at $9.95), subscribers would receive a cassette each month. Each cassette typically featured four half-hour episodes from the series, though some contained three (usually containing one of the hour-long episodes from Season 4) or, rarely, only two. Perhaps for this reason, the videos presented the episodes out of chronological order, by either production date or air date.
The cassettes started with an opening montage featuring some of the most memorable scenes and quotes from episodes in the series. The episodes themselves were compiled with no commercial breaks and contained an introductory screen that provided the original airing date for the episode.
The tapes were shipped in hardbacked cases constructed for convenient display on bookshelves. Also included, through the inside of the hardcover case, were summaries for each episode as well as comments, trivia, and often revealing remarks from contributors to the series, such as producer William Self.
Used copies of most of the volumes can be found still available for purchase online.
A Note From Carol
- Dear Twilight Zone Fan,
- When the folks at the CBS Video Library asked me to write this letter, my thoughts immediately turned to my husband Rod.
- How tremendously surprised he would have been to see you standing in front of your VCR...poised to play four of his favorite-episodes!
- In his wildest dreams, Rod never imagined that The Twilight Zone would run continuously on the air for twenty-five years. Or that it would end up on videocassettes in your home!
- In fact, when he first conceived the show, Rod knew that there was a very good chance he'd fall flat on his face. In those days, he used to say, "You try to put something on TV that isn't riding a horse or wearing a trenchcoat in an alley and you're in trouble."
- Getting The Twilight Zone on the air wasn't easy. The sponsors didn't understand it, the agencies couldn't describe it. Even the networks shelved the concept at first. But the word did get around that the show offered the public something new, exciting and innovative. The rest is history.
- In discussing why he developed The Twilight Zone...and why he became a writer in the first place, Rod always said that his excuse was that he was incompetent at everything else. He said, "I do it because I enjoy it, I like to entertain people, but I also feel that I have something to say...I have beliefs that I feel can best be told in written form."
- In remembering Rod, one former colleague once said, "Where his peers might have anguished over the creative process, Rod woke up each day saying, 'Let me tell you a story.'" That was his badge, his trust, his passkey into our lives.
- If he were here today, he would join me in welcoming you...and inviting you to enjoy once again all those special experiences that were a part of The Twilight Zone...and a part of him.
- Carol Serling
Annotations for the note
- "...four of his favorite-episodes!"
- The cassette with this note contained the episodes The Invaders, One for the Angels, Eye of the Beholder, and The Lonely.
- "...sponsors didn't understand it, the agencies couldn't describe it"
- Mr. Serling didn't have any trouble describing it: "Here's what The Twilight Zone is. It's an anthology series, half hour in length, that delves into the odd, the bizarre, the unexpected. It probes into the dimension of imagination but with a concern for taste and for an adult audience too long considered to have IQs in negative figures."
- "...the networks shelved the concept at first."
- This is a reference to The Time Element, which was originally submitted to be the pilot episode of The Twilight Zone, but it was purchased only to be shelved indefinitely, and talks of making The Twilight Zone a television series ended until producer Bert Granet developed the script for Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse on November 24, 1958.
- "...word did get around that the show offered the public something new..."
- Over six thousand letters of praise flooded Granet's offices. Convinced that a series based on such stories could succeed, CBS again began talks with Serling about the possibilities of producing The Twilight Zone.
- "If he were here today..."
- Creator Rod Serling died June 28, 1975 (aged 50), after suffering from a series of three heart attacks, in a hospital in Rochester, New York, USA.
The Twilight Zone collection at the CBS Video Library has been phased out, as the series has been made available on DVD: The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection, and any contact information itself is no doubt out-of-date. The following information is being provided solely for historical reference.
The address provided for the subscription service:
- Mail to: CBS Video Library, Dept. TPM,
- P.O. Box 1112, Terre Haute, IN 47811
- Or for faster service call toll-free 24 hours
- (credit card orders only) 1-800-CBS-4804