By the time the Twilight Zone was picked up for its second season in the spring of 1960 it was already both a critical and commercial success. Like any successful media venture it was quickly becoming not just entertainment but a vehemently unstoppable industry. Within a year the television landmark would see a book of adapted short stories written by Serling himself, comic books donning the Twilight Zone name and Serling’s face, and also a board game. And this first milestone in the show’s run didn’t come without its fair share of accolades. Among the numerous awards given to the series for its impressive premiere season was the newly established Hugo Award given by the Science Fiction Writers of America and an Emmy Award for Rod Serling for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama.
Upon entering Season Two producers Rod Serling and Buck Houghton decided that several changes needed to be made in order for the show to craft the voice it had been searching for. For starters they felt the show needed a more aggressive opening theme in order to grab the audience’s attention. They found what they were looking for in French composer Marius Constant. His highly unusual twenty-eight second theme song seemed to fit the atmosphere of the show perfectly. It would eventually become one of the most iconic pieces of music in the history of television. And because Constant's song is shorter than Bernard Hermann's theme for Season One the animation needed to be cut down to size also. Another noticeable aspect that changed was Serling’s appearance at the beginning of every episode. In the previous season the host only appeared in the promos for the following week’s episodes (the one exception was the season finale “A World of His Own” in which he appeared as a gag at the end of the episode). Dressed in a sharp suit with a cigarette wedged between his fingers, his calm demeanor and teeth-clenched opening monologues became one of the defining characteristics of the show. Serling also decided to change his official title at the start of the second season. Instead of “Executive Producer for Cayuga Productions” the closing credits would now read “The Twilight Zone created by Rod Serling.”
The new season would see many new faces on both the production and creative sides of the program. To help with the hectic production schedule Del Reisman was brought on as associate producer. E. Darrell Hallenback and Lesley Parson, Jr. joined the crew as the regular assistant directors. In the art department George W. Davis continued on from Season One with the help of newly hired Phil Barber. Henry Grace remained the senior set director with the help of W. Web Arrowsmith. Franklin Milton remained the senior sound engineer with Charles Sheid and Bill Edmonson working underneath him. Ethel Winant was brought on as the new casting director. Among the new directors in Season Two were Buzz Kulik, James Sheldon, Justus Addiss, Montgomery Pittman and Elliot Silverstein, all of whom would become regulars on the program. Season Two also saw the first script by author George Clayton Johnson, “A Penny for Your Thoughts.” Johnson had already seen two of his short stories adapted by Serling during Season One but this was his official introduction as a regular writer on the show. He would see two more of his stories adapted and would script a total of four episodes himself, several of which are regarded by fans and critics as some of the best of the series.
Though the series was hitting its creative stride, Season Two is not without its setbacks. As a cost-cutting measure the network persuaded the producers to try to shooting a handful of episodes on videotape. The result was awkward for practically everyone involved and after only six episodes it was decided that videotape had to go. Aside from this the second season of The Twilight Zone marks probably the most successful creative period during the shows’ five season run and offers a handful of gems that became some of the most recognizable images in television history.
Episodes shot on videotape:
“The Lateness of the Hour”“Static”
“The Whole Truth”
“Night of the Meek”
“Long Distance Call”
“You’re traveling through another dimension. A dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind. A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That’s the sign post up ahead, your next stop: the Twilight Zone.”
*Note: For the first three episodes of the season a slightly shorter version of this intro is used.