Of course Rod Serling came up with the weirdest way to pitch the pilot of The Twilight Zone
Although there have been plenty of reboots, including the latest one due out next year, The Twilight Zone has stood the test of time as a singular entity in TV history. Nothing can touch the stories that brought Rod Serling into our living rooms for the first time, with episodes that crawled the vast web of human weakness to the horror and befuddled delight of audiences still revisiting the 1959 series today.
Although anthology series were common in TV's earliest days, The Twilight Zone was different than anything ever seen. Its stories elevated the campfire tale to shine light on the dark machinations of man and deliver consequences so richly deserved to a wide array of memorable characters, from Mr. Bevis to Pip. For this reason, pitching The Twilight Zone wouldn't be as straightforward as other anthology series, and so for Serling, his truly unique show came with its own unique challenges in how to actually sell the show to a network. (Perhaps Serling could've used a lesson from the great salesman Lou Bookman?)
Naturally, Serling sat down to pen his pitch and what resulted reads just like an intro to one of his show's sordid episodes. In his pitch, he describes the executives themselves - their wants, their needs, and how The Twilight Zone can anticipate and answer them. It's as eerie a promise as you could hope from a spellbinding writer like Serling. This is what he wrote, word for word, which network execs heard spoken by the famous TV host before the very first viewings of the pilot episode "Where Is Everybody?":
"You gentlemen, of course, know how to push a product. My presence here is for much the same purpose: simply to push a product. To acquaint you with an entertainment product which we hope, and which we rather expect, would make your product-pushing that much easier. What you're about to see, gentlemen, is a series called The Twilight Zone. We think it's a rather special kind of series."
In the end, Serling didn't describe his series at all. He simply let the first episode stand for itself against this promise. And as usual, Serling proved prophetic in this odd pitch, as The Twilight Zone is often copied, but never duplicated, and its legacy has been going strong for more than 50 years. It's indeed special, every time we enter The Twilight Zone, as it was originally conceived by one of TV's most moralistic series creators.