How Doctors And Teenagers Joined Forces To Save The Twilight Zone

Serling remembered opening fan letters in those early months and finding they were from high school students and medical professionals. He didn’t note why those two demographics were drawn to “The Twilight Zone,” but he was grateful for them:

“We got almost six thousand pieces of mail in eighteen days. A lot of teenagers wrote, which surprised us, and a lot of doctors and professional people, people who ordinarily would never write a letter to a show.”

It seems teens and doctors didn’t have entertainment options that appealed to their left-brain impulses, and Serling’s series was hitting a sweet spot. Some youngsters had already begun down the path of pop culture worship, directed at Serling. He recalled one letter that began “Dear Mr. Serling; I think of you like most people think of God, but this is not intended as a fan letter.” High praise indeed. Serling tapped into the valuable and untapped science nerd market. Audiences, it seemed, were more intellectual than TV execs wanted to acknowledge. Serling even recalled on exec, merely nicknamed The Old Man, who was particularly baffled by his show, saying:

“[The Old Man] used to call up the agency on Monday morning and demand to know what Friday’s script had been all about. Then he’d demand an explanation of the explanation. I guess he figured if he couldn’t understand it, neither could the people who bought his products.”

It wouldn’t be until February 1960 — 18 episodes in — that word would come from CBS that “The Twilight Zone” would return for a second season. By then, it seemed that more people than teenagers and doctors were tuning in. The series ended up running for five seasons and 156 episodes.

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