Updated: Dec 29, 2022
I’ve been writing about the New Year’s Eve Twilight Zone Marathon on and off since about 2013, and watching it for even longer. It’s one of my favorite traditions, and one I plan to indulge in for the rest of my life. Once again, however, I find myself in a position where I should explain why a television show that ran from 1959-1964 is appearing on a website dedicated to the 1980s.
The answer in this case is fairly straight forward: Twilight Zone marathons began in 1980. According to KTLA program director Mark Sonnenberg in a 1991 LA Times article, “The first one we did was on Thanksgiving in 1980.” He went on to state, “The July 4th marathon started in 1983. It’s become a Southern California tradition. It’s right up there with your other Fourth of July activities: barbecues, picnics and fireworks.” According to Arlen Schumer, “Back on the East Coast, New York’s local station WPIX Channel 11, which had been syndicating The Twilight Zone since the early ‘70s (weeknights at midnight, right after The Honeymooners), started running their Twilight Zone marathons around the same time, and were perhaps the first station to run it on New Year’s Eve.”
After doing a little of my own digging, I was able to find one small mention of a Twilight Zone Marathon around New Year’s Eve in a 1985 newspaper article: “A special ‘Twilight Zone’ marathon will feature three hour-long episodes from the original series (Dec. 30)." Pinpointing exactly when the NYE marathon began, and on what station, is left to better researches than me. However, my point remains. Since Twilight Zone marathons began in the 1980s, this topic is suitable for The 80sXchange.
On a personal note, my very first exposure to a Twilight Zone marathon was actually one of the Fourth of July airings in the mid-80s. I was at my uncle’s apartment and the opening to the series came on his television. I had recently watched Beware the Blob on television, and it had scared the ever-loving crap out of me. When I saw The Twilight Zone opening (specifically, the spiral hypnosis image), something in my brain broke, and I was sure it was another Blob movie. I ran from the room like a firecracker had gone off at my feet.
It wasn’t until many years later, when watching an episode of The Twilight Zone, that I made the connection and realized my younger self’s error. It was also around that time that I fell in love with the series. I had already begun cultivating a deep love of horror and science fiction, so the constantly airing reruns of The Twilight Zone on public television became a convenient escape.
As years passed, various stations would take up the mantle until the Syfy network took over (and later the Decades channel as well), where it airs to this day. But all things, even time-honored traditions, change, and this year is no different. According to Syfy, “As a bonus this year, in addition to featuring episodes from the five-season Rod Serling-created anthology series that ran from 1959 to 1964, the marathon will also include episodes from the Jordan Peele-developed revival of The Twilight Zone that premiered in 2019 and came back for a second season in 2020.”
This year’s marathon will run from 5 a.m. EST on New Year’s Eve until 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday January 3rd. You can find more about the 2022-2023 New Year’s Eve Twilight Zone Marathon on Syfy’s official page. You can also view the entire schedule below, or if you’re like me, wait until the marathon to be surprised.
Happy New Year!
 From “KTLA’s ‘Twilight’ Tradition ... and Other Southland Marathons.” https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-06-30-tv-2174-story.html
 From “The Twilight Zone Marathon: A History of a Holiday Tradition” on Den of Geek. https://www.denofgeek.com/tv/the-twilight-zone-marathon-a-history-of-a-holiday-tradition/
 From “WCFE begins fund drive today” in Press-Republican—Friday, November 29, 1985, page 34.
 From “EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT SYFY’S 2022 NEW YEAR'S ‘TWILIGHT ZONE’ MARATHON.” https://www.syfy.com/syfy-wire/syfy-2022-2023-new-years-twilight-zone-marathon
Full 2022-2023 New Year's Eve Twilight Zone Marathon Schedule