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The New Year’s Eve Twilight Zone Marathon, 2023-2024


The Twilight Zone Marathon is back for another year, and all of us "Zoners" can rest easy knowing that our beloved tradition remains as a shining beacon on New Year's Eve. In fact, this year, the marathon is even expanding to start at 8 am on December 30th, giving us an extra full day of black and white glory.


Last year, the Syfy website announced, "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" [1]. This change, however, is not returning for an encore performance for the 2023/2024 marathon.


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" [2].


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. [3]"


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 entitled "WCFE begins fund drive today:" "A special Twilight Zone marathon will feature three hour-long episodes from the original series (Dec. 30)" [4]. Pinpointing exactly when the NYE marathon began, and on what station, is left to better researchers than me.


As the years passed, different stations would take up the mantle until landing on the Syfy network (and later the Decades channel), where it airs to this day.


I’ve personally been watching The Twilight Zone Marathon since the late 90s, having become rather obsessed with the show after catching reruns over the years. Back then, unless you purchased the VHS releases in the 80s or the DVD collections in the 90s, you were relegated to catching whatever episodes happened to air in syndication.

This often meant seeing the same episodes many times and missing others that never aired. The Twilight Zone Marathon was an opportunity to discover new-to-you episodes in one amazingly long block, spanning a whole day or more. In short, it was an opportunity not to be missed. In fact, in the early 2000s, I even began purchasing blank VHS tapes, so I could record huge chunks of the marathon to watch over and over (which I of course still own).

For those looking for a little extra interactivity during that marathon, there are two Twitter users that I know of (and probably more) who live-tweet throughout the marathon with quotes, facts, pictures, discussion questions, and more.


The first must-follow account for the marathon is the OG, @TheNightGallery (The Twilight Zone), who I’ve been following for many years and always has a myriad of deep-cut facts to dole out for each episode. If you crave even more Rod Serling, Paul also runs the website https://thenightgallery.wordpress.com/, which is an excellent repository of Twilight Zone and related information.


The second account is a relative newcomer that I discovered a couple of years back and has been growing quite a bit since that time. @PEZ_Heads (Zoner Boy) is equally dedicated to the cause, and even has a countdown on his site: https://zonedout59.wordpress.com


I highly recommend following both accounts and the hashtag, #TwilightZoneMarathon, to take full advantage.


This year’s marathon will run from 8 am EST on December 30th until 6 am on Tuesday, January 2nd, 2024.


You can find more about the 2023-2024 New Year’s Eve Twilight Zone Marathon on Syfy’s official page, as well as view the entire schedule. Or, if you’re like me, wait until the marathon to be surprised.

 

[1] 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

[2] From “KTLA’s ‘Twilight’ Tradition ... and Other Southland Marathons.” https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1991-06-30-tv-2174-story.html

[3] 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/

[4] From Press-Republican—Friday, November 29, 1985, page 34

Cover image: CBS Photo Archive/Getty Images



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