Rod Serling Made A Big Mistake In The Twilight Zone's Opening Narration

According to the Northrop Grumman website, there is a debate as to how many dimensions there might be in the universe. String theory maintains that there are a solid 10 dimensions. Fans of sci-fi multiverse stories likely hold the popular opinion that there are many, many more universes, perhaps even infinite ones. Indeed, "another dimension" has long been used in fiction to describe a fantastical world that exists in the same space as ours, but which is not perceptible and only accessed through a mystical portal. In terms of what we've been able to actually measure, however, we know for sure that there are the usual four dimensions: The three we need to create a cube, and then the fourth detailing where that cube exists in time. 

In 2017, two neutron stars crashed into each other, sending gravitational shock waves out into the galaxy. String theory proponents held that those gravitational waves would — as they traveled out into the universe — elongate and dissipate, theorizing that the energy was being siphoned into parallel universes. Sadly, it seems that the waves didn't weaken in such a fashion, putting the kibosh on a lot of parallel universe fun. If there were parallel universes, they were incredibly tiny. 

In fiction, however, everyone's favorite parallel dimension was probably the one spoken of by Rod Serling in his introduction to the hit 1959 TV series "The Twilight Zone." Audiences loved dipping into a universe whose very fabric was constructed of ironic, fantastical morality fables. It seems, however, that Serling goofed in the opening narration of the show's very first episode. As described in Stewart T. Stanyard's 2007 book "Dimensions Behind the Twilight Zone: A Backstage Tribute to Television's Groundbreaking Series," Serling thought there were already five dimensions, not four.

Where Is Everybody?

The first episode of "The Twilight Zone" was called "Where Is Everybody?" (October 2, 1959) and it followed an amnesiac man named Mike (Earl Holliman) as he wanders down a road to a small town. Although the lights are on, there are cars parked around town, and the restaurants are fully stocked, there are no people. One of the cars, in a creepy twist, features a mannequin. The solitude and his lack of memory begin to drive Mike mad. Where is everybody? Is this Hell? The episode began with the usual title sequence, wherein Rod Serling gave the following narration over Marius Constant's famous theme music: 

"There is a sixth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone."

According to "Dimensions," however, that narration had to be changed when an executive at CBS pointed out to Serling that he skipped over a fifth dimension straight to the sixth. The Twilight Zone was supposed to be just one dimension removed from our own, not two. When the executive pointed this out to Serling, he naively responded with, "Aren't there five?" No, Mr. Serling, there are only four. The segment was re-recorded, and all subsequent narrations made reference to the fifth dimension. 

Incidentally, that specific recording was only used for "Where Is Everybody?" and "A Passage for Trumpet" (May 20, 1960), which aired later in the show's first season.  

Other narrations

Indeed, the narration changed frequently on "The Twilight Zone." The truncated version used for "A Thing About Machines" and "The Obsolete Man" is as follows: 

"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 signpost up ahead: Your next stop, the Twilight Zone."

For the show's third season, the narration was largely the same but didn't use the "signpost" part. Some others, instead of mentioning boundaries of imagination, merely said "a journey into a wondrous land of imagination," which feels far more beatific than the actual tone of the show. Disneyland could have easily used that same phraseology. 

The most famous narration, and my personal favorite, was read over the fourth and fifth seasons' openers. These latter episodes featured the famous scary door, the creepy eyeball, and the phrase "E = mc2." The narration read: 

"You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension — a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas. You've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone."

Note that the older narrations imply that the Twilight Zone is still coming, a mere train stop on the cosmic track. The fourth season's narration implies that we've already arrived here in the fifth — or perhaps sixth — dimension.