Its very title has entered our lexicon as a metaphor for eerie ambiguity. Which is only fitting, given that its creator, Rod Serling, embodied myriad contradictions. Optimist, naysayer, folksy storyteller, urbane futurist — all got play during the series' five-year run. Serling camouflaged his secular moralism in fantasy, all the better to hide its bite from nervous CBS execs. But whether dealing with racism, Armageddon, or loneliness, Serling's message got through — sometimes with a nudge, sometimes with a sledgehammer. The show's most memorable episodes captured lightning in a bottle in a literate way other programs could only dream of. To television's flickering shadows, Zone added substance.