By now critically acclaimed, The Twilight Zone quickly transitioned from Season 2 to Season 3 and with a new season came sponsorship opportunities. The show had up until this point maintained its sponsorship from General Foods but now also added The American Tobacco Company for which Rod Serling was contractually obligated to plug products at the end of each episode (an obligation with which he was none too pleased). However, budgets for each episode continued to be a sticking point and cost-cutting measures were employed in this season as six episodes were unfortunately shot on low-quality videotape.
In addition to a flurry of brilliant scripts from Rod Serling, Richard Matheson, Georges Clayton Johnson, and Charles Beaumont; now Earl Hamner, Jr. and Lamont Johnson also entered the fray with some of the season’s best. While there is hardly a flawed episode in the whole season, some of the stand-outs include: “Two,” “Arrival,” “The Shelter,” “It’s A Good Life,” “Deaths-Head Revisited,” “Once Upon A Time,” “Five Characters In Search Of An Exit,” “Nothing In The Dark,” “The Midnight Sun,” “A Game Of Pool,” “Kick The Can,” “To Serve Man,” “Little Girl Lost,” “The Little People,” “The Gift,” “The Dummy,” “I Sing the Body Electric,” and “Changing Of The Guard.”
However as Season 3 progressed, Rod Serling began to grow fatigued with his writerly and hosting obligations as well as demands from sponsors and censors. As the third season waned it became clear that The Twilight Zone would go on a hiatus when The American Tobacco Company ended its sponsorship. Serling left to take a brief teaching position at his alma mater Antioch College, and in the wake of the show’s future seeming ambiguous, initial producer Buck Houghton abruptly departed in search of more secure compensation. When a fourth season was finally made certain, the show would see more significant restructuring with fewer episodes that were stretched from half-hour increments to hour-long run-times and a new airing slot in order to compete with the new kid on the block, ABC’s The Outer Limits.