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October 13, 2015

TV Squad Ten: best Twilight Zone episodes

by Bob Sassone, posted Oct 5th 2009 2:10PM
The Twilight ZoneThere is a fifth 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.

Friday marked the 50th Anniversary of The Twilight Zone's debut on CBS. The first episode was titled "Where Is Everybody?" and featured Earl Holliman as a military man trapped in a town where it seems everyone has vanished. You find out at the end that it was all an experiment to see how astronauts would handle being alone on long missions. Holliman was really safe.

A very good episode, and a great introduction to what viewers could expect from the series. But I don't know if it's in the "best" category. Here are my picks for the top ten, and because I find it difficult to list them in order from 1 to 10, I've put them in random order as they came to mind. And since I know that some will disagree, tell me how I'm wrong in the comments.

Twilight Zone"To Serve Man." This is one of those episodes that has become a part of pop culture, being spoofed in many TV shows. So it's easy to forget how bizarre and powerful a story it is, with the sick ending that will freak out a lot of people. I've never understood why the guy with the clipboard doesn't do something to help though. Makes it even weirder. (Watch the episode here.)

"Eye of the Beholder." Arguably the most famous TZ episode. It's easy to look back at this now and see the twist ending coming a mile away, but that's only because the show was 50 years ago and so many other stories like this have been written since. I bet this a lot of viewers said "wow" when this first aired. (Watch the episode here.)

"Nothing in the Dark." This is the episode of TZ that makes me cry when I watch it. I feel so sorry for the woman, old and living alone and afraid that Death is going to come after her. I guess when Death looks like Robert Redford it cushions the blow. (Watch the episode here.)

"Walking Distance." Gig Young plays a busy ad exec who wants to get away from the daily grind and finds himself back in his hometown - when he was a child. This was a very personal story to Rod Serling, who wrote several stories with this theme. This is the most emotional.You can't go home again. (Watch the episode here.)

"Stopover in a Quiet Town." A couple finds themselves in a strange town and they have no idea where they are or how they got there. And what's that giant shadow that seems to be following them?

"It's A Good Life." Billy Mumy as an evil kid who controls the lives of everyone. A very tense episode. (Watch the episode here.)

Twilight zone"Nick of Time." This episode features William Shatner slowly going crazy, but it's not the episode with the monster on the wing of the airplane. This one has Shatner and Patricia Breslin as a couple who find a mysterious fortune-telling machine in a restaurant. (Watch the episode here.)

"The Midnight Sun." The Earth is hurtling towards the sun and residents of an apartment building are going crazy. So would I. This episode does a great job of building tension. (Watch the episode here.)

"A World of Difference."
Howard Duff plays a man who finds out that his whole life is just a role he is playing in a movie. A lot of TV shows and movies have used this plot over the years. (Watch the episode here.)

"The Four of Us Are Dying."
A con man can change his face to look like anyone he wants. Oh, you know that's not going to end well. I like the music in this episode too and the way it's filmed. Beyond the sci-fi trappings, it's like a short film noir. (Watch the episode here.)

As a bonus, here's an interview Mike Wallace did with Serling just before The Twilight Zone premiered (with several commercials as a bonus!).

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Folks never mention any of the 45 minute episodes of season 4:
Death Ship - Jack Klugman, Ross Martin and Fred Beir all on a fact finding mission shipped out from Earth discovering life and death.
On Thursday we Leave for Home - James Whitmore as Captain Benteen a leader of displaced from earth living on a distant planet.
The Parrallel - Steve Forrest as astronaut Robert Gaines sent to circle the earth only to black out and awake to a different reality.

January 22 2012 at 12:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Noboby memtioned the Mr. Death episode with Robert Redford as the dying cop, that was one of my favorites.

January 01 2010 at 4:55 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Time Enough at Last and The Invaders should both be there

October 28 2009 at 7:04 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My favorite is Little Girl Lost - a young girl either falls or rolls from her bed through the wall and into another dimension. I was about the girl's age when I saw it, and of course, my bed was up against the wall...very scary.

October 05 2009 at 7:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Woodsider's comment

When I saw "Poltergeist", I was reminded of this episode. It was scary!

October 05 2009 at 9:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I agree with your list for the most part, although I like some of those more than others.

Some of my favourites that haven't been mentioned yet:

Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room - an insecure gangster is harassed by his reflection.

A Game Of Pool - A pool shark challenges the late all-time champion.

The Changing of the Guard - A professor in despair over forced retirement is visited by the ghosts of his former students.

Night of the Meek - A skid row department store Santa Claus becomes the real deal.

The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine - An aging movie star finds solace in her old movies.

The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank - A backwoods man rises from the dead at his funeral.

In Praise of Pip - A bookie trades his life for that of his dying son.

A Nice Place To Visit - A dead thug thinks he's made it to Heaven.

Jess-Belle - A woman hires a witch to win back her beloved.

I Sing the Body Electric - A robotic grandmother helps a widower raise his children.

I could go on for a while longer, but there isn't much room left in this post.

October 05 2009 at 6:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to RobynM's comment

I agree with everything here!

October 07 2009 at 9:44 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

One of episodes that I haven't seen mentioned yet is "The Afterhours," where the mannequins come to life in a department store. It was one of the first ones I ever saw and till this day it still creeps me out.

October 05 2009 at 6:07 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

An all around excellent series. I find it impossible to limit the list to just ten. Most episodes could be on the list for one reason or another.

October 05 2009 at 5:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

would you guys STOP posting things that cannot be played outside the GLORIOUS United States. Apparently the ONLY country on the planet that exists.

October 05 2009 at 5:37 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

wait, no mention of Nightmare at 20,000 Feet?
one of my favorites, considering Shatner plays the main character

October 05 2009 at 5:02 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There were a 152 episodies of TZ, so people are bound to disagree which were the best. I too loved "The Shelter" as was mentioned in the comments section along with "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street." Any episode that showed that humans really should be more worried about how they treat thier fellow man then something less likely like an alien invasion. Also "The Obsolete Man", I caught that during the marathon. Personally, Burgess Meridith's best episode out of the four he was in. I could be here all day listing great ones.

October 05 2009 at 4:26 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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