Thursday, January 17, 2008

Top 20 Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes

I have been a huge fan of the immortal TV series, "The Twilight Zone" for as long as I can remember. Here in New York, it was a staple on Channel 11 WPIX for many years, but the Sci-Fi Channel picked it up a while back, and now it is on weeknights at 1 AM. Since I am a night owl, I rarely miss it. It is a show I will never, ever get tired of watching.

The Sci-Fi Channel does a 48-hour marathon of episodes every New Year's, and I find myself watching my most favorite episodes then. But this past New Year's I got to thinking that it might be time to write something on my site about "The Twilight Zone," so I sat down and composed a list of my favorite episodes. Originally it was going to be a Top 10 list, but I found it really hard to try to narrow it down to that, so I am putting together a Top 20 list. There are 156 total episodes, so it wasn't easy.

I will list the shows in the order they were originally shown, with the number next to it being the overall number show it was. I will also write a short synopsis of each. So without further ado, here we go:

#7 "The Lonely": A man convicted of murder is sentenced to spend 50 years alone on an asteroid, and as he's about to lose his mind, he's given a robot in the form of a woman, who keeps him going. But once he gets his pardon and goes home, she can't return with him.
#8 "Time Enough at Last": A man who loves books and little else is the lone survivor of an atomic war and thinks he finally has all the time he finally needs with his books, until the worst possible thing happens to him: he breaks his glasses. (One of the best endings in the show's history.)
#10 "Judgment Night": A man finds himself on board a ship in WWII and he has no idea how he got there, and senses the ship is doomed. It is torpedoed by a German U-boat, and it turns out the man is the U-boat's commander, and he has to spend all eternity reliving that fateful night as a victim.
#11 "And When the Sky Was Opened": The crew of a test flight in space crash land back on Earth, but one by one they disappear, and eventually it is if they never existed at all.
#15 "I Shot an Arrow Into the Air": A crew of the first space mission thinks its crashed into a distant asteroid, and one of the surviving astronauts winds up killing the other surviving spacemen, only to realize they crashed in the Nevada desert instead.
#28 "A Nice Place to Visit": A career criminal gets killed, and goes to the afterlife and gets everything he could ever want. He gets tired of it and wants to go to the "other place." He then realizes he's in that place. (I love afterlife episodes.)
#30 "A Stop at Willoughby": An executive is totally unhappy in his job, marriage and life, and has dreams of a small town he can live his life, but when he tries to get there, he winds up killing himself. (Probably my all-time favorite episode.)
#35 "The Mighty Casey": The manager of a losing baseball team gets a gift from a scientist: a robot pitcher who can't lose. But since the robot doesn't have a heart, it is ruled that he has to get one in order to play. Once he does, he can't get anyone out, as he doesn't "have the heart to."
#49 "Back There": A man goes back in time to the night of Lincoln's assassination and tries to warn the public that the president is about to be killed, but almost no one will listen to him. He tried to go back to alter history, but wound up altering the history of the one man who did listen.
#54 "The Odyssey of Flight 33": A flight from London to New York encounters turbulence, and goes through time to the age of dinosaurs, but when they try to get back to the present day, they come up just a few years too short.
#60 "The Rip Van Winkle Caper": Four thieves pull off the ultimate heist: rob gold headed to Fort Knox, and go to sleep in a cave for 100 years with the idea that they'll be rich men when they wake up. Only times have changed when they awake, they wind up killing each other and gold is worthless by then.
#61 "The Silence": A man bets another that he cannot keep silent for one year, and both resort to trickery to win the bet, which backfires on both of them.
#65 "The Obsolete Man": A librarian has been determined to be "obsolete" by a ruthless dictator of a police state and is put to death, but he has the last laugh when he exposes the tyrant to be "obsolete" as well. (Another favorite of mine.)
#70 "A Game of Pool": A pool hustler believes he's the best in the world, and the ghost of the man who once was the greatest square off in a high stakes battle: if the hustler wins, he's the best, if he loses, he dies. (Another of my favorites.)
#74 "Deaths-Head Revisited": A Nazi hiding in South America returns to the German death camp he once committed atrocities in, and the spirits of those he killed judge him guilty of crimes against humanity and render him insane.
#83: "Dead Man's Shoes": A hobo finds a dead man in an alley and takes his shoes, which transforms his life and puts him right into the dead man's world. He tries to kill the man who killed the guy he found the shoes on, but he gets him too. He vows revenge and will keep coming back until he gets him.
#89: "To Serve Man": Aliens come down to Earth and claim to be here just to serve humans and make life here better, but it actually turns out their plans were to use them like cattle. (Another one of my all-time faves.)
#93: "The Little People": Two astronauts crash on a distant astreroid and one discovers a race of tiny people and wants to become their god. He's in for a rude awakening when two other giant astronauts turn the tables on him. (I love episodes with giants and tiny people, and this had both.)
#125: "The Last Night of a Jockey": A crooked jockey wishes he could become a "big man" and gets his wish, but when he can become a jockey again, regrets his wish.
#145: "The Masks": A family stands to inherit the fortune of their patriarch and can't wait for him to die. But first they must wear masks before they inherit everything, and when the old man dies, they take on the faces of the masks they were wearing.

God bless Rod Serling, wherever he may be. And thank you so much.


Peter N said...

Two words...Burgess Meredith. What a tremendously gifted actor he was. And Ed goodness, some of his TZ appearances brought tears to my eyes...remember the grandfather clock and THE PITCH? I wish Rod never ever smoked a cigarette.
P.S. I have that complete, every episode TZ boxed set, including some of the rare one hour episodes. What a treasure that I have passed on, bit by bit, to my nephew...along with the love for Bruce Springsteen and the band. And I love it...a little part of me that will live in his heart forever. Hey, I'm going to stick around for a while! I wouldn't have it ANY other way!

The Omnipotent Q said...

Burgess Meredith was in some great episodes (he's in two on this list), as well as Jack Klugman. I have to get that complete Twilight Zone set one day!

Jere said...

What Yankee rain delay on PIX would be complete without a Twilight Zone episode?

My list would have a bunch you mentioned--Flight 33, Willoughby, To Serve Man.

I'd also have to have the one with the bomb shelter that the whole neighborhood tries to get into, the one with the Martian and the Venusian, The Maple Street one. And a lot more.

Good job narrowing it down. I bet when I try to do it, it will take me a really long time.

Oh, right, I forgot about Midnight Sun. In my top two or three. Oh and the one where the guy leads the civilization on another planet and then doesn't want them all to split up when they're allowed to go back to Earth.

It's funny how astronauts back then were always going to "asteroids" rather than planets, and how robots were "RO-bits".

Oh and Shatner in the diner! And the hitchhiker!!

Peter N said...

There's Something Happening On Maple Street (I think), Jere....and so many more. Remember Shatner and his wife in the diner, captivated by a fortune telling machine? Serling really was a genius, and the contributing writers will NEVER be matched!! I still love the video taped presentation of the beloved Art Carney, as a drunk and drinking Santa Claus, who, in the end, finds out everything! Great memories....and my nephew has started to love them too...I feed him four episodes at a time, because that's how many there are on each of the DVDs. Makes me happy! I'll never forget Ed Wynn's THE PITCH, when, as a salesman, he tries to stave off Mr. Death, for a beautiful little girl. He was so great. Heartbreakingly great!!

Peter N said...

Thanks John

Suldog said...

"A Game Of Pool" is probably my favorite. I'm a huge fan of both Jack Klugman and Jonathan Winters, so it's a special treat for me. I also loved the one where Klugman played a jazz trumpeter who has a conversation with Gabriel.

Others have expressed similar, but I'll just add on: EVERY episode with Burgess Meredith was wonderful.

The Omnipotent Q said...

"A Game of Pool" is another of my faves, and it showed what a versatile actor Jonathan Winters is. Jack Klugman is always superb in his episodes, and John Anderson was another actor who was great in all his TZ appearances. (His most famous one was as the pilot in "The Odyssey of Flight 33.")

hinder34 said...

Excellent post about show. The Twilight Zone episode "Stop at Wiloughby" is loosely based on Rod Serling's life in terms of the pressure he faced while doing Twilight Zone!! I love this episode. Rod Serling's articulation of the social climbing America is done up to perfection in this episode!! So wanna watch all episodes of this show then go ahead and download The Twilight Zone Episodes for free.

Luke101 said...

The list items are good picks. i would have to say "its a good life" had to be the creepiest of them all and also the episode where the women wished her husband to be stay alive forever after he died and he woke up to be in great pain forever.


Sumit Jain said...

Really Nice Post Dude... I Love To Watch Afterlife Episodes

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