My Facebook friend, Bill, shared that today is National Twilight Zone Day!
Twilight Zone Day is mysterious, weird, surreal and perhaps a little scary. I can think of many other adjectives, but I think you get the picture. Every once in a while, you have a day like this. And, May 11th is designed to be that day.
The television show The Twilight Zone, was created, written and narrated by the late Rod Serling. It premiered on October 1, 1959. The episodes were wildly popular, stretched the imagination, and captivated viewers. The show aired from 1959-1964 and is available on DVD.
My friend Max has been reviewing each episode of the series weekly. While I wish I had time to do that, I thought for today, I would give a run down of my 20 favorites (I’m sure there are more than 20, but I jotted down the ones I like from memory and there are 20).
What I have always loved about this show is the “twist” endings. It reminds me of so many of the great old radio shows of the 30’s, 40’s and 50’s!
Time Enough At Last
By far, my favorite episode of the series. Burgess Meredith is fantastic in this episode! I wrote about it in detail in another blog, which you can read here:
This is the eighth episode of the first season.
Quick Synopsis: A henpecked book lover finds himself blissfully alone with his books after a nuclear war.
Outside of his over the top portrayal of The Mad Hatter on Batman, this is a great performance by David Wayne.
This is the sixth episode of the first season.
Quick Synopsis: A hypochondriac man sells his soul to the devil, exchanging it for several thousand years of immortality.
A Game of Pool
This episode features two amazing performances by Jonathan Winters and Jack Klugman. Like many of the Twilight Zone episodes, it has the “Be careful what you wish for” lesson …
This is the fifth episode of the third season.
Quick Synopsis: A frustrated pool champ has beaten everyone. Everyone except one man; the legend, Fats Brown. Brown is dead, and the champ can only curse his name. But guess who just walked in.
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
A classic episode with William Shatner. This was redone in the Twilight Zone movie years later. Shatner’s performance is just frantic! His overacting only makes the character more insane!
This is the third episode from the fifth, and final season.
Quick Synopsis: A man, newly recovered from a nervous breakdown, becomes convinced that a monster only he sees is damaging the plane he’s flying in.
Little known fact: This episode was directed by actress, Ida Lupino (who starred in a season 1 episode I will mention next).
Greed and vengeance are the central theme in this episode. The ending remains one of my favorite twists.
This is the 25th episode of the fifth and final season.
Quick Synopsis: Wealthy Jason Foster is dying and he invites his greedy heirs to a Mardi Gras party where they must wear the masks he specially had made for them or else be cut off from their inheritance.
The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine
Ida Lupino and Martin Balsam star in this episode. While I wouldn’t call this a time travel episode, it does focus on living in your past.
This is the fourth episode of the first season.
Quick Synopsis: Barbara Jean Trenton is a faded film star who lives in the past by constantly re-watching her old movies instead of moving on with her life, so her associates try to lure her out of her self-imposed isolation.
Since I mentioned time travel, this is one of my favorite time travel episodes. Russell Johnson (the Professor on Gilligan’s Island) is the time traveler in this episode.
This is the thirteenth episode of the second season.
Quick Synopsis: At a prominent club in Washington, D.C., a socialite argues about whether it would be possible to change history by traveling back in time. When he leaves the club he finds himself in 1865, on the night that President Lincoln will be shot.
The Odyssey of Flight 33
Ok, sort of another time travel story. The captain is played by John Anderson. Always thought he had a great voice!
This is the eighteenth episode of the second season.
Quick Synopsis: Passing through the sound barrier, a commercial airliner inadvertently travels back in time.
Great performance by Telly Savalas. I’m not going to lie, this episode is one that creeped me out!
This is the sixth episode of the fifth and final season.
Quick Synopsis: A frustrated father does battle with his stepdaughter’s talking doll, whose vocabulary includes such phrases as “I hate you” and “I’m going to kill you”.
Eye of the Beholder
The beautiful Donna Douglas appears from under the bandages in this awesome story. I guess I just gave away the ending …..
This is the sixth episode of the second season.
Quick Synopsis: A young woman lying in a hospital bed, her head wrapped in bandages, awaits the outcome of a surgical procedure performed by the State in a last-ditch attempt to make her look “normal.”
I always loved Everett Sloane as an actor. He is great as the angry gambler in this episode. How can you not freak out at the fact that the slot machine has followed him to his room?
This is the seventeenth episode of the first season.
Quick Synopsis: A middle-aged man catches gambling fever from a slot machine that he believes is calling his name.
To Serve Man
The great Richard Kiel is featured as Kanamit in this episode with the great twist ending.
This is the twenty-fourth episode of the third season.
Quick Synopsis: An alien race comes to Earth, promising peace and sharing technology. A linguist and his team set out to translate the aliens’ language, using a book whose title they deduce is “To Serve Man.”
Quality of Mercy
A MUST watch! How things would be different if we looked at it from the other side. Dean Stockwell is great in this episode.
This is the fifteenth episode of the third season.
Quick Synopsis: Hot-shot new Lieutenant Katell tries to make his mark on the last day of World War II in the Pacific and gets a unique perspective on his actions.
Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
Great cast in this one! Jack Elam, John Hoyt, Bill Erwin, Jean Willes, and John Archer all star in this episode which cashes in on the Martian craze.
This is the twenty-eighth episode of the second season.
Quick Synopsis: Following a frantic phone call about a crashed spaceship, two policeman try and determine who among the passengers of a bus at a snowed-in roadside diner is from another world.
A Nice Place to Visit
Another classic twist ending. Sebastian Cabot (Mr. French of Family Affair) is Mr. Pip. Little known fact: Cabot was reluctant to dye his brunette hair and beard blonde, since the peroxide used for it ensured that the color would remain for about six months.
Great story and again, a be careful what you wish for…
This is the twenty-eighth episode of the first season.
Quick Synopsis: When bad guy Henry Francis Valentine dies in a shootout with police, he wakes up in the next world where his every wish is granted forever, and ever.
Nothing in the Dark
This episode stars a young Robert Redford. I saw the ending coming a mile away, but it is still a good one to watch.
This is the sixteenth episode of the third season.
Quick Synopsis: An old woman has fought with death a thousand times and has always won. But now she finds herself afraid to let a wounded policeman in her door for fear he is Mr. Death. Is he?
Nick of Time
Another over the top performance by a frazzled William Shatner! Good stuff. Watch for Batman’s Chief O’Hara (Stafford Repp) as the mechanic in this episode.
This is the seventh episode of the second season.
Quick Synopsis: A pair of newlyweds stopping in a small town are trapped by their own superstition when playing a fortune telling machine in a local diner.
Powerful episode here. Great performances by Oscar Beregi Jr. and Joseph Schildkraut!
This is the ninth episode of the third season.
Quick Synopsis: A former German SS captain returns to Dachau concentration camp and begins reminiscing on the power he enjoyed there, until he finds himself on trial by those who died at his hands.
One For the Angels
Ed Wynn was known as a comedian, but he gives a marvelous dramatic performance here! Murray Hamilton is great as Mr. Death.
This is the second episode of the first season.
Quick Synopsis: A pitchman is visited by Mr. Death and is forced to get his priorities in order.
Night of the Meek
A wonderful, feel-good episode to wrap up my twenty favorites. Art Carney is just brilliant in this episode. The episode looks weird because it was one of only a few episodes that were shot on video tape in hopes of cutting production costs. Don’t let the quality take away from a wonderful episode!
This is the eleventh episode of the second season.
Quick Synopsis: After a derelict Santa Claus is fired on Christmas Eve, he finds a mysterious bag that gives out presents. With this bag he sets out to fulfill his one wish – to see the less fortunate inherit the bounties of Christmas.
Did I miss your favorite?
Tell me your favorite episodes in the comments! Happy International Twilight Zone Day!!