The weeks of Christmas and New Year’s Eve bring joy and gifts of family gatherings, but to the rest of us it brings some of the best television marathons of the entire year, mainly – “The Twilight Zone”. Running from 1959-64, “The Twilight Zone” was created by Rod Serling, and gave us some of the best sci-fi scares and moral conundrums. Thanks to Syfy (no seriously, Syfy, thank you), if you’re a lifelong fan you can relive your favorite episodes, or if you’re not, you can tune in to see what you’ve been missing all your life. The best part? Syfy is airing all 156 episodes AND it’s going to start on Wednesday, December 30th!
Starting out the marathon is a 1959 episode called “Where is Everybody?”, and is a great way to start the series. If you’re not a subscribing cable customer, feel free to celebrate with the masses by checking out Amazon or Netflix to watch every episode in the order that Syfy is airing them. For the order of episodes, check your local listings, or head over to Syfy’s Schedule on their website.
To celebrate the marathon, I’m sharing my personal favorites in a top ten list! They are not in priority order, as to me, they’re all tied for first place. If I could just say they’re all my favorites I would, but that wouldn’t be realistic – I do, after all, enjoy some a tiny bit more. So here we go…you’ve just crossed over into…THE TWILIGHT ZONE!
1. Time Enough At Last
As an avid reader with an unconditional love for literature, this episode was so heartbreaking! I always said that if I could live forever, without the fear of death by decapitation or a stake through the unbeating heart, I would read every single word in every single book – well, minus the celebrity and politician biographies. I would walk the world over and over just to find every first edition of a classic and just read them more than a few times. This is a must see for everyone! Simple plot, but beautifully executed.
2. The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
This episode is perfection, and although it aired in 1960, the outcome of the residents on Maple Street are still accurate. The phrase “let them destroy themselves” is one of the last lines, if not the last line of the episode, and is so chilling because it’s how we function in today’s society. If extraterrestrial life were to plan an invasion, they would never have to fight us, we’re doing quite well at exterminating ourselves. It’s terrifying to watch this psychological thriller of an episode unfold as neighbors turn on each other over a few power surges. Fantastic and gripping.
3. Nick of Time
Not only is William Shatner in this episode, but it features a fortune telling machine at a restaurant table that seems to be psychic. I love this episode because as a writer, and owner of an active imagination, it’s interesting to watch this and then go order take out at a Chinese restaurant only to be given a fortune cookie with a message that reads, “you will meet a dark stranger”…no joke, this really happened. If the fortune telling machine keeps telling you what will happen, do you get up and walk out to leave the future a mystery, or do you stay, a slave to it, and always be one step ahead? For me, curiosity would determine my reaction…that, and I’m sure the restaurant has amazing bacon cheeseburgers.
4. The Invaders
Not only is this episode epic in every way, but it’s completely silent. When I say silent, I don’t mean like a silent film, I mean silent like “Hush” episode of Buffy silent where everything is audible, but no one speaks. The episode features one single actress, and tiny invaders from their tiny mysterious spaceship. I absolutely love this episode for so many reasons, but being able to portray emotions and fear without a single word makes it that much more intense because you have to rely on her body language and actions to tell the story. I won’t spoil the best part, but for those of you that have seen it…awesome, right?!
5. It’s a Good Life
Oh Anthony, yes, it is a good life. Seeing classic episodes like this always clue you in on which tv shows and movies have referenced it. When watching Supernatural, Lilith had taken the body of a child where all of the child’s family were her hostages, and had to constantly play along in the worst ways. You can also hear jokes about wishing people away into a cornfield, which was one of Anthony’s specialties. The best part of this episode, besides the very literal Jack in the box, is everyone’s facial reaction as they say lines like, “it’s a real good thing you did that, Anthony, a real good thing”. Acting class 101 at it’s finest – saying something and reacting in the opposite way. Such a fun, and creepy, episode.
6. Nothing in the Dark
This episode gives me chills every single time I watch it. Not just because Robert Redford is Death, in a Meet Joe Black kind of way, but that it faces the fear we all have about dying – fear of the unknown. The whole time this poor woman has kept herself hidden away in her home, in a way to cheat Death, and in the end finds that one way or another, you cannot escape your time to go. The tear jerking part is how she goes through the stages of grief once she realizes that the injured man she opened the door to is the very reaper she tried so desperately to keep out. This episode is truly a beautifully written script, and the two actors play it so perfectly. It also reminds me of my favorite Emily Dickinson poem, “Because I Could Not Stop for Death”, where Death is personified as a gentleman caller. This is a definite one to watch…mind your feels though.
7. Kick The Can
Another sentimental episode for me is this one. Finding the fountain of youth, and a way to return to childhood, by playing a game. This is so touching to me because of the phrase “a kid at heart”. I will always be a kid at heart, a lost kid of Neverland, an orderer of kid’s meals, and a blower of bubbles in my chocolate milk. I’ll never understand people that grow up into someone that forgets how wonderful the little things are. I never want to look at the world in any way other than with childlike wonder, because as soon as you stop, you grow up…and grow old. This episode brings that sentiment to life, and always brings a tear to my eye at the end…even though I say it’s just the wind, it’s never just the wind (wink wink Doctor Who reference for those of you that say the Christmas special).
8. To Serve Man
Let’s just be honest. If you haven’t seen this episode, you are doing it wrong. Not only is this episode classic Twilight Zone gold, but it’s one of the best plot twists and last lines since Heston yelled “YOU MANIACS!”. An alien race lands on Earth with a book that must be decoded. The race seems peaceful and…you know what…I’m not going to spoil a minute of it. Stop everything you’re doing and check it out on Netflix or Amazon. Just trust me. It’s incredible.
9. The Trade-Ins
I’m going to go right ahead and basic girl out and say it…I can’t even with this episode. It’s so touching and beautiful that it makes you look at the one you love in a different way. It really does. In the future when people can pay to trade their old bodies for young ones for a hefty price, what do you do when all you can afford is one? It’ll get you right in the feels, but it’s honestly worth every single second of it. With the advancements made in medicine and technology, this really could be one day in the distant future…eerie, but still amazing.
10. The Masks
This is such a brilliant concept, and every line is delivered flawlessly. Greedy siblings wait around for their father to die as they argue about who should get the inheritance. The father knowing his children aren’t sincere at all, he prepares one final request – wear the special masks he’s provided just for the night. It’s a fantastic story and is really worth more credit. A lot of the volume sets I’ve seen don’t have this one up there as a primary classic, but it really is one of the best (not just because it’s in my top ten favorites). You have to see this one!
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet
Eye of the Beholder
I Sing the Body Electric
So, that’s it! Those are my favorites! For photo credit and to check out the full list, check out Paleofuture’s article at Paleofuture Twilight Zone Episode List or just click on any of the photos in this blog, as all are linked to the site.
If you happen to watch, or are already a fan, comment here or on Twitter @TrendyNerdyCool to tell me which episodes would make your list!