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Your Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes...
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Posted 1/6/2017 10:29 PM


Supreme Being
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With the Sci-Fi channel's New Years Twilight Zone marathon having completed a few days ago, I thought it would be a good time to start a thread on what I consider to be the greatest sci-fi series of all time, the original Twilight Zone (1959-1964).

Not all of the episodes were classics. But with first class acting, writing, and direction, as well as the fact that so many of the themes incorporated in the scripts are timeless, ageless, and visionary sustains this series as one for the ages. Kudos Rod Serling (1924-1975).

So here are my top 10 episodes with Serling intros, but with no spoilers. What are yours?

10) Walking Distance:

'Martin Sloan, age thirty-six. Occupation: vice-president, ad agency, in charge of media. This is not just a Sunday drive for Martin Sloan. He perhaps doesn't know it at the time, but it's an exodus. Somewhere up the road he's looking for sanity. And somewhere up the road, he'll find something else.'

Superb performance by Gig Young. The episode so strongly captures the desire we frequently have as adults to retrace our steps and return to the quieter, more innocent existence of childhood.

9) A Stop at Willoughby:

'This is Gart Williams, age thirty-eight, a man protected by a suit of armor, all held together by one bolt. Just a moment ago, someone removed the bolt, and Mr. Williams' protection fell away from him and left him a naked target. He's been cannonaded this afternoon by all the enemies of his life. His insecurity has shelled him, his sensitivity has straddled him with humiliation, his deep-rooted disquiet about his own worth has zeroed in on him, landed on target, and blown him apart. Mr. Gart Williams, ad agency exec, who, in just a moment, will move into the Twilight Zone—in a desperate search for survival.'

Sort of similar to 'Walking Distance' insofar as the protagonist's desire to seek a more peaceful, less pressurized existence. James Daly (Gart) is in effect caught between two different worlds. Which one will he choose?

8) Midnight Sun:

'The word that Mrs. Bronson is unable to put into the hot, still, sodden air is 'doomed,' because the people you've just seen have been handed a death sentence. One month ago, the Earth suddenly changed its elliptical orbit and in doing so began to follow a path which gradually, moment by moment, day by day, took it closer to the sun. And all of man's little devices to stir up the air are now no longer luxuries—they happen to be pitiful and panicky keys to survival. The time is five minutes to twelve, midnight. There is no more darkness. The place is New York City and this is the eve of the end, because even at midnight it's high noon, the hottest day in history, and you're about to spend it in the Twilight Zone.'

Excellent performances by Lois Nettleton (Norma) and Betty Garde (Mrs. Bronson). A cautionary tale, yet not a single mention of global warming. Lol. But always remember that this is the Twilight Zone and things are never what they appear to be. The ending offers one of the great twists, which this series became famous for.

7) Third From the Sun

'Quitting time at the plant. Time for supper now. Time for families. Time for a cool drink on a porch. Time for the quiet rustle of leaf-laden trees that screen out the moon, and underneath it all, behind the eyes of the men, hanging invisible over the summer night, is a horror without words. For this is the stillness before storm. This is the eve of the end.'

An episode that just draws you in and keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish. Fritz Weaver (Sturka) is excellent, as well as Edward Andrews (Carling), and Joe Maross (Riden).

6) The Obsolete Man

"You walk into this room at your own risk, because it leads to the future, not a future that will be but one that might be. This is not a new world, it is simply an extension of what began in the old one. It has patterned itself after every dictator who has ever planted the ripping imprint of a boot on the pages of history since the beginning of time. It has refinements, technological advances, and a more sophisticated approach to the destruction of human freedom. But like every one of the super-states that preceded it, it has one iron rule: logic is an enemy and truth is a menace. This is Mr. Romney Wordsworth, in his last forty-eight hours on Earth. He's a citizen of the State but will soon have to be eliminated, because he's built out of flesh and because he has a mind. Mr. Romney Wordsworth, who will draw his last breaths in The Twilight Zone."

Definitely one of the most frightening episodes in its depiction of the Orwellian nightmare in terms of its perpetual struggle between the individual and the state. Fritz Weaver (Chancellor) and Burgess Meredith (Romney Wordsworth) deliver standout performances.

5) The Shelter

"What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it's the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone."

Again, another frightening, realistic scenario depicted in this episode. The actors definitely did a fantastic job in making this a most convincing account of what potentially could occur in an emergency situation with survival at stake.

4) People Are Alike All Over

'You're looking at a species of flimsy little two-legged animal with extremely small heads, whose name is Man. Warren Marcusson, age thirty-five. Samuel A. Conrad, age thirty-one. They're taking a highway into space, Man unshackling himself and sending his tiny, groping fingers up into the unknown. Their destination is Mars, and in just a moment we'll land there with them.'

Another great episode involving space travel and the desire to journey into the unknown. The suspense of this episode is gripping and Roddy McDowell (Sam Conrad) conveyed the fear of the unknown about as well as it could possibly be done. In a way, it was similar to 'The Invaders' (which did not make my top 10 but is still an excellent episode insofar as the theme of space exploration/ fear, alienation).

3) Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

'Maple Street, U.S.A. Late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children and the bell of an ice cream vendor. At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43 p.m. on Maple Street. This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street – in the last calm and reflective moment – before the monsters came.'

This episode had some similarity in theme to the earlier mentioned episode 'The Shelter.' Once again a frightening portrayal of a neighborhood in chaos. But very strong themes here including not only fear of the unknown, but also the desire to search for a scapegoat, which as Serling says in his close 'has a fallout all of its own.'

2) Time Enough at Last

'Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He'll have a world all to himself... without anyone.'

Again a potential doomsday scenario, which threatens the very survival of the human race. Burgess Meredith again delivers a standout performance as a man who lives an existence of alienation and isolation. The ending is one of the most famous of all episodes, which definitely captures the predicament of the protagonist.

1) Eye of the Beholder

'Suspended in time and space for a moment, your introduction to Miss Janet Tyler, who lives in a very private world of darkness. A universe whose dimensions are the size, thickness, length of the swath of bandages that cover her face. In a moment we will go back into this room, and also in a moment we will look under those bandages. Keeping in mind of course that we are not to be surprised by what we see, for this isn't just a hospital, and this patient 307 is not just a woman. This happens to be the Twilight Zone, and Miss Janet Tyler, with you, is about to enter it.'

Chances are that even individuals who have never watched an episode of TZone are familiar with this episode. It is that iconic. Its theme is universal insofar as it being something that every individual has felt inside if not actually experienced at some time in their lives, whether it be isolation, alienation, and/or fear that they do not conform to their own or society's standards of health, beauty, etc. Mystery, suspense, engrossing dialogue, etc. This episode has it all. That is why I chose it for #1.

Some other Honorable Mention episodes: "To Serve Man', "The Invaders", "The Jeopardy Room", "The Silence", "Spur of the Moment", "Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?", "Perchance to Dream", "The Masks", "The Grave", "The Little People", "Last Night of a Jockey", etc.

I am sure there are quite a few other great ones I did not mention. Lol.


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Posted 1/6/2017 10:45 PM


Supreme Being
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I remember an episode, Lezfriend - I can't remember its title - but it was about a popular Hollywood actress returning to the small town where she grew up. When she gets there, the town is about to celebrate its yearly summer festival (or some other such outdoor picnic event).

Anyway, I don't remember the details, but the actress tells her mother that she wants to give a special performance Saturday afternoon at the high school gym, but her mother says that will conflict with the summer festival. But the actress is insistent, and says she wants to give the performance, and wants everybody to come see her.

Because she is extremely popular in her hometown, that Saturday the residents all show up at the gym to watch her perform, and while they're all there, word reaches them that a passenger plane flying to L.A. crashed in the field where the summer festival is held, but because nobody was there, nobody was killed.

And THEN they learn that the actress was on that flight - it was her SPIRIT that arrived in her hometown and lured everybody away from the park before the plane went down. She was trying to protect the people she loved.

- again, it didn't make sense logically, but had that typical Twilight Zone "twist" that made that show so enjoyable to watch!
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Posted 1/7/2017 12:25 AM


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Quote: I remember an episode, Lezfriend - I can't remember its title - but it was about a popular Hollywood actress returning to the small town she calls home. When she gets there, the town is about to ce...

Excellent recall, Anon. That was 'Ring-a-Ding Girl' starring Maggie McNamara as Bunny Blake. Very fine, underrated episode. And that is one of the things which makes this such a great series because even quite a few of the episodes one might not associate as being among the greatest ones are still memorable nonetheless.

"Meet Bunny Blake. Occupation: film actress. Residence: Hollywood, California, or anywhere in the world that cameras happen to be grinding. Bunny Blake is a public figure; what she wears, eats, thinks, says is news. But underneath the glamour, the makeup, the publicity, the build-up, the costuming, is a flesh-and-blood person, a beautiful girl about to take a long and bizarre journey into the Twilight Zone."

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Posted 1/7/2017 5:18 AM


Supreme Being
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Lezfriend wrote: "Not all of the episodes were classics. But with first class acting, writing, and direction, as well as the fact that so many of the themes incorporated in the scripts are timeless, ageless, and visionary sustains this series as one for the ages. Kudos Rod Serling (1924-1975)"

As a little kid, I remember thinking that The Twilight Zone was scary - but they really did hire some great writers & directors, didn't they?

Another great & memorable episode was the one about the little kid who has the tremendous power to create & destroy, and he can read your mind so you'd better think happy thoughts! If he gets angry he will turn you into something horrible and then wish you into the cornfield.

There was also an episode about this guy & his wife who find a camera that takes photos of the future! The wife clicks a picture of the door in their hotel room, and when the camera shows them the photo (it was like one of those Polaroid instant cameras), you see her brother walking through the door - except that he's in prison - but, sure enough, seconds later there he is!

The man, his wife, & her brother quickly realize that they can use this camera to their material advantage, and so they go to the horsetrack, taking several photos of the big-board to see who the winners will be, and then bet heavily. Sure enough, they return to their hotel room with bags filled with cash. But as their camera is running out of film, they get to fighting about how to use it next, and in the ensuing struggle, both the woman's husband & her brother end up falling out of the window to their deaths - (I'm guessing that their room was on the seventh-floor or higher).

Anyway, the woman doesn't appear to be the slightest bit upset at being left all alone with all of that money, and even uses the camera to take a photo of their two dead bodies lying on the sidewalk below. But then, all of a sudden, a thieving hotel employee shows up in the room with the intention of walking-off with her bags of cash, and when she tries to fight him, she goes out the window, as well. The thieving employee then finds her picture of the dead bodies lying on the ground below - but when he counts the number of corpses lying there, there are now FOUR!

- and the last thing we see is the camera just lying on the floor next to the open window in a now empty room!
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Posted 1/7/2017 6:56 AM


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Yep...excellent writing and acting, and all the production details like location, lighting, interiors, and exteriors were first rate. The only program I can think of today, that displays some of these values, is "Gotham".

Anyway...there were so many good episodes of this show that it's hard to pick a few favorites. I agree about "Time Enough At Last" and "Eye Of The Beholder" as being among the best. Some of my favorites are:

"The Midnight Sun" with Lois Nettleton...where the Earth has supposedly been nudged from its orbit and is falling toward the Sun. She is shown waking up at the end, and a high fever had caused her to have this "dream" about the Sun. The awful truth is, is that the Earth is actually receding from the Sun and is getting colder and colder.

"The Invaders" with Agnes Moorehead...who doesn't speak a word of dialog during the episode. She portrays an older lady living alone in a cabin outside of town who is terrorized by this little spaceship that lands on her roof.

"Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" with William Shatner before his Star Trek days. He portrays this recovering mental patient who sees a "gremlin" out on the wing messing with the engine.

Thanks be to Rod Serling and his excellent vision of using the medium of TV to bring us so much creativity and originality when it came to interesting story telling.

Speaking of Star Trek, BBC American has been showing the "The Next Generation" for awhile now, and recently has had some marathons of the original series, which I happily record on the DVR to watch later at my leisure. Noticed last night they have also have the rights to "Voyager" so will record those too. Thankfully, the DVR has a LOT of capacity. I rarely watch TV live anymore...record it for later viewing and FF through the commercials.

 

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Posted 1/7/2017 10:20 PM


Supreme Being
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"Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" with William Shatner before his Star Trek days. He portrays this recovering mental patient who sees a "gremlin" out on the wing messing with the engine.

Darn. I forgot to include that episode on my list. It is indeed a classic. Interestingly enough, William Shatner was in another T Zone episode called 'Nick of Time.' This episode was about a young couple who find themselves drawn to the replies of an Ohio diner's fortune telling machine. The machine seems to have an uncanny ability of accurately predicting their future. The conflict thus becomes whether they will be able to face their unknown future together or will they continue to be reliant on a mechanical device to provide them the answers they seek?

But getting back to 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet', the episode was remade as part of 1983's post Serling 'Twilight Zone' movie with John Lithgow playing the Shatner nervous passenger role. The episode had its moments. But like other TZone episode remakes, as well as the other non-remake episodes of the anthology series, it lacked the mystery, suspense, and intrigue which the originals had.
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Posted 1/7/2017 10:26 PM


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Quote: "Nightmare At 20,000 Feet" with William Shatner before his Star Trek days. He portrays this recovering mental patient who sees a "gremlin" out on the wing messing with the engine.Darn. I forgot to inc...

My two favs..To Serve Man and Nightmare at 20,000 feet.

My favorite series from the era..
Perry Mason
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Twilight Zone
Thriller


PS...Shatner did two of the best Thriller episodes...The Grim Reaper and The Hungry Glass...

One episode of AHH still scares the bejesus outta me..the Robert Bloch penned An Unlocked Window...

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Posted 1/7/2017 10:41 PM


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Quote: Excellent recall, Anon. That was 'Ring-a-Ding Girl' starring Maggie McNamara as Bunny Blake. Very fine, underrated episode. And that is one of the things which makes this such a great series because e...

Sadly, Maggie McNamara took her own life at age 48....

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Posted 1/7/2017 11:18 PM


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Quote: Sadly, Maggie McNamara took her own life at age 48....

Was not aware of the tragic circumstances surrounding Maggie McNamara's death. Sad to hear that.

Another star of an underrated Twilight Zone episode ('Spur of the Moment') Diana Hyland also died way too soon at age 41 from breast cancer. In her abbreviated life, she accumulated quite a vast body of work from predominantly television, but a few movies as well. Most recently before her death way back in 1977, she starred in the first four episodes of the popular ABC series 'Eight is Enough.'

'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' still holds up very well today, as it both predated and paralleled 'The Twilight Zone' insofar as the twist endings. A couple of other more similar series to TZone 'Outer Limits' and 'One Step Beyond', I never really got into or enjoyed to the same extent as TZone. Although I always remembered the scorching hot brunette girl who played Regina (Joanna Frank) in the 'Outer Limits' episode 'ZZZZZZ.'

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Posted 1/8/2017 7:01 AM


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All this brings back the memory of Inger Stevens, another lovely young lady who starred in episodes:

"The Hitchhiker"  where this guy keeps showing up where ever she goes. In turns out that she didn't survive the accident when her car blew a tire. As Serling closes the episode..."Nan Adams, age twenty-seven. She was driving to California—to Los Angeles. She didn't make it. There was a detour…through The Twilight Zone." Thinking back, this was my favorite episode.

"The Lateness of the Hour" where she discovers she is just another robot her "parents" created because they wanted a child. I don't quite remember this one, but would probably recognize it if I see it.

Sadly, Inger passed away, way too young, only 35 years old, of an overdose. Not sure if they ever figured out if it was intentional or not...she had experienced great sucess in acting, and appeared to have everything going well in her life.

 

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