‘The Twilight Zone’: the 21 best episodes to delve into the original twilight zone
The new stop in ‘The Twilight Zone’ (‘The Twilight Zone’) has come from the hand of Jordan Peele , one of our favorite people for some time now and who has confirmed his good hand for the genre in the very comforting ‘ We ‘ (‘US’) Yes, that movie everyone has been talking about.
The reimagining of the original series , which ran from 1958 to 1963, will have Peele as master of ceremonies and narrator, a role made famous by creator Rod Serling through narratives with a strong charge of social conscience and an extraordinary ability to explore the human condition and the culture of his time.
‘The Twilight Zone’ went through many different stages throughout its five seasons and 156 episodes. Cuts starting with the second season, format changes and major restrictions, film adaptations that ended in tragedy and two attempts to revive his legacy that ended in oblivion are just some of the burdens that he has managed to survive.
Now the turn has come to fight side by side in an era where the strange is in fashion, where the uncomfortable and the moral become big. ‘The Twilight Zone’ arrives in a future world where ‘ Black Mirror ‘ rules and where he will have to provide that whoever had, kept .
Where is everybody? (Season 1, Episode 1)
The pilot chosen to start the trip was not, in fact, the one originally thought. ‘Time Element’ appeared at Westinghouse Desilu Playhouse because CBS wasn’t quite sure about that first Serling story, so a year later, we started the journey with Where’s Everyone?.
A first example of talent when it came to handle the fears and paranoia of his time, the script twists and, above all, a millimeter staging that enhanced the mastery of scripts for which time does not pass.
Escape Clause (Season 1, Episode 6)
The first appearance of the devil in the series came in the form of a more or less light-hearted comedy and the classic final moral that turned everything into a lesson to be learned. ‘A Game of Pool’ may have more respect among fans, but I’ve never been much of a billiards person.
With much in common with the next episode on the list, but in a Faustian key, the imaginary sick Walter Bedeker will meet his match in his desire to always be free of mortal danger until the end of his days. A very funny episode thanks to David Wayne’s unbridled comic relief .
Time Enough At Last (Season 1, Episode 8)
Another of the classics that has been honored endlessly is the episode focused on a banker with too much love for reading in a world that has no time for citizen acculturation.
If there was one thing this series knew how to do, it was to present a more or less simple, more or less predictable story, to end with a script twist that knocked out the viewer most willing to endure the blow. As usual, we will witness larger than life sets .
And When the Sky Was Opened (Season 1, Episode 11)
Rod Taylor brings a good helping of irrationality and helplessness in one of the best episodes of the series when it comes to talking about paranoid mental illnesses. The shadow of conspiracy and mental health concentrated in twenty prodigious minutes.
The pilots who once disappeared in the sky have returned and nothing will be the same again in an adaptation of a story by Richard Matheson , another very important name in the history of the series and who would write 16 episodes throughout its existence.
The Hitch-Hiker (Season 1; Episode 16)
Based on a radio play by Lucille Fletcher and with music by her husband, Bernard Herrman , ‘The Hitchhiker’ is one of those episodes that the viewer hopes will tip right to the other side of the scale.
As will constantly happen, we will not fail to see in the episode a lot of ideas that we will see later in titles such as ‘Psycho’, ‘The Carnival of Souls’ or in the films of M Night Shyamalan. One of those episodes that has the upper hand at all times and about which it is important to know just enough.
The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street (Season 1, Episode 22)
Now that we are in the middle of the campaign, it doesn’t hurt to remember this idyllic neighborhood of the most ideal suburbs in the United States. What would happen if our comfort disappeared in one fell swoop? Whose fault would it be? Would we be able to become our own wolf?
On a street and with a handful of actors as a recurring angry mass, a simple blackout will turn the neighborhood into a war zone . The best thing is that, as always on this side of the dimension, nothing is what it seems.
A Stop at Willoughby (Season 1; Episode 30)
Rod Serling’s favorite episode in the first season of ‘The Twilight Zone’ is one of, if not the most adult of the season. A desperate escape through the subconscious and those parallel trips so classic in the series.
With some autobiographical component from his beginnings on television, always full of aggressive dispatches, the episode reminds us that the masters of the current genre drink from the same source . Impossible not to think about the extraordinary ‘ The Wellness Cure ‘ during the beginning of the episode.
The Howling Man (Season 2, Episode 5)
With the second season came the cuts. Budget, format (combining 35mm and video) and number, but the genius was still present and the episodes last a couple of minutes in many cases, rebelling in the face of adversity . A new header also arrived and a much more modern way of presenting the stories.
In the case of this man who howls we come face to face with faith, with belief and with man’s inability to be advised. Until we reach the brilliant ending (as always) we are faced with uneven cameras and a sickly and feverish atmosphere like few other times in the series . Indispensable and, as always, with a lot of weight in modern fiction.
Eye of the Beholder (Season 2, Episode 6)
How to make an allegory for beginners a global television classic for eternity . With a lavish and elegant play of light and shadow, Serling’s combative script results in some of the most memorable characters of his creations.
The episode is based on an original story by Serling that he would later recycle for his ‘Night Gallery’ and which was also remake in the second revival of the series in the early 2000s.
Nick of Time (Season 2, Episode 7)
Before William Shatner suffered a nightmare at twenty thousand feet, he debuted in this dimension under the control of a toy fortune teller in a peaceful restaurant in a no less peaceful American town.
Another classic episode with recognizable merchandising in the form of a fortune teller who seems to know all the answers that fuel the superstition and irrational fear instilled in all human beings. An overwhelming story that warns us to live life without being enslaved by the “what if.”
The Invaders (Season 2, Episode 15)
Another of those brilliant episodes that knew how to squeeze the lack of budget with imagination and marvelous planning that makes the viewer wonder if they are not seeing a sequence shot.
Practically silent, its unbeatable setting thanks to a script by Richard Matheson and music by Jerry Goldsmith is supported by the marvelous performance of its protagonist, Agnes Moorehead. Another of those episodes that have influenced the cinematography of the fantasy stars of the present and one of the most endearing script twists of the season.
The Odyssey of Flight 33 (Season 2; Episode 18)
As one of the star dishes of the series, time travel left us with several episodes to remember, and one of the most enjoyable was the modest flight of this sixties jet that only wanted to land in New York.
His classic use of off-screen would have been enough, but for a moment he dares to show us what is out there. The legendary John Anderson pilots surrounded by a team on board who will not believe what is happening. The next time a pilot tells you that he will take advantage of the air currents to arrive faster, he prays.
The Grave (Season 3, Episode 7)
Lee Marvin and Lee Van Cleef (among others) face the death in the Wild West in an episode that includes one of the most beautiful shots of the entire series. Any lover of the genre or the Poe environment can be satisfied and make a mandatory stop.
‘The Tomb’ may leave a bit cold to many of the viewers who are anxiously awaiting a twist from another dimension , but the photography, the composition of many of the interior shots and the good work of a connoisseur of special Westerns like Montgomery Pittman They make the magic flow.
It’s a Good Life (Season 3, Episode 8)
One of the emblems of the series and possibly the most expressed episode with permission from the gremlin on the plane. So powerful is the story of the little monster based on a short story by Jerome Bixby that it had a sequel with the same protagonist in its 2003 version as well as a remake in the Joe Dante episode of the 1980s film adaptation.
Harsh, cruel and with a wise use of cornfields that can give nightmares to the least fearful of human beings, the episode is so perfect that it even allows itself the luxury of opening with what clearly would have been a powerful final twist in any other series or feature film.
Deaths-Head Revisited (Season 3; Episode 9)
There are wounds that never heal. Neither in this dimension nor in any other . It was not the first time that the horror of war was embodied in the Nazis, but it was the darkest, sickest and most terrifying of them all.
‘Return to the Skull’ is a well-deserved revenge, a cruel punishment, to one of the most detestable characters in the entire history of the series, a grotesque Nazi veteran who returns seventeen years later to the town that still houses the concentration camp where he ended up. with countless lives because he’s worth it. Very hard.
Five Characters in Search of an Exit (Season 3; Episode 14)
What might seem like a joke along the lines of “a dancer, a beggar, a piper, a clown and a soldier”… is another portentous exercise in staging with few (literal) shadows and a painful resolution.
And it has not only influenced teachers and friends of the most grandiose fantasy: ‘The Twilight Zone’ has also served as an inspiration for classics of all kinds , including animated ones. Can you see it coming? Well, only partly. Another of the great titles when it comes to creating a bad atmosphere. Damn clowns.
To Serve Man (Season 3; Episode 24)
When I talked about the wonderful ‘ Chapter 0 ‘ I mentioned Rod Serling’s series because the comparison, the wink, the total enjoyment of conveying the essence of such a classic episode , was priceless and very clear. It will also sound familiar to the most fans of ‘The Simpsons’.
‘To Serve Man’ may be one of the most important episodes of the series, first for its handling of tension when telling a larger than life story, and second for knowing how to avoid the embarrassment in which it is It would sink any other program that tried to reach the same conclusion. A masterpiece full of humor and with what may be the most emblematic final twist of its 156 episodes.
The Little People (Season 3, Episode 28)
Another great, great episode built in small dimensions. We meet Claude Akins again, whom we had left on Maple Street a couple of seasons ago, but this time in a lost canyon on an unknown planet.
Episode focused on the moral dilemma of power and divinity, how difficult it is to be an intergalactic god with costumes borrowed from classics from the golden age of science fiction, includes one of the most abrupt fatalities in fiction in its denouement. Of course he deserved it. Charming beyond measure.
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet (Season 5 Episode 3)
Two of our favorite Richards held hands to take us on one of the most unforgettable flights on the big and small screen. Although time has treated George Miller ‘s film remake better , at least in terms of the outside of the plane, this nightmare works like a shot.
On the one hand we have the most unleashed William Shatner and on the other hand the first episode that Richard Donner would direct for the series. Matheson’s script, based on his story, would be the second and final appearance of the future Enterprise captain in the series. Curiously, both episodes are among those selected for this article. What an eye the guy had.
Living Doll (Season 5, Episode 6)
A threatening doll, the name Annabelle constantly in the mouth of a Telly Savalas who only appeared on this occasion and an adorable little girl are the main ingredients of one of the episodes most remembered by old fans of the series.
A fairly harsh subtext between parents, children and limitations between couple relationships play in favor of the work in the episode that undoubtedly offers the coolest tool room / workshop of the entire series. The mother of the dolls, murderers? from the future.
The Masks (Season 5, Episode 25)
Ida Lupino had already appeared in ‘The 16mm Sanctuary’, a mythical episode of the first season halfway between ‘The Twilight of the Gods’ and ‘The Modern Sherlock Holmes’ with a really hard story if one thinks about her legacy. .
Additionally, she was the only woman to direct episodes of the series . ‘The Masks’, already in the final stretch of the series, is a sad, tense, gray episode and where Lupino’s staging helps the tragedy not leave the viewer’s body in a few days. Greed, family relationships and interests on the deathbed of a millionaire surrounded by his heirs. Incredible makeup work by the indispensable William Tuttle. Practically the finishing touch to ‘The Twilight Zone’.
An eternal legacy
I have ignored the fourth season because its length somewhat betrayed the spirit of the series, even though its creator always had hour-long episodes in mind (advertising included). But the merit of the series, what makes it great, eternal, is its ability to tell round stories in just twenty minutes.
‘The Twilight Zone’ is essential for any fantasy lover. An encyclopedia of the genre where all the possibilities are narrated through an unrepeatable creator who takes us by the hand through his 156 stories. If someone is looking to purchase the series in the national market, my recommendation is to look for the five packs that L’Atelier 13 published since 2012. The current bluray edition is incomplete, does not include subtitles and includes poor audiovisual content.
Now that we are about to enter a new dimension, it is not a bad time to look back and see if any past unknown dimension was better. What a trial by fire , friend Jordan Peele.