Thursday, December 27, 2007

Thursday Thirteen # 25: Some of My Favorite Twilight Zone Episodes

Thirteen of my favorite "Twilight Zone" episodes

One of my all-time favorite TV shows is the original version of "The Twilight Zone" (1959-1964). Last weekend, I was talking with my niece Pjazzy (who's also a fan of the series). We both agreed that many episodes are just as scary now as when we first saw them. Although "The Twilight Zone" has its share of scary episodes, many of them are not... nor are they meant to be. A great number of the stories told in "The Twilight Zone" dealt with such themes as nostalgia, the longing for a better life, and man's inhumanity to man.

Since the Sci-Fi Channel will air its annual Twilight Zone Marathon on 12/31 and 1/1 (click here for the schedule), I thought I would list some of MY fave episodes. If you are a fan of the show, you can understand the difficulty I had narrowing the list down to just 13 (which, by the way, is in alphabetical order by episode title). In case some of you haven't seen any of these episodes, I am only providing a brief synopsis (since "The Twilight Zone" was known for its twist endings).

1. The Dummy- A ventriloquist (played by Cliff Robertson) becomes convinced that his dummy has a will and a life of its own.

2. The Eye of the Beholder- In a hospital room, her face completely covered by bandages, a woman waits to see if a last-chance operation has fixed her facial deformity.

3. Five Characters In Search of An Exit- Five people (a ballet dancer, a major, a clown, a tramp and a bagpipe player) are trapped in a featureless enclosure. With no idea how they got there, they attempt to escape.

4. The Four of Us Are Dying- A man can change his face to look exactly like someone else, a talent that he depends on for a living.

5. The Fugitive- An old man delights the local children (including a little girl who wears a leg brace) with his magical powers. Nancy Kulp (best known as Jane Hathaway on "The Beverly Hillbillies") plays the little girl's mean aunt.

6. It's A Good Life- Six-year-old Anthony Fremont holds a town in terror with his powers to change or destroy anyone or anything at will. For the 2002-2003 UPN revival of "The Twilight Zone", there was a sequel to this episode (titled "It's Still A Good Life"). Reprising their roles from the original episode are Billy Mumy as Anthony Fremont and Cloris Leachman as his mother.

7. The Last Night of A Jockey- A down-and-out jockey (Mickey Rooney) yearns to be a giant of a man so that everyone will look up at him.

8. The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street- A mysterious power failure causes paranoid suburbanites to suspect one another of being disguised creatures from outer space.

9. A Penny For Your Thoughts- A timid bank clerk discovers that a coin that lands on its edge as he pays for a paper leaves him with the power to read minds. This episode features Dick York (Darrin #1 on "Bewitched") as the bank clerk and Hayden Rorke (Dr. Bellows on "I Dream of Jeannie") as a bank customer.

10. The Rip Van Winkle Caper- Four thieves plot to hide out with their loot for 100 years in a state of suspended animation.

11. Time Enough At Last- A mild-mannered, nearsighted bookworm (Burgess Meredith) is the sole survivor of an H-bomb attack.

12. Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up- On the night of a UFO sighting, seven people at a diner claim to be Earthlings, though one of them is not.

13. A World of His Own- A playwright describes characters into his tape recorder and they materialize before his eyes. This episode (the final one of the first season) marks the first time in the series that Rod Serling appears onscreen.

What are some of your favorite episodes of "The Twilight Zone"?

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Chelle Y. said...

The only one I remember is when the sun was five inches too close to the earth, then the person woke up from the dream, and found out that the sun was five inches too far.

I do not know why, but that freaked me out!

ellen b. said...

I remember watching those originals way back when. They freaked me out back then...
Fun tt...

Moondancer said...

I miss watching this show. #8 and #11 were really good, its been so long I've forgetten a lot of them.

Happy TT

Holly Smith said...

I remember waking up to that creepy music when I'd leave my tv on that was in my bedroom. I seem to recall one in which this guy had a creepy bump on his head, and I remember it being really sad. Other people couldn't interact with him b/c of it or something. I probably saw this when I was eight or nine, so I wouldn't put money on the fact that was an actual episode. I've seen the Twilight Zone Movie a bunch of times, and I really like that too.

Do you remember Amazing Stories? My favorite one of those was the one where the gunner (who loved to draw) of an army plane was going to die b/c he was stuck in the little glass bubble under the plane and the landing gear was stuck and wouldn't come down for the plane to land. But then he draws the wheels on a drawing pad and cartoon landing gear magically comes down. It sounds dumb the way I described it, but it was really good!

Tink said...

I love the Twilight Zone! I remember most of those.
In my TT I'm looking back at my 2007 New Year’s resoutions…

Nicholas said...

I think I may have seen one or two of those. Id like to see them all. Your TT prompts me to see if they are out on DVD

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

You like me anyway, right, Malcolm? I have NEVER seen the Twilight Zone. And I'm not exactly going to be near a TV to catch the marathon on SciFi (details at my place!).

I'll fix this character deficiency. I will.

The Gal Herself said...

I never saw #1, but I'd love to. Reminds me of William Goldman's Magic and my favorite TZ -- Martin Balsam is the tour guide in a wax museum that specializes in horror. When the museum goes out of business, he takes the wax figures home and ... ew ... shudder! Of course I loved #11. I hate to admit it, but it's a fantasy of mine.

Thanks for visiting my TT and sharing the mountain bike story.

Open Grove Claudia said...

OHHH! Those are good ones. My favorite is one of the one hour ones called "Jezebel". I love the Twilight Zone. It is absolutely my favorite tv.

Great list again Malcolm!

Sue said...

Thanks for the trip down memory lane! It was an awesome show, and I loved it as a kid. :) Happy TT and all the best in 2008!

pjazzypar said...

Hey Malcolm,

After we talked I saw the episode in which Burgess Meredith was a bank employee who love literature, but caught a lot of flack for it. He ends up surviving a bomb that destroys everyone, but him and you know the rest. Anyhow great list. I think I will post next week as I am a little busy this week. Happy TT.

X. Dell said...

Those were all great episodes, so no argument from me. Interestingly, my favorite episode was Rod Serling's least favorite, even though it's one of the more popular ones. "Twenty-two" is about an exotic dancer, hospitalized for nervous exhaustion, who dreams about being greeted by the morgue nurse with the words, "Room for one more, honey."

Sarai said...

The Eye of the Beholder-is one that freaked me out I must say! Great list and thanks for the tip on Wonderfalls I will put it in my must rent on Netflicks! Have a great day!

Babystepper said...

I've only seen one or two episods of the TZ. Obviously I'm missing out. I am a big fan of Mystery Science Theater.

Lori said...

I love the Twilight Zone. I use to watch the marathon every Thanksgiving:) Great list...a few of my favorites as well. Happy TT.

Lazy Daisy said...

I remember #2. We used to watch them as children and really get scared.

Malcolm: said...

Chelle: The one you named (The Midnight Sun) is a good one too. It almost made my list.

Moondancer: The closing scene of #8 (The Monsters Are Due On Maple St.) still gives me the creeps.

Holly: The ep. you described doesn't ring a bell. If it's not an actual ep., maybe you could finish the story and make some serious cash. I remember enjoying the movie version myself. Nancy Cartwright (aka the voice of Bart Simpson) co-starred in the segment about the boy with the power to turn his imagination into reality.

Yes, I do remember "Amazing Stories". I wished that I watched it more than I did though. The ep. that you described sounds very intriguing.

Nicholas: In case you didn't check yet, the entire series of "The Twilight Zone" is out on DVD. I need to look into buying some of these because I have read that the special features are awesome.

Susan: You might be amazed at some of the things I haven't seen, so you get a pass on not having seen "The Twilight Zone". If you ever get around to checking it out, feel free to let me know what you think.

The Gal Herself: I have never seen the ep you described. I looked it up and found that it was one of the hour long ones titled "The New Exhibit". I checked the schedule and found that this will be the last episode of the upcoming marathon. I'll be watching!

Open Grove: I saw the one you described a long time ago. I wish that they were showing it during the marathon... but they aren't.

Sue: Thanks for stopping by. You have an enjoyable 2008 as well!

Pjazzy: I was watching that one the other morning too. I fell asleep before it ended though. Even though I know how it ends, it still has an effect on me.

Since Cook is down in TX, I figured that you would be too busy to post this week.

X. Dell: I remember that the author of "The Twilight Zone Companion" didn't think much of that episode either. Me and my sister did love that line you quoted, "Room for one more honey."

Sarai: "Eye of the Beholder" freaks me out too. Not only does it have one of the best endings of any episode, but it's very thought-provoking. No problem on the tip about "Wonderfalls". Based on the TV shows you listed on your TT this week, I think you will enjoy it.

Babystepper: No surprise, but I highly recommend "The Twilight Zone". I haven't seen MST3K In a long time. That show used to crack me up.

Sandy Carlson said...

Great stuff! This program still unnerves me, so I know these episodes only vaguely! God bless.

pussreboots said...

TZ was a great series. Happy TT.

~Yen~ said...

I'm sorry, I haven't watch a single one on those mentioned but sounds nice..
Here's mine for this week!
Thursday 13
Enjoy the rest of the Holidays!

Natalie said...

I didn't realize I'd seen that many episodes, but a lot of those sounded familiar. Great list idea!

My Thursday Thirteen is up too! :)

MondaythroughSunday said...

ok..I may seem weird..but I have never actually sat down and watched and entire episode of the Twilight Zone. Too freaking for me! Hope you have a very Happy New Year!

Robin said...

Sorry, the Twilight Zone was way too scary for me growing (and probably still would be if it were shown here on reruns!).

Zenmomma said...

We just watched an episode of "Lost" that reminded us of the Twilight Zone. It was total irony. I love the one with Burgess Meredith and the glasses.

Bloggers said...

Great post that takes me back!

Faith said...

Time Enough at Last is my favourite, and it just breaks my heart every time. Happy TT.

Lori's Light Extemporanea said...

We were just loving this TT! My 14-year-old daughter was reading over my shoulder as I entered my TT info and I caught this one. She is a big, big fan of the original Twilight Zone and we were enjoying reminiscing over your choices.

The one with Burgess Meredith at the end of the world just hurts me to's exactly what would happen to me. :-)

The scariest one I remember was Nightmare as a Child. That one still gives me the creeps.

And what about Jack Klugman's episodes? I loved those, especially In Praise of Pip (I'm a romantic sucker).

Anyway, enough blogging in your comments section...excellent TT! Happy Thursday!

Lori's Light Extemporanea said...

Oh, and we decided that The Last Rites of Jeff Myrtlebank, Living Doll, and 22 were freaky. :-)

Malcolm: said...

Sandy, MondayThroughSunday, and Robin: No puns intended, but I'm afraid I may have frightened you all off in my description of "The Twilight Zone" as a scary show. Although many episodes have their share of scares, there are a great many that are simply great sci-fi/fantasy stories. Because I sold the show short to those unfamiliar with it, I went back and added a couple of sentences to the opening of my TT explaining that TZ was more than just a scary show.

If it airs in your area, it's definitely worth a look. If you do come across a scary episode, just make sure you have the lights on and a loved one nearby so that you can grab onto them. :-)

Natalie: Thanks for the positive feedback and for stopping by!

Zen Momma: I watched "Lost" for about the first 10 episodes. I then got lost as I fell behind by several episodes. I wish I had time to catch up because I feel like I am really missing out.

I almost left "Time Enough At Last" off my list because I thought it might be predictable on my part to include it. However, I realized that it has to be on any list that discusses the best episodes of "The Twilight Zone".

Faith: Heartbreaking is the perfect description for the episode "Time Enough At Last". Henry Bemis (the main character) didn't ask for much... all he wanted was time enough to read.

Lori's Light: Thanks for stopping by and providing some of you and your daughter's fave TZ episodes. The episode "Time Enough At Last" really illustrates that sometimes life just isn't fair.

When me and my niece were discussing TZ last weekend, she was saying how "Nightmare As A Child" was one that freaked her out as well. I didn't care for "In Praise of Pip" when I was younger. However, I have grown to appreciate it now... it's sentimental without being schmaltzy. My fave Jack Klugman episode is "A Game of Pool" which also co-starred Jonathan Winters.

Those last 3 you mentioned (esp. "Living Doll") weren't bad either. I'm sure you knew what I meant when I said at the beginning of this TT that it was hard to narrow down my list to just 13 episodes. Thanks again for visiting.

Samantha_K said...

#1 is a plotline that scares the crap out of me.

Hoyeya said...

I haven't watched any of the Twilight Zone episodes in a long time and can't remember any of these. Great list! I'll be checking out the marathon.

Dane Bramage said...

I like both of the William Shatner ones, The one where he sees the gremilin out the airplane window and especially the one where he and his wife are trapped in a small town by a fortune telling machine.

My Thursday Thirteen #62 13 People Who Left Us in 2007 edition. Stop by if you get a chance.

Anonymous said...

#2, #7 and #12 are good, but the very best is Time Enough at Last. I weep every time I see that one. It's just horrible.

LOVE it. :)

SlipOfAGirl said...

The only one I remember is the deformed woman one where everyone is shrieking at what we'd call 'beauty' -- it is required viewing!

But then again, I didn't watch many as they scared me so much. :shudder:

D Pop Tart said...

What was the one with the earwicks... it ate the way thru his head as he screamed, he was the only survivor of such creatures and yet he received the good-news bad-news bit: The good news is you've survived and it's out; the bad news is that she laid her eggs in there...

Or was that an Outer Limits episode?

The Mistress of the Dark said...

I can't remember the last time I watched The Twilight Zone, but those were always such fun.

Xakara said...

You picked some great ones! Of them 2, 5, 6, 8, 11 and 12 are my favorites. Of those you didn't list:

Nothing in the Dark: It stared Gladys Cooper as an old woman afraid that death is coming for her. She rarely goes out or opens her door but is moved to help a wounded police officer. It turns out that the one person she let in was indeed death but he's so kind she's not afraid at the end and goes with him. Of course of Death came in the form of a young Robert Redford to most anyone, it would be an easier transistion by far.

Night Call: This also stared Gladys Cooper. A lonely old woman begins receiving mysterious phone calls after a storm downs powerlines in a graveyard. Too late she realizes the calls are from her dead fiance after she's told him to stop troubling her.

Come Wander With Me: A folksinger that steals his material hears a song that fortells of his own death. For one reason or another the song from this episode has stayed with me since I first saw it as a child.

The Trade-Ins: This was one of the first episodes I remember seeing. An elderly couple go to trade in their bodies for younger ones, but they can only afford the proceedure for one of them. Rather than be separated, they both remain old so that they can die together.

The Bewitching Pool: Two kids of divorcing parents find a portal in their pool to a peaceful place where they'll never grow up and always be loved by a "magical grandma". What kid couldn't appreciate the thought?

Little Girl Lost: This one scared me as a child because the little girl rolls out of bed in her sleep and falls through a portal in her bedroom wall. Her father has to get a scientist to help him figure out how to save her.

Spur of the Moment: This one was always neat because a woman on horse back keeps riding down to a young woman that's just gotten engaged, terrifying her. It turns out to be her older self trying to keep her from making a horrible mistake by marrying the wrong man. I always thought of how wonderful it would be to get that chance if you could actually pull it off.

I Sing The Body Electric: Another favorite and likely the one that gave me an eternal soft spot for humanoid robots as caretakers. A widower orders a robotic nanny/grandmother to help raise his children. Mary Poppins with batteries.

The Masks: A dying man requests that his heirs show up to a party and wear special masks. Once he dies, the greedy twerps take off the mask to find that their faces have changed to reflect their true personalities. I think the vindictive part of my liked this episode as a child because I always wanted to think mean people got what they deserve.

Okay, I should go since this nearly became my own TT with all the episodes I mentioned. LOL

Happy Thursday Malcolm

~Xakara <------Please use this link

Lori said...

You are most definitely my kind of guy (smile). While on the road over the holidays, we ate at a Cracker Barrel and after our meal the first thing my son and I did was look for a new Twilight Zone dvd for our collection.

Like Pjazzy, one of my favorites is "Time Enough At Last." Probably my all-time favorite is "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street." Just last year, I introduced my son to the concept of "irony" via this episode.

I think you already know how I feel about "It's A Good Life." (LOL) Sheesh, I couldn't stand that kid.

Julie said...

#2 and #11 would make my list of Twilight Zone favorites as well. I also like the episode featuring William Shatner as a newlywed who is addicted to some weird looking devil head that predicts the future. And how can I forget the live episode featuring the hospitalized woman who keeps having the same nightmare, ending with a creepy woman saying, "Room for one more, honey". Sorry that I don't have the titles on hand.

Malcolm: said...

Samantha K: I don't know if you have ever seen #1 on my list (The Dummy), but it has one of the freakiest endings of any "Twilight Zone" episode. If you do watch it, be sure that UPS is close by. :-)

Hoyeya: When I went to check the Sci-Fi Channel website a few days ago to get information on the marathon, it wasn't on the schedule. I was like, "WTF... no Twilight Zone marathon this year?" I then breathed a sigh of relief... it wasn't listed because I was on the UK version of the site instead of the US one. Watching the marathon is a great way to bring in the New Year!

Dane: I am probably in the minority, but "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" didn't do much for me. However, I did enjoy the other Shatner episode you listed (Nick of Time).

Amy: #12 (Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up) just might be my favorite episode of "The Twilight Zone". It's hard not to be moved by the ep titled "Time Enough At Last". While watching it the other morning, I was wondering to myself how Burgess Meredith's character ending up married to such an awful woman.

Slipofagirl: I agree with you, "Eye of the Beholder" is one of the essential episodes of "The Twilight Zone".

D Pop Tart: The episode (The Catepillar) that you described is from Rod Serling's follow up series, "Night Gallery". Here is the link to the page on that has additional info about the episode:

Mistress of the Dark: Although some might feel that "fun" is an odd choice of words to describe "The Twilight Zone", I think the word fits.

With a moniker like "Mistress of the Dark", I figured you might be a fan of the series. :-)

Xakara: It's always cool to come across someone who is as big a fan of the TZ as me. Although some of your episode descriptions gave away the twist ending, all is forgiven. :-)

Of the ones you listed, "Nothing In the Dark", "Little Girl Lost", and "The Bewitching Pool" almost made my TT. For reasons which I am sure you understand, it was hard as hell not to include these on my list.

"The Masks" and "I Sing the Body Electric" are fine episodes as well. The dying man in the former has some particularly biting dialogue that he spews at his relatives (who deserve it). "Night Call" is one that I haven't seen in awhile. I am looking forward to catching it during the upcoming marathon.

"Spur of the Moment" could have been so much better to me. The thing that I didn't like about it is that the opening sequence gives the "twist" away by using closeups... you can see that the young woman and her middle-aged pursuer are the same person.

An interesting side note to "Come Wander With Me" is the story of a young actress who auditioned for the female part in the episode. According to the producer, this actress was a nervous, frightened girl whose hands shook and who was covered in sweat during the interview process. Her name was Liza Minnelli.

If you don't already have one, you might be interested in one of the companion guides to the series. The one I have is called "The Twilight Zone Companion". Since the edition I have came out back in the early 80s, I need to get the updated one. Besides, my copy is well-worn... that's an indication of how invaluable the book has been for me.

Thanks again for stopping by and commenting.

Lori: I think it's great that your son is a fan of the show as well. I turned on one of my nieces (who is now 20) to the TZ when she was about 8. Although I mentioned it earlier, it bears repeating. The closing scene of "The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street" still gives me the creeps. When I was typing up the entry for "It's A Good Life", I was thinking of you and your feelings about little Anthony Fremont. :-)

Julie: When I was reading your blog profile this evening, I found that you listed "The Twilight Zone" as the Most Addictive Show. It's hard to argue with that.

The Shatner ep. that you listed (Nick of Time) has grown on me over the years. Me and my sister used to quote that "Room for one more honey" line from the other episode you mentioned (Twenty-Two).

Geek alert: although it appeared to be a live episode, "Twenty Two" had the look that it did because it was shot on videotape instead of film. The reason this was done is that the show was going over budget and the network wanted to cut costs. Along with "Twenty Two", there were 5 other episodes that were shot on videotape. Apparently, Rod Serling didn't like shooting on videotape because of its limitations (such as the inability to use exterior locations).

Sarah said...

This is a brilliant TT!! I have to say you listed almost all of my favorites, but the one that terrified me for years was "Talking Tina". Even with all the horror films made about possessed evil dolls nothing holds a candle to this one taunting Telly Savalas.

Thanks for playing along with my self-made meme. I tried finding one just to answer but they were mostly lengthy and I couldn't for the world of me figure out why some of the questions made the list.

Have a Happy New Year!!

Malcolm said...

Thanks for stopping by, I was hoping you would. The episode with Talking Tina is still a creepy one to me. I can understand the doll making threats to Telly. But when she threatens the child's mother, you find out just how dangerous that doll is, lol.

As for my participation in the meme, you are quite welcome.

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