Last week I wrote about the Rod Serling series, "Twilight Zone" and I provided a list of top ten episodes from TIME magazine's website. If you are an old Twilight Zone fan like me, I hope that jogged your memory about your favorite episodes as well.
If you are new to the show, you can check it out in a variety of places. IMDb, the movie and television database, has many of the episodes streaming online for free. If you have Netflix or Hulu, you can see them there as well and on the SyFy channel.
After discussing other's opinions, I wanted to share with you my favorite episodes of the "Twilight Zone" so without further adieu, let's travel into that realm once more.
I have to admit that some of my most favorite episodes dealt with the subjects of time travel and loops. For example one of the earliest time travel episodes is from season two entitled "A Hundred Yards Over the Rim." In this episode a pioneer family from the 19th century is traveling across the desert when his son falls ill and they stop.
He promises the family he will return for help and takes off ahead of the wagon over a ridge only to find himself in modern day New Mexico; well at least as modern as the early 1960's. He finds a diner and enters it speaking with the guests and trying to find a cure for his son. Slowly the patrons realize this is no ordinary traveler but before they fully realize what is happening, the pioneer gets some medicine and leaves for his family again over the rim leaving behind more questions than answers.
Another favorite time traveling themed episode is from the final season, "The 7th is Made Up of Phantoms." In this episode a tank crew on maneuvers with the National Guard cross a hill and find themselves in the middle of the day when General George Custer made his last stand. They make their way back to the officer in charge to brief him on their discovery. Of course the officer does not believe the crew, but they return to the Little Big Horn in time for the battle and when the commander goes searching for them later, he discovers something that he was not expecting. This episode with its time slip is one of the coolest ones in that genre in my opinion. The first time I watched it I loved it almost immediately.
One of the best ones though is from the first season entitled "The Last Flight." In this episode which takes place in the present, an airmen on a United States Air Force base witness a World War I plane appear flying out of a cloud. It descends and lands at the base and the men discover the pilot claims to be from World War I.
Not sure whether to believe this is a joke or a serious problem, he is detained and questioned. They soon discover that he was in a squadron with other pilots which were being attacked by German planes. The pilot fled in terror into the clouds and appeared at the base. Over the course of the episode he realizes that he needs to return to the battle as he learns more about the base. Eventually he returns to the plane and flies away. Later the airmen discover in a most unusual way the coward has become a hero.
In a twist on time travel, another episode in the second season, "The Rip Van Winkle Caper," takes a different approach. In this episode three thieves abscond with an armored car full of gold. WIth the assistance of a crooked scientist, they hide everything in a secret cave and the scientist places them into a state of suspended animation. When they awake almost a hundred years in the future, they learn the truck was destroyed and they need to walk back to the city to cash in their ill-gotten gains. They soon discover though there is no honor among thieves, but that lesson is not as shocking as what they learn about their loot.
Besides time travel, there are some great supernatural episodes as well about fate and shocking self-discoveries. One of classics I remember watching one Saturday night on PBS when they used to run three or six episodes per night scared the heck out of me.
"The Hitch-hiker" is a story about a woman who is taking her first trip across country and notices a hitchhiker on the side of the road and passes him by. As she continues to drive, she grows panicked because it seems the same man continues to appear ahead of her hitching for a ride. She eventually learns the shocking truth about the man, herself and her trip through the "Twilight Zone." This was a great episode and the first time I watched it, I have to admit it really did catch me by surprise.
One of the most powerful episodes in my opinion though does not run on television very often and I think it is due to being part of the hour long fourth season.
"He's Alive" is Rod Serling's commentary on hatred and fascism and how quickly hatred once rooted can grow and destroy. It is actually a great lesson for today as well and one that should be taken to heart. In this episode, a two bit United States neo-Nazi leader is guided by an elderly mentor from being an ineffective wannabe head of a tiny Nazi group to becoming a ruthless leader of the organization which begins to attract quite a bit of attention for itself.
As the episode unfolds, we witness this terrifying transformation as the man in the shadows manipulates and eventually destroys this young leader. In the end, the old man is revealed to be an insidious role model and proof that hatred even exists in the Twilight Zone.
While all of the episodes are fantastic, these are just a few that stand out in my mind and are worth a look. Some other ones that I just don't have space to write about are: "To Serve Man," "Stopover at Wiloughby," "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street," and "The Changing of the Guard."
Til next time…