Friday, October 02, 2009

50 years of The Twilight Zone

Twilight Zone main titles
Well folks, on October 2nd, 1959 The Twilight Zone debuted.

Everyone familiar with the show has their favorites, here are some of mine in no particular order and as Rod would so often say, "I hope you enjoy." Note that some of these aren't necessarily all the commonly mentioned classics, but while re-watching them over the past few weeks, they are episodes that really stood out for me or still creeped the Hell out of me. I guarantee that I left quite a few off this list that I should not have. Am I superstitious to leave it at 12 episodes only? Or am I bright because there are plenty more I could list? Realistically I could more easily do a "list of least favorite episodes" and not leave any off the short list since so many are not only iconic, but surprisingly good even by today's standards.

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet: William Shatner plays a nervous man who just happens to be the only person who sees something toying with the wing of the airplane in-flight. This episode has atmosphere and is still pretty creepy.

Time Enough at Last: Burgess Meredith is the lone survivor of an aerial attack, but soon realizes that there's more to life than being surrounded by the living. The episode is wonderfully ironic and iconic.

To Serve Man: An alien race comes to Earth with the promise of solving all our problems. Is this a wish too good to be true?

The Midnight Sun: The Earth is in its last moments, about to be swallowed up by the Sun. I probably enjoy this episode mainly for the twist that comes in the story. There are some kind of rediculous moments, the neighbor's over the top reactions, the insane guy off the streets, but the episode instills the right amount of fear of the inevitable that never lets up, that is until the end.

The Obsolete Man: Burgess Meredith is a man who lives in a society that deems decadent aspects of the past "obsolete" if it conflicts with the word of the government. While a few years ago I thought this episode was beginning to date itself, I looked at it in new found light and found I quite like it.

The Invaders: Agnes Moorehead is a loner living in isolation who comes face to face with space aliens. This episode is wonderful. The music by Jerry Goldsmith is creepy as hell, listening to it alone gives me goosebumps. The "invaders" themselves, in their silly space suits are probably the only aspect that didn't hold up as well as all the rest of it.

Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?: A group of people on a bus stop at a diner when the road conditions become too bleak to continue on, but when they arrive there's an additional person then when they departed. The police report that an unidentified craft crashed at the local pond. So who's the Martian? I like the whodunit aspect of the episode. John Hoyt and Jack Elam stand out.

Nick of Time: William Shatner and his wife stop at a small town on their honeymoon when their car breaks down. When they stop at a diner for a quick bite, the discover a fortune telling machine that begins to control their actions.

Mirror Image: Vera Miles is a young woman waiting alone at a bus stop in the evening. Others around her convince her that she's done things she doesn't remember doing, and she starts to see items of her move around, without her actually doing so. There are some positively chilling moments in this episode.

Living Doll: Telly Savalas' daughter owns a doll that hates Telly. What a fraking creepy episode. I hated talking dolls after seeing this episode when I was younger.

Twenty Two: Twenty Two creeps me the hell out. Barbara Nichols as a stripper is at a hospital, where night after night she dreams she ends up in the morgue. Some don't like it because it was shot on video (and not film). I honestly think it adds to the unsettling nature of the episode.

It's A Good Life: This is one of the few things that I've ever seen that has caused me to watch in abject horror with mouth wide open for 22 minutes straight. The absolute revulsion that I had for Anthony and the kind of world that had been created by him bothers me each time, and even though I know the outcome, I always find myself hoping that they can stop the madness.

The Twilight Zone revolutionized television, and has influenced it for 50 years. Here's to 50 more!

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