Friday, April 5, 2019

The Twilight Zone

"You're travelling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind.  A journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination.  That's the signpost up ahead - your next stop, the Twilight Zone!"
Rod Serling

Tonight, we should finally get to watch the first few episodes of the new Twilight Zone.  High hopes, a little tempered from the false start, but still looking forward to it.

As I said before, in my humble opinion, The Twilight Zone is the greatest scripted television show to have ever aired.  Yes, there are episodes that are just good, but there are more episodes that are simply spectacular.

With that, I thought I would post another Top 10 List, this time focusing on my favorite 10 episodes of The Twilight Zone.  This was tougher than it should have been. A few were no-brainers, but the rest moved off and on the list.  I decided to focus on the ones that moved me the most.  In doing so, I noticed that seven of the ten are written by Rod Serling himself.  That should tell you something about my preferences in the best episodes.

So, without any further ado, my list of my top 10 favorite episodes of The Twilight Zone, in order of air date.

  • The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street (Season 1, Episode 22) - An excellent parable for Cold War paranoia.  I read this script in American literature in high school and the episode still holds up.  Even beyond the Cold War aesthetic, it plays to all forms of prejudice and suspicion.
  • Eye of the Beholder (Season 2, Episode 6) - Such a beautifully shot episode.  The lighting and the camera composition structure this in such a good way, that the twist just works.  A great commentary on beauty.
  • Nick of Time (Season 2, Episode 7) - How would you respond to vague predictions?  Probably one of Shatner's best performances.  A tense bottle episode playing on fear and superstition.
  • The Silence (Season 2, Episode 25) - The ultimate bet, where the stakes were never higher.  The resolution of this episode is heartbreaking.
  • The Obsolete Man (Season 2, Episode 29) - Perhaps the best episode of the whole series.  A frightful dystopia where that which is declared obsolete by the State is removed.  "The chancellor, the late chancellor, was only partly correct.  He was obsolete.  But so is the State, the entity he worshiped.  Any state, entity, or ideology becomes obsolete when it stockpiles the wrong weapons: when it captures territories, but not minds; when it enslaves millions, but convinces nobody.  When it is naked, yet puts on armor and calls it faith, while in the Eyes of God it has no faith at all. Any state, any entity, any ideology which fails to recognize the worth, the dignity, the rights of Man...that state is obsolete.  A case to be filed under 'M' for 'Mankind.'"
  • The Shelter (Season 3, Episode 3) - Another parable on Cold War paranoia, now determining who will be saved in a bomb shelter.  Man's inhumanity to man and how to proceed.
  • Deaths-Head Revisited (Season 3, Episode 9) - Serling's statement on the Holocaust, written in reaction to the ongoing trial of Adolf Eichmann.  Haunting and powerful.
  • Kick the Can (Season 3, Episode 21) - The light and hopeful episode on this list.  A reminder that age is a state of mind.
  • Number 12 Looks Just Like You (Season 5, Episode 17) - Another commentary on beauty and individuality.  Something frighteningly prescient.
  • The Masks (Season 5, Episode 25) - The things we will do for wealth.  This episode is all about revealing the ugly truths we hold inside.  Directed by Ida Lupino, the only person to have acted in and directed a Twilight Zone episode and also the only woman to direct an episode.
To any other fans out there, what are your favorite episodes?

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