If you’re anything like me, you are constantly in need of new TV shows to stream. While black-and-white shows from the early Sixties are probably not high on your list, if you have never seen an episode of The Twilight Zone, you need to. I think a reasonable argument can be made that it is the best TV series of all time. While its age certainly shows at times, and some episodes are clunkers, it is one of the most consistently high-quality, well-acted, and thoroughly entertaining shows I have seen.
I thought I would share some of my personal favorites. The Twilight Zone is an anthology series, so there is no need to watch the episodes in order. Some episodes are available for free on CBS.com. I’ve linked those that are.
A woman driving across the country is stalked by a mysterious hitch-hiker. If you have never watched the show, this episode is a good introduction to the series. It has a well-executed story, is fairly creepy and features an entertaining, if somewhat predictable, twist-ending.
Burgess Meredith, a librarian living under an Orwellian government, is declared “obsolete” and sentenced to death. Not all episodes have an overt message, but The Twilight Zone is not afraid to lay-on some moralizing rather thick. This episode certainly has a moral, but unless you’re a North Korean government official or work for the NSA you can probably identify with it.
8. Night Call
An elderly woman receives anonymous phone calls from an unknown source. This is one of the few episodes that might be considered genuinely scary. An interesting fact: “Long Distance Call” was originally supposed to air on November 22, 1963. It was bumped until the following February.
A down-on-his luck boxer has one last chance at a comeback. A relatively simple story, but it deftly handles themes of pride and childhood innocence. This episode is noteworthy for featuring an all-black principal cast, which was certainly unique for its time.
6. One More Pallbearer
A millionaire plays a cruel joke on people he thinks have wronged him. This is a really great episode. The concept is interesting and is ultimately a fascinating look into what is truly valuable in life.
Nuclear attack seems imminent, and a man and his family take cover in their bomb shelter while their neighbors beg to be let in. In many ways, this is the epitome of a Twilight Zone episode: nuclear war, sci-fi overtones, an examination of the human condition and a good moral to the story. Definitely worth watching.
A good ghost story set in the Old West. By not relying on cheesy special effects, this episode manages to be creepy even today.
3. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street
Something like a meteor flies over a neighborhood, and as strange things happen the neighbors begin to suspect each other. This is one of the truly great episodes. You really must watch this one.
Burgess Meredith likes to read, but his responsibilities and horrid wife don’t leave him much time to do so. A nuclear war takes care of that. If you’ve only heard of one Twilight Zone episode, this is probably it. I won’t spoil the classic ending if you somehow don’t know what happens, but it has been referenced and parodied countless times.
1. It’s a Good Life
A small town is terrorized by a boy (Bill Mumy) with strange abilities. If you only watch one of the episodes on this list, watch this one. It is at times funny and serious, and at all times fascinating. It’s a good episode. A real good episode.
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