Grab a drink and few snacks, it's National Twilight Zone Day and Halloween Every Night offers up 10 "Twilight Zone" episodes for a late pandemic binge watching. / Illustration by Kaz Fantone
May 11 is National Twilight Zone Day and it comes at a time when many people probably feel like they’ve stumbled into it.
If readers have run out of new shows to watch, a bonafide and iconic TV classic is can still provide a punch nearly 60 years after the original series’ final episode.
Halloween Every Night has assembled a binge list to suit the 2021 late pandemic viewer who might be bored, restless, and in need of a reminder of just how good the original show (1959-1964) was. For the newcomer, this collection is a great introduction to one of the greatest shows in the history of TV.
Grab a drink and a few snacks and enjoy.
“Time Enough at Last”(Season 1, Episode 8) – There’s no greater nightmare than not having enough time to read if you’re a bookworm like Henry Bemis. Starring two-time Academy Award nominee Burgess Meredith, the episode tells the story of a man who wants nothing more than to have time to read, yet never finds enough time to do what he loves most. After a nuclear attack, Bemis finds enough time to read at last. It may not be all that he’s been hoping for.
“The Howling Man” (S2, E5) – With its old European castle setting, flashes of lightning at the beginning, gothic vibes, and howls throughout the episode, “The Howling Man” is a perfect watch for October or Halloween. David Ellington, who’s trying to find shelter from a storm, stumbles across a castle when he’s on a trip in central Europe and meets members of a convent. There, he also stumbles across an imprisoned man who is seemingly innocent. There may be something more to him.
“Eye of the Beholder” (S2, E6) – Janet Tyler has undergone multiple plastic surgeries in order to blend in with society. There’s great commentary on society, and the twist at the end of the episode is great. There’s also a layer of effectiveness that the episode has as none of the characters’ faces are revealed until the end of the episode. The makeup on the “normal” people is stellar and creepy, and it’s unsettling when the camera gets close to them. Maxine Stuart’s performance as the bandaged-up Janet Tyler is fantastic.
“A Quality of Mercy” (S3, E15) – There is nothing more terrifying than the horrors of war. An American lieutenant finds himself in the shoes of a Japanese soldier. A timely tale of compassion and empathy for his enemies. If you can look past the yellowface when Dean Stockwell plays Lieutenant Yamuri, the episode is worth a watch.
“The Dummy” (S3, E33) – A ventriloquist believes his dummy is alive. The ending is quite possibly one of the creepiest and most unsetting in any Twilight Zone episode. Some good writing dangles whether the dummy is actually alive or if it’s all in the protagonist’s head.
“He’s Alive” (S4, E4) – It’s impressive how an episode of a television series from the early 1960’s has captured the horrors of hate and prejudice in the 21st century. It tells the story of a Neo-Nazi named Peter Vollmer, played by a young Dennis Hopper, who gets help from the spirit of Adolf Hitler. A message about how bigotry keeps Hitler’s spirit alive that is, unfortunately, still incredibly relevant today.
“The New Exhibit” (S4, E13) – Obsession with anything is never healthy. Especially obsession with serial killers. Martin Senescu brings home a bunch of wax figures of serial killers from the wax museum he works at, and they start killing the people in his life… or are they? A terrific cautionary tale for anyone who finds serial killers fascinating.
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” (S5, E3) – Bob Wilson has a fear of flying. Portrayed feverishly by a pre-Star Trek William Shatner, Wilson sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane that he’s traveling on. Is it all in his head? Will anyone believe him?
“Living Doll” (S5, E6) – Talky Tina is a seemingly innocent doll who starts threatening Erich Streator, a stepfather who’s distant from his wife and stepdaughter. As Talky Tina becomes more and more sinister, and it’s not all in Erich’s head. This hunk of plastic is more than it seems.
“Number 12 Looks Just Like You” (S5, E17) – In a world where people undergo an operation to look “beautiful,” there is no room for individuality and uniqueness. Marilyn Cuberle doesn’t want to go through a process in order to be beautiful. Not just that, but the operation also causes the person to lack any sort of negative emotion. She may not have much of a say in it, after all.
The original run of “The Twilight Zone” is available for streaming on Netflix, Hulu and Paramount+, and episodes also appear on SyFy.