10 Underappreciated Twilight Zone Episodes
I am a HUGE Twilight Zone fan. I’ve seen every episode multiple times and have all the books/scripts. It is just the best show ever. I’ve been quite obsessed since my tween years. And really, any fan of modern sci-fi, mysteries, or twist endings can thank Rod Serling and his masterpiece The Twilight Zone.
Doo doo doo doo, doo doo doo doo…Who doesn’t recognize that famous theme song? There are no lyrics, yet everyone knows it. That’s how iconic the show is. There’ve been numerous reboots and even a movie, but nothing can compete with the original series. The groundbreaking series ran for five seasons from 1959–1964, and has proven to be a classic. The show is on Netflix, there’s the biannual SyFy marathon, and there are the definitive edition DVDs that prove the demand for this show is still all too real.
There are many famous episodes, from the very first episode Where is Everybody, to William Shattner’s frightening plane ride in Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, to neighbors who just know there’s an alien among them in The Monsters are Due on Maple Street that many other great episodes often get overlooked. During the marathons, the classic episodes are always played, but what about the others?
There are so many other episodes just as mind-bending and twisted that deserve to also be classics in their own right.
1.Five Characters in Search of an Exit
This episode finds a real mix bag of characters, namely a clown, a bagpipe player, a ballerina, a hobo, and a soldier trapped in a strange dark room together. But why?
Are they in the circus? Well, no because why would a soldier or bagpiper be hanging out with circus folk? Is this some sort of dystopian prison for freaks? Not exactly. Are these children’s toys in a bin? Bingo!
This is one of those mysterious episodes where the whole episode is one giant riddle. And you have to wait until the very end for the answer to be revealed. The genius of it is that anyone can guess. In fact, a child would probably figure out the surprise ending right away, whereas an adult watching will be pretty flabbergasted.
Similar to 1984 or Fahrenheit 451, The Obsolete Man takes place in a dystopia where citizens are super controlled by the government and reading is a serious no-no. They spend their time watching TV screens and punishing anyone who defies the government.
So when Mr. Wordsworth, played by series regular and favorite Burgess Meredith, defies the government by reading (gasp!), he is sentenced to death. However, all hope is not lost when Mr. Wordsworth is granted the right to choose the time and manner of his manner of death.
In the end, intelligence and individualism reign supreme when Mr. Wordsworth goes out with a bang both literally and metaphorically. That is, he chooses to die by way of a bomb, while trapping the chancellor in the room with him. The chancellor actually begs God to be let out, meaning Mr. Wordsworth has accomplished what he wanted and proven just how weak the government is under this regime to viewers watching from their TV screens.
Despite a very hokey ending scene involving a furious growling mob that decides to abandon all human instincts and attack the chancellor, this episode is one of the series’ best.
Despite the protagonists (spoiler alert) dying in the end, this one has a pretty light tone. You may even catch yourself chuckling a few times.
In this episode, a crooked married couple and the wife’s fugitive brother find a magical camera that can predict the future with a single photo. Of course, they try to use the camera to get rich off of horse racing, and it works…for a little while. That is until they realize the amount of photos the camera can take are limited. Ah, the days before things went digital!
The characters are just so unlikeable but interesting that you can’t help watching with the hopes that something awful will happen to this disgraceful cast of characters.
4.Number 12 Looks Just Like You
This episode is probably more relevant than ever in this modern Photoshopping and selfie-obsessed society.
It takes place in a time when all women must go through a transformation to turn beautiful once they reach womanhood. The idea behind this is to make every woman beautiful and eliminating ugliness. But everyone looks the same. And in a world where everyone is beautiful, really no one is.
The episode follows a girl who tries to unsuccessfully defy society by looking average. The show ends in true modern television fashion: with a fun makeover.
5.Passage on the Lady Ann
While season four was certainly the most ill fated season because of those infamous hour-long experimental episodes, Passage on the Lady Ann is a stand-alone episode.It centers on a couple who is trying to save their marriage by taking a ship to London, despite many warnings not to. In fact, 90% of the episode is of the folks on the ship trying to get the young couple off the ship. But there must be a good reason for this rejection, right? Right.
The couple finally does involuntarily exit on lifeboats, and the ship vanishes and is never heard from again. A lot of Twilight Zone episodes deal with this sense of trusting people, especially when it does not make sense to. So when someone tells you to get off the ship, trust them and do it.
Not too many episodes of The Twilight Zone involve animals. Thankfully, The Hunt makes up for that.
When a man and his dog die and the man finds that “Heaven’s gatekeeper” won’t let his dog in, he rejects “Heaven” and refuses to enter without his beloved pup. Any true dog lover can relate.
And guess what…that wasn’t even really Heaven. It was Hell. Of course Heaven lets dogs in! So in the end, both man and dog find their new home behind the pearly gates.
This is one of the sweetest episodes that will make any animal lover undoubtedly spout “awww.” Plus, it proves that humans can be just as loyal to their dogs as dogs can be to their humans. You can go hug little Feefee now.
Sometimes you just can’t get someone to shut up! And that’s where money comes in handy, because you can just bet them that they can’t keep their mouth shut for an entire year. But be careful, because they may just be desperate enough to take you up on it.
That’s exactly what happens in The Silence, when wealthy aristocrat, Taylor, challenges the loudmouthed Tennyson that he can’t be silent an entire year. Now even though Tennyson spends the episode in turtlenecks, very few people would actually guess this M. Night Shamalan-esque ending.
This is one of those episodes where we are just waiting for that famous twist. So when Tennyson is shown at the end of the episode without his trademark turtleneck, and when you see the scar on his neck from where he got his vocal cords severed, you’ll shudder while grinning from the brilliance that was Rod Serling’s mind.
Long Distance Call
Some episodes are creepy, like scary horror movie creepy, and they should not be viewed at night. This
is one of those episodes.
When a boy’s grandmother dies, he doesn’t even have time to grieve before she’s calling him on his
phone with her frightening ghostly voice! But how can the poor boy convince everyone else that it
really is Grandma on the line? And how is she calling him? Why?
Things turn nearly fatal for the boy when he jumps in front of a car and then tries to drown himself,
because Grandma, desperate for time with her grandson, told him to. Luckily, this dark episode doesn’t
end so grimly when Little Billy’s father convinces Grandma to leave the boy alone so he can
experience life for himself. Still, we can’t help being totally creeped out.
In this episode that is all light and fun until its very dark ending, Ring-A-Ding Girl is about a famous actress, Bunny Blake, who comes back home. There is a real genuine sweetness to her, and it is obvious she is not just some narcissistic starlet like one would expect to see from someone this famous and beautiful.
So when she tries to get the town to reschedule their annual picnic, while trying to convince them to see her one-woman show, we know this cannot be for selfish reasons. It is revealed that she is trying to save them from a plane crash that killed her through the powers of her magical future-foreseeing ring. What?!? Yes, mind once again blown.
Bizarre? Yes. Brilliant? Double yes.
This is another out “before its time” episode that proves you love who you love, and there’s no cure for that. In The Lonely, a dystopian prisoner, Corry, is sent to live along on an asteroid. But when a kind policeman brings him the gift of a robot woman, he falls in love with her.
To his surprise, Corry is told he can go home to earth. The only problem is, the robot cannot go with him.He chooses to give up his freedom to stay with her, but is crushed when the police officer shoots her in the face, and he is forced to leave without her. You can’t help crying at his heartbreak…that is until you can’t help but laugh at the odd way he says “robutt.”
Originally published at myneongreennotebook.blogspot.com on August 22, 2014.