This is the way nightmares begin… or, perhaps, end.
The Twilight Zone has at once warmed our hearts, stimulated our minds, and made our skin crawl. From Talky Tina to Kanamit, we have encountered timeless characters who have thrived throughout the decades. Pushing the boundaries of what can be said and done on television, The Twilight Zone will forever set the standard for television’s gruesome and macabre.
Let’s take a look at 10 amazing episodes of The Twilight Zone. Yes, we’re counting down to the very best episode. Take a look, and let us know if you agree!
10. “Living Doll”
Talky Tina, a doll that does everything, a lifelike creation of plastic and springs and painted smile. To Erich Streator, she is the most unwelcome addition to his household – but without her, he’d never enter the Twilight Zone.
Erich Streater is upset when his wife comes home with her daughter Christie having bought her yet another doll. Christie loves her new Talking Tina doll but her stepfather takes an immediate dislike to it. Anytime he is alone with the doll, it spouts abusive comments to the effect that it hates him and that it’s going to kill him. He’s convinced that his wife is behind it all, something she vehemently denies. He tries to get rid of the doll but it always seems to reappear – and also seems intent on following through with its threats.
9. “Passage on the Lady Anne”
Portrait of a honeymoon couple getting ready for a journey – with a difference.
Eileen and Alan Ransome’s marriage is going through a bad patch and they decide to go on a holiday to London. They insist on traveling by ship and book passage on the Lady Anne, an old ship that is not recommended by the travel agent but is leaving quite soon. When they arrive at the port terminal another passenger, McKenzie, says they’ve made a mistake and they shouldn’t board. Another, Burgess, tries to warn them off as well and he and McKenzie offer them $10,000 to leave immediately. They find that all of the passengers are quite elderly but have a good deal of wisdom to dispense. They are more than a little taken aback when the captain puts them off the ship. They are rescued, but as for the Lady Anne…
8. “The Howling Man”
The prostrate form of Mr. David Ellington, scholar, seeker of truth and, regretably, finder of truth.
David Ellington recounts a story, one that began just after the end of World War I. He was hiking in Europe when he sought refuge in an abbey during a violent rain storm. The residence is isolated and its head, Brother Jerome, tells him he cannot stay. Ellington is ill however and during his short stay meets someone who is being kept prisoner and howls constantly through the night. Ellington believes the Howling Man is being kept there for no good reason but Brother Jerome tells him of the man’s true nature. The decision Ellington makes will haunt him for the rest of his life.
7. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet”
The flight of Mr. Robert Wilson has ended now, a flight not only from point A to point B, but also from the fear of recurring mental breakdown.
Bob Wilson is on a flight when he sees a creature of some sort out on the wing of the aircraft. He’s only recently recovered from a nervous breakdown and isn’t sure that what he is seeing is real. Every time someone else looks out the window, the creature hides from view. When the creature begins to tamper with one of the engines he begs him wife to tell the pilots to keep an eye on the engines. If they see nothing, he agrees to commit himself to an asylum when they arrive at their destination. His paranoia drives him to a desperate act.
6. “To Serve Man”
The recollections of one Michael Chambers with appropriate flashbacks and soliloquy. Or more simply stated, the evolution of man.
Michael Chambers recounts recent events on Earth after the arrival of a alien space craft. The aliens, known as Kanamit, seem friendly and assure everyone they have nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they offer to share wonderful technology that will provide limitless energy, cure all disease and convert deserts into lush gardens. For the people of Earth, paradise has arrived. Chambers is an encryption specialist and they try their best to decrypt a book the Kanamit left behind. The book’s title seems benign – but it’s not what they think it is.
5. “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street”
Maple Street, U.S.A. Late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children, and the bell of an ice cream vendor.
On a pleasant day, the residents of Maple Street feel something akin to a tremor and hear a loud noise. Steve Brand thinks it’s a meteorite though they didn’t hear a create. When young Tommy tells them the science fiction story he read about an alien invasion where they were first sent among humans to live with them in disguise, paranoia sets in. They first suspect Les Goodman and loudmouth Charlie Farnsworth then points the finger at Steve and then Tommy. Events turn on Charlie as everyone runs amok.
4. “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge”
Tonight a presentation so special and unique that, for the first time in the five years we’ve been presenting The Twilight Zone, we’re offering a film shot in France by others.
During the American Civil War, Union troops are about to hang a man, a Southerner, from the Owl Creek bridge. As he goes over the side with the noose around his neck the rope breaks and he manages to unbind his hands and feet. As he swims downstream, he has images of home and his lovely wife. He also manages to evade the troops who are trying to stop him. Just as he reaches his destination however, his true circumstances are revealed.
3. “Nick of Time”
In one moment, they will be subjected to a gift most humans never receive in a lifetime. For one penny, they will be able to look into the future.
Don and Pat Carter are on their honeymoon when their car breaks down in the small town of Ridgeview, Ohio. They have a few hours to spare while their car is being repaired and spend time in the diner. There they find a fortune-telling machine, a game where you can ask a question and for a penny will spit out an innocuous answer. When the machine apparently begins to predict events – Don’s promotion at work, a near accident on the street outside – a superstitious Don becomes infatuated with the device threatening his marriage and his future with Pat.
2. “Eye of the Beholder”
Suspended in time and space for a moment, your introduction to Miss Janet Tyler, who lives in a very private world of darkness, a universe whose dimensions are the size, thickness, length of a swath of bandages that cover her face.
Janet Tyler is in hospital having undergone treatment to make her look normal. It’s her 11th trip to the hospital for treatment and she is desperate to look like everyone else. Some of her earliest childhood memories are of people looking away, horrified by her appearance. Her bandages will soon come off and she can only hope that this, her last treatment, will have done the trick. If not, her doctor has told she will be segregated with a colony of similar looking people. All that to say that truth is truly in the eye of the beholder.
1. “Time Enough at Last”
The best-laid plans of mice and men – and Henry Bemis, the small man in the glasses who wanted nothing but time. Henry Bemis, now just a part of a smashed landscape, just a piece of the rubble, just a fragment of what man has deeded to himself. Mr. Henry Bemis – in the Twilight Zone.
Henry Bemis loves to read. The only problem is that he can find neither the time nor the place to enjoy his pastime. At work, his boss has let him know in no uncertain terms that he is not to read during working hours. At home, his shrewish wife won’t even let him read a newspaper, let alone a book. One day, he sneaks down to the vault in the bank’s basement to read a bit and suddenly, there is a huge explosion above. He emerges to find the world destroyed in a nuclear holocaust. He does find books from the library and he sees a great deal of reading time ahead of him. Except for one small unintended event.