It was thanks to my dad, and an inspiring high school English teacher named Mr. Garner, that I fell in love with Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone at a young age.
My dad raised me on the oft-creepy and socially relevant black and white TV show, and I was hooked from the start. During SyFy’s holiday Twilight Zone marathons, we can often be found parked in front of the television whenever we have a moment, re-watching episodes we’ve seen countless times before.
Today is National Twilight Zone Day and it’s made me think about my favorite episode – and that’s where the inspiring high school teacher comes in. He showed us “The Silence” one day in class, and I was floored.
Originally airing on April 28, 1961, it’s one of the show’s most unassuming episodes. It follows a bet between two members of a men’s club – the young, talkative Jamie Tennyson (Liam Sullivan) and gruff, aristocratic Colonel Archie Taylor (Franchot Tone), who bets the former that he cannot stay silent for an entire year.
There’s nothing paranormal or mystical about the episode, but that doesn’t matter. The multiple twists at the end, alongside the building tension over the course of the entire episode, is enough to make this my favorite episode. Its very human qualities and exploration get me every time I see it. And Sullivan gives one of my favorite performances in any episode of the series ever, from his eager determination as it morphs into anger and stubbornness until finally it comes to tragic defeat.
It’s an underrated episode, but one I hope some people give a chance today!
In thinking about my own favorite episode, I began to wonder what other people’s favorite episodes are and so I turned to the audience of Entertainment Earth and put the question to them. Below are a handful of the answers I received!
“‘Time Enough At Last’ – I remember first seeing the episode when I was little, and even then the moral of the story was clear. Henry Bemis wanted to be alone so badly and he finally got his wish… but you have to be careful what you wish for. It’s such an emotionally powerful episode!” – Jenn, Facebook
“‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street.’ As to why it’s my favorite, it shows that aliens don’t need to defeat us; we will hand them the planet because we will turn on each other at a moments notice.” – Robert, Facebook
“‘To Serve Man.’ It speaks not only to man’s desire to see if there’s alien life out there in the universe, but also teaches a valuable lesson that things aren’t always what they seem.” – Jayme, Facebook
“‘Will The Real Martian Please Stand Up?’ Superb writing. Lighthearted with a great twist. Hard to choose just one.” – @dholden11
“‘Once Upon a Time’ w/ Buster Keaton. Prescient yet comedic. Unlike any other TZ episode. Simply amazing on so many levels.” – @WallyWingert
“‘The Hunt’ (S3 Ep.19). Hyder won’t go into ‘Heaven’ without Rip. His dedication to his dog literally saves him from hell.” – @topdollauk
“‘Eye of the Beholder’ & ‘#12 Looks Just Like You’ cuz they tackle real life issues, the importance of individuality & self-confidence.” – @AprilDalaman
“‘A Penny for Your Thoughts.’ The only time being in the Zone actually un-screwed somebody.” – @erlo355
“‘Nightmare at 20,000 Feet’ for sure!!! That Gremlin guy who messed with Shatner gave me nightmares as a kid… I still hate his face!! 👹✈️” – @nicoleathomas
“‘Nick of Time’ – An episode that speaks heavily to me as someone who went from a small town to the big city. Before I left, the uncertainty of failure/and no planned loomed above me (much like the Mystic Seer), and friends / family tried to persuade me not to leave the small town as well. I took the chance, and everything worked out amazingly. Best decision ever. I later bought a Mystic Seer that I keep in my office to remember to take chances and not let uncertainty hold me back.” – @alexjustinger
“‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street’ – The ending narration is some of the best writing ever.” – @solidant
“So many to choose from but I’ll go with one of my newer favorites – ‘5 Characters in Search of an Exit.’ This was one that blew my mind after years of watching mysteries and thrillers and believing I had seen every plot twist imaginable.” – @__este_guy__
“Season Three, Episode Five – ‘A Game Of Pool.’ It’s a simple episode, but I love the theme of legacy. The acting is superb and really sells the characters. And just like every great episode of The Twilight Zone the ending narration always leaves me with chills.” – @smring14
What are YOUR favorite episodes of this classic show? Let us know below, and happy National Twilight Zone Day!