Last night’s adventure on the highway made me remember the old Suspense and later Twilight Zone episode, “The Hitchhiker” originally written by Lucille Fletcher. So, with that in mind, I decided to list some of my favorite Twilight Zone episodes for your delectation and delight this rather snowy Ash Wednesday.
Here they are, in chronological order.
1. Perchance to Dream– can dreams really kill you?
2. The Four of Us Are Dying– a con-man with the ability to change his face takes on the lives of dead men
3. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street– this turned up in all our lit books, but that doesn’t change a thing
4. The After-Hours– maybe obsolete today since stores never close, but still damn creepy
5. The Howling Man– you can never keep the devil locked up for long
6. Night of the Meek– the Christmas episode
7. The Invaders– a tough frontier woman defends her homestead from invading aliens
8. It’s a Good Life– the evil child before it was cool
9. Jess-Belle– what price will you pay for love?
10. The New Exhibit– a museum attendant gets too fond of his charges
11. Nightmare at 20,000 Feet– don’t watch this on an airplane (stars William Shatner)
12. Living Doll– a really creepy episode with one of Serling’s best webs of family tangles
13. The Masks– a dying ghoul gets revenge on his greedy heirs (the only episode directed by a woman, Ida Lupino)
Yes, sometimes Serling wasn’t exactly subtle in his writing (see “The Masks”, for instance), but if The Twilight Zone weren’t great enough to remember, nobody would care about his politics. He had the ability to thrill, scare, inspire, make us care about the fate of his protagonists, and he had a gift for creating characters that were more than stick figures. And there were lots of really talented people involved with the series, so it had star power, too.
Now I’m off to investigate Night Gallery, where Serling really got in touch with his dark side.