The Twilight Zone Hall of Fame

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Citizen Rules is the second one to submit his ballot!

It's almost impossible to rank these episodes. It usually only takes me a few minutes to rank the movies at the end of a HoF, but there are so many great episodes that it's more difficult than in previous HoFs. I've been working on it for a while, but I keep ending up with episodes that I love ranked as low as #10 to #12. I keep shifting them around trying to make my list the way I want it, but it never feels right.
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It's almost impossible to rank these episodes. It usually only takes me a few minutes to rank the movies at the end of a HoF, but there are so many great episodes that it's more difficult than in previous HoFs. I've been working on it for a while, but I keep ending up with episodes that I love ranked as low as #10 to #12. I keep shifting them around trying to make my list the way I want it, but it never feels right.
I feel that. I love a ton of Twilight Zone episodes, so it almost hurts to rank some of them so low.



It's almost impossible to rank these episodes. It usually only takes me a few minutes to rank the movies at the end of a HoF, but there are so many great episodes that it's more difficult than in previous HoFs. I've been working on it for a while, but I keep ending up with episodes that I love ranked as low as #10 to #12. I keep shifting them around trying to make my list the way I want it, but it never feels right.
I told SpelingError the same thing when I sent in my ballot...I knew for sure my #1 & #2 choices were amazing so belonged there. But there was a whole bunch of really good episodes that I could almost switch the order around and it wouldn't matter because I liked them all. Then there were a few that were only OK and those were easy enough to put at the bottom.

Awesome HoF idea! and good choices everyone.



I was a bit surprised that a couple of my previous favorites didn't hold up as well as I thought that they would have. They're still great episodes that I love, but no matter how I change my ballot, they still seem to keep ending up lower than I expected them to place.

I rewatched a few of the episodes again, and I should have my list finished in a little while, so I'll see where they eventually end up.



I was a bit surprised that a couple of my previous favorites didn't hold up as well as I thought that they would have. They're still great episodes that I love, but no matter how I change my ballot, they still seem to keep ending up lower than I expected them to place.

I rewatched a few of the episodes again, and I should have my list finished in a little while, so I'll see where they eventually end up.
I tend not to like rewatching stuff too often, so some of my favorite episodes lost a little of their luster thanks to being overseen. I tended to favor episodes with strong acting over strong story. Probably because once I know the twist to the story then the only thing left for me is acting. Luckily there were a lot of really well acted episodes here.



I tend not to like rewatching stuff too often, so some of my favorite episodes lost a little of their luster thanks to being overseen. I tended to favor episodes with strong acting over strong story. Probably because once I know the twist to the story then the only thing left for me is acting. Luckily there were a lot of really well acted episodes here.

I tend to go the opposite direction. I usually base my ranking more on the story over the acting. I base the plot twist on how effective it was the first time I saw it, rather than on the rewatch. When I rewatch the episodes, I try to look for hints about the twist that I missed the first time I watched it.



I've made my final decisions, and submitted my list.

I still have to post my write-ups for two more episodes, but they're both my own noms, and I rewatched both of them already, so I didn't think it made sense to postpone sending in my list. (To be honest, I'm just procrastinating on the last two because I'm terrible at writing these reviews. )



"It's a Good Life" CONTAINS SPOILERS

As a lover of The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror segment that parodies this episode, it was nice to finally watch it. Like that segment, it really makes you think about the consequences of having your own way all of the time. As frustrating as it is that it cannot be this way, especially during times when you really, really want it, it drives the point home that it's for the best that life is not like that. What’s more, what better way to drive this point home than to instill this ability in a child, especially one like Anthony who has little to no awareness of the consequences of his actions? While Anthony in this episode is indeed a young boy while Rocky in "A Nice Place to Visit" is an adult, I still believe this episode makes for a nice companion to it. I say this because in "It's a Good Life," we observe the ramifications of someone fulfilling their every wish on everyone else as if they were real people instead of NPC's in an afterlife simulation. Bill Mumy is very good as Anthony and it was simply nice to see him in something else since I've only ever seen him on Babylon 5. Also, forget whatever I've said about any of the disturbing moments I've pointed out so far: nothing I've seen yet matches the creepiness of Anthony turning Dan into a Jack-in-the-Box and I highly doubt that any other creepy moments in the episodes I have yet to watch will come close.

While I've found plenty to say about this episode and believe there are things worthy of praise in it, did I enjoy the experience of watching it? Not really. There are few less satisfying sensations while reading a book, watching a movie, etc. than being in a constant and inescapable state of cringe. In fact, its possibly my least favorite way to feel while being entertained regardless of how profound or insightful the messages may be. In other words, it did not take long for me to feel like the typical adult in Peaksville feels. This is one of the few occasions in which I believe the parody - i.e., the one in Treehouse of Horror II - is more enjoyable than its source material because its cringe is interspersed with comic relief. Again, I'm pleased with how much this episode gave me to dissect and Bill Mumy's performance is one of the most memorable ones by a child I've ever seen. Even so, this is an episode that is much more satisfying to write about than it is to watch.



"It's a Good Life"

....There are few less satisfying sensations while reading a book, watching a movie, etc. than being in a constant and inescapable state of cringe. In fact, its possibly my least favorite way to feel while being entertained regardless of how profound or insightful the messages may be.

In other words, it did not take long for me to feel like the typical adult in Peaksville feels...
Perfectly stated and that's exactly how I felt and that's why I called It's a Good Life, "the most terrifying thing I've ever seen."



Perfectly stated and that's exactly how I felt and that's why I called It's a Good Life, "the most terrifying thing I've ever seen."
I can relate. Do you remember the Star Trek episode "Charlie X?" This one reminds me a lot of it and how I felt during watching it. The movie Funny Games comes to mind as well. In other words, a perfect recipe for telling a story in which there is 100% cringe and little to no relief (and that I'll be begging for release while watching it) is to rest everything on the shoulders of one or more chaotic neutral or evil characters. Bonus points if they are children and thus impervious to reason.



I can relate. Do you remember the Star Trek episode "Charlie X?" This one reminds me a lot of it and how I felt during watching it.
Exactly...the feeling it generates in me is how I felt about Charlie X, which is the most terrifying Star Trek I've seen.



I can relate. Do you remember the Star Trek episode "Charlie X?" This one reminds me a lot of it and how I felt during watching it. The movie Funny Games comes to mind as well. In other words, a perfect recipe for telling a story in which there is 100% cringe and little to no relief (and that I'll be begging for release while watching it) is to rest everything on the shoulders of one or more chaotic neutral or evil characters. Bonus points if they are children and thus impervious to reason.

One of the things that I like better about the Star Trek episode "Charlie X" is that it has closure, which the TZ episode "It's A Good Life" doesn't have. The TZ episode starts and ends with everyone being afraid of Anthony, and nobody finding a way to teach him how to use his powers properly.



Season 3 Episode 8: It's a Good Life

When I binged all the episodes in the show a few years ago, I ranked this as my number one favorite episode. I don't think this episode will be number one again (my taste changed a bit since then), but it's still excellent and will likely do great on my ballot. This is one of the several episodes in the show which I consider to be straight up horror, and it's able to accomplish this without the aid of any plot twists or reveals. It's just a glimpse of a group of people suffering under someone else's control. The various scenes and characters within this episode are what make it stand out so much. For example, there's Rod Serling's unique introduction to the episode, the opening scene where Anthony creates and kills a three-headed gopher, Aunt Amy trying her luck several times by testing Anthony, the ambiguously menacing ending, and, of course, the terrific birthday party sequence in the final act. These scenes range from great to excellent and make this one of the most disturbing episodes in the show. Also, Anthony is definitely one of the most memorable Twilight Zone antagonists. What I like about him is that he isn't an evil character by any means. Rather, his lack of emotional development seems to be the root of the problem. An effective scene occurs when Anthony responds in confusion after his father tells him why the neighbors are reluctant to let their children play with him (the reason being that he wished several kids into the cornfield in the past). This conversation shows that he's completely oblivious to the consequences of his actions. To Anthony's perspective, there's nothing wrong with what he does and, since anyone who tries to tell him otherwise would be punished, this leaves no room for him to mature and allows him to keep wreaking havoc. Overall, this is a terrific episode and I can see why it's one of the most iconic episodes from the show.

Next Up: The Midnight Sun



11 Foreign Language movies to go
Time enough at last to do another review - with SPOILERS

Series 1 - Episode 8 : Time Enough At Last - This is a classic episode that I knew about long before seeing it for the first time. My first introduction was the 'slightly cracking the fourth wall' first segment in Twilight Zone: The Movie, where two characters start talking about The Twilight Zone, and in particular this episode. The second was Futurama, which again referenced it. We have the unlikely about delightful character of Henry Bemis, a bank teller with Coke-bottle glasses and such a penchant for reading that he pisses everyone off with his general inattention and habit of relating every paragraph he reads. Bemis is played wonderfully by Burgess Meredith, who I really haven't seen enough of - just as The Penguin in Batman, Mick in the Rocky series and here and there in films like Grumpy Old Men. Anyway, it's a slow-paced episode which really sets up it's character - his love of reading, the fact that he's generally hated by his wife and boss and the fact that these people often force him not to read, which is torture for Bemis. One day, at work, he has to go to the bank vault - and he happens to go there exactly when a nuclear attack rains down out of nowhere (a newspaper clues us in - which is effective I guess) killing everyone there is except for Bemis. At first he's downcast - with everyone gone life seems empty and meaningless. Bored, lonely and with a life of simple drudgery ahead he toys with the idea of committing suicide until he spots a public library. The books have survived! Now Bemis has all the time he might want and need to read without interruption or antagonism. He's in heaven! It's then that he has a bit of a stumble and his glasses fall off, breaking. Without his glasses - any hope Bemis had of reading any of the books at the library - 1000s of them - is gone. It's just not fair. It's not fair!


Yeah, very good episode - especially for one reason - Burgess Meredith. He creates a boggled, bespectacled character who unknowingly irritates hurried people by discussing the wonders of David Copperfield and poetry. With his mustache, mussed up hair and generally 'mouth agape' expression he seems like the grandfather you always wished you had. (My grandfather used to bite my ears for some reason.) That he loves reading so much makes him seem intelligent and a source of good conversation. The tragic slip at the end marked a certain kind of Twilight Zone episode that would always leave you a bit devastated.

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My movie ratings often go up or down a point or two after more reflection, research and rewatches.

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11 Foreign Language movies to go
There's gonna be - you guess it - SPOILERS

Season 1 - Episode 5 : Walking Distance - Martin Sloan is an advertising executive - a Vice President of media at somewhere or other and you could imagine such a successful man might miss the fun and frivolity of youth. He's trundling along in his car one day...well, racing along, and nearly passes a service station, backs up and starts beeping his horn *BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!* impatiently - c'mon buddy! He gets a word, and apologises - but he's sweating and out of cigarettes. Throwing the pack away you can see this is one stressed individual. Nice car though. Martin also needs an oil change and lube job - about an hour - and that's okay, because he's spotted a sign telling him he's only walking distance from the little town where he grew up. I don't know about you, but I'd always be aware if I was driving by where I grew up. Doesn't matter. He's off - stopping at a soda and ice cream place which is classical Americana and takes him back. Back to when things used to cost a nickel and life was easy. Further on down the road he runs into a kid, introduces himself and gives the kid a fright because the kid knows him. Martin has walked back in time in the classic Twilight Zone sense - but this was probably the first time it happened. He yearns for the days when he could listen to bands in the park, get on rides in a fairground and innocence. Freedom. Unfortunately he's one of those guys who doesn't time travel methodically with a bit of knowing wisdom - he runs around frightening everyone, including his parents who think he's a madman, shaking them and screaming that he's their boy. He also scares the hell out of himself - he chases his childhood self around like a maniac, and ends up giving himself a leg injury by chasing himself off a carousel. He's not a jerk - but he is the kind of guy you just can't take time travelling with you. Once he seriously hurts himself, and talks to his father again (this time calmly, and with his Dad much quicker to adjust to the whole time-travel gig than he was) he reflects. He goes back to the soda place - this time the modern version - and reflects some more. Then Rod Serling reflects on the impossibility to regaining our youth and the free and fun days we once had - at least literally. In spirit we can. But don't take Martin Sloan time travelling - he gets carried away.


I'm not really familiar with Gig Young, who plays Martin Sloan in this, or director Robert Stevens - who seems to have done quite a few episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents along with this series. All new faces for me. This really is a classic template of future episodes. The nostalgic yearning for our youth manifesting in literally time travelling is the source of many a fantasy in our own minds, as well as in literature or other media. Our youth is typically a time when we have very few responsibilities, many new experiences and make the most vivid memories. A desire to return to it is natural - as is a strong desire to return to some kind of similar state. Giving Martin a stressful job, which he obviously works hard at and feels the pressure of, gives us a character where that desire burns strong. He can learn a great lesson by actually going back - seeing what that produces, and then reflecting on the experience. The Twilight Zone vicariously here gives us the same thing to reflect on ourselves - and I'm sure many people did after this.




11 Foreign Language movies to go
SPOILERS - I think we all know now, you can't review an episode of The Twilight Zone without 'em.

Season 2 - Episode 28 : Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up? - A funny thing happened to me while watching this episode. Now - take note - I didn't know who was in it when I started watching. The guy behind the counter is played by an actor called Barney Phillips, and there's a character eating soup with his back to us. I spent a few moments watching and pondering how Phillips looked a little like Jack Elam. Not a ringer, just slightly - and I pondered that, and pondered Elam, as the mind ponders. Then, eventually, the soup-eating guy turns around and it's Jack Elam!! *The Twilight Zone theme plays* - that could have been anybody. It just happened to be the actor I was thinking about. Okay - now the review. Sorry.

This was the first time seeing this particular episode - and the first time I've come in and watched one for this thread without having seen an episode before. Of course, that Jordan Peele monstrosity of a first season of the latest incarnation of The Twilight Zone I have seen, and it had an episode called A Traveler which was very similar. A U.F.O. crashes in the wilderness, an alien has supposedly gotten out and leaves tracks leading to a secluded diner. When two police officers get there, tracking whatever it is that's come from space, 7 customers are there. 6 have come from a bus that had been stopping by, and nobody can quite work out who the imposter is. There's an older couple, a younger couple, a woman with big boobies, Jack Elam acting all crazy, the bus driver, and a man in his late 50s/early 60s who acts like a busybody. Everyone ponders, and then starts to get suspicious for a moment - almost a throwback to The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street because the Jukebox and lights go on and off. They never really get close to identifying who the alien is, and suspicion never falls on one person for very long. They have to all stay there overnight while a bridge is repaired and the bus can take off again - this time with one extra person on it. Later, the man in his late 50s/early 60s comes tottering back. He walks in, and explains how the bus and the police car fell into the river because the bridge did end up collapsing. The guy behind the counter wonders why the man isn't wet. "What's wet?" the man wonders. Then we see he has four arms. He's from Mars - and they're thinking about colonising this part of Earth. But - the man behind the bar is from Venus! He reveals he has three eyes, and that Venus has already colonised this area. It's only now that we get to know this is one of Twilight Zone endings that's kind of like a punchline to a joke.

WARNING: spoilers below


Well, I admit that I didn't see that coming. The real reveal isn't that the elderly gentleman is the Martian, but that the guy behind the counter is an alien himself and therefore isn't shocked or surprised - in fact he seems to have the upper hand. It's a very decent episode of The Twilight Zone that will unfortunately be hampered in my eyes by my personal preferences of the episodes that are a lot more serious and less jokey. I did really appreciate Jack Elam being in it - and especially the fact that he had the best role as the old coot who just thinks everything is hilarious and pokes fun of everyone. He really gets to make his presence felt. I thought it amazing that I just happened to be thinking about him. This is ranked 6th best episode of all time on the IMDb rankings - so it definitely isn't a slouch of an episode - but it's mid-range in terms of what I prefer.




11 Foreign Language movies to go
Big SPOILER at the end...

Season 2 - Episode 15 : The Invaders - As sometimes happens with The Twilight Zone, I enjoyed the hell out of this episode - but the twist at the end kind of spoiled it a little bit for me. I really felt it was unnecessary - like there had to be a twist, because hey, it's The Twilight Zone, but in all actuality the episode was good enough as it was. A very simple premise - in an old timey household with a lone woman, a small spacecraft lands in the attic. Out of it, tiny little robotic-like spacemen come out. Either because they're basically hostile, or because the woman reacts in fright and attacks them, a fight breaks out. On the one hand, the woman is very much larger than the tiny beings and has that advantage. On the other, the tiny robotic spacemen have advanced weaponry which include little laser guns which seem to hurt the woman a great deal. Over the course of the episode we witness a really epic battle that takes place all over the house. The little beings inflict damage on her with laser burns and cuts, the woman takes to smashing them, throwing them and putting them on her fire. It's a really unique episode that just draws this contest between small and advanced versus large and primitive out - and expands it into some kind of action masterpiece. I loved it to death! And then came the inevitable. There has to be some kind of surprise at the end - and in this it's that the tiny advanced beings are really from Earth, and what appeared to be the Earth lady is really a giant being from another planet. Okay. So, I guess it's a prerequisite. But that battle between lady and space beings was way awesome enough for an episode without kind of taking it away at the end. I'll always pretend the end of that episode didn't happen - I enjoyed it so much.


How do I rate an episode when I enjoyed the bulk of it more than just about any other episode I've seen, but also when the twist at the end kind of took some of the steam out of that for me? Pretty highly still I think. Obviously it was well made, and the tiny beings could have come off as toys - they almost do - but the blisters those lasers give the lady, not to mention the cuts she gets, give them a kind of menace. Agnes Moorehead plays the lady and she reacts to the whole situation with so much fright that it carries through to us. If I'd seen this episode before it would have come in serious contention to be a nomination from me. I probably would have been feverishly nominating it even before the episode finished. It's almost a visual representation of a nightmare - being attacked by strange tiny beings that invade your house. Size does matter it seems - or it at least gives you an edge. Simple, straightforward, a little chilling and a lot of fun. Great nomination.

(would have been 5 popcorns without the twist)



One of the things that I like better about the Star Trek episode "Charlie X" is that it has closure, which the TZ episode "It's A Good Life" doesn't have. The TZ episode starts and ends with everyone being afraid of Anthony, and nobody finding a way to teach him how to use his powers properly.
I agree that an ending like that would have made the episode worse. As much as it made me cringe, I would have cringed a little bit more since a conclusion like that would have come across as tacked on and/or focus-grouped.