The Twilight Zone Hall of Fame

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A lot of us have talked about the twist endings...Some of the TZ episodes would be better without them. Other episodes don't really need the patented TZ ending. Whilst other episodes are made special by the very present of the twist ending....

Some of my thoughts about various twist endings. Just for fun, as I'm not working today I'll rate the twist as neutral, positive, negative
A Game of Pool...Twist-Neutral The twist was OK...it made me ponder what his afterlife in heaven would be like. Actually it didn't seem much like heaven, maybe that's not where he went, ha.
This didn't feel like much of a twist because if you listened to the dialogue, you could see it coming. Fats was warning him about it throughout the game. But while it doesn't make it the best Twilight Zone episode, it's still a great TV show episode.


A Nice Place to Visit...Twist-Positive The Twist with Pip laughing at the criminals predicament in the afterlife was priceless and made the show.
Pip's demonic laugh at the end was my favorite part of the episode.


A Passage for Trumpet...Twist-Neutral Not sure if finding out that the trumpet player had been in the land of the dead made the episode better or not, but it worked.
I liked this twist because you don't really see it coming, but if you go back and rewatch the episode, there are a bunch of clues about it.


An Occurrence At Owl Creek Bridge...Twist-Positive The classic TZ ending, on a first viewing it really hits ya.
This one didn't work for me because the whole episode had a dreamlike feel, so I saw it coming the whole time.


It's a Good Life...Twist-None The strength of this one is no twist ending, no hope only constant terror. Perfect because of the lack of the usual TZ ending.
I seem to be in the minority here, but I would have preferred to have some type of closure at the end of the episode. It's just left open with a child basically running the whole town because everyone is afraid of him. I would have liked to see them find some way to teach him how to control his power.


The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street..Twist-Negative As much as I like and respect this classic episode the reveal of aliens causing the mysterious power outage IMO undermines the importance of the story: hysterics-fear equal mob role.
I like the twist in this episode because even though the aliens were real, all it took was a little push from the aliens, not a full scale invasion, and the humans just turned on each other. Without the aliens, anything that caused their panic would have had some type of logical explanation. They needed that "spark" from the aliens.


Nothing in the Dark...Twist-Positive Without the classic twist resolve the story just wouldn't work, so it's perfect.
I agree 100%. The twist is the most important part of this episode.


One for the Angels...Twist-Positive The Twist here feels well written into the story and is an intricate part of the third act.
This is another one where the twist is the most important part of the episode.


Time Enough At Last...Twist-Positive But the story would've worked equally well if Burgess Meredith did really have all the time he had always wanted to read books.
I usually prefer happy endings, but this is one of the few times that I think the sad twist made the ending better.


Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?...Twist-Positive The ending is the big payoff and for a comedy episode the twist is right in line with the comic theme.
I love this twist because no matter how much you think you have it figured out, you don't see that "extra" twist coming.
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"The Invaders" CONTAINS SPOILERS

What's the deal with stories about tiny invaders in a home that makes for edge of your seat entertainment? Whether it's the "tiny Ash" segment of Army Darkness, the “Battleground” episode of Nightmares and Dreamscapes, the finale of The Gate or this, I can't keep my eyes off the screen while watching. My guess is it's because of the drama found in adding a chaotic element into the place where we want to have total comfort and control. In other words, it's like that time when there was a pest in your home you just couldn't get rid of. It's no coincidence that the invaders find themselves in places like mouse holes and cupboards. Besides this, the episode succeeds for having one of the best twists I've seen so far. It gives indications that the invaders are products of the lonely old woman's imagination - the welts caused by their little ray guns possibly her way of coping with illness, for instance - which made me expect a UFO-free rooftop when it was all over. However, it ends up being a story that asks if our first extraterrestrial visitors might be us and without discounting anything that happened before. While I was surprised that Rod Serling didn't write the episode because of the episode's similarities to Planet of the Apes, I was also not surprised to see sci-fi legend Richard Matheson (I Am Legend, the episode “And When the Sky Was Opened”) in the credits instead. All in all, it's a delightfully scary and thought-provoking episode that I wish had gone on longer because I was having so much fun.

I never thought the invaders were in her imagination. If there were any hints about that, I totally missed them.



I never thought the invaders were in her imagination. If there were any hints about that, I totally missed them.
I'm just basing that on the introduction that described how lonely she is and the welts on her skin from the ray gun blasts. I figured that since she likely spends a lot of time in her own imagination, the invaders were her way of explaining why welts were forming on her skin. Outlandish? Probably. I guess after watching enough episodes that I want to guess what the twist is before it happens, your own mind also goes to strange places!



"A Passage for Trumpet" CONTAINS SPOILERS

This is a pretty good episode that works well enough as an anti-suicide story. In Joey Crown's journey, there are lessons to learn about not giving up, what seems like the end not really being the end, suicide being a permanent solution to a temporary problem, etc. Upon further examination, however, it's more interesting as a story about why suicidal tendencies are so prevalent amongst the very talented. I like how the episode makes Joey perceive his trumpet expertise as a curse instead of a blessing. After all, it's what fuels his alcoholism since he can no longer play at his best without having a few drinks and it does the same for his regrets and sense of uselessness since his skill only brought him fame and fortune for a brief period. Also, who better than Gabriel (played by John Anderson, who I hope got to portray Abraham Lincoln at least once since he looks just like him) to help Joey change the way he feels about his abilities? Despite a message that could help those who are feeling like Joey and a strong performance by Jack Klugman, the episode seems ordinary and not just because I've seen so many in this Hall of Fame so far. Besides, I've seen or read similar stories many times outside of The Twilight Zone such as It's a Wonderful Life. I still liked it...oh, and another thing: how come Joey didn't reflect against the mirror, but he did against the jukebox glass?



If you watch the episodes on Hulu like I do, it's expiring in 11 days.
(insert "that's not fair, there was all the time I needed" joke here)



If you watch the episodes on Hulu like I do, it's expiring in 11 days.
(insert "that's not fair, there was all the time I needed" joke here)
Let me know if you need an alternate link to the episodes.



Season 3 Episode 16: Nothing in the Dark
(spoilers)

I loved this one. An elderly woman living alone refuses to go outside because she believes Mr. Death is out to get her. He can look like anyone so she is always scared that he may try to get her. A man claiming to be an injured policeman turns up outside asking for her to let him in. Is he Death? Gladys Cooper is wonderful here and I also enjoyed Robert Redord's performance as the mysterious stranger, who ends up being Death. The twist here (in my interpretation) is that Death is not sinister or threatening, but comforting and offering the old woman rest and peace. She needn't have been afraid after all. I really liked the dialogue in this episode and found it quite poetic and wise. Perhaps the lesson is that the things we fear may not be as bad as we think and to not let our fears prevent us from truly living.



Season 1: Episode 2: One for the Angels
(spoilers)

I think this was one of the first TZ episodes that I ever watched and it still remains a favourite. A lovable, old pitchman is visited by Death and told he will die at midnight. He makes a deal, but it has unexpected consequences, leading him to give the greatest and most important pitch of his life. One for the angels. Ed Wynn is fantastic here and brings a lot of depth and empathy to the character. I really enjoyed his interactions with Death and the children. There are some really sweet and lovely moments here and it concludes with what I feel is a perfect ending.



Season 3 Episode 16: Nothing in the Dark

(SPOILER WARNING)

My memory of this episode was really poor as I watched it a while ago, so I was happy to revisit it for this thread. I wasn't sure how much I'd enjoy it, but man, it really got to me. Death is one of the most common fears someone could have. I've seen this represented in a variety of films/shows and I enjoyed this episode's handling of that, in particular. Gladys Cooper gives an effective performance as Wanda, an elderly woman who hasn't left her home in years as she fears she'll die if she does so. Her monologues on why she refuses to leave her house and how much her fears have controlled her life are sad and show how her fears have consumed many years of her life. Robert Redford is also effective as Harold/Death since his young and clean cut appearance gives the twist an extra layer of bite. Speaking of the twist, though it could be called scary in some ways since Wanda ultimately had no choice in the matter, I liked how the episode ended on a hopeful note since Wanda seemed content with moving on to the afterlife. I also liked what I considered to be the ultimate message of the episode, which is that death isn't as bad as it may seem and, instead of letting your fears control your life, you should instead live life to the fullest. Overall, I really loved this episode and I'm glad I got to rewatch it.

Next Up: One for the Angels



Season 1 Episode 8: Time Enough At Last
(spoilers)

I thought this was a well made, entertaining episode. A man who loves to read, but never has time to, finds himself alone after a nuclear war wipes everyone else out. But just when he thinks he has all the time at last, his glasses break and he is left with all of the books, but no way to read them. Burgess Meredith is very good here and I enjoyed his performance. It's an interesting story and can be interpreted in different ways. Perhaps the lesson is not to be like him and to instead savour your time as much as possible. Do the things you enjoy before it is too late. Good episode.



Season 1: Episode 5: Walking Distance
(spoilers)

This is one of my favourite episodes. Martin Sloan visits his old childhood hometown, only to find himself back at the time when he was a child. There are some really nice moments here, grown up Martin meeting himself as a child, talking to his parents. I enjoyed the interactions and the performances of the actors. I like the journey that the character goes on and how it affects him. It's just a very enjoyable, good natured episode that I really connected with.



"An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" CONTAINS SPOILERS

I was glad to watch this again because I once considered it to be the best live-action short film I'd ever seen. As soon as I saw that Serling and company made it into a Twilight Zone episode, I wasn't surprised one bit. After all, it asks a question you would expect an episode in this series to ask: if you knew when you were going to die, where would your mind go in the last moments? It would likely be a delusional state in which the things you wish would happen the most would occur. In the prisoner's case, it’s the rope snapping, getting past the firing squad and getting to see his lost love again. In other words, this dreamy place might as well be the prisoner's Willoughby. This all begs the question, though: has anyone asked a prisoner on death row what's on his or her mind before they were executed? Whether someone has done this or not, I wouldn't be surprised if it's like what transpires in this episode given my reactions to terrible events I've witnessed. For instance, when I watched my co-workers remove the belongings from the desk of another one who had been laid off, I clung to the assumption that they were just moving him to another desk. On a much more serious note, my first thought when I witnessed the World Trade Center on fire was that I was watching footage from the 1993 bombing and that the news was commemorating those who had died in those attacks (which would have been totally unlikely since they happened in February of that year, but I digress). It's interesting how we do the exact opposite, i.e., imagine the worst things that could happen before a moment that hasn’t happened yet whether we dread or anticipate it, isn't it? I've seen quite a few live-action short films since I first saw this one, and while I'm not sure I can still say it's the best one I've seen, my belief that it's a masterpiece still stands. Luckily, seeing it in a new light as a Twilight Zone episode all but enhanced the experience I had of seeing it again. Let's just hope Serling and company all had a nice week off and that they got to vacation somewhere nice.



Season 2 Episode 28: Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?
(spoilers)

This was a fun one. Two police officers try to determine who amongst a group of passengers at a cafe might be a Martian. It's a good mystery. I enjoyed the performances, especially Jack Elam and Barney Phillips. There are a few twists toward the end that I was not expecting. The businessman named Ross is in fact the Martian, which is actually the least surprising of the reveals. We find out that the bridge went out and the bus and the police car went in to the river. All the passengers and the two police officers are dead. Ross is the only survivor. The added twist is that the man running the diner is also an alien! From Venus! He and others from his planet plan to colonise Earth. The Martian's plans are foiled, not by the police or by any humans, but by the plans of other aliens from a different planet. Definitely a very entertaining and memorable episode.



Season 3 Episode 16: Nothing in the Dark

(SPOILER WARNING)
I also liked what I considered to be the ultimate message of the episode, which is that death isn't as bad as it may seem and, instead of letting your fears control your life, you should instead live life to the fullest.
Something that has always stuck with me from this episode (and probably my favorite moment from Redford in it), is how genuinely horrified he looks when she says that she hasn't left the apartment in years and has been living there all alone. And the fact that she's done so not so much out of choice, but out of fear.



Season 1 Episode 2: Wordplay/Dreams For Sale/Chameleon

Wordplay segment- This was an interesting premise. A salesman finds that all of a sudden everyone around him is speaking a language he can't understand. The words are in English but have a different meaning. I thought they could have done more with the concept. We are never told what caused this or why it happened only to him. The actor did a decent job, but the episode was still somewhat lacking. It didn't have the same wow factor as the original TZ episodes.

Dreams for Sale segment- This was too short. A woman is at a picnic with her family and things start to glitch. Her husband and kids repeat things. It turns out she is a worker of some type in the future and is hooked to a machine for a few minutes that gives her an interactive dream. The machine malfunctions and it seems she is stuck in this fake dream world. This segment needed to be longer as there is too much unexplained and not enough backstory or character development.

Chameleon segment- A shape shifting alien returns with a space shuttle. I liked Terry O'Quinn's performance, but I didn't find the story overly interesting. Something was missing. There wasn't enough of a hook here.

Overall rating for the episode would be



Season 1 Episode 2: One for the Angels

Having watched this episode right after Nothing in the Dark, I noticed a handful of similarities between the two of them. They're both about a protagonist who attempts to avoid moving on to the afterlife after a confrontation with Death. While Nothing in the Dark adopts a serious tone though, this episode (for the most part) takes a more lighthearted and humorous approach to the subject. While I prefer Nothing in the Dark, I enjoyed this episode quite a bit as well. I appreciated how it avoided turning Bookman's arc into one of redemption or atoning for his flaws and instead portrayed him as an already good character who unknowingly makes the conflict in the episode much worse for himself and those around him. Granted, certain parts to his arc were rather predictable, but I still found it compelling in spite of that. I also enjoyed the portrayal of Death as, though he caused most of the problems in this episode, he didn't do them out of malice since it was clear he was just doing his job and had no other choice. I also enjoyed Death's character arc. He started out with a cold indifference to the whole affair, then to intense curiosity, and finally to panic. That was a nice touch to his character. Topped with some solid acting from Ed Wynn and Murray Hamilton, I had a good time with this episode.

Next Up: Time Enough At Last



"The After Hours" CONTAINS SPOILERS

Mannequins? An alternate reality? Is this department store in Silent Hill? Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode, and like Walking Distance, it's one of those Twilight Zone 101 episodes that I believe are ideal for introducing newcomers to the series. I like that the reality shifts are as delightfully subtle as they are surprising, and the episode really excels at capturing how eerie department stores can be while nobody is around. There also may be nothing creepier in this series – well, except for the Jack in the Box in It’s a Good Life, that is - than when the mannequins move for the first time. Oh, and is Mr. Armbruster a hoot or what? Is the lesson of the episode that we should be more aware of and wonder about people passing by? Is it that we should be nicer to people in the service industry? I'm not sure. Not to take away from episodes that are like riddles to decipher and/or have a clear lesson, but I feel like this one is best experienced as an amusement park ride.



"The After Hours" CONTAINS SPOILERS

Mannequins? An alternate reality? Is this department store in Silent Hill? Anyway, I really enjoyed this episode, and like Walking Distance, it's one of those Twilight Zone 101 episodes that I believe are ideal for introducing newcomers to the series. I like that the reality shifts are as delightfully subtle as they are surprising, and the episode really excels at capturing how eerie department stores can be while nobody is around. There also may be nothing creepier in this series – well, except for the Jack in the Box in It’s a Good Life, that is - than when the mannequins move for the first time. Oh, and is Mr. Armbruster a hoot or what? Is the lesson of the episode that we should be more aware of and wonder about people passing by? Is it that we should be nicer to people in the service industry? I'm not sure. Not to take away from episodes that are like riddles to decipher and/or have a clear lesson, but I feel like this one is best experienced as an amusement park ride.

The mannequins (or the Jack in the Box) might be the creepiest things in the episodes in this HoF, but not in the series. Some things that are creepier are the ventriloquist's dummy in the episode "The Dummy", Talky Tina in the episode "Living Doll", and the little girl's cries for help in the episode "Little Girl Lost".