Every year, the Syfy channel runs a "Twilight Zone" marathon playing America's favorite televised grotesquerie during the New Year holiday. This year is no different.
Sure, the kids these days like Netflix's "Black Mirror." But, if you ask us, nothing beats "The Twilight Zone."
The show "stands as the role model for TV anthologies," Syfy explained. "Its trenchant sci-fi/fantasy parables explore humanity's hopes, despairs, prides and prejudices in metaphoric ways conventional drama cannot." Even better is the fact that creator Rod Serling wrote a majority of the show's scripts.
Channel Guide magazine even has a full schedule of the marathon, detailing when each episode will air.
With that in mind – submitted for your approval – we present these episodes we think are worth your time:
- "Time Enough at Last" stars Burgess Meredith as avid reader, and nuclear blast survivor, Henry Bemis. The bespectacled Bemis simply wants to be left alone – and he eventually gets his wish. Of course, many of Serling's plots surrounded humanity's annihilation for good reason: The series ran 1959-64 during the Cold War – and during the height of the Cuban Missile Crisis.
- "Person or Persons Unknown" features Richard Long as David Guerney, a man who begins to question everything he thinks he knows about himself – and his life. This episode is one sure to push the buttons of anyone who's ever feared losing their mind.
- "I Sing the Body Electric" was first conceived as a short story by Ray Bradbury and adapted for the series. The episode questions what it means to be human – and, despite the story coming about decades before the Internet Age, it seems even more relevant today.
- "Valley of the Shadow" questions whether or not mankind is ready for the kind of technology dreamed about in most science fiction storylines. It features a nosy journalist who probably should've just kept driving instead of stopping for gas.
- "The Midnight Sun" paints a dystopian look at Earth's future as the planet's orbit has catastrophically altered, hurling the globe directly toward the Sun. What exactly will Earth's last days look like in urban America? And, what happens when the temperature starts rising and rising? Given everything going on with climate change, this episode still unnerves – but be sure to watch all the way through to the ending.
- "Will the Real Martian Please Stand up?" gives the old fashioned mystery a "Twilight Zone" treatment in this gem. During a terrible winter storm, bus passengers wait in a diner for news that the bridge along their route is safe to cross. The plot thickens when police arrive, looking for a mysterious person connected to the nearby landing of a flying saucer in the woods. Quickly, those in the diner begin to interrogate one another, wondering who's supposed to be there – and who's an unwelcome visitor.
- "It's a Good Life" is one of the best encapsulations of what "The Twlight Zone" was really about. What happens if someone close to you has telekinetic abilities? What if this person could create, or destroy, anything with the power of his mind, providing you with all the comfort you'd ever want – but also read your mind, too? And, what if this person was a spoiled, sadistic little boy?
- "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" answers the question we often ask: What happens when and if we immediately lose access to our primary technology – electricity? Oh, and did we mention that there's rumor of an alien invasion and your neighbors are starting to find you suspicious?
- "The Shelter" is one of those episodes that seems to reflect the American id, of yesterday and today, perfectly. There's never enough resources for everyone, right? And, with news that nuclear missiles might be hurling toward the U.S., you might want to reconnect with that neighbor of yours with the fallout shelter. Just be advised: Everyone on your block has the same idea.
- "The Invaders" stands out as an artistic triumph, mostly because barely a single word is spoken throughout the entire episode. Agnes Moorehead – yes, Endora from "Bewitched" – plays a hardscrabble country woman battling small alien terrors. Everything is not as it seems, however. Moorehead's physical acting – her determination to defend her property against the Lilliputian antagonists – makes this high drama captivating.
Now, of course, this list isn't definitive. There are plenty of iconic episodes not included – like "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" featuring a rather young William Shatner and his charming friend on the wing of an airplane.
Still, if you're just getting acquainted with the series or simply reconnecting with it, these episodes will provide a hearty sampling of the psychological, and cultural, artistry that makes "The Twilight Zone" timeless.