‘Twilight Zone’ Original Episodes: True Classics

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Rod Serling

From the four repeating notes of its theme music to its unforgettable tales of the supernatural and the surreal, few television series have reshaped the medium as much as Rod Serling’s The Twilight Zone.

The iconic series ran on CBS for five seasons, from 1959-1964. For those looking for a classic series to binge, it’s currently available to watch on ParamountPlus and is being offered as a “super-sized” New Year’s marathon on SyFy, beginning Saturday, Dec. 30 at 8 a.m. ET and continuing through 1 a.m. Tuesday morning, Jan. 2. (Many episodes won’t be starting on the hour or half-hour. The complete New Year’s 2023-24 schedule is here where you can find when specific episodes are airing.)

In November 2019, “The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration” was presented in more than 600 movie theaters across the U.S. From the 156 episodes of the mind-bending, sometimes nightmare-inducing series, CBS curated six fan favorites to present a 60th anniversary presentation – the first time ever that original episodes of the series, which originally ran from 1959 to 1964, had been presented on the big screen.

That iconic intro music…

The six episodes that were screened as part of “The Twilight Zone: A 60th Anniversary Celebration” are, indeed, true classic episodes:

“Time Enough at Last” – Henry Bemis (Burgess Meredith) loves to read. The only problem is, he can find neither the time nor the place for it, and he’s harangued by his boss and his wife for his passion. As sneaks into the bank vault for some reading time, there’s a massive nuclear explosion. With the world gone, Harry has nothing but reading time. There’s just one catch. (Original airdate: Nov. 20, 1959)

Watch an edited clip of “Time Enough at Last” (Warning: Spoilers)

“The Invaders” – An elderly woman (Agnes Moorhead) who lives alone in a ramshackle farmhouse hears noises on her roof. When she investigates, she finds what seems to be a flying saucer, and from it emerge two small robots who seem bent on her destruction. She fights them off and destroys their ship, unaware of their true nature. (Original airdate: Jan. 27, 1961)

Watch an edited clip of “The Invaders” (Warning: Spoilers)

“The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” – On a pleasant day, the residents of Maple Street are disturbed by a noise and a tremor. Unsure what to make of it, when young Tommy tells them a story he read about an alien invasion, paranoia descends upon the once-tranquil neighborhood, revealing an unsettling truth about the fragility of humanity. (Original airdate: March 4, 1960)

Watch an edited clip of “The Monsters are Due on Maple Street” (Warning: Spoilers)

“Walking Distance”– Busy and stressed out, Martin Sloan (Gig Young) is a Madison Avenue executive who stops his car at a gas station that isn’t far from the small town where he grew up. Martin decides to walk to Homewood, which he left 25 years ago, where he meets his 11-year-old self, his parents … and learns about the dark side of nostalgia. (Original airdate: Oct. 30, 1959)

Donna Douglas stars in The Twilight Zone episode, “Eye of the Beholder”

“Eye of the Beholder” – Janet Tyler (Maxine Stuart) does not look like everyone else. A horrible disfigurement has traumatized her all her life, and now on her 11th trip to the hospital, her bandages will soon come off. It this surgery to make her “normal” doesn’t work, she will be segregated for life with other afflicted people. The moment of truth is at hand. (Original airdate: Nov. 11, 1960)

Watch an edited clip of “Eye of the Beholder” (Warning: Spoilers)

“To Serve Man” – Michael Chambers (Lloyd Bochner) recounts recent events on earth following the arrival of an alien spacecraft. Its occupants seem benevolent, and offer to share technology to provide limitless energy and cure all diseases. Chambers, an encryption specialist, is suspicious, particularly as he examines a book the aliens have left behind. (Original airdate: March 2, 1962)

Rod Serling was born on Christmas Day, 1924. He was 34 years old when the series debuted on Oct. 2, 1959 with the first of a whopping 36 episodes in that first season. During its 156 episode run, the program featured a Who’s Who of guest stars, many of whom would go on to big film and television careers including Jack Klugman, Charles Bronson, Jack Warden, William Shatner, Dick York, Peter Falk, Lee Marvin, Bill Mumy, Carol Burnett, and dozens of others. Serling died on June 28, 1975. He was just 50 years old.

Watch a classic Serling opening

Related: Our interview with a very different star of a ’50s-’60s TV series

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8 Comments so far

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  1. 122intheshade
    #1 122intheshade 17 August, 2021, 00:48

    I love the episode (A Game of Pool) with Jack Klugman as the young gun and Jonathan Winters as the old champ. And “The Hunt”, which just reinforces my belief that dogs are indeed Man’s Best Friend.

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    • Doxie Mama
      Doxie Mama 17 August, 2021, 10:20

      The Hunt is my very favorite episode of the orignial Twilight Zone series. I too agree, that dogs are our very best friends so this episode resonated with me, Also I loved actor Arthur Hunnicutt, and Jeannette Nolan who were the main characters in the story. I loved that heaven was full of the things we have loved on this earth, and the young man who was the angel who helped Pyder and his dog find their way to the real heaven’s gate was exactly how I would like an angel in heaven to be. And finally, earl Hamner wrote the story or screenplay and I love his writing about the country way of life! Needless to say, I was and am a big fan of The Waltons. Finally, my family used to go on “coon hunts” so I could definitely relate to that!

      Reply this comment
  2. Batchman
    #2 Batchman 31 December, 2021, 19:42

    While Maxine Stuart did play Janet Tyler under bandages in “Eye of the Beholder”, it was Donna Douglas (of Beverly Hillbillies fame) who played her once the bandages were removed.

    Reply this comment
  3. Defender
    #3 Defender 2 January, 2022, 01:48

    Watch “The Obsolete Man” Twilight Zone episode, starring Burgess Meredith.

    Produced almost 60 years ago, it should send a shiver down your spine, as it it parallels and fore warns of the period of today’s unbridled Cancel Culture.

    Wake Up, modern-day America, before it is too late.

    Reply this comment
  4. Batchman
    #4 Batchman 30 December, 2023, 19:36

    “It’s a Good Life” (with Bill Mumy) is one of the greatest episodes ever, and it has become far more resonant these past few years with the present political situation in the US.

    Reply this comment
  5. Lgbpop
    #5 Lgbpop 1 January, 2024, 18:18

    I favor the Burgess Meredith episode wherein he finally gets all the quiet time he desires to immerse himself reading books, only to accidentally break his glasses – without which he’s virtually blind. Another good one was with Harold J. Stone investigating a phantom DC-3 landing at an airport with no one on it, and he risks cutting off his hand in the plane’s propeller to prove the plane is an illusion…honorable mention to the one with Charles Bronson and Elizabeth Montgomery discovering they were the only two survivors of a holocaust and learning to trust each other.

    Reply this comment
  6. Jmack
    #6 Jmack 1 January, 2024, 23:34

    “ what’s in the box” is an underrated gem with William Demarest from my 3 sons and Joan Blondell!

    Reply this comment
  7. Frost
    #7 Frost 2 January, 2024, 20:37

    Love the Night Of The Meek. Art Carney was great as a department store Santa in a poor neighborhood who cares for its residents and delivers a heart breaking speech to his boss when he is fired on Christmas Eve. Brings a lump in my throat every time I watch it.

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