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The Best of The Twilight Zone By Season

Updated on July 22, 2016
Opening shot
Opening shot | Source

Series Creator

Rod Serling (1924-1975)
Rod Serling (1924-1975) | Source

You have entered...the Twilight Zone

One of the great classic television shows back in the day was The Twilight Zone. I have loved The Twilight Zone ever since I was a child.

The original Twilight Zone debuted on CBS on October 09, 1959 with rave reviews. It ran for 5 seasons from 1959 to 1963. By the late 1950s, Rod Serling was already a well known name in television. He had other successful teleplays in the 50s but had grown irritated with networks and the sponsors.

Many names that went on to become famous appeared on The Twilight Zone, as well as some non-big names but you saw them on a lot of the shows in the 1950s-1960s. Some of the more famous names include: William Shatner (2 episodes), Jack Klugman, Charles Bronson, Elizabeth Montgomery, Carol Burnett, Denver Pyle (Uncle Jesse from Dukes of Hazzard, Briscoe Darling from The Andy Griffith Show), Peter Falk, Telly Savalas, Leonard Nimoy, and Ron Howard. There were many other actors that appeared on Twilight Zone that were in the later stages of their career. These include: Art Carney, Buster Keaton, William Demarest, Joan Blondell, Agnes Moorehead, Mickey Rooney, and Sterling Holloway (Winnie the Pooh).

Top Pick From Season One

Source

Summary of Season 1

There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we call the Twilight Zone.

—Rod Serling


The first season consisted of scripts written only by Rod Serling, with the exception of one ("The Chaser"). Also, Rod Serling never appeared in any of the season one episodes, he was only heard as the voice over narrator. He did appear at the end of the episode, talking about next week's show, but never appeared IN the episodes.

The seasons future was in jeopardy when it's third episode, "Mr. Denton on Doomsday" only brought in a rating of 16.3 but the show attracted a large enough audience to survive a brief hiatus in November. After the break, it surpassed it's competition on ABC and NBC and convinced the sponsors to stay on.

Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis
Burgess Meredith as Henry Bemis | Source

Time Enough At Last

My top pick from season one is "Time Enough At Last". It was episode eight and premiered on November 20, 1959. It starred Burgess Meredith and Vaughn Taylor as the biggest names.

"Time Enough At Last" is about Henry Bemis, a bank teller and avid bookworm. He would much rather be reading than doing anything else. He angers a customer by short-changing him because he is reading David Copperfield. Bemis' boss is not very happy with him and his reading all the time. Neither is his wife, Helen. She plays a cruel joke on Henry, asking him to recite poetry to her from one of his books, but, she obscured the text on every page by marking over it, angering him.

The next day, he goes to work and, as usual, takes his lunch break in the banks vault, so he can read his book. He looks at the newspaper that has the headline, "H-Bomb Capable Of Total Destruction" and the next thing he knows, he is knocked unconscious after a huge, violent blasts rocks the vault. When he regains consciousness and finds his glasses (that are necessary for him to see), he ventures outside the vault, where he finds the bank in total destruction and everybody dead. Leaving the bank, he finds the city also totally destroyed. He then realized that a nuclear war has destroyed the Earth and his being in the vault saved his life.

Henry Bemis almost succumbed to despair, being the only person left on Earth, by committing suicide. He had put the revolver to his head when he spotted the public library in the distance. He goes to the library and finds that ALL of the books are still intact and readable. He then looks at the broken clock on the ground and realizes he has all of the time in the world to read and he can read with no interuption.

Of course, in Twilight Zone fashion, there is a twist. Mr. Bemis looks around at all the books he can read and get lost in but, when he bends over to pick up the first book, he stumbles and his glasses fall to the ground - shattered them. He exclaims that it is "not fair!" He finally has all the time in the world and cannot, since his vital pair of glasses are now broken beyond repair.

Time Enough At Last (clip)

Top Pick from Season Two

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Summary of Season 2

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. That's the signpost up ahead—your next stop, the Twilight Zone.

—Rod Serling

Season two premiered on September 30, 1960. The series theme song changed, to the more familiar, jarring, and dissonant guitar and bongo theme. The opening also changed. The blinking eye was replaced with a more surreal introduction.

Also, Rod Serling also stepped into the public eye. Instead of doing just the voice over narration, he presented his opening narration in front of the camera.

Agnes Moorehead as "Woman"
Agnes Moorehead as "Woman" | Source

The Invaders

My top pick from season two is "The Invaders." It is episode 15 and premiered on January 27, 1961. This episode only has one star, Agnes Moorehead, and she does not speak the entire episode. The only voice you hear is at the end of the episode and it is the voice of the episodes director - Douglas Hayes. Agnes' title is only "Woman" as she is not named.

An old woman lives alone in a tiny, little rustic cabin. She dresses shabbily and there are no modern conveniences, such as a TV or even electricity, in her cabin. All of the sudden, there is a loud, strange commotion on her roof. She goes to look to find that a miniature flying saucer has landed on her roof and she is then accosted by the tiny, miniature spacemen (about 6 inches high) that occupy the saucer.

She then has a series of fights with the miniature spacemen. One of the men stabs her in the heel. She kills one of them and follows the other back to the spacecraft then attacks the ship with a hatchet.

You then hear a voice from within the craft that has an American accent - he is warning potential other visitors of a violent, giant race who are impossible to defeat. The woman then deals her final blows to the spacecraft and collapses in exhaustion.

In the closing credits, you see the spacecraft and it has US Air Force Probe No. 1 written on it. This means the "aliens" were actually humans on another planet.

Top Pick From Season Three

Source

Season 3 Summary

You're traveling through another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind; a journey into a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination. Your next stop...the Twilight Zone.

—Rod Serling

Serling was beginning to feel exhausted by season three, as he felt he was "drained of ideas." The first two seasons of the show, he contributed 73% of the shows output (48 scripts). The third season, he only contributed 56% of the seasons output. But, he again still managed to produce several teleplays regarded as classics, such as "To Serve Man" and "It's a Good life." Episode 35, "I Sing the Body Electric" could boast the title "written by Ray Bradbury." By the end of the season, The Twilight Zone had reached over 100 episodes (episode 100 being "I Sing the Body Electric.")

Charles Bronson as The Man and Elizabeth Montgomery as The Woman.
Charles Bronson as The Man and Elizabeth Montgomery as The Woman. | Source

Two

My top pick of season three is "Two." It is episode one and premiered on September 15, 1961. "Two" stars Elizabeth Montgomery as "The Woman" and Charles Bronson as "The Man." They were the only two stars of the episode.

"Two" starts in a small, deserted town. The town is so deserted that it hasn't seen a human being since the apocalyptic war ended five years ago. A female soldier appears and she is wearing what looks to be a tattered Army uniform. She walks around town, stopping to examine a pretty white dress in the window of a store. She then goes into an abandoned restaurant. She goes to open a can of food when a man, also wearing a military uniform, stumbles in. She quickly sees that he is wearing a uniform of the enemy. When she realizes that he is the enemy, she attacks. He tries to subdue her without hurting her but he ends up knocking her out.

He wakes her up, telling her (in English) there is no reason to fight anymore, and gives her the rest of the food, which she eats wearily. He then goes to a barber shop to shave and she follows, watching him. They then wander over to a movie theater, where they see remains of the fellow soldiers. They both snatch up rifles at the same time and point them at each other.

The man then turns to walk away, after a tense moment of pointing rifles at each other. The woman follows. She stops in front of the dress shop again and mutters the Russian word for "pretty" while looking at the dress. The man then takes the dress off the dummy and gives it to the woman, while he points at a door - indicating that she can go in there and put it on. She goes into the building, which turns out to be a military recruiting office. She notices the posters on the wall, which turn out to show her soldiers being held at gunpoint by the man's countries forces. She leaves, burning his face when she shoots at him angrily. He then walks away not understanding why she's so mad and changed.

The man is then seen changing into a tuxedo and grabbing two jars of food that he has found. He then sees the woman peeking out from behind a car. He angrily tells her to go somewhere else and take her war with her. She then emerges from behind the car. He then sees that she has changed her attitude and she is wearing the dress! She smiles for the first time when he throws a jar of food at her and calls her "pretty" in Russian.

They then walk side-by-side down the road, with their guns thrown over their shoulders.

Two (clip)

Top Pick From Season Four

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Season 4 Summary

You unlock this door with the key of imagination. Beyond it is another dimension: a dimension of sound, a dimension of sight, a dimension of mind. You're moving into a land of both shadow and substance, of things and ideas; you've just crossed over into the Twilight Zone.

—Rod Serling

In season 4, The Twilight Zone dropped the "The" and was just now Twilight Zone. It premiered on November 20, 1962 as a mid-season replacement for another show. A new prodcuer, Herbert Hirschman, was hired to replace long-time one Buck Houghton. First thing Hirschman did was tweak the opening sequence. He illustrated a eye, window, door, and other objects suspended in space.

There was five shows left in season four when Hirschman received an offer on another show and he was replaced with Bert Granet. The show then went back to its thirty minute time format for the fall schedule.

Martin Balsam as Martin Lombard Senescu
Martin Balsam as Martin Lombard Senescu | Source

The New Exhibit

My top pick from season four is "The New Exhibit." It is episode 13 and it premiered on April 04, 1963 and starred Martin Balsam, Will Kuluva, and Margaret Field (the mother of Sally Field).

Martin Senescu is a tour guide at a wax museum, in charge of the deadly killers exhibit. The boss, and his best friend, Mr. Ferguson, tells Martin that the museum is going to close. He has sold it and it is going to be turned into a supermarket. Martin is heart broken. He the convinces Mr. Ferguson to let him take care of the figures - Jack the Ripper, Blake & Haire, Henri Désiré Landru, and Albert W. Hicks - while he figures out what to do with them. He is going to keep them in his basement and he even buys an air conditioner for them, much to the dismay of his wife, Emma.

Emma doesn't like the figures, they terrify her, and she is also concerned about Martin's love for them. After talking to her brother, Dave, and telling him everything that's going on, Dave convinces her to go down to the basement that night and unplug the air conditioner. She goes down, scared to death. She reaches for the plug when Jack the Ripper swings his arm at her..she then gasps, in shock.

The next morning, Martin finds Emma, dead, in the basement and blood on Jack's knife. He then chides Jack for his actions, like he is alive, and then buries Emma in the floor. He tells her that he would like to go to the police but it would look bad and he would end up going to jail. While he's patching the floor, the gas man shows up. After the gas man leaves, Dave shows up. Him and Martin are talking. He asks where Emma is and Martin says she went on a trip to visit his sister. Martin also says that everything is fine between him and Emma and that he also got rid of the figures. Dave then hears the humming of the air conditioner in the basement. He then gets mad and suspicious, saying that Emma had never mentioned his sister and also wondering why Martin has the house locked up, especially the basement. Martin then gets Dave to leave but Dave goes to the basement and breaks in.

Martin goes down to the basement and then finds Dave, dead. He scolds Albert W. Hicks for killing Dave. Later on, Martin is asleep in the basement when he hears knocking on the door. It's Mr. Ferguson, coming to tell Martin that he has buyers for the figures. Martin doesn't like this news. He also tells Mr. Ferguson that the figures haven't been behaving themselves. Mr. Ferguson says not to be silly and to go fix some tea, so Martin goes upstairs to do so. While Martin is fixing the tea, Mr. Ferguson is taking some measurements of the figures. Next thing you see is Henri Désiré Landru strangling Mr. Ferguson.

Martin comes downstairs with the tea. He drops the tray upon discovering Mr. Ferguson, dead, on the floor with Landru's rope around his neck. He then starts yelling at Landru, saying he's killed his one and only friend. Then he starts yelling at the other figures, saying how they've betrayed him by killing his wife, her brother, and his friend. He says that he is going to destroy them for all they have done. He grabs a crowbar and says he is going to start with Landru.

The figures then start walking towards Martin - talking to him! They're saying that HE'S the killer! He killed his wife, Dave, and Mr. Ferguson. Martin then starts to scream as the figures close in on him.

The last scene is at the new museum home of the figures. But, there is one new exhibit. It is of Martin Lombard Senescu - who was believed to killed his wife, brother-in-law, and best friend.


Top Picks from Season Five

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, top pick #1
Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, top pick #1 | Source
Living Doll, top pick #2
Living Doll, top pick #2 | Source

Season 5 Summary

"I was writing so much," Serling said, "that I had begun to lose perspective on what was good and bad." By the end of season 5, Serling had contributed 92 scripts in 5 years.

Season five was the last season for Twilight Zone, as it was cancelled in late January 1964.

Producer Bert Granet left and was replaced by William Froug, who made a lot of unpopular decisions. Even under the unpopular decisions, this season produced some well remembered classics, such as Living Doll and Nightmare at 20,000 Feet.

Serling sold his 40% share of Twilight Zone to CBS. He left the show, and all thing supernatural behind him until he started The Night Gallery in 1969.

William Shatner as Bob Wilson
William Shatner as Bob Wilson | Source

Nightmare at 20,000

My first top pick for season five (because I couldn't choose between the two) is "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet." It is episode three and premiered on October 11, 1963. It stars William Shatner and Christine White as the main stars.

Bob Wilson has just been released from sanitarium, after suffering a nervous breakdown, which also occurred on an airplane. When his wife, Julia, falls asleep, he looks out the window and sees a gremlin on the wing of the plane. He presses the button for the stewardess, telling her it's urgent. When she gets to his seat and he tells her what's going on, she doesn't see anything so she leaves. The gremlin then reappears on the wing. But anytime someone else looks, he jumps out of view.

His wife is extremely concerned when Bob demands to see the pilot. The pilot comes, looks, and sees nothing. They decide to give Bob some tranquilizer pills but he only pretends to take them. After many failed attempts to warn the crew, Bob takes matters into his own hands. He grabs a sleeping air marshals revolver and opens the auxiliary exit door. He succeeds in shooting the gremlin, as well as getting himself sucked outside the plane.

When they land, they show Bob in a straight-jacket and everybody believes he has gone insane. But, as the narrator (Serling) suggests, his stay at the sanitarium may be a short one - the gremlin has left evidence of destruction on the plane wing.

Telly Savalas as Erich Streator
Telly Savalas as Erich Streator | Source

Living Doll

My second top pick from season 5 is "Living Doll." It is episode 6 and premiered on November 01, 1963. It stars Telly Savalas as Erich Streator, Mary LaRoche as Annabelle Streator, and Tracy Stratford as Christie Streator. It also starred June Foray as the voice of Talky Tina. Fun fact: Talky Tina was based on Chatty Cathy, the popular baby doll that was produced from 1959 to 1965.

Christie is given the gift of Talky Tina by her mother, Annabelle, much to the dismay of her step-father, Erich. Erich does not like Talky Tina and he's not hiding it. Annabelle recently married Erich and Erich has been hostile towards Christie ever since. Erich is not happy that Annabelle purchased the doll for Christie. Annabelle says that Christie has been wanting the doll for months and that she charged it. When Erich, angrily, states that Christie didn't need another doll, this upsets Christie and she flees to her room, leaving Talky Tina behind.

After Annabelle follows an upset Christie, Erich examines the doll. The doll then states, "My name is Talky Tina, and I don't like you." This startles and confuses Erich, who then winds her key again. "My name is Talky Tina and I think I could even hate you," she says. This causes Erich to propel Talky Tina across the room into the wall.

At this point, Annabelle re-enters the room and we learn that Erich is bitter because he is sterile and he is actually Christie's step-father. Annabelle still urges Erich to be gentler with Christie.

Christie pretends to feed Tina during dinner, which annoys Erich. While he is annoyed, Annabelle says that Tina is good for Christie because it gives her somebody to play with but Erich believes Annabelle bought the doll as a reminder that they cannot have kids together. Erich then sees Tina wink at him while the others are looking away from the doll.

Erich is left by himself with the doll, again. Tina says, "my name is Talky Tina and I'm beginning to hate you." Erich fires back, "my name is Erich Streator and I'm going to get rid of you." Tina then states that he wouldn't, because Annabelle would hate him and so would Christie. He then places a match next to Tina, who gasps. Erich then states, "you have feelings!" and Tina fires back, "doesn't everything?" Erich then accuses Annabelle of placing a walkie talkie in the doll to get back at him and, of course, she denies it.

He then places Tina in a trash can. Christie comes looking for Tina and Erich lies, saying he has no idea where the doll is. The phone then rings and Erich hears Tina's voice saying, "my name is Talky Tina and I'm going to kill you." He goes back to the trash can, where he left Tina, but she is GONE. He then accuses Annabelle and Christie of ganging up on him, to scare him and teach him a lesson. Erich then finds Tina in Christie's bed, who speaks in order to wake Christie up. Erich then takes the doll, as Christie cries and begs him not to. She begs, "Daddy, please!" to which he replies, "I'm not your Daddy!" which upsets Christie even more.

Erich then takes the evil doll to the garage, intending on destroying her. He puts her head in a vise and starts to squeeze it - to which the doll just looks at him and laughs. He then grabs a blow torch but Tina keeps blowing the flame out, laughing. Next, he tries to saw her head off. Annabelle walks in at this point, begging him to stop, but he angrily pushes her away and she leaves. He then looks down at Tina's neck and discovers not even a scratch on it. He then realizes he cannot destroy the doll so he ties her up in a burlap sack, throws her into the trash can, and puts bricks on top.

Erich then goes up to the bedroom, to find Annabelle packing a suitcase, planning to leave him. He asks why and she says, "how could I live with you after what you've done?" Erich states that the doll was talking to him, he had to do it. But he agrees to seek therapy so Annabelle agrees to stay.

It's the middle of the night when Erich hears a noise coming from downstairs. He gets up to investigate it. He looks into Christie's room and finds Talky Tina gone. He goes to walk down the stairs but he trips over Tina and goes falling, tumbling down the stairs. Tina falls with him, landing right beside his head. Erich looks over to see Tina staring at him and then dies. Annabelle comes running out of the bedroom, finding Erich at the bottom of the stairs. She goes running down the stairs to Erich. Talky Tina then exclaims, "My name is Talky Tina...and you better be nice to me!" Annabelle then drops the doll in shock.


I was unable to find a decent video for "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" or "Living Doll."

Now leaving...the Twilight Zone

Scene from the episode "To Serve Man."
Scene from the episode "To Serve Man." | Source

The Twilight Zone has seen two revivals - one in 1985 and one in 2002 - but neither will ever be as good as the original 1959 series.

The Twilight Zone was nominated for 4 Primetime Emmy Awards and won 2, both for Outstanding Writing Achievement in Drama (1959-1960 and 1960-1961).

After the series was cancelled, Rod Serling sold his rights to CBS but he was unaware what the future held for syndication and the royalties he would have gained.

The SyFy channel runs a Twilight Zone marathon every New Years Eve and New Years Day, as well as showing episodes regularly in primetime slots. Also, ME-TValso shows Twilight Zone nightly.

Poll time

Which of my top picks is your favorite?

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    • sweetjamieblueyes profile image
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      Jamie Sykes 3 years ago from Lewisville, North Carolina

      @pctechgo - I love TZ, as you can tell. I look forward to the marathon every year, even tho I have a majority on DVD. Don't want to break tradition!! ;)

    • pctechgo profile image

      pctechgo 3 years ago from US

      Seeing the old Twilight Zone pictures you have in this post causes memories of episode segments the images originated from to be recalled. I don't watch Twilight Zone that often, there was the new years marathon as usual done every year but I only watched an episode, but I do enjoy trying to recognize and spot actors so early in their careers .