The Best ‘Twilight Zone’ Episodes To Start The New Year

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2017 draws to a close, and what better way to bring in the New Year than with the annual Twilight Zone marathon on The Syfy Channel! Rod Serling’s classic sci-fi anthology series continues to serve as an inspiration to genre fans and casual viewers alike. The marathon is a great way to usher in the new year and in many ways acts as a palette cleanser of sorts. The series is noted as being moral and humanist in nature, beyond plot twists and the guise of fantasy, the stories strike close to the soul. So, in the spirit of a brighter future, I’ve selected 10 of the best episodes to inspire and teach virtues going into next year!

 

I Sing The Body Electric

Image via Twilight Zone wiki

The 100th episode of the series and written by sci-fi legend Ray Bradbury is one of those increasingly rare stories: an optimistic future. The story concerns the Rogers family still reeling over the loss of the matriarch, and seeking to fill the void and have some help around the house, Mr. Rogers buys a ‘Grandmother’, an android caretaker and nanny. The children are wary at first, but after Grandma selflessly pushes young Anne out of the way of a speeding truck, she truly becomes a part of the family. The narration even calls this story a fable, but it is nice to imagine as technology, robotics, and artificial intelligence advances, that the better qualities of humanity can be imprinted upon it and reciprocated.

 

Deaths-Head Revisted/The Obsolete Man/He’s Alive

Image via IMDB

Rather than choose one, I’ve selected three different tales that cover an all too dark and fearsome subject: fascism and authoritarianism. ‘Deaths-Head Revisited’ concerns a cruel and nostalgic SS officer revisiting the Dachau concentration camp where he enacted inhumane torments upon scores of prisoners, only to get karmic retribution from his victims from beyond the grave. ‘The Obsolete Man’ involves Wordsworth,(Burgess Meredith) a librarian sentenced to death by an Orwellian fascist government only to plot one last act of retribution against the Chancellor. ‘He’s Alive’ follows an upstart Neo-Nazi (Dennis Hopper) seeking authoritarian power for his fledgling movement, and finding guidance and success from a phantasmal figure in the shadows who is all too familiar. An evil trilogy encompassing the past, present, and potential future of such horrors, but also offering hope that having been stopped before, they can and will be stopped again.

 

The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street

Image via Youtube

Maple Street could be any other cozy suburban domicile in the heartland of America. Friendly neighbors, safe streets, and beautiful homes. All this changes when a strange shadow in the sky appears and lights and electronics malfunction, seeming to be an alien invasion. Soon, these formerly friendly neighbors are at each other’s throats and consumed by fear. A cautionary tale on how quickly such horrors can tear apart even the most comforting communities and not to let terror get the best of us.

 

Walking Distance

Image via IMDB

Martin Sloane, an advertising executive ends up at his hometown of Homewood and finds that barely anything has changed since he was a young boy… including himself. A story warning of the dangers of nostalgia, though it’s fun to visit the past, should we lose ourselves in the past, we are doomed to have no future.

 

The Brain Center at Whipple’s

Image via IMDB

Wallace V. Whipple is the CEO of the Whipple Manufacturing plant and seeks to make it as efficient and technologically superior- no matter the cost. Replacing as much of his workforce with machines as possible, leading to massive lay-offs and firings. In a dark mirror to ‘I Sing The Body Electric’, ‘The Brain Center at Whipple’s’ covers the dangers of machinery and futurism supplanting humanity rather than co-existing… as Mr. Whipple himself finds out by the end, with a memorable appearance by none other than Robbie The Robot!

 

Third From The Sun

Image via Twilight Zone wiki

Scientists Will Sturka and Jerry Riden are hard at work manufacturing atomic weaponry by the dozen for their government while secretly plotting to commandeer a space-craft to escape the planet on the eve of nuclear destruction. From the height of the Cold War, yet nightmarishly relevant, with the simple moral that the costs of war, especially nuclear war, is oblivion for all.

 

The Eye Of The Beholder/Number 12 Looks Just Like You

Image via Youtube

Another set of episodes with vastly different stories but all too common and needed messages. ‘The Eye Of The Beholder’ follows a deformed patient desperately hoping a surgical procedure will make her look ‘normal’ while ‘Number 12 Looks Just Like You’ involves a young girl getting anxious about an upcoming process that will make her look young and beautiful, but at what price? Both stories take a cold hard look at society’s standards of physical beauty and the dangers of blind conformity over individuality.

 

The Masks

Image via Wikipedia

Jason Foster is set to die on Mardi Gras and his sinful family is aiming to collect their inheritance as quickly as possible. But Foster has a strict condition before his greedy family can collect, forcing them to wear hideous Mardi Gras masks personifying their misdeeds, allowing them their reward but at a greater cost than they think… Another fable like episode extolling that the price of sin, especially against family, is far greater than you can think.

 

Time Enough At Last

Image via Wikipedia

Perhaps the most infamous of all Twilight Zone episodes; and with good reason! Burgess Meredith plays a bank teller obsessed with reading, pushing aside his wife, his job, and everyone else in his pursuit. When pursuing an interest, even something as harmless as reading, obsession can turn it into a source of isolation and disconnection from loved ones and humanity as a whole. Something that technology and modern pursuits have made all too common, and when there is ‘Time Enough At Last’ you maybe left with nothing.

 

The Night Of The Meek

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Henry Corwen, an alcoholic mall Santa Claus in a deep depression finds meaning in his life when he discovers an actual magical sack that can give anyone what they want. A truly bright Christmas episode from The Twilight Zone showcasing the power and warmth of altruism and charity over despair.

 

Feature image via CBS News