A rare and exciting journey into science fiction aired on CBS in 1959, Rod Serling's development of a narrated anthology, The Twilight Zone. Serling's mannerisms and storytelling abilities shine through each episode of The Twilight Zone, but there are a few that stand out in memory compared to all the rest. Both lessons and deep dives on the human condition are not only explored in a way that easily navigates it all, but it also gives much to think about once the episode is over.
Below are the five episodes that continue to be favorites of mine and stick with me to this day.
"The Monsters are Due on Maple Street" Season 1 Episode 22: A combination of mob rule mentality and immediate fear of the unknown are what make this episode of The Twilight Zone continually referenced and talked about. Even years later, the story of Maple street can be seen in many instances in society today.
"The After Hours" Season 1 Episode 34: Whether you've worked in retail or not, the concept of darkness in a department store or large building is frightening enough, but add in mannequins and it's basically hell. Taking this concept to this episode and mixing it with the confusion that echoes labyrinth mentality gives audiences something that sticks with them for a long time.
"Five Characters in Search of an Exit" Season 3 Episode 14: Imagine waking up in a blank room without an exit in sight except for the open ceiling…and then through in some crazy personalities. The Twilight Zone navigated people's personalities and purpose with a profound result in this episode.
"To Serve Man" Season 3 Episode 24: An iconic one in this list, this episode reveals so much commentary on the ways we discuss differences and what alarms us in society on a global scale. As you find it difficult to decide if the alien population is trustworthy, you also have to understand why people would decide what they do and that's the fantastic point in this episode.
"He's Alive" Season 4 Episode 4: Hate can arrive in many forms, but often we don't understand it's there until it's too late. This episode takes on the subtle and not-so-subtle ways hate and bigotry can move in the form of defensive movements and nationalism.