Sunday, August 4, 2013

There is a Fifth Dimension...

The Twilight Zone is a staple of television, having three shows and one movie under its belt, the show continues today with hopes of a new series and a new film. Without this show, there wouldn't be Are You Afraid of the Dark? or Goosebumps.

To celebrate all it has done for mankind, here are some of my favorite episodes. (Synopses taken from Wikipedia)

1. Third from the Sun - With atomic war on the horizon, a pilot and a scientist plot to board their families on a spaceship and escape to another planet.

From the great first season of the show, this film plays heavily on the fear of atomic war and the end of mankind. I didn't live in this era nor was I even born during it (My parents were only children as well), but the paranoia and the fear make this such an interesting period in time. Not to mention, the twist ending is great, so I won't spoil it for you.

2. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street - A power failure causes the residents of a suburban neighborhood to suspect one another of being monsters from outer space planning an invasion.

Chances are, if you aren't a Twilight Zone fan, you have seen this episode. At some grade in your schooling, you have seen this episode. I believe mine was either third or fourth grade, then again in seventh grade when reading The Martian Chronicles (Which doesn't make sense in hindsight, as Ray Bradbury had nothing to do with this episode). This is classic Twilight Zone, and in my opinion, the very best episode.

3. A Thing About Machines - A writer believes his machines are conspiring against him.

Technology. It's everywhere. You can't really go anywhere in the world without technology. The man in this story is well aware of that, but technology is the master and must be treated with respect. For example, if your computer hates you, you probably did something to deserve it.

4. Nick of Time - A superstitious newlywed becomes convinced that a fortune-teller's predictions are quite accurate.

All Shatner episodes of Twilight Zone are classics. Simple as that. This one, however, is my favorite. In another Man vs. The Unknown episode, a man and his wife believe that a fortune-telling machine knows all and seemingly can predict their future with almost deadly accuracy. This episode has such a great ending to it, another Matheson masterpiece.

5. The Shelter - An alert is issued for an imminent nuclear attack, prompting neighbors to unite against the man whose bomb shelter has room enough only for his family.

I don't think it's cheating to put two episodes of a similar nature on the list. But The Shelter and Third from the Sun are very similar (A double feature as its best!). But instead of trying to escape, these people are merely trying to survive. During the height of US fears of a nuclear attack during The Cold War, this episode aired a little over a year before the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. It's a true testament to the time in which it came out.

If you are on Netflix, you can check out some of these. As of this writing, only the first two seasons are currently available on Netflix. In the past, three and five were also available to stream. Hopefully they will be soon.

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