Friday, July 2, 2010

In Retrospect: Season One (1959-1960)

I must admit, I feel a bit sad that the 50th anniversary of The Twilight Zone’s first season has now passed. It is, you see, my favorite of the five seasons. Don’t get me wrong, the other seasons have much to recommend them (even the lesser fourth and fifth seasons manage to produce amazing episodes here and there), but there’s nothing that compares to season one. Even season two (which we’ll dig into in a few months), while including top-tier efforts like “Eye of the Beholder,” “The Obsolete man” and “Shadow Play,” isn’t as consistently marvelous as the first season.

My Top 40 Favorite Episodes of All Time features 11 season one episodes (a number which will likely increase when I revise it to include “The After Hours,” which somehow got excluded; a criminal oversight, to be sure). My Top 10, meanwhile, features 4 season one episodes (that’s nearly half!).

So yeah, season one is my favorite. And it’s glorious. Well, with the exception of “Mr. Bevis,” which may very well be the worst single episode in the series’ five-year, 156-episode run. Fortunately, the bulk of the season is so luminously brilliant that a hairy wart, even one as hideous as “Mr. Bevis,” is fairly easy to ignore. The only other questionable efforts are “Elegy” and “The Mighty Casey,” but each has its charms (“Elegy” evokes Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles, and “The Mighty Casey” has an undeniably fascinating production history). Those three aside, that leaves 33 out of 36 are either really good or, in most cases, excellent. That’s a 91.67% success rate, people.

The remaining four seasons won’t have stats like that. There is still a wealth of great episodes to come, but nothing like the reliable excellence that season one gave us.

As a final look back, I thought it might be nice to post some screen captures that I didn’t post before, usually because they gave away either crucial plot points or, in many cases, surprise endings. Enjoy!

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