Friday, May 13, 2011

TZ Favorites: A Minor Mutation.

Back on 11/03/2009, I wrote the following: “A few months back, I compiled a list of my top 40 all-time favorites. This list is not set in stone; in fact, as I endeavor to re-watch the entire series over the next five years (viewing each episode on its 50th anniversary), my preferences will almost certainly change.”

The combined experience of re-watching each episode and writing this blog has indeed changed my preferences, though probably not as extremely as I might have thought (with one major exception; see below). Additionally, I’m only two seasons into the project (well, almost), so things will likely change even more over the next three years. However, as of today, the following are my Top 20 favorite episodes. Top 10 favorites are in all caps. Notes and thoughts follow.

Season 1:
Walking Distance
The Lonely
Mirror Image
Long Live Walter Jameson
The After Hours

Season 2:
The Eye of the Beholder

Season 3:
It’s a Good Life
Death’s-Head Revisited

Season 4:
In His Image

Season 5:
In Praise of Pip

First off, let me say that it’s MUCH harder to narrow the list down to 20 (versus 40, which I did last time… I may go back to 40 next time I do this). Harder still was choosing 10 favorites from the final 20. I’m still not 100% comfortable with the list, but close. Let’s say 93% and move on.

The most monumental change concerns “Long Live Walter Jameson.” For years I’ve counted it as my all-time favorite, but for some reason I’m less enamored of it these days. Don’t get me wrong, I still love it (and it’s still in my top 20), but… well, tastes change. I knew going in that this was possible (see above), but for my #1 episode to drop clear out of the top 10? Talk about a fall from grace.

“The After Hours,” which was erroneously omitted entirely from the previous list, now resides in the lower half of the top 20. It’s not quite top 10 material right now, but who knows? I really dug it when I re-watched it recently (on 3/17/11, the 50th anniversary of its original repeat telecast). Who knows what the future holds? A really cool Marsha the Mannequin action figure from Bif Bang Pow! might be all it takes to push it up into the top 10.

Look at how much the list skews toward season 1. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: episode for episode, ounce for ounce, season 1 is BY FAR the best season of the series. Of course every season has its gems, but season 1 is practically uniform in its brilliance. If it weren't for that goddamned "Mr. Bevis"....

Three episodes have asserted themselves sufficiently in my mind (or heart, or both, or whatever makes us compose favorites lists) to achieve top 10 status. They are “Third from the Sun,” “The Obsolete Man,” and “To Serve Man.” Welcome to greatness, you three.

Sadly, this means that three episodes had to drop out of the top 10 to make room. These are “In His Image,” “In Praise of Pip,” and the aforementioned “Long Live Walter Jameson.” All three are still in the top 20, so I clearly still think very highly of them. No tears. And who knows? Again, I have no doubt that this list will change in the future.


Tanya said...

The Obsolete Man and The Midnight Sun stay tied at #1 for my all time favorites.

It used to be that I couldn't tolerate watching any episode that was war related (with the exception of Death's Head) but ever since TZ became available for Netflix streaming I've grown to appreciate The Purple Testament.

Bill Huelbig said...

I woke up very late this morning and went right to the marathon. I play a game with myself where I try to identify each episode by sound alone. All I had to hear was the voice of Orson Bean and I knew: "Mr. Bevis". But I do like seeing that theater marquee showing "Ben-Hur".