Top 20 Favorite Twilight Zone episodes (listed chronologically; writer's name in parentheses)
1. The Lonely (Serling)
2. Perchance to Dream (Beaumont, based on his story)
3. And When the Sky Was Opened (Serling, based on Richard Matheson story)
4. The Four of Us Are Dying (Serling, based on George Clayton Johnson story)
5. Third from the Sun (Serling)
6. The Hitch-hiker (Serling, based on Lucille Fletcher radio play)
7. Mirror Image (Serling)
8. Long Live Walter Jameson (Beaumont)
9. A Passage for Trumpet (Serling)
10. The After Hours (Serling)
11. Eye of the Beholder (Serling)
12. Shadow Play (Beaumont)
13. The Obsolete Man (Serling)
14. A Game of Pool (Johnson)
15. It’s a Good Life (Serling, based on Jerome Bixby story)
16. Death’s-Head Revisited (Serling)
17. To Serve Man (Serling, based on Damon Knight story)
18. The Midnight Sun (Serling)
19. In His Image (Beaumont, based on his story)
20. Death Ship (Matheson, based on his story)
It’s been almost two years since I last compiled a favorites list, so it’s probably time for a revision. However, my ultimate results look pretty similar to the previous list, which tells me that, by and large, my favorites are more or less set in stone. Note that a whopping HALF of the list is from the series’ first (and, by far, best) season. Also note that all three of the four episodes starring the late, great Jack Klugman are here (curiously, “A Passage for Trumpet” is now present instead of “In Praise of Pip”; maybe I’ll feel differently when the latter turns 50 this fall; as it stands now, nothing from season 5 is here).
A great many of the episodes were written by Rod Serling (fourteen); however, five of them are adaptations of existing works. Charles Beaumont comes in second with four. Richard Matheson and George Clayton Johnson finish with one teleplay each.
Other changes: “Walking Distance” also dropped off, but that doesn’t mean I still don’t highly respect it (it’s probably in my top 30 or 40). New to the list is “The Four of Us Are Dying.” Time will tell if it has the staying power of, say, “Perchance to Dream” or “The Hitch-hiker.”
I didn’t even bother trying to break out my top ten favorites this time… twenty was hard enough. I’ve spent thirty years with these episodes so they’re kinda like family members in a sick, twisted way. Nitpicking favorites is a bit torturous.
Will I do another revised list in two more years? I’m inclined to think not, since the series’ five-year 50th anniversary will be over before then (6/19 of next year, if you’re keeping track), and I probably won’t continue the blog much past that (I am still planning on revisiting much of season one, for reasons detailed here, once I’m done with season five).