Each episode of The Twilight Zone told in two frames, with additional commentary
Season 1, Episode 28: A Nice Place To Visit
A criminal dies in a shootout and is transported to a place where his every wish is granted. Assuming it is heaven, he quickly bores and desires to spend eternity in “the other place.”
“Heaven?” replies his caretaker (a devilish Sebastian Cabot). “Whatever gave you the idea that you were in heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!!”
Season 1, Episode 27: The Big Tall Wish
The all-black leading cast of this episode was quite revolutionary for television in 1960.
"Television, like its big sister, the motion picture, has been guilty of the sin of omission. Hungry for talent, desperate for the so-called ‘new face,’ constantly searching for a transfusion of new blood, it has overlooked a source of wondrous talent that resides under its nose. This is the Negro actor." -Rod Serling
Season 1, Episode 26: Execution
Albert Salmi plays outlaw Joe Caswell, about to be executed for murder in 1880. As the noose tightens around his neck he is transported into the future by Professor Manion (Russell Johnson, who played The Professor on Gilligan’s Island). Outlaw Joe doesn’t plan on being transported back.
Season 1, Episode 25: People Are Alike All Over
Roddy McDowall stars as an astronaut who crash lands on Mars to find seemingly benevolent Martians who build him a home similar to the one he knows. Nothing is ever as it seems in the Twilight Zone, though, and he quickly learns his home is really a cage in the martian zoo.
Season 1, Episode 24: Long Live Walter Jameson
Kevin McCarthy plays college history professor Walter Jameson, a man who seems to possess vivid knowledge of the Civil War. Jameson’s fiance’s father, suspicious that Jameson doesn’t appear to have aged in the twelve years he has known him, uncovers the truth in a Matthew Brady photo. Jameson is immortal, at least for a little while.
McCarthy acted in the Twilight Zone Movie in 1983
Season 1, Episode 23: A World Of Difference
Businessman Arthur Curtis discovers he is actually a mentally ill actor named Gerry Regan. These types of completely altered reality episodes are among the most frightening. To think every single thing lending you identity could completely disappear is one of the deepest personal fears one can face.
Season 1, Episode 22: The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street
The power goes out on a sunny day. Suspicions quickly rise. By nightfall, the neighborhood has become a mob that turns on itself. The monsters are us. It is one of the most sociologically appropriate and astute stories ever to appear on television.
My thoughts instantly turned to this episode within minutes of the Northeast Blackout of 2003.
Jack Weston (in the Hawaiian shirt, holding the shotgun) later played resort owner Max Kellerman in Dirty Dancing.
Season 1, Episode 21: Mirror Image
Vera Miles stars as Millicent Barnes, who keeps seeing her doppelganger while waiting for a bus. This episode is one of the best examples of The Twilight Zone’s economy of set design: the entire creepy episode takes place in a single, simple location. Vera Miles is probably best remembered for playing Janet Leigh’s older sister Lila in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Season 1, Episode 20: Elegy
Three astronauts crash on a distant asteroid to discover motionless figures placed in various tableaux. Upon meeting the caretaker of this final resting place, they figure out how fatal their spaceflight was.
Season 1, Episode 19: The Purple Testament
The horrors of World War II are explored when a soldier develops the ability to predict which man from his platoon will die next by seeing a flash of purple light shine across their faces. The “purple” effect was created for black and white television by slightly superimposing an alternate image of the actor’s face over the actual one while changing the angle of lighting from above to below.
Season 1, Episode 18: Last Flight
A World War I British flying ace descends into a fog only to wind up 42 years in the future at an American Air Force base in France.
Season 1, Episode 17: The Fever
Gambling fever drives puritanical Franklin Gibbs (Everett Sloane) to madness. The voice of the slot machine was created through a triumph of sound design: the raw sound of coins falling down a metal chute was played through headphones pressed against a person’s vocal chords while they mouthed the line “FRANKLIN.” The result was organically more frightening than anything that would be created digitally today. This episode was parodied hilariously on the Skill Crane episode of Spongebob. Everett Sloane was a veteran of Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre and his film debut was as Mr. Bernstein in Citizen Kane.
Season 1, Episode 16: The Hitchhiker
Swedish-born beauty Inger Stevens stars as a woman avoiding a persistent hitchhiker on a cross country drive. Rod Serling adapted this teleplay from the original radio play by Lucille Fletcher and curiously changed the gender of the main character from a man (played by Orson Welles in the radio productions) to a woman. This switch allowed for a sexually charged scene where Steven’s character gives a ride to a lecherous sailor, which was quite provocative for 1960.
Season 1, Episode 15: I Shot An Arrow Into The Air
Four astronauts veer off course and crash into what they think is a distant asteroid. It is only after a Lord Of The Flies mentality takes over that they realize they had merely crashed back into Earth. The science of this type of story is laughable today but was a real fear when the space age began.
Season 1, Episode 14: Third From The Sun
Edward Andrews and Fritz Weaver star in this interplanetary apocalypse escape story. The director chose to shoot the episode entirely with dutch angles to indicate a planet other than Earth. Andrews looks much the same in 1959 as he did when he played Molly Ringwald’s grandfather (and host father of Long Duk Dong) in 1984’s Sixteen Candles.