We continue from yesterday's entry (8am to Midnight), keeping with the tradition of airing the superb "Midnight Sun" at the stroke of the New Year.
And so what follows is the short list of my favorites, followed by the complete list of Twilight Zone episodes to be aired on SyFy from midnight New Year's Day through 7pm, with comments and mini-reviews, so you can sift the wheat from the crap.
Fortunately, although there are only two from the Time Top 10, they are two of the best: "Walking Distance" (which J.J. Abrams considers the series' best episode, and I am inclined to agree) at 12:30 AM, and the iconic "It's a Good Life" at 1:00 PM (listed in red below) -- and there are quite a few gems!
A third entry will follow covering 7pm through 9:00am Thursday morning, Jan 2nd.
So, the other two categories are:
(1) My Personal Favorite Episodes – These are underrated gems with strong scripts and beautiful performances – in green.
(2) Episodes Worth Watching – These have flawed scripts or execution, but often have strong performances and/or ideas – in blue.
My Favorites – Short List
(Click the time to jump to the episode description.)
12:00 AM – The Midnight Sun
12:30 AM – Walking Distance
1:00 AM – The Lonely
1:30 AM – Judgement Night
2:30 AM – The Last Flight
4:30 AM – The After Hours
8:00 AM – A Thing About Machines
9:00 AM – The Silence
10:00 AM – Death's-Head Revisited
12:00 PM – In Praise Of Pip
1:00 PM – It's A Good Life
1:30 PM – Five Characters In Search Of An Exit
5:00 PM – Number Twelve Looks Just Like You
Full List – With Descriptions
12:30 AM – Walking Distance – I LOVE this episode, a classic (#2 on the Time list) about a frustrated exec who, longing for his boyhood days, visits his hometown – only to find himself a grown-up amidst his own childhood. Insightful lesson about valuing the present and not romanticizing the past.
1:00 AM – The Lonely – Convict
1:30 AM – Judgement Night – Nehemiah Persoff just knows a nearby U-boat will blast his passenger steamer. But no one one board will believe him! (And exactly how does he know anyway...?) Excellent performances, great ending and a sweet cameo by The Avengers' Patrick MacNee
2:00 AM – The Four Of Us Are Dying – Guy who can change his face learns he can’t change his scumbag nature.
2:30 AM – The Last Flight – During a hopeless dogfight, a World War I pilot abandons his best friend by flying into a cloud–and 42 years into the future, landing at a modern airfield. A touching, beautifully acted tale of cowardice, duty, and heroism at the last minute. A rarely-aired gem. And check out the vintage 1918 biplane!
3:00 AM – The Purple Testament – Mediocre tale of a WWII soldier who sees a portentous "light" on his comrades' faces. Basically an anti-war story which offers only the resigned observation that in war, people die and you can't save them (or yourself); title is from Richard III: "He has come to open the purple testament of bleeding war." Notable only for a good performance by a pre-Bewitched Dick York.
5:00 AM – Nightmare As A Child – Freaky, annoying brat spooks schoolteacher. Or does the marm have more to fear? Find out, if you can stay awake through this snoozer. Features TZ's second-favorite child actor
4:00 AM – Mr. Bevis – Loser gets all he desires (money, nice apartment, fancy car & chauffer), only to learn he can’t be his true whackadoo self and keep up appearances. Moral: Enjoying who you are is worth more than anything money can buy -- or money itself. A worthy message that deserved stronger delivery.
4:30 AM – The After Hours – Stunning Anne Francis finds herself wandering the non-existent floors of a creepy department store. (Wait... is that mannequin watching me??)
**** Paid Programming! GAHHH!!! ****
9:30 AM – A Thing About Machines – One of my all-time faves about a guy who beats up on his machines – which, in 1960, included his typewriter, electric razor, TV and car – and they gang up to have their revenge. The dawn of Skynet... ("Now, why don’t you get out of here, Finchley!!")
8:30 AM – The Prime Mover – Compulsive gambler cajoles his telekinetically-enabled pal (an enjoyable Buddy Ebsen) into to helping him cheat Vegas. Doesn't work out too well, but could be worse. Moral: Be happy with what you have; know when to quit.
9:00 AM – The Silence – Tense, beautifully acted study in interpersonal dynamics and irony. Based loosely on Chekhov's The Bet, there is no supernatural hocus-pocus in this one. And there is no need for any. (And no Doctor Who jokes please... :-> )
9:30 AM – The Arrival – Mystery plane lands itself at airport. The flight inspector "with a perfect record of solving cases" brings in a team to investigate. Everyone sees different registration numbers, seat cushion colors, then all but the investigator disappear. Could it all just be the investigator's guilty conscience hallucinating? Ummm... maybe... Sigh.
10:00 AM – Death's-Head Revisited – Former Nazi captain's trot down memory lane via Dachau brings him to some unexpected denizens. Top-notch performances by Joseph Schildkraut and Oscar Beregi Jr.
10:30 AM – A Piano In The House – Enchanted ivories reveal uncomfortable secrets; akin to "What's in the Box" (6:00 PM 1/1) and "A Most Unusual Camera" (4:00 PM 12/31 -- be glad you missed it), and slightly better than either. But only slightly.
11:00 AM – The Last Rights Of Jeff Myrtlebank – Small-town good ol' boy
11:30 AM – Hocus-Pocus and Frisby – A braggart gas station attendant's tales of prowess are believed by some seriously gullible aliens who want to take him home as a specimen of Earth's finest.
12:00 PM – In Praise Of Pip – I LOVE this episode. I REALLY love this episode (and did I mention I love this episode?). Jack Klugman (RIP to a beloved actor) delivers a top-notch, tragic performance as a dying no-good trying to do right by his serviceman son, Pip (a much less fearsome Billy Mumy). Sweet, sad magical ending.
12:30 PM – Uncle Simon – Two despicable people in a screeching, unredeemable story. Sadistic eponymous Uncle berates greedy, gold-digging niece caretaker into an "accidental" (and fatal) lapse in care. Twist ending? Yeah, but who cares. By the time it's over you'll want to twist off your head. Geeks may get a kick out of the brief cameo of Forbidden Planet's Robby the Robot; the ambulatory prop also appears on "The Brain Center at Whipple's" and in miniature in "One for the Angels" (8:00 AM 12/31).
1:00 PM – It's A Good Life – One of the most famous episodes (#3 on the Time list) featuring little Billy Mumy as a terrifying child who can create and destroy at will. The brilliant Cloris Leachman is his petrified mother. ("That’s a good thing you did… A real good thing… Now please wish it into the cornfield!").
1:30 PM – Five Characters In Search Of An Exit – A soldier, a clown, a tramp, a bagpiper, and a ballerina wake to find themselves in a doorless empty room. Well-played and engaging.
2:00 PM – The Hunt – This mediocre folksy tale by The Waltons creator Earl Hamner Jr. has been recycled as internet glurge. Guy and dog have died and are walking along the road to heaven. Guy at pearly gate says, “No dogs allowed.” Guy says, “I ain’t going nowhere without my hound…” Sheesh. (This one has also been recycled as Internet glurge.
2:30 PM – Little Girl Lost – Little girl has slipped into another dimension. Can her parents and their conveniently present physicist pal rescue her before the portal closes forever? Decent script but bland acting. Tune in for the final 10 minutes for all you need to know.
3:00 PM – The Little People – Ego and physical relativity clash in this memorable (though mediocre) episode, which has been lampooned in The Simpsons, South Park, and Futurama. Good performance by Claude Akins.
3:30 PM – A Kind Of Stopwatch – Blabbering bore gets comeuppance via magical timepiece. Even The Girl, the Gold Watch and Everything was better than this turkey.
4:00 PM – Probe 7 Over and Out – Stranded astronaut Richard Basehart, meets hostile alien female on deserted planet. She hurls rocks at him. Or maybe it's just foreplay. Now, what shall we call this place...? (Appropriately rhymes with "dearth.") The same story is better told in "Two" (1:00 AM 1/2).
4:30 PM – The 7th Is Made Up Of Phantoms – Spooked National Guard tank crew gets drafted into Custer's 7th Cavalry. Big whoop.
05:00 PM – Number Twelve Looks Just Like You – Dystopic utopia where everyone is beautifully identical and lifts their pretty mugs with a glass of Instant Smile. (Perhaps an inspiration for Scott Westerfeld's excellent Uglies series -- where a "beautiful world" has a particularly nasty underpinning?) Mediocre script saved by Collin Wilcox's terrific performance.
5:30 PM – Black Leather Jackets – Evil leather-clad alien (dressed this way to "blend") falls for local Earth girl in this poor man's Avatar.
6:00 PM – What's In The Box – Lame and ridiculous episode about a couple’s bickering leading to accidental murder and capital punishment. Freaky TV predicts it all. There, now you don’t have to watch it and aren’t you glad?
6:30 PM – Caesar and Me – Satan-spawn dummy drives hapless ventriloquist Jackie Cooper to a life of crime – matched in evilness only by tormenting then-child actress Morgan Brittany (later of Dallas fame). The same material is handled much better in "The Dummy" (9:00 PM 1/1).