If you’re going to go out, go out with a bang. The fifth season of “The Twilight Zone” is the final season of the legendary horror anthology show. Incidentally it’s also the season that features some of the best and most incredible episodes of the series ever made. It’s by far some of the best television ever produced, and it’s here for the taking. Reading down the list of episodes on the back of the DVD I was ecstatic to re-visit some of my all time favorite episodes of the series, many of which have influenced me for many years.
“Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is the episode that the series is mostly recognized by, as a young William Shatner stars Bob Wilson, a salesman who gains a shock to his reality when he realizes the plane he’s on is being sabotaged by a Gremlin. The furry monster constantly taunts him from his window, insistent on damaging the plane Bob is in, and Bob will stop at nothing to warn everyone of the Gremlin’s presence, or else they’ll all die in mid-air. “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” is an excellent half hour of television with a wonderful turn by Shatner who may or may not be going insane. Per the formula of “The Twilight Zone” what may or may not be fantasy or reality is always blurred. Perhaps the wing really did get damaged by a demon in the skies, or perhaps Bob’s witnessing of the plane’s destruction manifested in to an actual entity only he could see. We may never really know.
“The Living Doll” centers on a little girl and her over-protective doll that begins to form a hatred for her owner’s abusive father. When he begins battling the doll and trying to destroy it, he realizes the doll is not going to go quietly. Ending on a haunting note, “The Living Doll” is still a mind blower. “Night Call” is a creepy but sad tale of a lonely bitter old woman haunted by calls in the middle of the night by a mysterious individual. When she demands the caller leave her alone, she discovers the source of the phone calls, and learns that sometimes we should be careful what we wish for. “The Masks” is one of my personal favorites involving a dying wealthy man whose grandchildren are anxiously awaiting his death to inherit his fortune.
As part of a bargain, he forces them to wear grotesque masks as he garners his final moments with them revealing their bitterness, hatred, and vanity leading in to a final twist that drips with revenge. “A Certain Kind of Stop Watch” is yet another gem from the final season where a boring man is given a stop watch by a drunken man at a bar. Realizing the odd gift can stop time all around him, he begins to change his life and alter the environment all around him while the stopwatch is working. “A Certain Kind of Stop Watch” and its haunting final scene is a message that sometimes you have to know when to quit while you’re ahead. By far the best of the season and of the entire series is “I Am the Night Color Me Black,” a disturbing and very terrifying tale of humanity being consumed by darkness that is so enveloping it swallows up all form of natural and electric light.
When the blackness begins appearing all over areas of the world, the local priest begins to conclude that man’s hatred has sealed its fate and the darkness is swallowing up mankind for its use of hatred, violence, and bigotry. Until man stops hating one another, the darkness will go away. By the end, the world has shown no change, and all hope is lost. It’s a truly amazing episode and one I constantly re-visit. Those are really only some of the respective excellent installments in the final season of “The Twilight Zone.” The five disc DVD set comes with thirty six uncut episodes, and is worthy of the re-visit. “The Twilight Zone” hasn’t shown its age since its introduction and it’s always a genre treasure.