10 classic Twilight Zone episodes to watch before CBS All-Access launch

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Twilight Zone “I am the Night Color Me Black.” Image credit: CBS

9. I Am the Night—Color Me Black

Originally aired: March 27, 1964 – Season 5, Episode 26

Written by: Rod Serling

Opening narration: “Sheriff Charlie Koch on the morning of an execution. As a matter of fact, it’s seven-thirty in the morning. Logic and natural laws dictate that at this hour there should be daylight. It is a simple rule of physical science that the sun should rise at a certain moment and supersede the darkness.

But at this given moment, Sheriff Charlie Koch, a deputy named Pierce, a condemned man named Jagger, and a small, inconsequential village will shortly find out that there are causes and effects that have no precedent.

Such is usually the case—in the Twilight Zone.”

Plot: Jagger is wrongfully convicted and sentenced to be hanged for killing a bigot in self-defense. The morning he is to die, the sun doesn’t rise. It’s the only place around where this is true.

There’s conflict in the town as to whether or not killing this man is the right thing to do. in the end, Jagger is hanged and the sky becomes even darker because of the hatred surrounding Jagger execution.

Why it’s a classic: It’s not. To be frank. There’s not even a twist, really, just a sermon on hatred. It’s a very unique frame for The Twilight Zone.

Why it’s on this list is to prepare you for when Peele inevitably has an incredibly political episode in his new Twilight Zone series. This episode should serve as a reminder that Serling always looked for big statements on society and wrote to things close to his heart.

In this case, this episode comes from his reaction to the assassination of President John F. Kennedy four months prior.

Unlike many of his other episodes, Serling’s story flattens out here in favor of laying a clear, direct message against racism and hatred out for the audience. It’s not his most effective storytelling, but it is some of his most important.