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

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Twilight Zone “The Invaders” – Image by CBS

Additional episodes you should watch, too:

The Invaders – Arguably should have made the main list. The main character doesn’t speak a word of dialogue as she’s taunted by tiny beings from another planet. The pure terror that comes across, plus that twist that comes at the end of it, makes this an essential episode.

The Little People – A fun take on the intoxicating (yet fleeting) feeling of power over others. If you’re a fan of jerks getting their comeuppance, this is an episode for you. Referenced in The Simpsons, South Park, Futurama and Rick and Morty.

People Are Alike All Over – An optimist and a cynic are on a mission to Mars and they encounter Martians, and one of them is very right about how they’ll be treated by these aliens. The twist is referenced in an episode of The Orville.

A Kind of Stopwatch – Personal favorite. A man is given a stopwatch that can stop time. It’s all fun and games until he meets a fate that lands him in a boat that Henry Bemis (of “Time Enough At Last”) would completely understand.

Number 12 Looks Just Like You – Serling’s brutal take on unreasonable and unfair beauty standards. After all, how would you feel if you were forced to go through a full-body transformation? Sure you get an extended lifespan, but there are only a few options of which beautiful person you will be surgically altered to look like. So many people look the same that everyone has to wear name-tags to avoid confusion. It’s also the inspiration for the Black Mirror episode, “Fifteen Million Merits.”

A Most Unusual Camera – It’s speculated that Peele may have referenced this episode in his trailer. Two thieves steal a strange camera that produces self-developing pictures of the future. (Yes, your Polaroid camera can now tell the future.) Things take a turn when they stop liking what they see.

Nick of Time – Definitely a reference dropped in the trailer for Peele’s Twilight Zone. A couple starts listening to a fortune telling machine with a devil on top. But it’s possible to rely too much on machines that claim to know your future. William Shatner makes another Twilight Zone appearance here.

They Shot an Arrow Into the Air – Astronauts crash land on a mysterious asteroid. They’re barely alive and struggling. Serling’s story looks at what desperate people will do to survive and the consequences of not being patient and staying calm.

The Obsolete Man – Burgess Meredith is back in a story about a totalitarian state where people are put on trial if their occupation has been deemed obsolete by the State. It’s an infraction that is punishable by death. Meredith’s character chooses to have his execution televised and turns the State on its head in the process.

The 7th Is Made Up of Phantoms – Another personal favorite where a group of soldiers from 1964 wind up going back in time and fighting at the Battle of the Little Bighorn in 1876.

Five Characters in Search of an Exit – Some would argue this should have made the initial 10. A group of people sits in a cylindrical room with walls so high that there’s very little hope of climbing out. They have no idea where they are or how they got there. There’s just an occasional loud bell that sounds and knocks them all to the ground. Is this purgatory? Or just the Twilight Zone?

The Lonely – A man is sentenced to solitary confinement on an asteroid for murder. A supply ship visits him occasionally and one day drops off an A.I. robot, Alicia, to keep him company. Things come to a head when the prisoner has to decide what to do after falling in love with the robot—he’s granted a pardon, but can’t take her with him. Here’s a predecessor to the 2013 movie, Her.