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

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Twilight Zone ‘The Monsters are Due on Maple Street’ – Image by CBS

6. The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

Originally aired: March 4, 1960 – Season 1, Episode 22

Written by: Rod Serling

Opening narration: “Maple Street, U.S.A., late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children, and the bell of an ice cream vendor.

At the sound of the roar and the flash of light, it will be precisely 6:43 P.M. on Maple Street…This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street in the last calm and reflective moment – before the monsters came.”

Plot: A quiet suburban street is thrust into chaos after a meteor passes over the town and the street starts to experience strange events, including power outages and cars starting on their own.

Some residents start to believe this means that aliens are living among them, the aliens just look human. Panic ensues as residents rush to find reasons to blame each other and find something—anything—on which to blame the unexplainable events.

The panic reaches such a fervor that it results in the unfortunate death of one of the residents.

Why it’s a classic: While the residents never learn what’s really going on, Serling does explain, don’t worry. And it’s the perfect metaphor to examine the red scare of the 1950s.

But what really makes this episode great (and what makes this episode a favorite of mine) is the fact that its message never seems to lessen. It’s an examination of crowd mentality and how even the slightest bit of fear and quickly spiral into hatred.

Then the fact that that hatred can be used to incite violence between people who are friends and neighbors with very little effort from outsiders. Irrational fear, this episode shows, is just as dangerous as any physical enemy.

The episode also makes sure to remind the audience that we live in a world full of Maple Street.

According to Hollywood Reporter, Frank Darabont, the director of the 2007 movie The Mist, said he wanted to evoke this episode with his adaptation of Stephen King’s novel.