In honor of Jordan Peele’s revival of “The Twilight Zone,” premiering Monday on CBS All Access, here are my Top 10 all-time favorite episodes from the original CBS anthology series, which aired from 1959 to 1964. (Note: All of these classic episodes are available for streaming on CBS All Access and the official “Twilight Zone” YouTube channel.)
This parable of life and death, decided in a seedy pool room (city unknown), features two actors with terrific chops and even better chemistry: Jack Klugman as Jesse Cardiff, the self-proclaimed best pool player on Randolph Street, and Jonathan Winters as the dead pool legend James Howard “Fats” Brown (“The best who ever was”). Fats materializes from pool-player heaven and challenges Jesse to a game. The stakes? If Jesse wins, he lives. If he loses, he dies. The banter between Klugman and Winters (stepping outside his comic comfort zone) is priceless. (And the timing was perfect: The episode aired shortly after the big-screen premiere of “The Hustler,” co-starring Jackie Gleason as pool legend Minnesota Fats.)
‘The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street’ (March 4, 1960)
Suburban mob-mentality panic turns deadly when strange things begin to happen on Maple Street one summer night after something crashes nearby, cutting the power. Lights flicker on and off, cars start by themselves and, before too long, neighbor turns on neighbor when teenage Tommy suggests it’s the work of aliens from outer space.