Head Into 'The Twilight Zone' With Classic Episodes Recommended By Jordan Peele And Simon Kinberg

Next month, April begins with a bang as Jordan Peele's revamp of the classic sci-fi anthology series The Twilight Zone comes to CBS All Access. With all the buzz surrounding the director's most recent film, Us, audiences will certainly be interested in the series of short stories executive produced by the comedian turned genre filmmaker.

But before you dive into The Twilight Zone again, you might want to take a journey back into the classic episodes of the series. Of course, there are a lot of episodes for you to peruse, but thankfully, Jordan Peele and fellow executive producer Simon Kinberg (the X-Men franchise) have some classic Twilight Zone episode recommendations for you to check out before the reboot arrives.

Peele and Kinberg shared their recommendations with Entertainment Weekly, and we've grabbed a few highlights for you to peruse below. But follow that link if you want a bit more.

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

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.

One of Simon Kinberg's recommendations is a classic alien invasion story. However, this isn't the kind of alien invasion story where the visitors from another planet attack humans, at least not in the conventional way. But the point of this episode is to show that the greatest threat facing humanity may not come from the stars. In fact, it might already be on Earth.

To Serve Man

Respectfully submitted for your perusal – a Kanamit. Height: a little over nine feet. Weight: in the neighborhood of three hundred and fifty pounds. Origin: unknown. Motives? Therein hangs the tale, for in just a moment, we're going to ask you to shake hands, figuratively, with a Christopher Columbus from another galaxy and another time. This is the Twilight Zone.

Jordan Peele suggests another alien story, but this one isn't about an invasion as much as getting assistance from a benevolent species who comes baring gifts to fix some of Earth's greatest problems. Of course, not everything is as it seems. Peele told Entertainment Weekly, "'To Serve Man' is the one that, I think, is the quintessential Twilight Zone. It's perfect. It has everything."

Time Enough at Last

Witness Mr. Henry Bemis, a charter member in the fraternity of dreamers. A bookish little man whose passion is the printed page, but who is conspired against by a bank president and a wife and a world full of tongue-cluckers and the unrelenting hands of a clock. But in just a moment, Mr. Bemis will enter a world without bank presidents or wives or clocks or anything else. He'll have a world all to himself... without anyone.

Simon Kinberg suggests one of the most beloved, classic episodes of The Twilight Zone. Burgess Meredith (Batman '66) stars as a man who wakes up after an H-bomb has destroyed the world around him after he was knocked unconscious in a bank vault that kept him shielded from the explosion. What seems like a traumatic hellscape to survive in suddenly becomes a paradise for this man, but only for a split second. Kinberg remarked:

"What's interesting about that one is that's a good example of an episode that was just really about character. It wasn't really about society or social justice. There are plenty of episodes that we have, even in our first season, that are very much like that — just an exploration of a character's struggle in the world or struggle with his or herself, with a discovery and an ironic twist toward the end."

Living Doll

Talky Tina, a doll that does everything, a lifelike creation of plastic and springs and painted smile. To Erich Streator, she is the most unwelcome addition to his household—but without her, he'd never enter the Twilight Zone.

This episode scared the hell out of Jordan Peele when he was a kid. Since it's about a vengeful doll who fatally injures the family she's living with, who can blame him? Peele said, "You could make the argument that underneath that is a story about consumerism, the one-upsmanship of toys. But in its essence, it's a great horror story."

Nightmare at 20,000 Feet

Portrait of a frightened man: Mr. Robert Wilson, thirty-seven, husband, father, and salesman on sick leave. Mr. Wilson has just been discharged from a sanitarium where he spent the last six months recovering from a nervous breakdown, the onset of which took place on an evening not dissimilar to this one, on an airliner very much like the one in which Mr. Wilson is about to be flown home—the difference being that, on that evening half a year ago, Mr. Wilson's flight was terminated by the onslaught of his mental breakdown. Tonight, he's traveling all the way to his appointed destination, which, contrary to Mr. Wilson's plan, happens to be in the darkest corner of the Twilight Zone.

We probably don't even need to tell you about this classic episode recommended by Simon Kinberg. It's probably the most famous story to come out of The Twilight Zone. Not only did William Shatner star in the original, but John Lithgow brought it to life in the big screen adaptation of The Twilight Zone too. The first season of the reboot will remake it too, but with Adam Scott in the lead role. But how will this version of the story differ from the original? We'll have to wait and see.

Mirror Image

Millicent Barnes, age 25. Young woman waiting for a bus on a rainy November night. Not a very imaginative type is Miss Barnes: not given to undue anxiety, or fears, or for that matter even the most temporal flights of fantasy. Like most young career women, she has generic classification as a quote : "girl with her head on her shoulders", end of quote. All of which is mentioned now because, in just a moment, the head on Miss Barnes' shoulders will be put to a test: circumstances will assault her sense of reality and a chain of nightmares will put her sanity on a block. Millicent Barnes who, in one minute, will wonder if she's going mad.

Of course Jordan Peele suggests this episode, which finds a young woman encountering a double of herself at a bus stop. The episode doesn't go in nearly as dark territory as his film Us, but it does have a similar threat to humanity as an entire world of doppelgängers are waiting to take over our world.


If you'd like to prepare more for The Twilight Zone reboot, the first three seasons of the classic series are available on Netflix. In fact, all of the above episodes can be streamed over there right now. And while you're at it, you can watch the rest of the episodes too. Otherwise, The Twilight Zone reboot premieres on CBS All Access on April 1, 2019 and new episodes will follow on Thursdays after that.