Worst to Best
1980s Twilight Zone
Season One

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38 If She Dies

A suitably creepy "ghost child" tale, this one contains a likeable lead performance from Tony Lo Bianco, but doesn't really go anywhere unusual or present anything especially different. Credit however goes toward a more macabre ending than expected, whereby a dying child appears to be taken over by the soul of a long-dead girl...

37 Welcome To Winfield

When death (calling himself "Griffin St. George") finds his next victim has escaped, he follows him to a southern town where time hasn't advanced. What could be a vaguely intriguing, quirky instalment is instead played for broad laughs, with possibly the worst soundtrack in a season full of poor soundtracks.
     Notable among the cast is actor Gerrit Graham as Griffin St. George. Graham also made his writing debut on the series, co-writing Children's Zoo, Opening Day and Still Life with Chris Hubbell.

36 Chameleon

A passable yet generally forgettable conclusion to the second episode, which features aliens taking over NASA personnel. Cult TV favourite Terry O'Quinn (Star Trek: The Next Generation, Millennium, The X-Files... and, most famously, LOST) takes one of the main parts, yet is almost unrecognisable in his early thirties. He's also unable to make much of an impression under Wes Craven's unusually flat direction.

35 The Uncle Devil Show

The shortest story of the season, lasting just over six minutes, this is a very offbeat tale featuring inattentive parents and a young boy who watches things on the TV he shouldn't. Surreal in parts, silly in others, this one never quite feels like a pure Twilight Zone episode, but does have some merit on its own terms.

34 Night of the Meek

Based on the original series episode of the same name, this passable remake does blunt all the edges of what was already a fairly schmaltzy episode. In the original Art Carney was an embittered, unemployed drunk who drank to stop himself from weeping. Although Richard Mulligan's Santa is similarly drunk, it appears more as an affectation rather than any deep existential crisis; his impassioned speech to his department store manager is not related to his own inner pain but just the concern of poor children.
     By all accounts Carney had the advantage of real-life alcohol issues, but whereas his Santa prowled homeless shelters and darkened alleys, finding a magic sack in a deserted street, Mulligan's more upbeat, slightly over-the-top Santa gets to attend loving parties with the entire neighbourhood and finds the magic sack comes from his own garbage.
     Just to cement the idea that this is a purely uplifting story with no real darkness, the department store manager is not a relatively reasonable man forced to fire Santa, but a Scrooge-like villain out for his own gain, played by the boo-hiss lawyer from Ghostbusters. Ultimately the story's focus is shifted from a department store Santa needing redemption to the redemption of the manager's spirit. Night of the Meek was a decent but never classic episode of the original... this remake, while fine, seems to miss most of the point.

33 Grace Note

An attempt to tug at heartstrings motivates this somewhat maudlin tale, whereby a girl dying of leukaemia projects her sister twenty years into the future so she can see her alternate future as an opera singer. Real-life soprano Julia Migenes does well in the lead role, though it's almost impossible to see this as anything but a showcase for her talents, with a thin story threaded around it.

32 Monsters!

Probably the biggest point of contention with the 80s series is that, while sometimes very good (and certainly, at its best, leagues above the 2002 revival) it often lacked its own sense of identity. With its obsessions with horror, episodes could just as easily have slotted into Amazing Stories or any of the other horror anthology shows that littered 1980s US TV. In fact, the basic storyline here - a young boy finds his elderly neighbour is secretly a vampire - is astonishingly similar to the 1985 feature film Fright Night.
     However, what makes this instalment rewarding is the sense of bleakness at its heart. The neighbourhood all turn into the monsters of the title in order to murder the vampire in their midst. And, despite some of the worst sneezing acting ever captured on film, the final twist that the young boy may have become a vampire is suitably downbeat and perverse.

31 Children's Zoo

Clocking in at under nine minutes, this one sees a young girl with obnoxious, irresponsible parents get to choose new ones at a human zoo. There's a cameo from Wes Craven as one of the potential new parents, and it's kind of cute, but really this is a half-hearted sketch rather than a fully developed tale.