Worst to Best
1980s Twilight Zone
Season One

The Twilight Zone was resurrected in the mid 80s, with its first season airing from September 1985-April 1986. Unlike the original series, each episode of the season contained 2-3 separate stories, totalling 59 tales.


The DVD with all 24 episodes is available via Amazon. A brief overview of the 1980s series is one of the most-viewed pages on the entire site, so in the spirit of giving people what they (presumably) want, I've rewatched the first season & ranked it from worst to best...

59 Opening Day

Directed by John Milius, one of the co-writers of Apocalypse Now, this is a hugely significant factor in terms of the acting involved, as Milius' wife, Elan Oberon, plays the female lead. Oberon only has five screen credits, and all of them had involvement by Milius. This is not to say that Oberon is a dreadful actress, but there are several moments here where she struggles to make the dialogue sound anything above daytime soap dross. To be fair to her, with lines like "Carl isn't a human being, he's a machine... no heart, no passion, no nerves", it's a feat beyond any actress to breathe life into such a poorly-written part.
     With repetitive, distracting incidental music by Craig Safan, this is something of a dirge. The first 1980s season of The Twilight Zone was a hugely variable affair, as we'll see throughout this ranking. At its best, it contains stories worthy of the original series, and genuine wit and innovation. At its worst, it's all of the stories on this first page, substandard product not even worthy of the Twilight Zone name.

58 Tooth and

Robert Downey Jr's father had a sizeable input into the series, directing this episode, along with Children's Zoo and, uncredited, parts of Teacher's Aide. Perhaps most notably he played the role of Mr. Miller in Wordplay. This short instalment about a dentist with a fear of dentistry is, sadly, one to skip. Humour is subjective, and while it has occasionally worked well in the series, more often than not it's a bad fit, producing some of the worst instalments.
     The Twilight Zone is at its best when it opts for quirky wit rather than out-and-out farce, and it's perhaps no coincidence that so many of the lowest-ranked stories here are "comedies". Altogether the season opted for 19 stories that were comedic, ranging from offbeat, understated wit, to the broad, overplayed silliness seen here. In contrast, the first two seasons of the original series combined only had around a handful of comedic episodes.

57 Teacher's Aide

Adrienne Barbeau stars as a teacher in a delinquent school who becomes possessed by a gargoyle on the school's roof. Quite why anyone thought this was a good idea is unknown, though it's to Barbeau's credit she at least tries to take it all seriously. As the series was made in the 1980s, it isn't one where the look of the show has aged well, and the regular parade of permed mullets, shoulder pads and cheesy music is very much on offer here. With the classes under threat from the world's campest "gang", it's a definite guilty pleasure that's easy to love... if only for all the wrong reasons.

56 Still Life

Horrendous, borderline racist nonsense as a group of tribespeople are trapped within a camera, their souls being stolen. They break out, but are placed back within the camera by having their photos retaken, while the incidental music by Ken Wannberg flirts with jungle drums. Director Peter Medak often brings a technical sensibility to events that seems archaic in the modern age... in particular, stark low angle shots of mundane suburbia seem laughable today.

55 Act Break

One of the weakest instalments from the superior black and white series was the 50 minute comedy episode "The Bard", whereby Shakespeare is brought into the present day. Here the situation is reversed, whereby a magic amulet sees James Coco travel back in time for help with his stage play writing. Brooklyn actor Bob Dishy doesn't even seem to attempt an English accent for Shakespeare, and the whole thing is played as a broad farce. Ultimately this may come down to personal taste, whereby a screwball comedy episode of The Twilight Zone is somebody's idea of a good time.

54 The Leprechaun-Artist

The 1980s version of The Twilight Zone opted to make not one but two comic episodes that played on all the stereotypes of Irish people you could possibly imagine. Featuring sometimes English but mainly American actors putting on an Irish accent that's never been heard anywhere in the whole of Ireland, it's a somewhat patronising and derogatory account, so it is, to be sure.
      Here Oregon's Cork Hubbert plays a leprechaun granting three young boys one wish each, which inevitably turn out to be less than what they desired. It's possible to not take it all so seriously and just have fun with what is, after all, intended to be a comedy, but as soon as you get to dialogue like "begorah!" you do have to wonder whose idea this was, and why it was ever put into production...

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