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SYFY WIRE Rod Serling

Submitted For Your Approval: Rod Serling's Daughters Reveal Their Favorite Episodes of The Twilight Zone

Who better to ask than two of the people who knew him best?

By Josh Weiss
Rod Serling stands while an eye, a figurine, clock, and door float around him.

With 156 episodes comprising the original iteration of The Twilight Zone (regularly airing on SYFY), you'll find that fans of Rod Serling's timeless anthology are often divided over their favorite fables.

Some viewers prefer the all-time classics — such as "Time Enough at Last," "To Serve Man" and "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" — while others go for more obscure installments like "Miniature," "Valley of the Shadow," and “A Short Drink From a Certain Fountain." None of these preferences are wrong or worthy of eternal banishment to the cornfield. In fact, the variety one is apt to find among Twilight Zone die-hards only reinforces just how successful the show was in its ability to portray a wide array of human perspectives.

For Serling's two daughters, Anne and Jodi, the best episodes are not the ones involve gremlins, human-gobbling aliens, or even cruel twists of fate. Rather, their personal favorites are the ones that best reflected who their father was as a human being.

For More on Rod Serling:
"Lost" Short Story from Twilight Zone Creator Rod Serling Published Ahead of SYFY Marathon

Did You Know The Twilight Zone Had a Different Narrator Before Series Creator Rod Serling?
'Night Gallery: The Art of Darkness' offers a private showing of Rod Serling's post-Twilight Zone series

Rod Serling's Daughters Reveal Their Favorite Episodes of The Twilight Zone

"I love my dad's autobiographical ones — like 'Walking Distance,'" Anne tells SYFY WIRE over email. A poignant tale of nostalgia (and light time travel), the Season 1 episode follows Martin Sloan (Gig Young), an unfulfilled ad executive from New York City, who comes to learn that he cannot relive the pleasures of youth while on a visit to his hometown. According to Marc Scott Zicree's Twilight Zone Companion, the episode was Serling at his most sentimental as the creator "took a fantasy journey to the "Binghamton of his youth."

"This represented my dad's journey every summer," Jodi confirms. "He would drive alone and go back to his hometown of Binghamton and revisit his childhood home, the merry-go-round, and the park ... This was a very personal script of my dad's; his yearning and reflecting, his longing for the simple past of his own youth."

It's something Jodi could relate to more and more as she grew older and developed a wistful yearning for the annual family vacations to a cottage on the shores of Cayuga Lake (Serling named his production company after it) in Upstate New York, "where my dad could unwind and relax from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles," she remembers. "Our summers at the lake were so special. More time with my dad on Cayuga Lake; campfires, marshmallows and s'mores. My father would always hoard the chocolate — it was his favorite!"

Jodi continues: "There would be never-ending laughter, peace, and tranquility as the waves on Cayuga Lake lapped up onto the shore. The frogs croaking and the crickets chirping. Sounds of summer, smells of summer, memories that would never be forgotten. My father's laughter remains a distant memory and puts a smile on my face as the memories flow."

Martin Sloan (Gig Young) sits at a bar and eats a shake on The Twilight Zone.

Another top choice for Anne is Season 5's "In Praise of Pip," which stars Twilight Zone regular Jack Klugman as a mortally wounded bookie granted one last night of bonding time with the 10-year-old version of his son, Pip (Bill Mummy, aka Anthony Fremont from "It's a Good Life"). As an adult, Pip (Robert Diamond) hovers between life and death after sustaining an injury in South Vietnam.

In addition to being one of the first notable pieces of media to address our country's military involvement in Southeast Asia, the episode also features a classic exchange of dialogue Anne regularly shared with her father. "Jack Klugman says to his son Pip, 'Who's your best buddy, Pip?' And Pip responds, 'You are, Pops.' Just like the words of my dad and my routine."

The episode could also be seen as an expression of the inexpressible pain Serling felt after not being able to attend his father's funeral during World War II. "My dad suffered the loss of his father for his entire life," Anne says. "It was — like mine with him — an unfinished relationship. He would often say to me, 'If only you had known your grandfather.' I never could have imagined that I would one day say those same words to my own children."

"I still struggle with ghost of the loss of my dad and mom, but have moved forward in spite of the pain and grief one feels with the tremendous loss of a parent," echoes Jodi, who still returns to that aforementioned family cottage in Interlaken, New York. "When I listen to the waves of Cayuga Lake, it is my dad's whispers and cool breeze that comfort me with his spirit. I thank both my parents for being in my life and giving me joy — for loving me and receiving my love in return."

Jack Klugman rests his head on his hand in The Twilight Zone.

Classic episodes of The Twilight Zone air regularly on SYFY. Click here for complete scheduling info!