Twilight Zone Tuesday – Back There

Back There

Peter Corrigan – Russell Johnson
Jonathan Wellington – John Lassell
William – Bartlett Robinson
Millard – Raymond Bailey
Jackson – Raymond Greenleaf
Whittaker – John Eldredge


A snazzy looking building proclaims itself as The Potomac Club. Inside are the men of the club, doing what guys do there. Reading newspapers and chatting. Maybe I’m anti-social but I’d rather be comfy at home reading a paper than have to walk somewhere to do it. We see a table with four men chatting and playing cards. Three older men and The Professor from Gilligan’s Island and this episode. They’re apparently talking about time travel. The Professor (in this episode his name is Corrigan but he’ll always be The Professor to me) is asking another man about his theory that “if a person were to travel back in time there would be nothing at all to prevent him from changing history”. I wouldn’t exactly call that a “theory”, more like a thought. The other man gives him an example: If The Professor were to go back in time to Black Friday (the real one, not the Thanksgiving one) the man points out that with his prior knowledge of the stock market collapse then he could take steps to protect his investments. I’m a little puzzled, though. Unless he had actually had stocks at that time then he would have had to purchase them before the crash. In other words, it’s a crappy example. The Professor points out that he’d be an anachronism, he really wouldn’t belong Back There. The other man says that The Professor could sell out at a profit and escape the crash unscathed. The Professor asks what if he did and instigated the crash to happen one day earlier? Somehow he goes from that (which would be a history changing event) to arguing that the crash happened on October 24th, 1929 the stock market crashed. It’s a fixed date that can’t be altered. Which is weird because he just gave a prime example of changing history.

SERLING:
Witness the theoretical argument, Washington D.C., the present. Four intelligent men talking about an improbable thing like going back in time. A friendly debate revolving around a simple issue: Could a human being change what has happened before? Interesting and theoretical because who ever heard of a man going back in time? Before tonight that is…because this is The Twilight Zone.

The Professor says he’s going to leave time travel to H.G. Wells. He’s too tired for metaphysics. Isn’t metaphysics things like ghosts and stuff? I thought time travel was at least (theoretically) scientifically possible. Since no one has ever gone back in time then it’s just too darned theoretical fr the Professor to bother thinking about. He says his goodbyes and tells the group that he’ll see them that weekend. One of the group jokes “don’t get lost back in time” to which The Professor replies that “he certainly shall not”. Since we’re watching The Twilight Zone we know that he certainly shall. As he walks out of the club he passes a bust of Abraham Lincoln (which I actually never noticed until just now) and runs into the club’s butler, knocking the tray in his hands. The butler apologizes profusely but The Professor shrugs it off, no harm done. From the angle it looked to me like the butler would have gotten doused, not The Professor. They chat a bit about the season and spring and what day is it anyways? William tells The Professor that it’s April 14th.

Things get a little fuzzy and The Professor grabs his head like he’s dizzy. I guess we’re going Back There. Looking to the left we see a lamp change from a n electric light to gas lamp. His clothing has changed as well. At least Back There is thoughtful and gave him matching clothing. Although, really, the suit he had on previously wouldn’t have looked all that out of place. Men’s suits hadn’t changed much. It’s starting to weird him out. Like Dorothy he thinks “there’s no place like home” and decides that’s the best place to be to get rid of the weirdness. But the creepity crawly music tells us theres no escaping…dun dun dun…Back There! That and all of the carriages and whatnot. They dressed up the set in period stuff and dammit they’re going to use it so we get a good, long look at it. He knocks at presumably his house. Which is apparently twenty steps from the club. An older lady answers the door and he excuses himself, asking what the number is. She confirms that it’s his number and he says he used to live there. It used to be the oldest building in the neighborhood. At least he’s being semi-smart and not running around yelling “This is my house!” Apparently he catches on quick. Well, The Professor always was smart, that’s why he got all the coconuts. She’s confused and he pardons himself saying he was just thinking out loud. she tells him she can’t be bothered standing there all night jabbering about which is the oldest building. I’m guessing it’s a boarding house because he asks for a room and she says she has one for ‘acceptable’ boarders.

She asks if he’s from around there and if he’s a war veteran. He says, yes to both (by his age I’m guessing World War II or the Korean War, possibly). She then asks what business he is in and he says he’s an engineer, which she’s very impressed with. As they’re chatting two people come downstairs all dressed up, saying they’re ready for the play. Dinner, a play and don’t forget to applaud the president. Hmm, a play and a president. This is isn’t going to end well. The Professor mulls it over and something strikes him. He asks what she meant by applauding the president. The lady asks what his problem is and the officer wants to know what’s wrong with applauding the president? What side was he on anyway? The Professor, quick on his feet, says “The Republic, of course!” and even looks a bit offended. The fancy dressed lady tries to pull her husband away to get into the carriage so they can get going. I really, really hope that they’re not the Wrathbones. The Professor asks what play they’re seeing. Why, it’s Our American Cousin, of course.

The Professor asks if it’s April 14th, 1865. The officer comments that The Professor’s actions are most strange. To which The Professor says “It is April 14th, 1865!” stares at them for a second and then jets out of the door. Nope, not strange at all. The Professor rushes to Ford’s Theatre, to the stage door and tries to get in but it’s locked. He pounds on the door yelling that the president’s going to get shot tonight.

The next shot is of The Professor getting dragged into the courthouse and before the bench/counter? I’m not sure what it is. The Professor tries to tell the guy in charge about the president and the officer rolls his eyes and says that’s what he was yelling outside of Ford’s Theatre and that’s why the door guard clocked The Professor in the head . Ah, that’s why he was rubbing his head when they came in. They go back and forth about President Lincoln being shot and, of course, they don’t believe him. The Guy in Charge asks if he’s clairvoyant or something. The Professor says that if he told them how he knows they wouldn’t believe him. He says he doesn’t care what they do to him but make sure the president is ok. The Guy in Charge tells the officer to throw The Professor into a cell to sleep it off. One of the policeman looks like he might at least listen but doesn’t go after him. They drag him off, still yelling about how President Lincoln will be shot by a man named John Wilkes Booth. A man enters with such a flourish he might as well have a neon sign above his head saying who he is.

He introduces himself to the desk sergeant (Guy in Charge) as John Wellington. Somehow, even though he just entered the room, he somehow knows The Professor’s name and what he’s been saying. The Desk Sergeant says yes, he was drunk. Wellington says perhaps, but perhaps he was ill. And taps his temple knowingly. Wellington asks if The Professor may be remanded into his custody. He’d hate to see a war veteran jailed when he may only be mentally ill. This seems a little anachronistic to me as I don’t think there were many alienists who would be all that concerned with veterans at the time. The Sergeant is a bit hesitant but Wellington says that he’ll take full responsibility for The Professor. I don’t know a ton about men’s fashions of the era (except suits and such) but…this outfit strikes me as a bit weird. A little stage-dressing, dare I say? The Sergeant orders the younger policeman to bring The Professor back. Apparently it’s Adopt-a-Prisoner day at the D.C. jail. He says he will wait to collect The Professor outside if they would be kind enough to bring him out to Wellington. If you want him so bad you wait for him, Wellington! Oh lord. Even back then…sigh. As Wellington goes to leave two “Ladies of the Evening” that are obligatory in every police station scene are brought by the camera. I have to admit, I cackled. It’s a long-standing tradition, I see.

 

After Wellington leaves, the younger policeman tells the Sergeant that maybe they should listen to The Professor and at least post a few extra guards around the theatre. The Sergeant  is unreasonably stubborn about it. What could it hurt, really? It seems sensible enough to me. The Sergeant says that President Lincoln has the Federal Army at his disposal and if they’re happy then he is as well. Unless he has the entire Army crowded in there with him they’re not going to be much good at their job. Since my mentality is even more immature than my son’s today I couldn’t help giggling at the younger policeman’s badge (hat?) number – 69. Told you I was immature. The younger policeman, not looking as satisfied as the Sergeant, walks away and watches The Professor walk by. He keeps watching as the older policeman send The Professor out to Wellington. He looks a bit worried.

Wellington is pouring The Professor a glass of something (I’m guessing sherry or brandy, it always seems to be one or the other) and tells him it will help. I’m sure it will. You’ll be lucky to wake up in the morning with both kidneys. The Professor is not suspicious at all and gulps it down in one shot. The Professor finally asks who the man is but he dodges the question and says at the moment he is The Professor’s benefactor and only friend. He takes off his capelet with a flourish (I can’t help it, he flourishes all over the place) and tells The Professor that he is with the government. Uh-huh. Wellington says that while he was in school he dabbled in medicine of the mind. The Professor calls him a psychiatrist but Wellington says he doesn’t know the term (it’s Alienist, Professor). The Professor then asks about his symptoms. Wellington admits that they do interest him exceedingly. Particularly his story about the president being assassinated that evening. This reminds The Professor about it and he asks the time. Wellington tells it to him and reassures The Professor that the play doesn’t start for another three quarters of an hour. Ok, unless Wellington was eavesdropping on The Professor from the beginning he shouldn’t know that. Unless they’re trying to let us know that Wellington knows too much about it. It’s not very clear here.

We get a zoom in on Wellington’s face as he asks whatever gave The Professor the idea that the president would be assassinated? Ok, since everyone has probably figured out already, Wellington is John Wilkes Booth. They might as well have painted it on his forehead. The Professor says he just knows, that’s all. Wilkes/Wellington asks if The Professor had a premonition. The Professor says he has more than that, he knows for a fact…blah blah, you know the rest. Wellington says that he’d be happy to help if The Professor can convince him that he’s not crazy. The Professor lays it out…again, this time adding the name of John Wilkes Booth. He’s not sure what time, though, that’s something he can’t remember. So why was he freaking out over the time a minute ago?

The Professor is getting a little woozy. Must be the liquor, I’m guessing, or an additive. Wilkes gives The Professor a handkerchief and tells him to apply it to his head, it hasn’t been properly looked at. The Professor says he feels odd, faint. He says he feels weak, as though he’s suddenly drunk, or…some way he’s never felt before. He looks up at Wilkes and Wilkes chuckles evilly. The Professor finally figures out that he’s been drugged. He tells The Professor that he had to. He’s a very sick man that doesn’t belong in jail, he needs rest to regain his reason. He lowers The Professor to the sofa and tells him to rest. The Professor (and I’ll give him a bit of leeway since he’s been drugged) still hasn’t figured out who the guy is and begs Wellington/Wilkes to believe him. Wellington/Wilkes snatches up his cape and says a really weird line, “And that’s odd. Because I’m beginning to believe you!”. If it were a spur of the moment plan and Wilkes was waffling on it then it might make sense but since history shows that it was planned in advance so you’d think Booth would believe him thoroughly from the start.

We get a brief clip of people applauding at the play and it’s back to The Professor, just now waking up from his ‘rest’. Looking very shiny. He’s still quite woozy and almost falls in the fire. After trying to stand (unsuccessfully) a few times he gives up on it and starts to worm crawl to the door. He finally gets to the doorknob but it’s locked. He calls for help and then finally passes out again, more or less convincingly (his eyelids are a bit fluttery). Some time later the landlady opens the door for the younger policeman and they find The Professor lying on the floor. The Professor asks what time it is. The younger policeman shakes him and wants to hear what he has to say. He doesn’t know if The Professor is mad or drunk but he doesn’t care, he’s convinced. The younger policeman says he’s been everywhere, trying to get a special guard for the president with no success. The Professor tells him to go himself, then. Then he gives the younger policeman all of the details he can. Rather than rushing off the younger policeman helps The Professor get up off the floor. Cause that’s the critical thing.

They get him to a couch and The Professor gives a few more details about what will happen and the escape route and everything he can. He then asks the landlady (not the same as earlier) where the man is who brought him there. Wellington. The lady looks confused and says there is no one there by that name. The Professor insists there is, the landlady insists there isn’t. As he’s arguing he finally looks at the handkerchief he’s been shaking in his fist and sees the initials J.W.B. Shock! Gasp! Of course, the landlady remembers who lives there finally, a Mr. John Wilkes Booth. The Professor angrily squishes the handkerchief at having been tricked. Even during all of this the young policeman is still there. Um, don’t you have somewhere to be?

As he’s telling the young policeman to stop it there is a cry from outside saying “The president’s been shot!” Outside there’s a large group of people. The young policeman looks stunned and tells The Professor he was right. The landlady weeps. They walk out, leaving The Professor sitting on the couch. He rants to the crowd outside and bangs on the window saying, “Why didn’t you listen to me!” As he bangs on the window it turns into a door and his clothing becomes normal again. I guess we’re back from Back There. A butler comes to open it and asks The Professor if he forgot something. It’s not the same butler as before. The Professor is confused The Professor asks where William is but the butler says that there’s no William on duty there. William walks back to the same room, passing the bust of Lincoln very slowly. Seriously, how the heck did I miss that before??!!

 

The men at the table greet him and go on talking about their new subject – money. There is also now a new man at the table with his back to the camera. The Professor tries to tell them about what happened. his head’s a little wavery and one of the other men, concerned, asks if he’s all right. When The Professor says that he’s ok so the other man tells him to pull up a chair and “listen to the palaver of self-made swindlers”. At least they’re honest. He tells The Professor that William has the best way. It shows the new man at the table, William the butler. Now he’s looking quite a bit un-butlery and rich. Going on with his joke he says his method is the best and most secure…inherit it. Ok, I’ll do that right away! William goes on to say that he was just happening to tell “the boys” that his great-grandfather was on the police force in D.C. the night of Lincoln’s assassination. Huh. Imagine that. He went all over the place trying to warn everyone that something might happen. No one seems to know how he got the information. Geez. He could at least have given The Professor credit for it. Apparently he got in the papers about it and eventually went from policeman to Chief of Police to Councilman, bought a little land and…poof! Millionaire. They start to get back to their bridge as William counts some cash (got it, he’s rich!). Do people bet in bridge? The Professor asks William if used to work there as an attendant> I like butler better. It’s more dignified. William looks mightily offended and tells The Professor that he was a member of the club while The Professor was still in prep school. He is “Certainly not a snob but, well sir! An attendant? I really must protest!” I dunno, that sounds snobbish to me.

The Professor pronounces his final view on time travel. Some things can be changed. Others can’t. They say okey dokey, and get back to their game. As he walks away from the table and their game he rubs his head again. Behind him they talk about him looking ‘peaky’ and acting very strangely. Can anyone tell me what the actual description for ‘peaky’ is? I run into it a lot in older books and stuff. I always had a notion that it meant pale and hollow-eyed but I don’t know. Anyways, looking ‘peaky’ The Professor wipes his brow with a handkerchief. He looks at it, it says J.W.B. So we know it really happened.

SERLING:
Mr. Peter Corrigan (The Professor) lately returned from a place ‘Back There’. A journey into time with highly questionable results. Proving, on one hand, that the threads of history are woven tightly and the skein of events cannot be undone. But, on the other hand, there are small fragments of the tapestry that can be altered. Tonight’s thesis to be taken as you will…in The Twilight Zone.


Ah, time travel. It’s an irresistible plot device but also one that can create plot holes you could drive a Mack truck through. Shouldn’t The Professor’s memories have changed to forget that William was ever a butler and remembered him as a club member? It also seems to be a common theme (and I admit I haven’t read many/watched many time travel movies) that you cannot change history. This episode seems a bit more realistic in that the larger event could not be changed but it affected the fortunes of a smaller player in history. That would seem more consistent to me. This is what I’ve always thought, and I doubt that it’s original: Perhaps larger events cannot be changed because it would cause too large a change and alter everything to such an extent that time would essentially ‘break’. But smaller events can be because it’s a much smaller shift in the timeline. I dunno, what do you guys think? Let me know down below!

They do a fairly decent job on the setting and period details. It’s more successful because they keep it on a much smaller scale. It’s also one where the switch in film isn’t as noticeable. I don’t blame Mr. Serling for being upset with the film downgrade. In the previous episode ‘Dust’ there are some tracking shots that are a bit blurred.

Thank you for joining us for this week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday and  apologize fr missing last week’s due to technical difficulties. Join us again for next week’s episode: The Whole Truth

Twilight Zone Tuesday: A Most Unusual Camera

A Most Unusual Camera

Chester Diedrich – Fred Clark
Paula Diedrich – Jean Carson
Woodward – Adam Williams
Pierre the Waiter – Marcel Hillaire
Narrator – Rod Serling


A very snazzily dressed blond is sitting on a couch, reading an article from a newspaper about an antique shop that’s been burglarized. The police surmise that the burglar must have had an accomplice, to which she gives herself a proud *ahem*, and the thieves jimmied the lock, entered and began “to remove items from the shelves”. Well, yes, that is in general how burglaries work. The items listed as being stolen are two vases from the Ming Dynasty (to which Chester replies that they’re more like Garage Sale Dynasty and throws them on the floor), a silver set, a Louis XIV candelabra, a Queen Anne chest and 3 Picasso’s.

Chester points out that the candelabra is a fake, the ‘silver set’ is World War II surplus and the paintings (which are of a horse, a city-scape and one more that I can’t tell what it is) are posters in frames. Sounds like the store is going to make out better from them being ripped off than the thieves made out with. Paula says they forgot to list something and pats an antique camera. Chester says it at least fits with the rest of the haul. An antique camera for nothing that’s worth nothing.

SERLING:
A hotel suite that, in this instance, serves as a den of crime. The aftermath of a rather minor event to be noted in a police blotter, an insurance claim, perhaps a three inch box on page 12 of the evening paper. Small addenda to be added to the list of the loot. A camera. A most unimposing addition to the flotsam and jetsam that it came with. Hardly worth mentioning, really. Because cameras are cameras. some expensive, some purchasable at 5-and-Dime stores. But this camera, this one’s unusual, because in just a moment we’ll watch it inject itself into the destinies of three people. It happens to be a fact that the pictures that it takes can only be developed in The Twilight Zone.

Chester picks up the camera and says ten years ago you could get one for $.39 and he’s got to grab one in a heist.There’s no place to put the film in and it has “crazy foreign writing” on it. I’m no expert but it looks like it says,”Dix a La Proprietaire” “Ten per owner’. He decides to give it a go anywas and tells his honey to go pose by the window. She strikes a pose (they even go through the whole “say cheese” thing) and he takes the picture but nothing seems to happen.

Chester says the whole haul is worth maybe five bucks and they’ll only get a buck or so from a fence. I may not be up on all of the criminal underground workings but since the items they stole were not reported correctly and are worth so little, why would they need a fence at all? I thought those were for items that were risky to move. Chester gripes a bit about her and her “curio shops”. She says he’s the one that fingered it, cased it and did all the planning. Chester says right back that she’s the one who wanted to try a curio shop because they have more “objects d’art” than a hock shop would. And all they have to show for it is 400 pounds of junk. Either he’s exaggerating or they made a lot of back and forth trips. In the middle of Chester’s griping they hear a whirring and a ‘ding’ from the camera. A picture pops out. Chester stares at it for a bit and Paula asks how she looks. He doesn’t answer so she toddles over to him.

She asks what the deal is (although she should be able to see the picture clearly from where she’s standing) She says it turned out nice and clear. He tells her to go look in the mirror. She asks if he has a few buttons loose. He tells her to just go and look. The picture shows her wearing a fur coat which she (quite obviously) does not have on at the moment. Paula wants to know what’s up with that but Chester doesn’t know.

Then he gets an idea! Chester says that it’s a gag camera, like the cardboard cut-outs at carnivals. The pictures inside already have pictures painted on them so when they take a picture it looks like she’s wearing a fur coat. I can’t even begin to explain how dumb that is. First, the coat would have to be painted as realistically as possible, take into account the way the person might be standing and a whole bunch of other technical crap I’m sure it is possible to pre-paint a picture but I highly doubt that you could do it that precisely.

He calls it kind of cute then they decide to clear up the rest of the junk. Starting with the “Queen Anne” trunk. Chester asks if there’s a key with it and she says no, “he’ll have to open it in his own inimitable style” a bit sarcastically. Chester tells her that she has a nasty disposition and Paula responds that “it’s because she’s married to a nickel and dime heister that wouldn’t know a real diamond from a baseball”. Chester says that he’s paying for their $28 dollar a night room out of profits that he’s collected over a lifetime of hustling, much of that she wasn’t even in the picture for. He goes on to say that he needs her like he needs a three-time conviction. As they’re bickering, he’s trying to jimmy the lock open and finally gets it.

Paula snatches out a full-length fur coat and puts it on. She says they’re not taking it to any fence, this belongs to little old Paula. She dances around the room with it a bit, ending up at the window and (surprise, surprise) strikes the same pose as in the picture. Chester is comparing the picture to her. She wants him to cue her in and let her know what the matter is. Apparently she hasn’t connected the picture and the coat yet. Even I’m finding the (extremely) dumb blonde thing offensive at this point. They stare at the picture for a second and then turn to look at the camera.

Now it’s nighttime and Paula is in her tasteful single bed. No sharing bedsies! Chester is sitting at a table studying the camera intently. She tells him to quit staring at it and come back to bed. Chester asks if she wants him to just forget about it. I have to agree. I’d want to know what the heck was going on with it, too. Paula says big deal, it’s a crazy camera that takes pictures of things that aren’t there. Chester says yeah, things that aren’t there…yet. But they do happen. She says it’s just a lousy camera and takes a random picture of the door to their room. There. No lightning. Therefore it’s just a plain old camera. Um, ok. Nothing happened the first time either there, Scully. Chester says he doesn’t want to drop it (probably a good idea since it would break the camera. I know, that was bad). It could have been made by sorcerer’s or witches and be stuffed full of black magic. Actual quote. Now I would probably jump to that conclusion but it’s odd that he does.

As Paula is trying to talk him out of it the camera pops up it’s picture. It’s a man, entering their door. Paula says that it’s her brother Woodward. He agrees that it’s her cheap, no-good brother. Paula says that can’t be right because Woodward’s in jail for 7 years for breaking and entering. Since he only went in a year ago it’s impossible. She says it’s throwing them a curve. Maybe it’s only somebody that looks like Woodward. Chester says nobody look like Woodward. I’d have to agree. Paula says she’s so scared she’s palpitating. Um, ok. Chester says a little palpitating never hurt anybody. The camera’s obviously wonky. There’s no way Woodward can be there and he isn’t going to be and that’s that.

As soon as Chester is done with his speech the doorknob turns and in walks Woodward. He says he didn’t want to wake them so he jimmied the hotel door open. But you didn’t think walking into their bedroom unannounced might wake them? He and a couple of guys broke out in a laundry truck so he was wondering if he could stay with them for a couple of days. They just keep staring at him in bewilderment. He was thinking that if he was around they wouldn’t fight so much. That’s actually a sweet thought. Chester doesn’t say anything, just hands Woodward the picture. At first Woodward is all jazzed up about science and stuff but then he realizes that they didn’t take his picture when he came in so…how did they get it?

They are all sitting around, staring at the camera and trying to figure out what to do with it. Chester says that if you tried to tell the truth and sell it, they’d laugh at you and put you away. Or burn you at the stake. I’m starting to wonder how old Chester is. People aren’t generally burnt at the stake anymore. Woodward’s idea is to sell tickets. Chester has a moment of nobility. He says they’re three small-time heisters who actually have the chance to do something good, like give the camera to science. They could do something for humanity. Paula wants to know what humanity has ever done for them. He says that’s what he’s talking about. Summed up, they’re greedy bastards and they have the chance to change that. Somehow I don’t think his noble spirit will last very long.

They all have a moment of imagining saying, “Here, world. A gift from Chester Diedrich and his wife (and Woodward, too).” Chester sends Woodward off to watch tv while he and the wife have serious dreams. Woodward decides to turn on the horse races. And he’s sitting so close to the tv he might as well be on top of it. The races catch Chester’s attention aaaand the noble spirit’s gone. wow. that took less time than I thought. Chester is struck with a brilliant idea. His idea is to take a picture of the winning board before it’s announced. Woodward doesn’t get it and it takes Paula a minute or two. To which her brilliant addition is ‘We take a picture and then we look at it!” They take another full minute to lay it out word by word for Woodward then pool their money. They all grab their coats and it’s off to the races.

At the races they get a good seat and take a picture of the board. So far, so good. They find out the winner is Tidy Too (wtf kind of name is that?) and head off to bet. We get some non-tense shots of the race and them cheering (or chanting) for, ugh, Tidy Too.Tidy Too wins, of course, and they get a *ahem* tidy sum of money, $9,600 of it. Call me a cheat but it’s not a bad plan. It is cheating a bit but they’re not knee-capping anyone for it nor threatening anyone nor drugging any horses. They take a few more pictures and get stacks of money. i’m curious since I’ve never really been to a horse race. Did they actually give out stacks of cash, even in 1960? it also seems to me that if they have been doing this on the same day, at the same track and are consistently winning on the long shots, that they would be getting an unpleasant visit from some very unpleasant people.

Back at the hotel they’re busy enjoying their ill-gotten booty (or ill-booten gotty. Sorry, too much M*A*S*H). Paula is all sparkly with a mink stole. Woodward is in a new checked suit, chowing down and Chester is on the phone, special ordering a car. Which costs $11,000. Holy crap. I’d take two, also. There’s a knock on the door whom they assume to be the waiter, which it is. And like idiots they have the money lying everywhere. Gee, wonder what will happen there? As Pierre is picking up the dishes he notices the camera. Then, after speaking a little French he asks them what happens when they use up the ten pictures? They brush it off at first but then ask him to repeat himself. He tells them that “Dix a La Proprietaire” means “10 to an Owner” (thank you 10th grade French Class). Pierre goes on to say that he presumes that means you can only take ten pictures. Very odd. Chester reminds Pierre about the champagne Madame Paula ordered and rushes him out.

In a panic they start to count up the pictures that they’ve taken. They figure out that they have taken eight so they only have two left. These kinds of arbitrary numbers always make me wonder. Whom is considered the owner? Does it count for just one, two or all three? After Chester was done (since he was the one to take the first picture) could he pass it on to Paula? And then from her to Woodward? It bugs me. What do you guys think? Chester thinks Pierre is wrong (unlikely), Paula is more concerned that they only have two pictures left and Woodward votes to sell it. Chester tells Woody to shut up, it’s not even his. Chester says they should use them at the track, Paula votes for saving them for a rainy day (which seems the sensible thing to do) and Woodward again says they should sell it. That seems the dumbest course of action, to me. They all start playing tug of war with the camera (ijits) and accidentally take a picture. Sigh.

Chester is ticked that he wasted a picture and Paula starts palpitating again. Chester says she has phony palpitations and a dumb brother. Woodward says he doesn’t have to take that. Well, since you have contributed absolutely nothing then, yeah, you can either shut up or leave. Fortunately, Woodward is easily placated with a drink. The camera whirrs and the picture pops up. It shows a terrified Paula with her hands up. I thought it was about time they turn on each other (although it has been well set up that Chester doesn’t like Woodward so I can’t fault them there). Chester says that Paula is screaming because someone is trying to do something to her husband. Although, to be fair, she only looks mildly distressed, not screaming in terror. He obviously suspects Woodward of trying to pull something. Chester whips out an itsy bitsy knife (that actually looks familiar, I think I might have one) and starts to advance on Woodward. Paula tells him to stop. Woodward says she’s screaming because someone’s trying to kill her brother. Although through this Paula is not screaming but very mildly begging them to chill out.

They grapple together and end up falling out of the window together. Paula is briefly saddened at the loss of her brother and husband. She says that there’s nothing left for her…except for the piles of money she sits down next to. She packs away her grief as quickly as she starts to pack away the money. As she;s packing up the money she notices the camera. And for some bizarre reason decides to use the last picture to take a picture of their splatted corpses on the sidewalk. Okey dokey. Not my last choice to use it on. She tells them to both rest in piece(s) and gives the camera a smooch.

Pierre strolls in to take away the ‘laundry’ and starts packing the money away in a bag. She threatens to call the cops but Pierre implies that with the two dead gentlemen outside she might get herself in a bind. Oh, please. Unless she has a warrant all she would have to do is bat an eye, produce a few years and she’s be fine. Pierre declares that the money is now up for grabs. Because somehow, in the five minutes that he’s been gone, he’s checked on her, her husband and brother and found out they were all wanted. Well, the husband and brother hardly matter anymore. Realistically she could say that she wanted to go to the police, he brother tried to stop her, he and her husband fought and boom, not guilty.

Pierre is kind enough to tell her that with the mess in the courtyard downstairs Miss Paula might want to get out of there before the police come. He even snatches the little paper bag out of her hand. Damn dude, you could have at least left her that! He decides to be a gentleman and leave her with the last picture. Although, as he looks at it he says there are more than two bodies in the courtyard. Paula runs to look and trips over a lamp cord and takes a header out the window herself. Pierre can’t resist a peek at the bodies and counts them in the picture. He’s stunned that there are four bodies, not just three. He drops the camera and screams off-screen, joining the others on the sidewalk, presumably. Although how, I don’t know. He was several steps from the window so unless, like an idiot, he stumbled backward in shock, he really shouldn’t have. The camera lies on the floor.

SERLING:
Object known as a camera. Vintage uncertain, origin unknown. But, for the greedy, the avaricious, the fleet of foot who can run a four-minute mile so long as they’re chasing a fast buck, it makes believe that it’s an ally, but it isn’t that at all. It’s a beckoning come-on for a quick walk around the block in the Twilight Zone.


Despite Mr. Serling’s condemnation of the camera I can’t help but feel that there have been a few times in my life when I could have used that camera. Perhaps not for money so maybe that’s all he’s condemning. If anyone has noticed the change in quality of the film it was because the studio decided to switch from actual film to another, cheaper type. Much to the displeasure of Rod Serling. I have to agree. Season Two looks a little strange when compared with Season One. It’s more evident in certain episodes. The next episode was to be “The Night of the Meek” but I’m pushing that one back a few weeks until it’s more seasonally appropriate.


So, join us next week on Twilight Zone Tuesday for episode 12 – “Dust” which is a very good one. And will probably be quite long because I have a lot to say on it.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Lateness of the Hour

The Lateness of the Hour

Jana – Inger Stevens
Dr. Loren – John Hoyt
Mrs. Loren – Irene Tedrow
Robert – Tom Palmer
Nelda – Mary Gregory
Suzanne – Valley Keene
Gretchen – Doris Karnes
Jensen – Jason Johnson
Narrator – Rod Serling


It was a dark and stormy night. It’s the outside of a mansion in stormy weather. A young woman is looking moodily out of the window at the rain. Behind her we hear…moaning? Ok, since this is television I know there can’t be any sexy times going on but it sounds like there is. The young lady is carrying around a huge freaking book. It’s apparently a picture album. Jana asks her father and mother when certain pictures were taken. The mom, who’s getting a neck rub from a maid. I’m guessing that was the source of the moaning. Still pretty creepy, though.

Jana asks when a picture was taken. Mrs. Loren remarks that Nelda looks particularly lovely in that picture. Nelda tells her thank you. Mrs. Loren says that it was just after Dr. Loren retired and Nelda is holding lovely yellow roses and Nelda doesn’t look any older. Jana looks either bored or irritated and wanders off. Dr. Loren tells Jana that Nelda can put it away for her but Jana replies that she’d like to do it herself. Which makes sense, she’s only three steps away from the desk. Her mom moans away as Nelda massages her shoulders. Jana stops to warm her hands at the fire. Mrs. Loren remarks that Jana shouldn’t be cold, it’s a perfect 72 degrees in the house.

Jana goes into a snark-fest about how the temperature is optimum.The fireplace is designed for perfect heat. The chairs for maximum comfort.The windows for the most efficient light and ventilation. The ceilings are designed for the best acoustical sound. Everything built to perfection for the perfect life. Gee, how terrible. I can see why she’s so annoyed. Jana is looking pretty annoyed at the moaning and groaning her mother is doing over the shoulder rub. Can’t say I blame her on that one. It sounds…icky. Especially when she says it helps her appetite. Appetite for what one may wonder. Mrs. Loren remarks that it’s time for dinner, 6:00 P.M. exactly.

Jana gets a little spazzy about this and asks why don’t they eat a little earlier, a little later, or why don’t they just go out to eat? Dr. Loren wants to know why on earth they would go out to eat at a restaurant. She says that it would be a change at least. He says oh, yes. It would be a change. They’d walk through the rain, get soaking wet, eat nasty food off of unwashed plates and it would be a toss-up on whether they would die from pneumonia or ptomaine poisoning. I think you’re overstating it just a tad, dude. Jana looks disappointed.

Mrs. Loren tells Nelda to keep the shoulder rub going a little longer. Jana yells at her not to make Nelda do that any longer. Mrs. Loren wants to know what Jana’s problem is and Jana says that he’d like to go outside and hear the beautiful sound of rain rather than her moaning. Can’t say I blame her there. Dr. Loren says her name sharply. Jana tells him to yell at her, it would be delightful to hear that he’s got a mind, lungs and a voice. She says they’re atrophying in there from stagnation while Nelda the Maid, Robert the Butler, Gretchen the Cook and Jensen the Handyman take care of their every need.  Dr. Loren asks Nelda to leave them, please. He waits while Nelda walks out. Jana, looking quite a bit psychotic, calls Nelda’s name. Nelda doesn’t stop so Jana clicks after her in her heels. She calls Nelda’s name again. Nelda stops and says “Yes, Miss Jana?”

Jana asks if Nelda agrees  with her. All of the other servants come out to watch which seems to throw Jana for a minute. Jana walks over to the staircase to make her grand announcement but then stops again when her father comes out. He tells her not to stop on his account, they have no secrets. If they have no secrets then why did he bother excusing Nelda? She disagrees, saying that all they have is secrets. They shut themselves off from the world. Turning their backs on it only to be served by “soundless, fleshless” things. She accuses them of turning her father and mother into helpless blobs of jelly. I don’t know about the mom but the dad looks pretty trim. As she passes one of the maids the maid remarks that Miss Jana sounds jealous. So Jana reacts how any reasonable person would act. She throws the maid down the stairs.

It doesn’t seem to bother the maid any. She pops up and grins at Jana. Her father points out that Jana was correct. He built them to perfection so they are quite indestructible. She says it’s like living with ghosts. He points out that to be a ghost a person must have lived. These ‘people’ never lived. It’s a very clunky exposition to let us know that these servants aren’t ‘real’ people. Her father walks off and the servants disperse.

SERLING:
The residence of Dr. William Loren which is, in reality, a menagerie for machines. We’re about to discover that sometimes the product of man’s talent and genius can walk amongst us, untouched by the normal ravages of time. These are Dr. Loren’s robots built to function as well as artistic perfection. But, in a moment, Dr, William Loren, wife and daughter will discover that perfection is relative. That even robots have to be paid for. And very shortly we’ll be shown exactly what is the bill.

We open on a really pretty golden clock on a table. Jana is standing beside it. I guess if you’re an annoyed, restless young thing you never, ever sit down. Robert the Butler brings in a tray of pipes and Jana, with her back to them, mouths what they’re saying. Her mother is quietly sipping sherry. I get why Jana would be bored but c’mon! Her mom and dad are elderly. Assuming they’ve (or at least he’s) worked his butt off to afford the house and the creation of the ro-bit servants don’t they deserve a break? I can see why she may be restless but, since I hate to go out unless absolutely necessary, it looks pretty good to me.

Mrs. Loren starts moaning so I’m guessing Nelda’s doing the neck rub. All right. I will give her that. That would be annoying. If you’re going to be so noisy and icky about it do it privately woman! Or, hell, as big as that house is why does Jana hang out in the library? I’m sure she has a room, somewhere. Robert gives Dr. Loren the pipe and Jana again mimics them. Robert gives her a glare. I’m not sure if it’s because he knows what she’s doing and it annoys him or other reasons. Or jealousy. Which raises interesting questions since two of those imply very human emotions.

Dr. Loren starts to call Robert back to light his pipe but Jana is ahead of him and tells Robert not to bother. She’ll light it. Does he seriously forget to have Robert light his pipe every single night? You’d think Robert would just stay there to light it. Dr. Loren asks Jana if she wants to talk about it now. She asks what he wants to talk about. He says that he’d think that would be obvious. He and her mother are surprised to suddenly find that Jana is inexplicably unhappy. He says she’s being rebellious and wants to know if she thinks that pleases them? She says she doesn’t know.

He says that he explained long ago why he did what he did. Why he retired from the world and built the ro-bits. Except he consistently calls them people. Jana says that what they’ve done to themselves is ‘an atrocity’ (you might want to look that word up, sweetie) but they’ve done something worse to her. They’ve turned her into a freak. Well, I know quite a few people who would trade their daily worries for being what she calls a ‘freak’. Jana goes on to say that they’ve turned her into an unsocial, unworldly, insulated freak. I think she just described me.

Her father comes to hold her shoulders. He says he’s protected her from disease and insulation in the 20th century is no crime. He tells her that she’s never had to look into the face of war, or poverty or prejudice. He tells her that what she thinks of as a prison can also be seen as sanctuary. She says that it’s not safety and security in a hothouse or a mausoleum. She compares it to being a vegetable and is yelling that strictly at her mother. She says they’re becoming vegetables and they’re turning her into one.

As Jana is ranting, Nelda is bringing in a tray with a couple of glasses of water and what looks like her parent’s medication. Jana calls Nelda’s name and Nelda stops. Jana grabs the second glass of water from the tray, pours it on the floor and then smashes it. Congratulations. You’re as rebellious as a two year old. Jensen the handyman comes along quickly to clean it up. Like, really quickly. Almost as though he were waiting just off-screen. Hmmm. She tells her father that time is running out. That instead of controlling the robots he’s being controlled by them. She says they’re reaching a point where they won’t be able to exist without them.

Jana begs her father to get rid of them. Dismantle them. And she looks utterly psychotic. He tells her that they’re not just machines. they’re precise, intricate. They’re not just arms and legs that move but they’re creatures with minds and wills. Memories, even. He’s given each of them their own memory tracks. Each one can recount everything that’s happened to them from their “childhoods”. He tells her that she’s not just asking him to destroy machines but that which has life. She disagrees. Jana says they’re nothing but highly complicated toys. That the house is nothing more than a giant playroom. The mother says that Jana is acting like a willful child. Jana yells back that she’s acting like a woman who wants something more than to be massaged 5 times a day or having pipes filled and refilled. She insists that her father get rid of all of them. He says that is quite impossible.

Jana throws down her ultimatum. Either they go or she does. Her mother says no, she can’t leave. What would happen to Jana out there in the world. Who would look after her? What would she do? Jana isn’t having any of that. She says she’d be with people who lived and worked and died properly, the way God intended. She says she wants her freedom but her father says that isn’t possible. But she’s seen Braveheart too many times and yells “Freedom!” before running out of the room. As she runs by the servants the one she took the glass from says that was most rude of her. The other servants chide her for being rude to her parents. Jana yells at them that they’re nothing but jokes who only have sad cliches and homilies. Her father says she’s making it hard to be patient with her. She sarcastically apologizes. She knows how accustomed to perfection he is. She hates to ruffle his little perfect pool but he’s forgotten something. They’re immortal but he’s not. All of the servants turn to look at the man and his wife.

Upstairs Jana looks like she’s packing. Her father comes up and sees her clothes laid out. He asks her if she really wants to leave them. She says that she’s made her position quite clear. She wants fresh air in, she wants the world. He says she wants to do this by making him destroy his life’s work. He asks why she can’t see that they’re doing it for her just as much as for themselves. He says he loves her more than words can say. She says she knows that but looks confused and doesn’t really hug him back. He begs her to stay. She says, “No!” and runs to her buddy, the window, and hugs it. Looking very sad he says that he’ll do what she wants. He promises. He says he’ll do it right away. She doesn’t even say thank you before he walks out. She only looks a bit triumphant and says, “Suzanne, Gretchen, Nelda, Rest in Peace.” It’s kind of weird that she seems to have the most issue with the female servants.

Her father walks down the stairs and fiddles with a little gizmo in his pocket. It’s apparently a call button because the servants soon gather around. He tells Robert to take the servants downstairs to his workroom and wait for him there. Robert is worried that their services have been unsatisfactory. Dr. Loren just repeats what he told them, to go downstairs and wait for him. They all protest that they’ve done the best and are excellent in their services. He seems to start to waver but then tells them to stop and do what he says. Robert holds the door open for the other servants, giving Dr, Loren a look that’s a mix between a sad face and a glare. Jana comes down in time to watch them go downstairs, followed by her father. She looks so damn smug and happy that I’m surprised she doesn’t go down to get off on watching him shut them down.

Dr. Loren re-enters the library wearing an apron and tells his wife that it’s all over. They’re alone in the house now. Just them and their daughter. His wife says she’s become so accustomed to them and that it will be hard at first won’t it. He says yes, a little but they’ll manage. Jana comes running downstairs and checks everywhere for the servants. When she doesn’t see any she ecstatically runs in and flings herself on her mother, saying how they’ll live normal lives now. They’ll give parties, take trips and make friends and she’ll get herself a young man. Um, so who’s going to be doing all of the cooking and cleaning and stuff for the parties? Because I have a feeling that Jana’s going to get pretty tired of that after a bit. Or she could make her elderly mother do it. Or maybe she has no objection to hiring living servants. Just the robotic kind.  And she wants kids right away. So, all of this, just because you’re horny?

Jana finally notices that they’re not as excited about grandchildren as they should be. she wants to know what’s wrong. Her mother says that it’s what Jana said about grandchildren. Her father tries to pass it off as it being natural for parents to think of their children as children and when they suddenly grow up it’s hard to accept. Jana’s not buying it, though. She can tell something’s wrong. For some reason she says that something’s not right and runs to the window. Again. Now I’m wondering if the window is actually talking to her. Jana freaks out and grabs the photograph book. She says there are no pictures of her. Jana’s mother points out several pictures of Jana but she says there are no pictures of herself as a little girl. The father looks very sad and kind of sinks into a chair. Mrs. Loren sits down as well.

It starts to sink in and at first Jana says it can’t be true. She’s finally figured out that she’s a ro-bit as well. Her father tries to convince her that she’s really their daughter saying that she knows she is, she has all of her childhood memories. She tells them to tell her what she is. he says it doesn’t matter. They were childless. They had nothing to leave behind them of their hearts or their love. So they got her. She breaks in, looking disgusted and angry, saying “You made me” (who made who? sorry) “You built me”. I do think it’s a little odd. why didn’t they adopt a child instead of building one? She says she was manufactured just like the others. The Butler manufactured to be a Butler, the Daughter manufactured to be a Daughter. She yells “You built a Daughter!” and rushes out of the room. Dr. Loren says it doesn’t matter how she got there or what she is. She’s their daughter. She says that she can’t be their daughter if she’s a thing. She screams that she’s a machine and starts slamming her arm on the banister yelling that she feels no pain. They are trying to make her stop. Then she does stop and says, “No love. I can’t even feel love.” Which could be why she looked confused when her father hugged her. Although, how did she not notice these things before. Going by their pictures and what they say she’s been in creation for at least a year or two. She never once didn’t think it odd that she felt no emotion? Which doesn’t make sense as she can obviously feel other emotions such as disgust and hatred. Also, did she never so much as stub a toe?

After realizing that she can’t feel love she starts to cry. Which, again, makes no sense. She can feel every other emotion but love? Mrs. Loren asks her husband what they can do. She says that everything has changed and Jana will never be the same. Then she asks again what they will do? He looks at Jana sobbing on the steps (and weirdly caressing a railing) and starts to head for his workroom. She says no, not that. I’m assuming she means “No disassemble!” He says no. He couldn’t do that. He couldn’t bear not having her around. He couldn’t stand that.

It’s either raining again or this is the longest storm ever (and the longest day). Mrs. Loren is moaning away in the background so I’m guessing the servants are back. Dr. Loren is reading a book peacefully. Mrs. Loren is getting her neck rub from Nelda and looks to be enjoying it. A lot. I can’t even begin to describe how freaking creepy this woman is. Especially now. And…Dun dunn! Jana is now Nelda! You could have at least made her the ro-bit that doesn’t rub you. Ew. That’s just creepy.

SERLING:
Let this be the post-script. Should you be worn out by the rigors of competing in a very competitive world, if you’re distraught at having to share your existence with the noises and neuroses of the 20th century, if you crave serenity but want it full-time with no strings attached, get yourself a workroom in the basement. And then drop a note to Dr. and Mrs. William Loren.They’re a childless couple who have made comfort a life’s work. and maybe there are a few do-it-yourself pamphlets still available in The Twilight Zone.


This episode has always slightly irritated me. I do understand that she would get bored and want to go out but there are just so many contradictions to it. The servant robots seem to feel concern, jealousy, and other emotions. Throughout the episode Jana herself displays a variety of emotions but love is beyond her reach? I’m also not really sure why she can’t go out. I understand that she can’t have children but (presuming she’s got the, um, lady bits) I don’t see why she couldn’t have a husband. Her father is a doctor so if it was a question of a doctor finding out the truth he could just insist she see him. That could be why the female servants seem to annoy her more. Maybe it really was jealousy that the servants seemed more depended upon than herself? Also, considering the fact that she is a ro-bit (and he can obviously switch around brains and personalities how hard would it be to just wipe her ‘memory track’ of her lately learned information? As far as she goes she certainly does seem like a child. She’s bratty and has a very Veruca Salt personality so it’s hard to feel much sympathy for her. I guess her supposed ‘lack of affection’ for her parents might explain her extraordinary affection for the window…

If Jana seems a bit familiar she also plays Nan Adams, a young lady stalked by Death in Twilight Zone: The Hitch-Hiker.

Mrs. Loren also appears on Twilight Zone: Walking Distance as Mrs. Sloane.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Nick of Time

Nick of Time

Don Carter – William Shatner
Pat Carter – Patricia Breslin
Counterman – Guy Wilkerson
Desperate Man – Walter Reed
Desperate Woman – Dee Carroll
Narrator – Rod Serling


A couple is being towed in a nice looking car, maybe a Firebird? to as small town garage. The mechanic tells them it will be 3-4 hours for their fuel pump because they don’t stock them there. They decide to have some lunch while they wait for the unfathomably long time of four hours. Hey, be thankful that it’s not going to take four days. He wants to call and check on a promotion that he may be getting. He thinks he’s not going to get it though. As they talk back and forth about it they almost walk with a pole between them. He says, “Bread and butter” and pulls her over to his side. Not to be pedantic but you say “Bread and butter” when the people are actually divided by the object. And both people are supposed to say it.

Pat rolls her eyes at it so I guess we’re supposed to infer that Don is the superstitious one and Pat thinks it’s silly. They go into a diner. Don goes to sit at the counter but Pat sees a jukebox. After giving Pat a smooch on the neck they start to dance to the music. Those darn, romantic newlyweds. I guess Pat isn’t into the whole dancing thing because she shortly says that she thought they came in the diner to eat. what’s the rush? You’ve got four hours to kill. They choose a booth nearby.

As they sit down they see a creepy little machine on the table called “The Mystic Seer”. Pat wants to try it. They decide to ask if anything exciting ever happens around there. Wow. I think I could have thought of a better one. Especially since he’s so worried about his promotion and their car being fixed. Don pulls out a card that says “It is quite possible”. Very specific.

SERLING:
The hand belongs to Mr. Don S. Carter, male member of a honeymoon team en route across the Ohio countryside to New York City. In one moment they will be subjected to a gift most humans never receive in a lifetime. For one penny they’ll be able to look into the future. The time is now. The place is a little diner in Ridgeview, Ohio. And what the young couple doesn’t realize is that this town lies on the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

The waiter comes over to take their order and the lady orders a tomato and lettuce on whole wheat and iced coffee. Huh. I didn’t think that was even a thing back then. At least not a common drink. Shows how much I know, I guess. Don orders the same thing even though the waiter tries to tempt him with some good chicken fried steak. Don takes a drink of his water and pronounces it disgusting and tasting like swamp water. Don starts digging in his pocket for more change. Pat wants to know what Don’s going to ask it now. He gives the head a bobble before putting in his penny and asking if he’s going to be promoted. The card he pulls out says, “It has been decided in your favor”. Don decides to call. Pat protests but he says he was going to anyway. She gives him a “oh, you. Go ahead.” look and he gets up to make the call.

As he makes his call Pat stays at the table and plays with Don’s key chain which has a rabbit’s foot and a four-leaf clover on it. He needs another quarter and she brings him one, asking if the call is necessary. Don asks for Mr. Weldon’s secretary and tells Pat to cross her fingers. She tells him that she’s doing it in her mind. After a few pleasantries he asks what the word is. He got the promotion. Yay! And, amazing in TV World, he actually says goodbye before he hangs up. Pat is very pleased and says she told him that the promotion would be his. Don says The Mystic Seer told him, also. But she said it first,, Pat points out. She gives him a dime for the jukebox to put on some celebration music.

The waiter brings them their food and coffee (which looks suspiciously like Coke) and the waiter says again that they ought to have tried the chicken fried steak. Don says they’re good, thanks, and the waiter leaves. Don says that The Mystic Seer really came through on that so he wants to ask it another question. Pat jokes that it should have warned them the whole wheat bread was stale. Well, you didn’t ask it, did you now? Don reads one of the suggested questions “Does he/she love me?” Don says that he knows the answer to that one. The second question he reads is “Will I be rich?” Don says that he knows that answer, also. He’ll be the world’s first millionaire accountant. Uh-huh. If he’s not planning on becoming a money launderer or falling in with millionaires I don’t see that happening. Don decides to ask if they will get out of there in four hours or not. The card says, “You may never know”. Don worriedly asks Pat what that means. Pat shrugs and says “Who knows?”. Don says The Mystic Seer does and Pat points out that it may be but it’ll cost another penny.

Don says now that he’s an office manager he’ll splurge and spend another penny. At first he asks what it means but Pat reminds him that that’s not a yes or no question. Don changes his question to ask if something will keep them from knowing? The card says, “If you move soon”. Don wants to know what that means as well. He goes to plug in another penny and Pat jokes that she’ll have to be the frugal one in the family. Don says just one more and asks The Mystic Seer if that means they’re supposed to stay there. The Mystic Seer says “That makes a good deal of sense”. He puts in another penny and asks if they should stay until 2:30 (it’s 2:15 at the moment). He gets nothing for his penny and trouble but a card that says, “Try again”. So he does so. Don asks if they should stay until 3:00. The card now reads “There’s no question about it”. He’s astounded that every answer seems to fit his questions. He goes to insert another penny into the machine. He ignores her and then asks very specifically that if they don’t stay in there until 3:00 something bad will happen to us? The Mystic Seer responds with a card that says “Do you dare find out?”

Pat wants to go but Don says he hasn’t finished his sandwich yet and takes a big bite out of it. Which is fair, he hasn’t touched it yet. He asks Pat if she wants some ice cream. He checks his watch and it still says 2:15. So they have 45 minutes to wait until they’re ‘allowed’ to go outside. The scene fades out and onto the clock on the wall, which now reads 2:55. Pat buys a pack of cigarettes from the machine and also gets a really weird look from the waiter. Maybe he’s irritated because they haven’t left yet? She walks back over to the table where Don is eating ice cream with tiny little bites. She asks if they can go yet. He asks her if she wants a cold drink and after looking at the clock and The Mystic Seer machine he says all right. Don asks for the check and the waiter/counterman tells him he doesn’t need a check. They had two sandwiches, two ice creams and an iced coffee. Ha! They both had iced coffees. But I guess it works out well for them since they only get charged for one. Don pays and leaves a pretty decent tip (I’m guessing from the counterman’s reaction).

Outside, Don remarks that it’s hot. They chat about the car for a second and Pat says he didn’t really want to stay in there did he? Don says no and she says honest? Don wonders why the machine was so specific. And, really, they only had five more minutes to go so what would it have hurt? Pat blows it off saying that it’s just a napkin holder in a tiny diner. It’s not magic. He says what about the promotion? The Mystic Seer said it had been decided in his favor and it had been. Then he stops and says that he’s just being stupid. She says he’s not stupid, just…He cuts in and tells her not to say it. Then he does, superstitious. He says it’s like she married an alcoholic but instead of bottles of booze in the chandelier it’s rabbit’s feet and four-leaf clovers in the car. Um, I don’t think there’s that much of a comparison there. Being superstitious is unlikely to get you or anyone else killed (except for maybe the unlucky rabbits whose feet you have). And hiding bottles of booze in the chandelier is a little weird. I think I’d rather hide mine somewhere within reach and where I’m not going to possibly break my neck in retrieving them. He starts to say and…but she breaks in with “And you’re all mine”. And gives him a smooch on the cheek.

As they walk across the green he keeps looking around and she asks him what he’s doing. Then she says “You really are worried, aren’t you?” and then says she wonders when he acts like that. He says he’s not trying to upset her. He says that doesn’t change the facts, though. Pat is getting upset and says what facts? He says six straight answers in a row. She gives him an “Oh Don!” and he tells her to stop treating him like a child. Actually, he says something a bit ruder but I’m not going to write it.

They go to cross the road and there’s a truck coming. Pat says they should wait but Don thinks they can make it. As they’re scooting across the road a car passes the truck and almost hits them. He looks at the town clock and it reads…dun…dun…dun…3:00.

Pat is sitting on a bench, a bit shaky from the near-miss. Once they’ve settled down a bit he grabs her hand and starts to cross the street, back the way they came. She asks where he’s going, they’re heading back to the diner. Pat protests and he says why not? She admits it was a strange coincidence. He says if it was coincidence then what’s she worrying about? He says if it was a coincidence then it was a pretty crazy one. They go back into the diner but there are two older women sitting at The Mystic Seer’s table, sippin’ on some milkshakes. Pat (a bit snarkily) says uh-oh, someone’s sitting at their machine. So they sit at the counter in front of a different one. Don does not look happy about it. He wants his machine. He’s giving the elderly ladies the side-eye.

She asks if he really thinks that the machine can foretell the future. He responds that it foretold theirs. She wants to know how. Don says they almost got hit by the car at 3:00, just like The Mystic Seer said. She points out that Don said 3:00, not the machine. She says that he, Don, made up the questions and the machine just gave back general answers. He asks her what she’s getting so upset about. She says she’s upset that he could even think of it as being real. He starts to tell her to listen but he sees the elderly women get up from the table. He asks the counterman for some pennies. Don goes to the booth and Pat follows with their coffees. Don asks The Mystic Seer if it knew about the car almost hitting them. He pulls the lever and gets his card “What do you think?” He gives Pat a significant look and she kind of rolls her eyes. Then he asks if they’ll get to New York all right now. It says “The chances are good.” This pleases Don but Pat says snarkily that it’s very precise.

Don asks her what she wants, a card specifically saying “Hi Donsy and Patsy, so how’s by you?” She tells him that he could get the same kind of answers out of any of the machines in there. She tells him to try and see. He says that they’ll get the same kind but not the same answers. Huh? I think I’d at least try it to see if the others were accurate as well or if they gave the exact same answers. He asks if it will still take four hours before the car is ready. The Mystic Seer says that “It has already been taken care of”. Don’s excited, Pat looks less than thrilled. She says great, let’s get out of here, then. Right then the mechanic comes in to tell them that their car is ready. They got lucky and found a fuel pump in town, instead of having to send for one from the next town. The mechanic says that he figured they wouldn’t come back for a couple of hours so he thought he’d go looking for them. Don says thanks, they appreciate it. All the while he’s pawing the card. Even Pat looks a little taken aback.

Don asks if it’s still a coincidence. She says yes. He dares her to ask it some questions. Or is she chicken? She asks if they will reach Columbus by tomorrow. Don starts to say that they’re not going through Columbus. She shushes him and pulls the lever. The card says “If that’s what you really want”. Then she asks if she’ll ever be married. The card says “The answer to that is obvious”. She asks if it’s even possible to tell the future. The machine answers “That’s up to you to find out”. Then, getting a trifle angry, she asks if it’s just a piece of junk machine. “It all depends on your point of view”. She gets up and says that she doesn’t want to stay there anymore. He asks, even if it’s true? And she responds “Especially if it’s true”.

He wants to know what she’s talking about, then accuses her of being scared. She says she is but not of the machine. He asks what she’s afraid of then? She says don’t you know? And yanks her arm away from his hand. She starts to walk away but he stays to ask it more questions. She comes back and yells his name. He says the machine is predicting the future, how can they just walk away from it. He holds her face and then grasps the machine like Gollum with his precious. Ah, there’s the Shatner we all know and mock. She says she won’t let the machine run their life. She says it’s running their lives. It made him call the office, it made him stay instead of leaving. Uh, by saying that you, yourself are giving the machine power.

She says it doesn’t matter if it can tell the future or not and that he believes in fortune and fate more than he does himself. Blah, blah, blah pep talk. You can do it! type of stuff. She bursts into tears and wants to make their life themselves and she doesn’t want to know the future. The counterman wants to know if anything is wrong. He tells her that they’ll get in the car and go anywhere they please. He gives the machine a “So there!” look and they leave.

As they leave, a very harassed looking couple come in. They keep asking questions of the machine but apparently they’re not allowed to leave yet. They ask if there’s any way out at all. Apparently not as they’re still asking questions as it pulls away.

SERLING:
Counterbalance in the little town of Ridgeview, Ohio. Two people permanently enslaved by the tyranny of fear and superstition, facing the future with a kind of helpless dread. Two others facing the future with confidence, having escaped one of the darker places of The Twilight Zone.


Not one of the best Twilight Zone episodes but not one of the worst either. William Shatner is more restrained here (except for his brief Gollum episode with the machine) than he usually is in Star Trek and even a later episode of Twilight Zone. I’m not really sure why it’s called Nick of Time, though. I would think something a bit more fortune-telling would be better.


Join us again next week for Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Lateness of the Hour

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Eye of the Beholder

Eye of the Beholder

Janet Tyler (revealed) – Donna Douglas
Janet Tyler (under bandages) – Maxine Stuart
Doctor – William D. Gordon
Janet’s Nurse – Jennifer Howard
The Leader – George Keymas
Reception Nurse – Joanna Hayes
Walter Smith – Edson Stroll
Narrator – Rod Serling


We open on a hospital room with a bandage on her face. A nurse comes in and tells the lady that it’s time for her medicine. She asks the nurse what it was like outside. If it was warm and sunny with clouds and a pretty blue sky. The nurse supposes so. She doesn’t stare at the sky much. The bandaged lady grasps the nurse’s hand and says that she loved to look at the sky. If you stared at clouds long enough they look like different things. The nurse takes her temp and the lady asks when exactly she can get her bandages off. The nurse says that it depends on how bad her face is. The lady in the bed says that it’s pretty bad, huh? The nurse reassures her that she’s seen worse. Wow. How very comforting. Janet (the bandaged lady) says that she knows how bad her face is. Ever since she was a little girl people have turned away from her in horror. In fact, her first memory is of another little girl screaming when she looked at Janet. She starts to cry a bit and clutches the nurse’s hand again. She never wanted to be beautiful, not like a painting or anything (apparently Picasso’s, Dali’s and Escher’s don’t exist in their world). She just wants to be ‘normal’ looking. For people not to scream in terror. The nurse hushes her and to make sure she stays hushed she sticks a thermometer in Janet’s mouth.The nurse asks if it really matters how long it will be since Janet has waited this long already. Janet can’t really answer because of the thermometer in her mouth but shakes her head sadly and slowly.

The nurse walks to the Nurse’s Station to give her report to the doctor and have a smoke. While there she chats with another nurse about Janet. She wants to know if Nurse #2 has ever seen Janet’s face. Nurse #2 says that  she has and if she had that face she’d kill herself. Damn, woman. I guess compassion isn’t a big thing in your society. Nurse #1 says that Janet is a “poor thing” for wanting o live no matter what. Gee, self-preservation, what an odd concept. As they stand there being judgmental a shadow walks by the outer curtain. It looks a little malformed but as it rounds the corner we see it’s Rod Serling.

SERLING:
Suspended in time and space for a moment, your introduction to Miss Janet Tyler who lives in a very private world of darkness. A universe whose dimensions are the size, thickness, length of the swathe of bandages that cover her face. In a moment we’ll go back into this room. And, also in a moment, we’ll look under those bandages. Keeping in mind, of course, that we’re not to be surprised by what we see. Because this isn’t just a hospital. And this patient in 307 is not just a woman. This happens to be The Twilight Zone, and Miss Janet Tyler, with you, is about to enter it.

Two figures chat behind a curtain, a doctor and a nurse. He’s giving instructions. The nurse leaves and the doctor comes in to talk to Janet. We can’t see his face, the camera is solely on Janet. He tells her that it’s very warm today. He also tells her that they’ll have the bandages off soon and he expects she’s pretty uncomfortable. She says she’s pretty used to the bandages on her face. He agrees and says that she should be, it’s her ninth visit there. She corrects him and says that it’s her eleventh. She waxes melancholy a bit, saying that sometimes she feels as though she’s lived her life in bandages and hospitals. She says it’s a bit comforting, though, being inside her gauze cave. It’s very private and no one can ever see her.

She asks suddenly if it’s hopeless. He says it’s hard to say. Weirdly, he runs his hand down her leg as he walks to the window but it doesn’t really look like he’s trying to feel her up but is either trying o be comforting or is distracted. He says that she hasn’t responded to shots, medications or any other proven techniques. He still has his back to the camera as he looks out at the lovely cardboard city. He says that she’s stumped them. Nothing he does makes any difference. He’s hopeful that  this last course of treatment is successful but they won’t know until they get the bandages off. It’s also unfortunate that, in her case, plastic surgery is not an option because of her bone and flesh type. She says that this is it, after this there won’t be any more treatments and he agrees. Eleven is the mandatory number of treatments/experiments that they’re allowed to do.

Janet asks what now? He says they won’t know until they get the bandages off so try not to get so down about it. This last treatment may have worked. She seems to be a realist, though, and asks him what happens if it did fail? He says there are alternatives. She wants t know what they are and he says “Don’t you know?” It seems she does but doesn’t want to say it. Ok, now they’re scaring  me. They’re not going to kill her are they?!

He goes on a bit about why these rules are in place. Each person has a (state, presumably) given right to try to blend in as much as they can with society. He tells her to think of all of the time and money spent to make her look ‘normal’, the way she’d like to look. She begs the doctor to go outside for a little while to feel the breeze, smell the flowers and pretend that she is normal? If she sits out there in the darkness then the whole world is dark. She’s not just a grotesque woman with a bandage on her face and a special darkness. She clutches onto him and begs him to help her, to please help her belong and to be like everybody.

The doctor is at least a bit more compassionate than the nurse, he holds her for a minute while she cries. He tells her that there are people who share her misfortune of being, different, and there are other people who look much like she does. One of the alternatives that is available, just in case, y’know, is to allow her to move into a special area with other people like her are living. She doesn’t seem to find this appealing since she starts to cry/laugh at his word choices of “people of my kind” and “congregated”. Then she totally loses her shit and says “No! You mean segregated, not congregated. Segregated in a ghetto designed for freaks!”. He talks to her sharply and tells her that she’s not being rational. That the state (told you) is not unsympathetic, it’s doing all it can for her, her being in the hospital proves that. He says that there’s no way she could live among normal people if the treatment fails. She says she could try. She could wear a mask or a bandage. She wouldn’t bother anybody, she’d just go her own way. She could get a job, any job. Then she starts getting angry at the state for making all these rules that people who are different have to stay away from people who re normal.

He tries to calm her down but she says that the state isn’t God. It hasn’t the right to penalize somebody for an accident of birth nor to  make ugliness a crime. She runs to the window and unlatches it and sticks her head out saying that she can feel the wind and smell the flowers. He tries to pull her away and she begs again to get the bandages taken off. She then tries to pull them off herself but he restrains her hands. Nurse #1 and Nurse #2 come running at the commotion and help  the doctor trundle her into bed. He agrees to take the bandages off and tells the nurse to get an anesthetist.

Before the bandage removal, the doctor is catching a smoke in, I’m guessing, the doctor’s lounge. One of the anonymous nurses comes in and tells him he looks tired. He agrees. She says that she knows it means a lot to him. He says he knows he’s supposed to stay impartial but he tries everything possible, everything humanly possible but in the end he’s just crossing his fingers for luck. And sometimes it happens. Not often but enough to convince himself that he’s not being foolish in hoping for one. The nurse  tells him that he’s making himself a wreck and that he shouldn’t get personally involved. He knows this but still…

He says that he’s looked under the bandages. The nurse interrupts and says she has too. It’s horrible. He tells her that he means that he’s looked underneath the pitiful, twisted lump of flesh. Deeper than the misshapen skeletal mask. He’s seen her ‘real’ face. Her true self. He says  that it’s a ‘good’ face, a human face. The nurse understands but she admits that it’s easier for her to think of Janet as human when her face is covered by bandages. The doctor wants to know why? Why should they feel that way? What’s the difference between something beautiful and something repellent? Is it skin deep? No, less than that. Why shouldn’t people be allowed to be different? The nurse tells him to be careful. That what he’s saying is treason. She tells him that this case has upset his balance and his sense of values. He tells her not to worry, he’ll be all right once the bandages are off, once he knows for sure one way or the other.

Back at the nurse’s station one of the nurses is telling the doctor that Leader will be speaking that night. She slides down a future-y screen and trumpets sound and the screen looks a bit static-y for a moment and then The Leader comes on to talk about glorious conformity and the delight everyone should have over being unified.

In the hospital room the doctor is about to remove Janet’s bandages. He asks that she remain rational, with no tantrums. She nods in agreement. He tells her that he’s going to unwrap the bandages slowly so that her eyes can become accustomed to the light. He says that the treatment may have had some effect on her vision so he wants her to keep her eyes open and describe to him the gradations of light that she sees. If she starts freaking out then he’ll have the nurses hold her down and put her under sedation. She promises that she’ll behave. He starts to cut away the bandages.

They finally get down to the last layer of bandages. He asks her if she’d like a mirror but she says no, thank you. He asks her to listen for a moment. They’ve done all that they can do. If it’s been successful then great, there shouldn’t be any problems. However, if it was not successful then she can live a long and fruitful life among people like herself. She asks, in the advent that she is still ugly, then couldn’t she be put away? The doctor says that under certain conditions the State does provide for the extermination of ‘Undesirables’. But there are many factors to be considered with that. They’d rather not execute her for her ‘disability’ but have her go live with others like herself. She seems very resistant to this, though. She asks if he’ll make her go and he says yes, probably. He wishes her “every good luck” as he takes off the last bandage.

They finally undo the last bandage. The nurse screams, the doctor drops the scissors and says, “No change, no change at all!” Janet raises her head to reveal…a very lovely woman.

She feels her face and starts to cry and freak out. They hold her against the wall, ready to sedate her. Now that the lights are on we can see that all of the ‘normal’ people have pig-monkey faces.

I guess beauty really is in the ‘eye of the beholder’. Janet runs from the room and they chase after her. She runs by a screen where their Leader is still giving his speech that “there must be a single norm, a single entity of peoples, a single virtue, a single philosophy of government. It is important in this society that we not only have a norm but that we conform to that norm!” The screens are pretty much everywhere that Janet is running to and it looks like he’s chasing her down to yell at her for being ‘different’. He continues to rant that “Conformity we must worship and hold sacred. Conformity is the key to survival.”

Janet runs into a room where she is confronted by a man who is ‘ugly’ like her. She gets scared and kind of oozes down to cry on a table. The doctor tells her not to be afraid. That the man is a representative of the group that she’s going to live with. The doctor says that oddly, she’s run right to him. I think they’re going for a “meant to be thing” but the line is worked in very awkwardly. The doctor gently pulls her up and tells her not to be afraid, the man won’t hurt her. He introduces her to Mr. Walter Smith, who’s in charge of the village group to the North. Mr. Smith is quite a good looking guy. He gently takes her hand and says that they have a wonderful village with wonderful people. Once she’s there, with her own kind, she’ll feel a sense of great belonging and she’ll be amazed at how little of a while it will take her to adjust. That she’ll feel as though she’s loved, and she will be loved. Mr. Smith nods to the doctor to leave. He still has Janet’s hand but she’s still cringing away from him.

He tells her that they can leave at any time and if she’d like to get her things now? She asks him why they have to look like that and he says he really doesn’t know and that once they get to the village it really won’t matter.Then he tells her about a very, very old saying, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder.” He tells her to repeat that to herself. He holds out a hand to her and she comes to him. On the other side of the door are  nurses and the doctor. The doctor tells Janet goodbye and she and Mr. Smith walk off, hand in hand.

SERLING:
Now the questions that come to mind, here is his place and when is it? What kind of world where ugliness is the norm and beauty the deviation from that norm? You want an answer? The answer is, it doesn’t make any difference. Because the old saying happens to be true: “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder” in this year or a hundred years hence. On this planet or wherever there is human life. Perhaps out amongst the stars. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Lesson to be learned, in the Twilight Zone.


Such a great episode. And, unfortunately, no matter how far we seem to progress it’s still relevant. If anyone recognizes ‘Janet’ it’s Ellie May Clampett. I wonder why they had two different actresses to play the parts? Perhaps Donna Douglas wasn’t willing to do half the show wrapped in gauze? Can’t say I blame her. For someone with claustrophobia it would be very confining.


Join us again next week for Twilight Zone Tuesday: Nick of Time with Shatner in one of his more subdued roles.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – A Thing About Machines

A Thing About Machines

Bartlett Finchley – Richard Haydn
Edith – Barbara Stuart
TV Repairman – Barney Phillips
Policeman – Henry Beckman
Girl on TV – Margarita Corrdova
Intern – Jay Overholts
Narrator- Rod Serling


Pulling into a large, spacious lawn is a very nice looking Roadster (I guess, I’m not sure what kind it is exactly). Whatever it is it must be an English car as the driver exits from the right side of it. Weirdly the driveway seems to go right by the pool. Strange place for it. There’s a TV REPAIR van sitting in the driveway as well. Mr. Bartlett Finchley stops to peek in his mailbox and proceeds to the house.

I guess house isn’t the right word for it. Mansion seems more appropriate. Whatever Finchley does he must make some good money doing it. He’s greeted by the repairman who has the audacity to ask Finchley how he’s doing. Finchley says he’ll answer when he knows how much the current bit of ‘larceny’ is going to cost him to fix the tv. The repairman tells him that it’s going to include parts and labor. Finchley says that he’s sure that, once again, he’s going to be dunned into paying more than what the thing cost. Well, if it’s that much then why bother repairing it? Why not just get a new one? The repairman tells Finchley that the last time he was there to repair it was because Finchley had put his foot through the screen. Finchley says that it was not working correctly so he tried to fix it in a perfectly normal way. Normally I’d agree but everyone knows when you use the “Thwack! Fixed it!” method you never kick the screen. You kick the side. I also have one little question. If you put your foot through a tv while it’s plugged in would that electrocute you? Or at least give you a shock?

Finchley dispenses with the chit-chat to ask how much the current ‘extortion’ will be. He also wonders why there’s a Better Business Bureau at all when roving, repairmen blackmailers can hold his set for ransom. Here’s a thought…either learn to fix it yourself, find a different repairman or buy a new tv. Normally I’d go with the first two only because tv’s were quite expensive then (and he seems to have a deluxe job with a very pretty cabinet) but he seems quite wealthy so he could most like;y afford a new one. Mr. Repairman takes rightful offense to that and says that they’re no con outfit, they run a legitimate business. The reason it cost so much to fix this time was because Finchley got in the back of it and ripped out a bunch of wires and did who knows what else to it. He goes on to exposition that he was at Finchley’s last month to repair a radio that Finchley had thrown down the stairs. Finchley claims that the radio wasn’t working properly either. Mr. Repairman says that they probably don’t work properly because Mr. Finchley doesn’t treat them properly. Finchley snarks that he’ll probably be billed more for this psychoanalysis. The repairman asks what it is with Finchley and machines? After a rather withering stare the repairman backs off and says that he’ll send Finchley the bill. Finchley says, “No doubt” in an uppity, snooty way and they start to go their separate ways – Finchley upstairs and the repairman out the door. Before the repairman leaves,however, Finchley mnages to work in a final insult. He tells the repairman that he’ll file the question under “Things I Give Zero Effs About” in his memoirs and devote a single page to the repairman, titled “One of the Most Forgettable People of All Ever”. The repairman leaves, a trifle miffed.

After the repairman leaves Finchley bursts out with, “It just so happens that every machine in this house is…” but stops, wipes his face witch a handkerchief and calms himself down. As he’s pouring himself a drink (sherry, no doubt) a clock starts chiming, ticking Finchley off good and proper. He yells at it to stop and when it refuses he snatches it up and smashes it on the floor. When it still obstinately chimes he whacks it with a poker.

SERLING:
This is Mr. Bartlett Finchley, age 48, a practicing sophisticate who writes very special and very precious things for gourmet magazines and the like. He’s a bachelor and a recluse with few friends, only devotees and adherents to the cause of tart sophistry. He has no interests save whatever current annoyances he can put his mind to. He has no purpose to his life except the formulation of day-to-day opportunities to vent his wrath on mechanical contrivances of an age he abhors. In short, Mr. Bartlett Finchley is a malcontent, born either too late or too early in the century, and who, in just a moment will enter a realm where muscles and the will to fight back are not limited to human beings. Next stop for Mr. Bartlett Finchley, the Twilight Zone.

Edith is typing away on one of those new-fangled electric typewriters. Not in an office, however, she gets a raised stage-thing on which to type. He holds out his hand for the papers she’s typing up (guess it’s too much trouble for him to walk up the three steps and get them himself) and she brings them down to him. He asks if that’s all she has written up and she says yes, 30 pages in three hours is the best she can do.That’s ten pages an hour. That seems awfully slow for an electric typewriter but I honestly can’t remember. He responds that Thomas Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence with a feather quill in half a day. That sounds like bull to me so after exhaustive research I learned it took seventeen days. She tells him to hire Mr. Jefferson then and he accuses her of being insubordinate. She tells him that he should find himself a girl with three arms and a thick skin and they can work together in bliss for eternity. In other words, she quits.

Finchley snaps his book shut, annoyed, but as she looks like she’s really going to leave he drops the snootiness. The papers he was holding have magically disappeared. He starts talking really fast trying to get her to stay. He invites her to dinner and maybe the theatre. She gives a very nice thank you but no thank you. As she walks away he calls her back with a “before you go”  and, even though he seems like an utterly pompous ass, I feel kind of bad for him. He looks kind of scared. She asks what he wants and he says that he’d very much like to not be alone.

She looks very worried and asks him if he’s ill. She then asks if there’s any family trouble. He throws a hissy fit and yells why does there have to be a problem?! He calms down quickly, though, and tells her that he’s very, very tired. He hasn’t slept in four nights and the thought of being alone right now is intolerable. He tells her that things have been happening, very strange things. She sits beside him and listens compassionately.

 

He tells her that the television goes on every night and wakes him up. All by itself. The radio would go on and off, too, just as he would be falling asleep. He tells her that there’s a conspiracy. The tv, the radio, the clock, even his damn car. The evening before he drove the car into the driveway, very carefully and slowly and the wheel turned in his hand, it twisted itself and drove deliberately into the garage. It smashed a headlight and cost him $140.00 to replace it. This seems insanely high to me but the car does look like a British import and fancy. Maybe one of you guys can tell from the picture what kind of car it is and if that would seem a reasonable amount. Maybe it’s Christine’s English cousin. He motions to the clock over the mantle piece, well, the one that was there until he turned it into ceramic dust. Which is oddly cleaned up.

What he’s trying to get at is that he’s never been able to operate machines. Edith suggests softly that maybe he ought to see a doctor. I disagree. For being inanimate (supposedly) non-sentient creations they do seem to sometimes have a perverse will of their own. They wait for the most inopportune moments to break down, lose your files, spontaneously go off, waking you from a sound sleep.

Bartlett does not take kindly to this suggestion, “If you’re depressed, see a doctor. If you’re happy, see a doctor. If the salary is too low and the mortgage is too high, see a doctor (although that would seem to fall under depression or perhaps seeing a financial adviser). He tells her to see a doctor and that he’s a rational, intelligent , logical man. To prove it he says he knows what he sees and hears and throws a plate on the floor. For the past three months he’s been under siege by mechanical monsters. What does she think of that?! Huh?!

She thinks he’s terribly ill and needs to see a doctor. She also thinks that he’s suffering terribly from nerves due to lack of sleep and that he himself has to realize that they are nothing more than delusions. He screams that he won’t be intimidated by mechanical devices and it follows that an empty headed female with a mechanical face cannot intimidate him either. I think you just blew your shot at company for the night, dude. Before she leaves she flings these words at him, “In the mechanical conspiracy he speaks of, she hopes he loses.” and departs in a well-deserved huff.

As soon as she’s gone the typewriter begins typing by itself. He rips the paper from the typewriter and reads “GET OUT OF HERE FINCHLEY” Hmm, I’m surprised it doesn’t say “All work and no play makes Finchley a dull boy.” He says he’s not going to be frightened off by a senseless, inanimate machine. As he touches it, however, it starts to type the same words again. He hears a voice from the tv say “Get out of here, Finchley”. He follows it and realizes that a woman is dancing. I believe it’s a Spanish dance but I’m not sure of what kind. Maybe one of you can tell me. As he watches she pauses in her dance and tells him to “Get out of here, Finchley”. Then goes back to dancing.

as everything is playing and clacking he yells that they’re not going to intimidate him! If he were yelling ‘We made you!” we could be in Maximum Overdrive. Later that evening he’s calling up an old ‘friend’named Miss Moore. I’m kind of surprised the phone is even letting him call out on it. They chat about how long it’s been…yadda yadda. He asks her out to dinner but it seems she turned him down. He says he’ll call her another time. He makes another call. This time to his favorite young widow, Pauline. It seems she doesn’t remember him right away. It sounds as though she’s remarried in the meantime. He promises to send a wedding present. Oddly he seems to blame the telephone for the women being unavailable. He accuses it of embarrassing him. He goes to turn on his electric razor but it whips out of his hand and starts to attack him like a snake. Although I’m not really sure how much damage an electric razor could even do. The phone he pulled out of the wall starts telling him to “Get out Finchley”.

He hears a knock at the door, straightens up his ensemble and goes to answer it.

A policeman escorts him to a crowd. Apparently something happened. The policeman gestures to Finchley’s car and tells him that it rolled down the driveway and almost hit a kid on a bike. He suggests that Finchley gets his emergency brake checked. Finchley tells him that it was on. The policeman disagrees and says that it either wasn’t on or not working properly. The policeman restates that it rolled right down into the road and Finchley’s lucky it didn’t hit anyone. Finchley calls the car a monster. Finchley tells the officer that the keys are in the house and the officer suggests he pulls it back into the garage. Finchley turns to the crowd and tells them they may remain ogling at his car for another 3 and a half minutes. If they are still there when he returns he will enlist the aid of the underpaid policeman to help them off the property. The kid who presumably had the near miss doesn’t look too perturbed, licking on a popsicle.

Finchley goes back into his house and has himself a drink…or ten. He is drowsing drunkly on the couch when a clock begins to chime. The clock is chiming, the typewriter is clacking, and the tv chimes in with it’s “Get out of here, Finchley” extravaganza. So he puts his chair through the tv. Which brings up an interesting point. The only two ‘necessities’ he has are the telephone and typewriter. The telephone is probably needed for business purposes (obviously not personal) and the typewriter could be replaced with a non-electric one. So why bother having the tv, electric razor and whatnot? even the car he could probably do without. He looks like he could afford a car service or cabs.

He goes to run upstairs but the evil electric razor starts slithering down the stairs toward him. He runs out the door only to be confronted by Christine’s semi-evil step-cousin. It kindly lets him pass so it can chase him down the driveway. And, like all sensible people running from cars, he runs right down the driveway even though there’s a stand of trees to his right and left that would make it difficult going for a car. He runs until he hits a fence but lo and behold! There are boxes stacked neatly into steps for him to climb over. The car crashes through the fence and into some other weird, randomly stacked boxes on this well-manicured lawn in the ritzy neighborhood.

Again, he runs back the way he came and does one of the fakest stumbles I’ve ever seen. I will do him the justice that he is an older gentleman and does seem to be doing all the running, climbing and falling himself. At least, if there was a stunt double switch it was fast enough that I didn’t catch it. Finally he hides behind some bushes and the car burns rubber going past him (even though it appears to be on sand or grass, not asphalt). He foolishly pops out before the car is out of sight. It notices him and comes careening after him. And back we go down the driveway (or road? not really sure at this point. All I know for sure is it’s not asphalt or cement so there should be no screeching) on a merry chase back the way we just came.

It chases him slowly down the path to the pool and Bartlett obliges because the hedges on either side are much too high to jump over (even though they only come to his waist). And, it looks like the car has been rehearsing its big moment as there are already tire tracks on the grass. Instead of jumping in the pool on his own he kindly stops and waits for the car to hit him. He falls into the pool, the evil headlights of the car being the last thing he sees.

The cop is chatting with the ambulance guy. He thinks it’s unusual that the body was not weighted but was on the bottom even though they usually float. The cop says he looked scared, like something was chasing him. Um, perhaps the car sitting two feet away? Even if they don’t think the car did it there could have been a driver doing it. Especially since Bartlett seemed a tad unpleasant. The neighbors told the policeman that Bartlett was running around and yelling last night. And nobody thought to call the cops? Also, they didn’t hear the car? They throw around a couple theories to which the answers are, “Could be”.

SERLING:
Yes, it could just be. It could just be that Mr. Bartlett Finchley succumbed from a heart attack and a set of delusions. It could just be that he was tormented by an imagination as sharp as his wit and as pointed as his dislikes. But as perceived by those attending this is one explanation that has left the premises with the deceased. Look for it filed under “M” for Machines…in the Twilight Zone.


As I pointed out the only really deadly thing he owned was the car. Unless an electric razor could shave his shoes off or something. It seems a bit more logical to get rid of most of the stuff rather than pay to get it fixed just so it can torment you some more. As far as the machines go, unless they feel no pain, it seems as though most of the actual damage they were causing was to themselves. That doesn’t seem very intelligent. This isn’t the last time that technology rears its ugly, human-hating head. Also, if you recognize the repairman he was also on the episode The Purple Testament. You’ll also be seeing him a few more times on the Twilight Zone.


Be sure to join us for next week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday episode. A really great one called The Howling Man

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

Jackie Rhoades – Joe Mantell
George – William D. Gordon
Narrator – Rod Serling


Yesterday in 1959 was the first episode ever aired of The Twilight Zone. What better way to celebrate than one of my favorite episodes ever? But, of course, even though I love it I’m sure the snark will still be there. On with the show!

We open on the eponymous Nervous Man nervously chewing the crap out of his fingernails. The phone rings and he jumps up to answer it. It’s someone named George and Jackie’s been waiting all of this very hot night for George to call. He wants to know what George had in mind for the night. George is obviously saying something Jackie gets upset about. Jackie starts to talk fast, telling George that he’s been sitting there and roasting all night. George obviously thinks that Jackie’s trying to cop out on…whatever it is. He tells George that George knows he has a tendency toward being nervous and he’s been waiting all this time in this very hot (presumably  $4.oo) room. He just wants to know what George has in mind. Jackie says he’s not complaining, George knows he;s his number one dude. Ready to do anything. He just wants to know what the job is. Suspenseful music plays and it seems that George has hung up.

SERLING:
This is Mr. Jackie Rhoades, age 34 (yeah, right). And where some men leave a mark of their lives, as a record of their fragmentary existence on Earth, this man leaves a blot. a dirty, discolored blemish to document a cheap and undistinguished. sojourn amongst his betters.

SERLING:
What you’re about to watch in this room is a strange mortal combat between a man and himself. For in just a moment Mr. Jackie Rhoades whose life has been given over to fighting adversaries will find his most formidable opponent in a cheap hotel room. That is, in reality, the outskirts of the Twilight Zone.

Jackie is now lying face-down on the bed, rubbing the back of his sweaty head. There’s a knock at the door. Jackie answers it and the mysterious George comes in. George looks the very definition of ‘greasy hood’. His hair is sort of slicked back, he has a sort-of pencil mustache (that Vincent Price pulls off much better) and a tie that’s way too short to be tucked into his jacket. They say their “How do you dos”. Jackie says he’s good and gets all up into George’s personal space to tell him, yet again, that he’s nervous about the action tonight.

George says it’s quite a place that Jackie has there. Jackie seems weirdly proud of his room and says “for $4 a night you can’t go wrong”. George’s weird response is that you can’t go wrong but you might be “roasted alive or poisoned by small creatures.” Um, ok. Unless there’s scorpions or brown recluse spiders lurking about is a little unlikely. Jackie asks again what the job is and George asks if it makes a difference. Uh, yah! If Jackie’s supposed to do something it might be somewhat helpful to know what that ‘something’ is.

Jackie sputters a bit and says, no, it doesn’t matter, really. George asks Jackie what he wants to do? What’s Jackie’s heart’s desire? Jackie scolds George for pulling his leg. Jackie says he doesn’t mind a little shakedown or a little Bunco but he keeps getting all of the hard stuff. He almost got caught by the police the last two times. George seems very amused by this. Jackie says that if he gets picked up one more time it’s three strikes and out. George pokes a bit of fun at Jackie and asks what he does to sleep at night, hide in a locked closet?

Jackie asks (again) what the job is. Finally George relents and tells Jackie that tonight he’s going to let him be a man and show some muscle. He tells Jackie that there’s going to be no shakedowns, no deliveries to a fence, Jackie’s moving up in the world. Which, apparently in their world, requires a revolver. George tosses it on the bed and Jackie stares at it.

George goes on to explain that there’s an old man who doesn’t want to pay for their jukeboxes and doesn’t want their protection. They’ve tried to be ‘reasonable’ but it’s been no use. So, tomorrow, they want the old man ‘sprawled across his bar’ and everyone else will fall in line. Jackie looks very unhappy about this, as well he should. Jackie tells George that he can go to prison just for carrying the piece and that killing an old man is not for him. George grabs Jackie’s shirt and tells him that since Jackie is in deep up to his eyeballs he doesn’t have a say in what’s right for him.

Jackie says he’s strictly small-time. That if he mugged someone he’s got to do it from behind because he’s got no guts and George knows it. Jackie says he’s just nickle and dime. Why doesn’t George get some of his torpedoes? George says the minute they find the old man dead all his “torpedoes” will get picked up. Nobody will suspect Jackie precisely because he is nickle and dime and everybody knows it. George goes to leave and Jackie tries to grab him to change his mind. George bitch slaps him and says he doesn’t care where Jackie gets his guts from but he’d better find them, buy them or grow them in a pot but he’d better get them and do the job. George drops the parting pleasantry that the old man closes up shop at 2:00 and Jackie had better be there. George will be back at 2:30 and he’d better not find out that Jackie chickened out or else…

Jackie looks at the gun then calls after George, pleading. Then he leans against the door and starts some determined knuckle and nail chewing. He paces the room a bit then stops at the mirror. He starts asking his reflection what the deal is? It shouldn’t be hard to get rid of a dopey old man. He thinks it’s hilarious that George called the older gentleman a gleep. And I have no idea what that is. The only time I’ve ever heard it was in M*A*S*H in an entirely different context. Colonel Potter warns Radar that someone will bite him and give him the ‘gleep’. But doesn’t elaborate when Radar is confused. So if any of you know what it is please let me know!

He tells his reflection that he wishes he could trade himself in. He kindly tells his reflection that it’s not his fault, it’s the breaks. Why couldn’t he be different. He asks himself why he’s so scared all the time. He feels like he’s had a long life. Too many nights in the tank, in the stir, in cheap-ass hotel rooms like the one he’s in now. He’s paying $4 a night to roast to death. Other than the heat it looks like a halfway decent room. I’ve certainly seen worse. He gripes some more about being a nervous little nail biter. Then he tweaks out and yells at the long-gone George that George isn’t any judge of character and should peel melons or handle apples and oranges because he ain’t no judge of people. Jackie laughs maniacally and calls himself Jackie the Killer. Or, Jack the Ripper, perhaps?

He tells his reflection that he ain’t no killer. But he’s got to kill tonight or else he’ll be killed. If he does it, he’s dead. If he doesn’t, he’s dead. He whines a bit more and tries to light a cigarette but doesn’t have any matches so he whines about that a bit more. Then some eerie music plays and a puff of smoke blows at him from behind him.

Jackie’s reflection greets him. His reflection looks suave with decently brushed hair, an unwrinkly shirt and not dripping with sweat. He’s also standing straight while Nervous Jackie hunches. Nervous Jackie freaks out and starts to run for the door. Mirror Jackie orders him back. Mirror Jackie watches Nervous Jackie a bit while Nervous Jackie worries that he’s going crazy. Nervous Jackie asks Mirror Jackie who he is. Mirror Jackie says that he’s a part of Nervous Jackie that he used to have so long ago that Nervous Jackie doesn’t even remember.

Mirror Jackie says that a long time ago Jackie was up for grabs. He could have gone either his way or Nervous Jackie’s way. He went Nervous Jackie’s way. Mirror Jackie asks Nervous Jackie if he knows what he means. Nervous Jackie says no. Mirror Jackie says Nervous Jackie’s way was “a cheap, weak, scared half vulture, all mouse.” Jackie pretty much sticks out his tongue and says he’s got flesh and bones and is going to put the finger on someone. What does Mirror Jackie do for a living? I’ve gotta say I’m on Mirror Jackie’s side. Nervous Jackie is leaving and Mirror Jackie can’t stop him. He goes to grab his coat from the closet but there’s a mirror there, along with Mirror Jackie. Nervous Jackie washes his face in the bathroom and of course Mirror Jackie is there, too. Eww. Nervous Jackie goes to leave the room but, surprise! there’s a mirror there too where a scolding Mirror Jackie awaits. For a cheap hotel there’s mirrors for days! Nervous Jackie heart attack gasps his way back into the room and flops on the bed. Mirror Jackie yells at Nervous Jackie to not pass out on him now, they’ve got a big night ahead of them.

Nervous Jackie opens his eyes and the first thing he sees is the gun on the table. He grabs it and starts to head out of the door but Mirror Jackie stops him and asks “Where do you think you’re going?” Nervous Jackie wants to know what business it is of his! Mirror Jackie says “Everything”.

Nervous Jackie says he’s talking to himself. Mirror Jackie says exactly. Nervous Jackie is talking to the part of him that NJ never lets come out. Nervous Jackie says that Mirror Jackie has no invitation to come out now. Nervous Jackie asks “Who needs you?!” and Mirror Jackie says, “He does!”

Nervous Jackie says of course Mirror Jackie would think that. He’s just as scared that Nervous Jackie will get picked up by the police because Mirror Jackie will get pinched, too. Which has always called up a very odd mental picture. It makes me think of two big fingers ‘pinching’ someone up and out of a crowd and popping them into jail.

Anyways, Mirror Jackie says he’s kept quiet until now because he can’t let Nervous Jackie go out and get themselves both killed. This takes Nervous Jackie aback and he says, “Get killed?” like he didn’t just say it himself. Mirror Jackie insists that he has the right to live and won’t let Nervous Jackie go out and get themselves killed because Nervous Jackie hasn’t ever gotten away with anything.

Nervous Jackie says, quite reasonably and calmly, that if Mirror Jackie is the same as him then they’ve had the same breaks so how come every move Nervous Jackie made turned out wrong? He finally asks as if he really wants to know, rather than argue for the sake of argument. Mirror Jackie says that every time he tried to talk Nervous Jackie would listen to somebody else. that was his mistake.

Nervous Jackie proclaims that he was a runt. A skinny little runt so what chance did he have? “If you want to be in a gang when you’re a runt you’ve got to go along or they’ll give you the business and yell at you.” The Mirror Jackie says oh yes, NJ went along and made Mirror Jackie go along, too. Mirror Jackie says NJ ‘s first chance to do right was when he was ten years old. A teacher’s necklace broke at a picnic and she laid it down. The bigger boys dared Nervous Jackie to steal it. Nervous Jackie protests that he didn’t really want to steal the necklace. But he was a runt and they dared him. Whew! Good thing they didn’t double-dog dare him!

Mirror Jackie comes back with yeah, and they dared him to break into the grocery store a year later. Mirror Jackie got dragged along, too. And they got caught and spent eleven months in reform school. Mirror Jackie wants to know what that proved. Nervous Jackie pouts a bit and says no wonder he never listened to Mirror Jackie. All he does is talk his ear off and pout so much he’s walking on his lower lip. Dude, you really shouldn’t call someone else a whiner. because that’s all you’ve done for the last twenty five minutes. At least Mirror Jackie has a cause for his anger.

Nervous Jackie says that he only knows one thing: He’s got to go out, do a job and if he doesn’t you can scrape him off the mirror with a spoon (although I think a squeegee would work better). Mirror Jackie tells NJ that he’s got less time than he thinks. Mirror Jackie points out that Nervous Jackie never has time. He didn’t have time for the parole officer who actually wanted to help him. Nervous Jackie could have listened to him but instead joined another gang. And was back in jail six months later. Wait a minute. Wouldn’t he have been about thirteen or thereabouts. It seems like he would be back into reform school, not jail. Mirror Jackie says that the parole officer couldn’t help him anymore than Janey Reardon could have. Nervous Jackie looks startled as he loads the revolver. Or checks it. George didn’t give Jackie any bullets.

He gets a wistful smile as he repeats her name and then calls her “a good kid”. Mirror Jackie corrects him and says that Janey Reardon was a beautiful woman. He says that Janey tried to set NJ straight and that Mirror Jackie loved her. Nervous Jackie says Mirror Jackie has a lot of nerve, he can’t love, he’s just a piece of glass. Mirror Jackie says they needed her and he could love, But then Nervous Jackie joined a bigger gang and started shakedown rackets. A real ‘big shot’. They spent two years in the pen on that one. By the time they got out Ms. Reardon had gotten married and moved away.

Nervous Jackie scoffs and says he can take or leave. Mirror Jackie mocks him and basically calls bullshit on it. Nervous Jackie gets irritated and asks what Mirror Jackie wants. Mirror Jackie wants his turn. He wants to take over, permanently. He wants his turn and, frankly, Mirror Jackie sounds like a much more stand up guy. He wants to live with the goodness, guts and dreams that Nervous Jackie left behind.

Nervous Jackie tells him fat chance. He’s going out to do his job and no one else will tell him what to do again. Well, probably not because you’re either going to be dead or in jail. The phone cuts off his rant and Jackie picks it up. It’s George. Jackie starts stuttering and whinging saying that  he’s on his way out the door right now.

Nervous Jackie puts on his coat and then realizes that his reflection has taken off. Mirror Jackie comes back though, and tells Nervous Jackie that if he walks out that door they’re both dead. He wants his chance. He wants a decent job, some friends, a caring woman. Nervous Jackie say he has friends but Mirror Jackie disagrees. He says that none of those guys are his friends.

Jackie gets pissed and tells Mirror Jackie to come on out. He rips the dresser away from the wall and actually seems surprised that Mirror Jackie isn’t back there. He whips the mirror around and freaks out when he sees Mirror Jackie back again, smiling.

Later. George walks in. Jackie is sitting in a chair with his face in his hands. George tells Jackie that he’s going to take his skin off foot by foot. Nobody went to the bar tonight. The old man is still in perfect health. George wants to know what he’s got to say for himself. Jackie looks up but you can tell right away that it’s Mirror Jackie. He tells George that he resigns. Which I read as a polite 1960 way of him telling George to go eff himself. George is surprised at Jackie’s new-found balls. He says George can have his gun back plus the following: a foot stomp, elbow to the stomach and sock to the jaw.

Jackie tells George to get the hell out. He unloads the gun and throws it at George, telling him not to come back for anything. He throws the bullets away and calls the front desk to say tha his name is Jackie – make that John Rhoades, and he’s checking out. Jackie, pardon me, John Rhoades looks in the mirror and Nervous Jackie is in there, chewing his nails and wondering what they’re going to do now. John says that now they’re going to look for a job, maybe get married and maybe stop biting their nails. With one last look at the mirror John Rhoades leaves the room.

SERLING:
Exit Mr. John Rhoades, formerly a reflection in the mirror, a fragment of someone else’s conscience, a wishful thinker made out of glass. But now made out of flesh and on his way to join the company of men. Mr. John Rhoades, with one foot through the door and one foot out of The Twilight Zone.


I’ve always liked that episode. Usually mirror people are evil and I thought at first it was going to go that way but it changes directions quite abruptly. I was very happy to see Mirror Jackie win out at the end. I also liked that Mirror Jackie’s dreams weren’t to be some big time gangster or big time anything. It was just to live a normal, peaceful life. I’ve always wondered why Jack is a nickname for John. They’re the same amount of letters so it’s not any shorter.


Thank you for joining us and please come back for next week’s episode of The Twilight Zone: A Thing About Machines

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Man in the Bottle

The Man in the Bottle

Arthur Castle – Luther Adler
Edna Castle – Vivi Janiss
Genie – Joseph Ruskin
Mrs. Gumley – Lisa Golm
IRS Man – Olan Soule
Narrator – Rod Serling


Really, genie stories should just automatically come with a subheading of “Doesn’t matter what you wish for, you’re screwed”.

We’re in what’s usually called a junk shop but this one has some pretty cool stuff. The owner (Arthur) is going through a rather large stack of bills. He grabs the top one and asks his wife, Edna, how far behind the gas and electric is. She says it’s four months behind so they had better pay that one. So they go through bills about how I do.

Arthur murmurs to himself that it’s one they can’t pay and sets it aside. Hey man, you’re lucky they gave you four months. If that were now you’d already be in the dark with no heat.

The bell rings and he looks up hopefully. A little, older lady is sneaking in. Arthur is very studiously working at his bills and tries not to look up. He asks her how she’s doing. She makes some awkward small talk as she’s trying to get up the courage to ask something. She places a wine bottle on the counter and says she’s brought an heirloom today, hand-blown glass and been in the family for years. Arthur tells her it’s a plain old wine bottle and worth nothing. She is upset but says she could let it go for a dollar. Arthur tells her if he had a dollar he’d just give it to her but they’re broke, too.

Arthur hates to see an older lady upset so he goes to the cash register and gives her a dollar. He says he wishes he could make it more and gives it to her. He sounds sincere, not the smarmy “I wish I could give you more and I’m going to sell it for a thousand” voice. She thanks him and blesses him. At the door she stops and says that it’s not really an heirloom, she found it in an ashcan. Will he please forgive her for lying?

He says it’s ok and who knows? Maybe it will turn out to be worth something. He’s very nice. Mrs. Gumley scurries out the door. Edna comes downstairs and Arthur tries to play it casual, leaning on the register to hide the fact that the $1 sign is down. Edna picks up the wine bottle and sarcastically says it’s gorgeous. Edna looks at the ‘No Sale’ sign and then at Arthur. Arthur says that Mrs. Gumley needed to eat, too. And that maybe a man could only scrape the bottom of the barrel for so long without it breaking him. His grandfather owned the shop and it broke his heart, his father owned it and it killed him, too. Personally I think it’s a pretty cool shop and I’d love to go there.

In the middle of saying that the place is making them old by always having to be hand-to-mouth, he picks up a stack of bills and shakes them, knocking over the bottle. The cork pops out but the bottle doesn’t break. Edna and Arthur back away as the bottle starts to steam and smoke.

SERLING:
Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, gentle and infinitely patient people whose lives have been a hope chest with a rusty lock and a lost set of keys. But in just a moment that hope chest will be opened and an improbable phantom will try to bedeck the drabness of these two people’s failure-laden lives with the gold and priceless stones of fulfillment. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, standing on the outskirts and about to enter The Twilight Zone.

The bottle is still pouring out smoke. When the smoke clears a dapper looking gentleman is standing in their store, asking “How do you do?” Arthur and Edna stand there staring at him, stunned. He says he doesn’t want to go into any lengthy explanations but he’s a genie, there to offer them four wishes with a guaranteed performance. Arthur and Edna just look at each other. Edna thinks they’re going crazy. Arthur says that maybe the guy is a hypnotist or something. The Genie says he’s nothing of the sort. He’s there to grant the owner four wishes. Then he goes back inside his bottle for a century and a day until the new owner releases him.

He tells them the Arthur and Edna need to start deciding on their four wishes, keeping in mind that each wish is irrevocable. Once it’s made it is fulfilled and once it’s fulfilled it’s a matter of record and can only be altered by another wish. As he’s speaking he flips their open sign to “Closed” and pulls down the blind. Which is a little creepy. It looks like he’s preparing to murder them. He asks Arthur if that’s clear. Arthur thinks that maybe they’d better call the police. The Genie tells Arthur to wish for them. He can bring Scotland Yard, the FBI or every bobby in the city of London. Is that what they wish for?

For being stuck in a bottle for a century and a day the Genie is awfully anxious for them to get on with the wishing. Although, who knows? Maybe he’s got an awesome life inside the bottle and wants to get back to it. Arthur replies no, they wouldn’t wish for the police. Edna asks if Arthur is crazy, does he actually believe the guy? To which I would reply, “What have you got to lose?”

Arthur says, for the sake of argument, that it is true he would like the broken glass in the display case to be fixed. The Genie looks at it and asks if Arthur would like to make it official. Arthur hesitantly says yes, he wishes the case were fixed. The Genie waves his hand at it and *poof* it’s fixed. Arthur and Edna are amazed. The Genie tells Arthur that he has three wishes left.

Arthur is all excited now but Edna’s freaked out. Arthur asks what she wants and she says she wants nothing. Arthur finally decides on money. He wants a million dollars in cash right here on the floor in $5’s and $10’s. I get the money wish but why fives and tens? The Genie lights a smoke and says, done. A million dollars. Money immediately begins to pour down from the ceiling. Someone is laughing hysterically but it sounds creepy so I’m honestly not sure if it’s the Genie laughing or Arthur.

The next shot shows the neighborhood in to help celebrate their good fortune. Arthur gives one guy a stack of  money and tells him to pay off his mortgage so he can start living again. He gives another lady a stack and tells her to take that vacation and bring back a boyfriend. They give a bunch to Mrs. Gumley and the neighborhood Reverend as well. And, to give all of them credit, they don’t act greedy and Arthur and Edna seem genuinely pleased to be able to help. Not doing it in a snobby, lordly way. See, they are truly nice people. Which is almost enough on its own to qualify them for the Twilight Zone. Instead of giving it to charities to qualify them for a tax break, they’re just giving it to people they know it could help and they can see how much it helps.

After everyone leaves there’s only one guy left. And to give Arthur credit he’s ready to hand over a bunch of money to this guy even though he doesn’t even know him. The guy says thank you, but no. He gives Arthur his card. He tells them their taxes, including state, comes to $942,640.00. Which, holy crap, seems like a lot to me. I could be wrong but that seems like almost 90%. Can that be right? And once, just once, can’t people just keep the damn money? Every freaking time in almost every show they never get to keep the money no matter how honestly they got it or worked for it. It’s annoying.

After they count up what the IRS says they owe them they’re left with $5.00. They gave away nearly $60,000.00 to the neighborhood. I’d also like to point out, though, that it never seems to cross their minds to ask for any of it back even though they’re only left with $5.00 and a stack of bills they haven’t paid yet.

The Genie pops up on the stairs to tell Arthur that he warned him to reflect carefully on his wish. Genies are always so damn smug aren’t they? t least it’s not the Djinn from Wishmaster. That’s a plus.

The Genie says if Arthur had made a wish that took into account the taxes involved then it would be quite another thing. Arthur looks like he’s going to do just that but Edna stops him. Why? That seems like a logical wish. Arthur considers the usual wishing for more wishes but the Genie says that’s out. Of course it is. The Genie says that he doesn’t want Arthur to even try for fear of the consequences. Arthur asks what consequences? He starts yelling at Edna, saying she’s no help. She asks, reasonably enough, why he’s yelling. He starts freaking out until she yells his name, sharply. This stops him short and he wonders what’s happening to him. The Genie replies that their emotions seem to follow a typical pattern. Great excitement, great emotionalism (is that even a word?) but only a modicum of happiness. Now, speaking for myself in their situation, I would ask for the bills to be paid and for the shop to be well-known among the city as a good place to shop. Although I’m sure the Genie could screw that up, too.

Arthur asks the Genie what they can wish for “without tricks”. The Genie takes great offense to that and says that there are no “tricks”. Just normal consequences that go with any windfall. The Genie says that whatever they wish for they have to be prepared for the consequences, This gets Arthur thinking of something dead sure and without consequences. Good luck with that one. Arthur decides to wish for power. Wow. That’s original.

The Genie asks what kind of power he’d like? To be the president of a corporation? Edna says he could go bankrupt. Mayor of a city? He could get voted out of office. Arthur says he’s got it. Ruler of a country. Why do I see this not ending well? Arthur says he wants to be head of a whole country and can’t be voted out of office. The Genie, grinning, asks if he’d like to be more specific than that. Arthur wants to be the head of a foreign country that can’t be voted out of office but it must be a contemporary country. Contemporary as in, in this century. The genie agrees. Arthur asks about the consequences. The Genie sidesteps answering directly and says there are consequences to any wish. Edna is suddenly on board. Ok, I can see way more going wrong with this wish than the money one. Arthur tells the Genie to do his thing. The Genie says “as you wish” and starts laughing very creepily. Oh, yeah, I’m sure this will turn out well.

We are taken to a bunker where someone is crying with his head down on a desk and an officer is yelling at him to stop being a baby…it’s just a mass suicide. The guy raises his head and…Arthur is Hitler. A soldier brings in a little bottle of presumably poison. And, since I know my history, it’s probably cyanide. However, I don’t see a gun. And shouldn’t Edna be Eva? Arthur looks like he’s seriously considering taking the poison. Instead he wishes he were back where it all began and throws the bottle down.

It transitions into the wine bottle shattering on the floor of their store. The store is darker and Edna is sitting behind the counter, asking Arthur what’s wrong? He looks funny. Arthur says he had his wish fulfilled, number four. Edna doesn’t seem to remember any of it. Which I guess makes sense if she wasn’t the person who ‘owned’ the wishes. So does this mean their neighbors got their money taken away? That’s a bummer. He says that all of the wishes ended the same way. In a word…sucky. So, I’m curious. With the bottle being broke did the Genie get killed? Or just go on to inhabit another random bottle?

Arthur looks around and says to Edna  that the place doesn’t look half bad. Actually, she must remember. She says they came out of it ahead at least. Arthur wants to know what she means. She points to the display case where the crack is still mended. So it’s not a total loss. They giggle together a bit and kiss each other. Then Arthur hits the display case with the end of the broom and it’s cracked again in exactly the same way. They look at each other for a second and Edna cracks up. I’ve been there. It’s either laugh, cry or tear your hair out so I prefer to laugh (after letting out a hearty swear word).

SERLING:
A word to the wise, now, to the garbage collectors of the world, the curio seekers, to the antique buffs – to everyone who would try to coax out a miracle from unlikely places. Check that bottle you’re taking back for a 2-cent deposit. A genie, say might be your own. Case in point, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, fresh from the briefest of trips into The Twilight Zone.


Genie ones always kind of tick me off. Nobody ever gets to keep what they get and nobody ever wishes correctly. I know they’re usually illustrating the whole you can’t get something for nothing and be happy with what you have but still. Having money obviously didn’t turn them into assholes so why not let them keep it. Not to mention the taxes estimate seemed insanely high.

If anyone feels like they recognize Edna she also played in the Twilight Zone episode: The Fever.


Thank you for joining us this week and be sure to come back next week for one of my favorite episodes: Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – King Nine Will Not Return

King Nine Will Not Return

Capt. James Embry – Robert Cummings
Blake – Richard Lupino
Narrator – Rod Serling
Psychiatrist – Gene Lyons
Doctor – Paul Lambert
Nurse – Jenna McMahon


Welcome to season two of the Twilight Zone! I’m geekily excited about it because seasons two and three have a lot of great episodes and I can’t wait to share them and talk about them with you guys.


SERLING:
This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine. B-25 medium bomber, 12th Air Force. On a hot, still morning she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in a wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed. Not to return on this day, or any other day.

Scattered out from the plane is debris and ammo, leading up to a man lying in the desert sand. He shakes himself awake and looks at the wreckage.

As Capt. Embry sweats and rubs his face we get an internal monologue. He remembers the plane getting hit, falling behind and bellying in. He remembers his crew and goes to look in the plane. They don’t seem to be there and he wonders where they have gone. Did they bail out? Did he order them to bail out? No. He didn’t. They all went down in the plane together. He begins to name them. He, himself is Captain James Embry. Blake the co-pilot, Kransky the radio operator and waist gunner, Jimenez, navigator. Connors was the tail gunner and Kline the upper turret gunner. He tries to think if there’s anyone he missed. I feel bad for those guys. With the size of that plane (if it’s accurate) it had to have been cramped as hell in there.

He climbs up on to the top of the plane and hops into the cockpit. On the side the name Pilot Capt. James Embry is stenciled. There’s also a large picture of a ‘King’ playing card, the King of Hearts. There are also three swastikas (representing three enemy planes shot down) and around 28 bombs, representing either 28 bombs dropped or (more likely) 28 successful runs. Embry fiddles with his pilot glasses and his pilot hat for a minute. Amazingly they’re still in the cockpit.

He calls for Blake and Jimenez. Which is a little weird. He;s still in the lane so unless they’re hiding in the instrument panel or under the tiny little seat I don’t think they’re in there, He crawls up into the tiny upper area, calling for the rest of them. Again, it should be pretty clear that they’re not in there. He’d be better off looking outside. He calls a few more times then begins discussing the situation with himself, trying to piece it together.

He repeats that they bellied in and assumes he must have been thrown from the plane and may have been out cold for hours. It strikes him again that the rest of the crew is nowhere to be found. I will say the actor does a fair job with his facial expressions during the voice-overs. He doesn’t overdo them.

He realizes that they didn’t jump out because their chutes are all there. He says that they aren’t dead but if they walked away why didn’t they take him? At the very least I would think that they would have pulled him into the shade. He calls for them all, still inside the plane. Dude! They’re not in there!

As he calls their names a radio statics into life. He listens for a moment but hears nothing but static. He calls a Mayday from the King Nine to Firefly. Presumably base or another bomber in the area. There is no response, though. Just more static. He starts to get up quickly but calms himself. At least he’s being smart and staying in the plane, out of the sun. He tells himself not to go off half-cocked (that sounds painful). There must be reasons. They’re gone, he’s alone but there must be a logical reason behind it, behind everything. He just has to keep cool and think about it rationally. His main thought is for his crew. He’s the leader, it’s his responsibility to keep them safe and alive as far as it is in his power. He’s got to get them out of it. Well, seems like that’s accomplished at least. They are not there, thus, they are out of it. I may be poking fun a bit but I do believe that is the sign of a good leader. The desire to treat those under you well. And if you’re successful, they will do the same for you. Unless they’re out and out asses. Then nothing can help that, unfortunately.

As Embry is thinking his leader thoughts he hears a ‘thump’ that sounds like it came from outside. Embry calls for Blake again and rushes outside only to find the source of the noise is a piece of the plane banging against the outer shell. He wanders about a bit until he finds his pilot cap. Thus equipped he starts to wander again but spots a canteen lying in the sand. Embry picks it up and reads the name on it – Kline.

Embry starts yelling/laughing at/for Kline. I honestly don’t know if he’s pleased or crazy. He tells Kline that he’s a stupid jerk for dropping his canteen. Then he calls Kline a “Bronx Cowboy” and tells him that he’s in the desert, he’s going to need water. I think I’ve decided on that he’s going a wee bit crazy. He goes on to say he still has to babysit them and it’s “strictly not funny” what they’re doing. He collapses on the sand and gives a manly little sniffle.

He goes to take a drink from the canteen but sees something that distracts him enough to where he lets the water pour all down his face. Grrrrr. We get to see what he’s looking at. It’s a guy sitting in the cockpit giving a weird-ass laugh and fully decked out in coat and hat and everything. Embry yells, “Blaaake!” so I’m guessing the guy is Blake. Embry staggers toward the plane. Blake still looks like a laughing bobble-head then disappears. Embry yells at him to come back, he feels responsible.

A little while later Embry is calling MayDay again, trying to contact Firefly. He starts to wonder to himself if this isn’t just some hallucination. He might be lying in the desert with a cracked skull and dying. He goes into a happier train of thought by thinking that this also might be a dream and he’ll wake up back at base. Then he starts wondering if he got insanely drunk and is maybe in actuality sitting in a bar with a pretty girl. Unless he drank absinthe I think I’ll dismiss this last theory.

He gets a bit giddy but sobers up quickly. He tells himself that he saw Blake sitting there and that was no hallucination. Hmm. In theory, if he is hallucinating, why wouldn’t the disappearing guy also be a hallucination. He says he saw Blake siting there and no one can tell him different. Well, that is true. Since no one is there then nobody can absolutely say  that he didn’t see Blake. He grabs his pilot glasses because now he’s in charge, dammit!

Which he proves by ambling over to a grassy knoll and yelling at his crew that isn’t there. He keeps saying that he’s responsible and they’re being jerks by being missing. As he plays King of the Mountain by himself he hears a soft clanking noise coming from another grassy knoll. There’s nothing there but a cross with Kline’s name on it. It looks cobbled together and says he died of injuries sustained in the crash. Above, Embry hears a noise and looks up to see modern jets fly overhead. He tells himself that they’re jets but then he’s confused. It’s 1943, how does he know what jets are?

He thinks that there’s no way of knowing but he does. He knows all about jet aircraft. Embry yells at the planes. Asking where are they going? What are they even doing there? He runs back to the plane asking Blake and Connors if they know aboutjet airplanes. I actually think he’s lost it now. He’s talking to them like they’re there. Embry tells the that they’ve got to get out of there but they can’t walk out. Nossir, no way they’re doing that. They’ll have to fly. Okey dokey, Embry. Good luck with that. He tries doing something with the front of the plane. I’m not sure if he’s trying to spin the prop or lift it. Either way, it’s not working. Then Embry starts to laugh hysterically at it and calls the plane an illusion.

He goes back and forth between hysterics and seriousness for a while. He thinks he’s either dead or knocked out somewhere. Or he’s back ina ward somewhere on base. Or he doesn’t exist either. Well, I will say this for him. he certainly covers every possible theory. He tells his crew to break silence, that they can even yell at him. Or (and this would be freaking creepy) they can “all spring out of the sand like jumping jacks and stand there laughing at him.” Oh. Kay. I think Capt. Embry has left the building.

He calls Kline’s name and sees his crew, standing there and laughing at him. Then they disappear. Jerks. Embry falls on his knees, begging to know what’s going on. Now I almost feel bad for making fun of him. Almost.

Anyways, we get a close up of his hand digging at the sand, which fades to a hand, clutching sheets. A medical doctor is telling a psychiatrist that the guy in the bed is James Embry, aged 41. He was walking by a newsstand and went into shock. They have a look-see at the headline that sent him almost catatonic. The headline reads “World War II Bomber Found Intact in Desert: B-25 Mitchell Lies 17 Years in Desert, No Clue as to the Fate of the Crew”. They give a rundown of Embry’s military record. Which is what it said earlier but also adds that there was some indication of psychological problems but that he was discharged before they could figure it out. Well, nice of them to follow up on the vet with psychological issues.

the psychiatrist says that the plane found was Embry’s plane. wait, didn’t the headline say that there was no clue as to the fate of the crew? The medical doc agrees that it was Embry’s plae and Embry’s crew. It took off for what was suposed to be a routine flight. Oh, ok. Embry had called in sick that day and someone else flew the mission for him. so, following this I’m guessing that not knowing the fate of his crew was slowly driving Embry nuts. Which, to tell the truth, it would drive me crazy, too.

Embry wakes up and the doctor tells him where he is and that he’ll be ok. Embry is perfectly calm now and says he had a crazy dream. Embry says he went back to the desert. The doctor tries to stop him but the psychiatrist wants to hear about the dream. Embry tells them all about it. He says that it’s his fault, he should have been on the plane. He says he chickened out. The psychiatrist tells him that there’s no way that Embry could have known what would happen. The psychiatrist reassures Embry that now that it’s out in the open and not bottled up inside anymore. Embry says a crazy part of his dream was that he saw jets. This seems to bother the psychiatrist but if it was a dream I’m not sure why. Embry says it was crazy. 1943 in the African desert and there wee jets. Just as if he had gone back there today. Embry wants to know if that could be. Did he really go back? The psychiatrist assures him that if Embry went back it was only in his mind. The psychiatrist tells the doctor that Embry will be all right now. As they talk the nurse brings over Embry’s clothing. Tthe doctor tells her to just set them on the desk. As she does, Embry’s shoes tip over, spilling sand out of them. She calls their attention to it wondering what it could be. I know it’s supposed to call our attention to the sand but…really?! You don’t know what freaking sand looks like woman?! The psychiatrist comes over to grab a handful and let it run through his hand, which fades into an image of the sand falling on the nose of a plane. I will grant you that it’s a pretty cool shot and quite pretty but…but…but it came out of a guy’s shoe! And, if it did really happen, a sweaty shoe!

SERLING:
Enigma buried in the sand. A question mark with broken wings that lies in silent grace as a marker in a desert shrine. Odd how the real consorts with the shadows, how the present fuses with the past. How does it happen? The question is on file in the silent desert. And the answer? The answer is waiting for us in the Twilight Zone.


Even though I poked a bit of fun at the episode I do really like it. I like the sand kicked in the face of the overly smug psychiatrist. And it’s a good exploration of the survivor’s guilt people can suffer. Sometimes without even consciously realizing it. There’s also the throwaway line about Embry being discharged from the service with no follow-up, even though they suspected psychiatric issues.


Thanks for joining us this week and come back next week for another episode of Twilight Zone: The Man in the Bottle

Twilight Zone Tuesday – A World of His Own

A World of His Own

Gregory West – Keenan Wynn
Victoria West – Phyllis Kirk
Mary – Mary LaRoche
Narrator/Himself/Host – Rod Serling
Elephant – Modoc


As Rod is talking we pan from the outside of a house, to the inside and then to a man. Mr. Gregory West. Mr. West is sitting and an attractive young lady is mixing him a drink.

SERLING:
The home of Mr. Gregory West, one of America’s most noted playwrights. The office of Mr. Gregory West. Mr. Gregory West. Shy, quiet and, at the moment, very happy. Mary. Warm, affectionate.

Gregory is watching Mary. she tells him he should be working. He playfully complains that she’s nagging him. She tells him that she’s only thinking of posterity but he wants her to think of him instead. She answers back, “Don’t I always?” and he responds that yes, she does. She takes a drink of the martini and he asks if it’s dry enough. She says “We’ll let the master decide” and hands it to him. He says it’s perfect, like always. She asks him if he’s describing himself. He toasts the glass to her and says, “We’ll let the mistress decide”. They cuddle up on the couch.

Outside the window, however, a very elegant woman watches them in astonishment. I’m guessing “mistress” was a little more literal than I thought.

SERLING:
And the final ingredient, Mrs. Gregory West.

Mrs. Gregory West does not look happy. Can’t say I blame her. While they’re snuggling on the couch, Gregory and Mary hear doors open and close. They look a little surprised. Then a woman’s voice calls, “Gregory?” and Gregory drops his glass. Methinks he didn’t expect the Mrs. home so soon. Mary says, “No, not again.” but Gregory replies that he has no choice. Mary asks him if he’s so afraid. Meanwhile, Mrs. West is knocking and asking if he’s working, in a very sweet voice. Gregory goes to his desk and Mary, obviously upset, stares at the fire.

Mrs. West is still knocking. She says she’ll only be a moment. She just wants to come in and…kiss him. I’m guessing with her knuckles. Or palm, since she looks like a lady. Gregory opens the door with a pair of scissors but he puts them in his pocket. So they’re not for Mrs. West. He opens the door for her and starts to say something along the lines of “I wasn’t expecting you back so soon.”

Mrs. West charges into the room and is surprised to find it empty. Gregory looks a bit smug and he asks her if anything’s wrong. He asks why she’s home so early, didn’t she like the movie? She says no, not much. I know some people enjoy it but I honestly don’t think I’ve ever gone to a movie alone. She tries to be nonchalant as she peeks behind the changing screen (why there’s one in a writing studio I have no idea) and patting the curtains down. Gregory tinkers with his Dictaphone. Heh heh.

She notes that he’s dropped a glass. He agrees but doesn’t move to clean it up. She checks under an end table that I highly doubt would hide a kid, let alone a full-grown woman. Then she starts rapping on the wall a bit, checking for a secret room or something. I’ve always wanted to build one of those and put some really freaky stuff inside to scare the hell out of the next owners. Anyways, Gregory wants to know if she’s looking for something. She says no, she’s just checking for dust and seeing if the walls are ok. Gregory tries to sneakily put away his scissors but she catches him. Why he’s even trying to be sneaky about it is beyond me. They’re just scissors. She flat out asks about a secret door and he asks why on earth would he need a secret door. She peeks around the desk where he’s sitting. She looks pretty cute and funny with how casual she’s trying to look.

He asks again if anything is wrong. She says she might be hallucinating things. She says that she was standing outside of the window a bit ago and he’ll never believe what she saw. Or what she thought she saw. This gets his attention and breaks his smugness a bit. He asks what it was. She says that she thought she saw a woman in his arms. They both have a chuckle at this. She goes on to describe the woman who handed him a drink and canoodled with him on the couch. She was a blond with a frumpy shirt and tacky little peasant skirt. As she’s speaking she takes off her gloves and sits by him on the couch. She says that for a hallucination it had a remarkable amount of detail. Then Mrs. West goes on to say that the funniest thing was that a man of his taste could be attracted to a drab and ugly little creature.

While I kind of agree with her on the clothes there’s no way that woman could be described as drab and ugly so she’s clearly trying to get a rise out of him. Which works. He says that she’s not so drab. A-ha! the Mrs. exclaims. She starts (justifiably) leaning over him with righteous indignation. She says she’s been watching him for some time now. And now she wants to know where she is. He says that he can explain and it’s not what she thinks (it never is, is it?).

He asks if she remembers an early play of his called ‘Fury in the Night’ and a character called Phillip Wainwright. She rolls her eyes and says yes. Then she pops up and asks the woman’s name. When he plays dumb she thwacks him with the end of her stole and insists on the name. Gregory says that her name is Mary. She says what a surprise! How common of a name! Gregory has her sit down to listen to him. He says that while doing that play the characters come so alive, so vivid that they take on minds of their own. The playwright might work out things for them to do but the characters are so alive that they refuse to do it. She tells him, more patiently than I probably would be, what the heck this has to do with Mary. He begs her to bear with him to which she shoots back, “I’ve born with you for years.”

He tells her that the character of Phillip Wainwright was the first character he wrote that behaved that way. She tells him to stop trying to change the subject. He says this is the subject. He tells her that one evening, while working on the play, Phillip Wainwright literally walked through his office door. She scoffs a bit at this but he says she’s got to believe him. He tells her that Phillip Wainwright walked in, sat down and was a real flesh and blood man. Victoria starts to walk toward the phone to call for a psychiatric ambulance. He insists that he has seen his creations, spoken to them. Even shaken their hand. That would be quite handy for a playwright or author. Well, maybe not a horror author. I don’t think I’d want Cthulhu bopping in through my front door or The Dunwich Horror smashing it flat. She says yes, and even made love to them, too. He says yes and she slams the phone down on the fingers that are holding the cradle down. He quickly says no, that she knows how he works. He describes the characters, dialogue and stage ideas. If he describes the character well enough they literally came to life. He says he doesn’t even have to describe characters in his plays anymore. Now he can create any character that he likes. Victoria says that he should be put away and starts to head for the door.

He stops her and says that Victoria saw Mary there, correct? She says yes. He asks where she could have gone. Victoria says that’s what she’s trying to find out. Gregory points out that she could not have gone out of the window, she could not have gone out of the door and there are no secret compartments. He says that what he does is describe Mary into the Dictaphone (snicker) and when he wants her gone (which seems slightly icky) he snips off the piece of tape on which she is described, rolls it into a little ball and throws it into the fire. Now we know why Mary was looking so despondent at the fire earlier. Victoria stares at him for a moment then declares she’s going to have him committed. She goes for the door but he beats her there and grabs the key from the door. She wants to know what exactly he’s doing and he says, very nobly, that he’s trying to save their marriage.

Gregory grabs the Dictaphone and says he can describe any animal or character he wants but he’ll describe Mary as he’s described her so often that she’ll be readily available. “I’ll bet”, chimes in his wife. Then demands the key. While he’s describing Mary and waxing rhapsodic about her his wife snatches the key from his pocket and heads for the door. As Victoria opens the study door Gregory is describing Mary’s actions of coming through the front door. Victoria is startled by hearing the doors open and close exactly as he describes. Although, if he’s trying to convince Victoria that it is ‘magic’ I would think it would be better to have her appear right in the room. Mary comes through the door, pleased at seeing Gregory again. Then she looks at Victoria behind the door and Victoria looks back they both give Gregory a goggle eye look that’s pretty funny. Mary graciously says hello to Mrs. West and the looks they each give Gregory are kind of amusing. Mary looks at him like, “Wtf is going on?” and Victoria seems stunned. Whether from Mary’s visit or from Gregory’s boldness at summoning her there I’m not sure.

Gregory smugly twirls his Dictaphone (snicker, I’m sorry, I can’t help it!) and then plucks the key from Victoria’s hand and asks, “Well?” Mary asks why he’s brought here there, now. She’s still standing in the doorway so he invites her in. So, what? She’a a vampire and a Tulpa? Mary enters and tells Mrs. West that there’s nothing to be afraid of. Victoria isn’t buying it, though. She thinks Gregory is trying to drive her crazy. See? It would have been better for Mary to materialize in front of Victoria. She says he wants to have her committed. He protests that he only did it because she was going to have him committed. She says he wants to have her committed so he can hare their property with this…this…and makes a couple of wild gestures at Mary. Mary asks if this is why he called her there, just to show Victoria? She looks pretty bummed and I don’t blame her. I also feel bad for Victoria. Technically (I suppose) cheating with your imagination isn’t technically cheating but if that ‘fantasy’ is turned into a full-blown woman then there’s some ethical gray areas there that are somewhat uncomfortable. To me at least. Plus, Gregory is so damned smug about it that I kind of hope the Mrs. and the Mistress run off together, leaving Gregory to play with his Dictaphone alone.

Gregory asks Mary to try to understand, after all, Victoria is his wife. She says “Not anymore I’m not!” not after the diabolical plot against her to gaslight her. He asks Victoria that she couldn’t possibly believe that he wants Mary (right in front of Mary, ouch). Victoria says yes and heads for the door. Gregory says here we go again and rushes to lock the door. Although I’m not sure when he got the key back. Victoria took it and opened the door and I don’t recall him getting it back. Must have been Plot Magic. He locks the door and Victoria demands to be let out. Gregory goes to his Dictaphone to snip his tape. Mary says, “Again? Why does he do this to her?” I kind of want to hug her. She looks so sad. I’d hug Victoria also but she seems much more self-confident. Greg just keeps saying, “What else can I do?” and she replies that that’s all he ever says.

Gregory is a bit angry at Victoria for making him summon Mary just to make her leave again. Just to prove that he’s telling the truth. Mary begs Greg to not bring her back again, please. It hurts her every time he makes her leave. Poor Mary. Gregory says, blah blah, Victoria is my wife. Then tosses the Mary tape in the fire, where it It poofs into a shower of sparks. Would celluloid do that? I would think it would just melt.

Mary slowly fades from sight. Right in front of Victoria. Victoria is confounded and keeps asking where Mary went and Gregory just keeps saying “I told you”. Gregory says he ‘uncreated’ Mary. Victoria says “Oh, dear” and rubs her eyes. Gregory comes to her and puts his arms around her and says he will never do it again. The first time he did it he did it because he was lonely. He tells Victoria that she’s flawless, impeccable and he felt inferior. Well, goodness knows you can’t talk about that with your wife! As he’s pouring out his excuses, er, feelings, Victoria sneaks the key from his pocket again. He says he didn’t create Mary to hurt Victoria’s feelings. He just wanted someone he felt more comfortable with. and since all we have seen of Mary is that she serves him drinks, calls him Master, and only wants to be by his side then I guess the only kind of woman he feels comfortable with is one whom isn’t above or an equal to him but adores him.

Victoria gives a very insincere “Awww” as Gregory goes on with his woes. He asks if she understands and she says oh yes, in the tone of someone humouring a lunatic. He says he guesses that it’s his own fault…but trails off when he sees Victoria has moved toward the door. He asks what she’s doing and she responds that she’s going for the nearest lawyer and don’t try to stop her. She’s going to have him put away for the rest of his unnatural life. Shetells him that she’s going to live in perfect harmony in this house, away from him and his Dictaphone. “No, Victoria!” “Yes, Victoria” she replies. I rather like Victoria. She’s witty and (for the time, I’m guessing) quite stylish. I do like Mary also, but she brings out sympathy rather than applause.

She stops outside the door and hears him Dick-tating into his recorder that a large, red-eyed elephant is standing in the hall and will not let her pass. why the red eyes? I think an elephant in the hallway would be startling enough. She yells through the door at Gregory to not be ridiculous. But when she turns around there, indeed, is an elephant in her way. It’s black and white film so I can’t tell if it’s eyes are red or not. Victoria is duly shocked and screams.

She whips back into the study and to give the actress credit, it does not appear to be an integrated scene so I give her props for being that close to an elephant in a closed in area. Gregory looks quite pleased with himself. She calms herself quickly and asks Gregory, politely, if he will please remove the elephant from her hallway? He teasingly asks if she will stay and she nods. You hear one last trumpet that is quickly cut off when Gregory snips the tape and chucks it into the fire. Poor Mumbo. Victoria peeks back out to check to see if the elephant is really gone. She sees nothing but an empty hall. Then, oddly, she calls him stark, staring, raving mad. Um, you just saw an elephant in the hall and he’s the crazy one?

I think part of why Gregory rubs me the wrong way (besides the obvious) is he seems so damn smug about it. He tells her with a very creepy smile that she should not say those kinds of things. Then he asks if she’ll stay. She tells him that she’s leaving and turns to go. He threatens her with the elephant again and she stops and says that she’ll stay…for now. She says, though, that the first chance she gets she’ll see that he gets put away. He throws up his hands and says, “I know, There’s nothing else to do then.” He goes to the bookshelf and moves some fake books to reveal a safe. Which is freaking cool. And I must admit that I’m jealous. I’ve always wanted an honest to goodness library, complete with the cool rolling ladder. His isn’t quite that grand, however. She asks how long that’s been there and he says since they were married.

He takes out an envelope with the name ‘Victoria West’ on the front. She asks him what it means. He opens it and pulls out some tape, hinting that Victoria herself is a creation of his. He wants to know whether he should put it back in the safe or throw it on the fire? Which I think he means in a divorce sense but it sounds rather like a death threat. She, of course, does not believe him. I will say that she seems a little thick-headed by now. Even if she could pass off Mary disappearing as a trick how in the heck does she explain the elephant? He tells her to look at herself. Beautiful and regal and could have any man in the world she wanted. Hasn’t she ever wondered what she’s doing with him? She gives a nod. He tells her that she is everything he used to think he wanted in a wife.

Victoria asks if this is another of his tawdry little tricks. He asks why does she think he was upset that she came back early? It wasn’t because of Mary but  because it was the first time Victoria had done so against his will. The very first time. She wants to know if he thinks he’s frightening her. He says no, she’s beyond that, he made her too strong. He says he forgot to add a little human frailty. He says he’ll put the envelope back into the safe. She snatches it from his hand and asks him if he’d like to know what she thinks of his foolishness? Then she flings the envelope into the fire. He freaks out and tries to grab it out. She looks rather pleased with herself. But as she walks away she feels strange and says “Oh, Greg”.  She feels so strange and is now asking him if he means to tell her that he was telling her the truth? Um, yeah? The elephant didn’t convince you? Then she disappears.

Gregory mutters to himself that he warned her, he told her, and rushes to the Dictaphone. He starts to recreate Victoria but changes his mind. Then he decides to leave “well enough alone” and begins creating Mary again. Except that now she is Mrs. Mary West. So, how long before you get tired of Mary and create another woman? As he walks around with the Dictaphone I kind of wish he would trip over the cord.

SERLING:
We hope you enjoyed tonight’s romantic story on the Twilight Zone.

SERLING:
At the same time we want you to realize that it was, of course, purely fictional. In real life such nonsense could never…

Gregory: Rod!

Gregory clucks his tongue and says “You shouldn’t say that. I mean, you shouldn’t say such things as ‘nonsense’ and ‘ridiculous’.”

As he speaks he pulls an envelope from the safe marked ‘Rod Serling’, pulls some tape from it and tosses it on the fire.

SERLING:
Well, that’s the way it goes…

Gregory sits back on the couch to take his martini glass from the new Mrs. Mary West. I can’t help but wonder if anyone has cleaned up the broken glass yet.

SERLING:
Leaving Mr. Gregory West, still shy, quiet, very happy and, apparently in complete control of the Twilight Zone.


This is a somewhat different Twilight Zone. Very meta for it’s time and Serling actually looks happy and relaxed. I can’t help but think if this was Rod thumbing his nose a bit at the studios since I’m sure they wished they could get rid of him just as easily. It also has a weird vibe to it. Slightly comedic and slightly off-putting. One more thing that makes it stand out. Mostly the hapless people that get caught up in the Twilight Zone have no choice in the matter. They are stuck there until either failure or rescue. Not Gregory, apparently.


So ends Season One of The Twilight Zone. Stay tuned next week for Season Two’s first episode: King Nine Will Not Return

I’m quite excited to be moving on to season two as seasons two, three and four have some of the best episodes ever aired on television.