Twilight Zone Tuesday – Long Distance Call

Long Distance Call

Chris Bayles – Philip Abbot
Sylvia Bayles – Patricia Smith
Billy Bayles – Bill Mumy
Grandma Bayles – Lili Darvas
Mr. Peterson – Reid Hammond
The Babysitter – Jenny Maxwell
The Doctor – Henry Hunter
The Fireman – Lew Brown
Narrator – Rod Serling

Trigger Warning:

Spoiler Tidbit
Death, funerals, near child death, drowning (off-screen)[, life support equipment on a child /su_spoiler]

A man is helping his elderly mother down the stairs. Apparently she is ill as he insists that after the birthday party is over she needs to go right back upstairs. She says of course, she always follows the rules of the house…except when she doesn’t agree with them. She looks a little faint and he takes her arm to lead her into the dining room.

In the dining room a little boy is fiddling with something on the table and his mom puts a party hat on him. When his grandma comes in he runs to her and gives her a big hug. She calls him her angel and picks him up. Her son scolds her for doing so. He tells her that the doctor told her not to exert herself. She says she’s not exerting herself, that Billy is as light as a feather. Chris’ wife, Sylvia, asks him to get the lights so they can light the cake. Grandma sits down with Billy on her lap and tells him not to open his eyes until she says. The cake comes and Billy blows out the candles (five of them). Grandma asks if he made a wish and he nods. She asks to hear it and he whispers it in her ear. Sylvia asks Billy if they can all hear his wish but Grandma says no, it’s their secret. Chris gives Sylvia a “what can you do?” look. The look she gives back seems a trifle more…annoyed.

Grandma pulls the cake over and begins to cut it. Chris suggests letting Sylvia cut it but Grandma isn’t having that. She starts cutting it. Billy takes too big of a bite and icing squishes out of his mouth. Grandma’s on it, though. Wiping his mouth and calling him her love and her angel. He’s not a freaking toddler. She says her heart is full and she wants to make a speech. She goes on to say how much she loves Billy and how when he held his hands out to her he made her feel alive. She gets a little teary and Billy wants to know why she’s crying. She says she doesn’t know, probably because she won’t be there very much longer. Mom does not look happy and I really can’t say I blame her. Billy wants to know why and she says she’s going to be away. Billy wants to know where. Dad breaks in and says nowhere, Grandma’s going to be right there next year. Grandma says not to lie to him, she’ll be gone. Uh maybe they just don’t want to talk to him about it right then.

Dad grabs Billy up to take him into the other room. Mom starts to say something to Grandma but notices that Grandma’s out of breath. She asks if Grandma’s all right. Grandma says yes but I’m guessing not. She also looks weirdly happy about it. In the other room Billy has opened a present. A cap gun (I hope it’s a cap gun, anyways). His mom starts to hand him another present but Grandma calls Billy over to open her present. Mom looks annoyed. I can’t say I blame her. She literally waited for the Mom to hand Billy one to call him over. Billy unwraps it and it’s a telephone. Grandma says it’s for her and Billy. So they can talk at any time, even when she’s not there. They then pretend to talk for a minute on it. Grandma starts to get up but doesn’t feel well. She asks her son to take her upstairs now. Billy asks if she wants to play. Grandma tells him to talk to her on the phone, she’ll hear him. As Chris helps her from the room Billy says into the phone “Please don’t be sick, grandma”.

As must be obvious this is a house hovered over by Mr. Death. That omnipresent player to the third and final act of every life. And its been said, and probably rightfully so, that what follows this life is one of the unfathomable mysteries. An area of darkness which we, the living, reserve for the dead. Or so it is said. For in a moment, a child will try to cross that bridge which separates light and shadow. And, of course, he must take the only known route, that indistinct highway through the region we call the Twilight Zone.

Upstairs a doctor is checking out Grandma and down below Chris is pacing and they’re all waiting for the doctor to come down. Billy wants to see his Grandma but his mom tells him that he can’t at the moment, she’s not feeling well. The doctor finally comes down and shakes his head at Chris. The doctor says she isn’t in any pain and Chris asks if they can see her. The doctor doesn’t suggest it because he says she might not know who they are. Chris says they’ll know her. Billy wants to go and Chris tries to explain what’s going on. at first he says no but Billy starts to cry so the dad says ok and picks him up to take upstairs. Chris tells him that if Grandma acts a little strangely that it’s just because of the medicine. Then they go up to see her.

Grandma’s laying in bed and Billy runs to her. She knows him. When Chris says hello, though, she doesn’t know him. Well, she sort of does. She says he’s not her son because her son was taken away from her by a woman. Ouch. Billy’s her son now. Mom looks like she’s about to get into it with Grandma over that. Deathbed or not I kind of understand that. She says she’ll be lonely and she wants Billy to come with her. Billy asks where and she just says away. She wants for it to just be her and Billy, no one else. Ok, because that’s not creepy. In the middle of this Grandma passes away. After Sylvia takes Billy out of the room Chris grieves for his mother by himself for a moment.

The next scene is a very peaceful looking pond with some flowers floating in it. And Billy bent over, seemingly staring into the water. His mother comes out and asks if he heard her calling him. He says no and then she scolds him a bit for playing so close to the pond. Inside the house Chris is going through his mother’s jewelry and stuff. Not in a nasty, greedy way. Sylvia sends Billy upstairs so she can talk to Chris. He asks what’s wrong and she says she’s worried about Billy. He’s been walking around like he’s in a trance. Chris says that’s not too surprising, she knows how close they were. She says she knew, in a weird voice. Chris wants to know what that’s about. Sylvia says they were too close. It wasn’t normal. Then she repeats what is bothering her. That Grandma called Billy her son. Chris says she didn’t mean it. Sylvia doesn’t buy that, neither do I. Sounded to me like she knew exactly what she was saying. He says no, she was full of sedatives and dying. Sylvia apologizes. She says they’re all upset today.

Sylvia walks off and picks up Billy’s suit coat from where he dropped it. As she does she hears Billy talking. He’s asking someone to come over and play. He goes on to talk about lunch and asks if it’s cold there. Sylvia asks who he’s talking to and Billy says that he’s talking to Grandma. Grandma wants him to come stay with her. Billy asks if he can. To which I would give a hearty “Hell no!” Sylvia doesn’t answer but she looks at the telephone in a scared way.

The next scene Sylvia and Chris are returning from the funeral, looks like. As they walk in the door Shirley, the babysitter, calls for Mrs. Bayles and she says to hold on a second. She asks Chris if he’d like to be alone but he says that’s the last thing he wants. Sylvia says ok, she’ll go make some coffee. Sylvia goes in to where Shirley is waiting nervously. As she starts to talk to Sylvia a man gets up from the couch and says he hates to bother them right now, the babysitter told him about the funeral. Sylvia wants to know what’s going on and the man says it’s about her son. This freaks Sylvia out (naturally) and she looks at Shirley. Shirley says that Billy is ok, she put him down for a nap. She says she’s not, she’s been shaking for the last twenty minutes. The man starts yelling at them about Billy playing in the streets. Sylvia goes to check on Billy. Chris says that Billy doesn’t play in traffic and Shirley says she knows that, that’s why she didn’t say anything when Billy went out to play. The man breaks in saying that Billy played in the streets today, he didn’t even have time to put on his brakes and barely missed Billy by inches. Shirley says it wasn’t her fault and Chris says he knows, it wasn’t anybody’s fault. I have to disagree. Shirley was supposed to be watching Billy so she should have been keeping an eye on him. I get the guy being scared and irritated but what does he expect to get from going in there and yelling at them? They obviously weren’t there. Unless he didn’t trust the babysitter to tell the parents.

Billy’s upstairs, not sleeping, but when his mom peeks in at him he acts like he is. He seems to be waiting. Downstairs the guy who almost hit Billy is getting ready to leave. As he’s putting his coat on he tells Chris that he’d better have a talk with his son. Chris wants to know why. The guy says that when he saw Billy was all right he asked Billy why he would do something like that. Billy told him that someone told him to. Chris thinks that’s ridiculous and asks the man if Billy told him who told him to do that. The man says Billy didn’t say. Shirley breaks in and says that she would never tell Billy to do something like that. Sylvia wants to know who else Billy talked to. Shirley says he didn’t talk to anyone, just stayed in his room talking on the toy phone. Sylvia freaks out and calls Chris to go upstairs with her. Chris apologizes to the man and the man says don’t apologize, just be glad the boy’s safe. Chris goes upstairs, Shirley’s still hanging out downstairs.

When Chris gets upstairs Sylvia is listening at the door to Billy talking to someone. Chris goes in. He asks Billy about the street incident and why he did it. Billy says he doesn’t know. Sylvia asks who he was talking to. Billy says nobody. Sylvia tells him not to fib and asks him again who he was talking to. Billy insists that he wasn’t talking to anyone. She gets a little radical and asks again…vehemently. Upset, she leaves the room. After she leaves Billy asks Chris if Mommy doesn’t like him anymore. Chris says of course she does. Chris says she’ just upset. Then he tells Billy that Grandma didn’t go away. She died, so she won’t be coming back. Chris tells Billy that he knows Billy is just pretending to talk to Grandma but he wants Billy to not do it in front of his mother. Billy asks why not. Chris tries to come up with an answer but ends up with “just don’t”. After he leaves the room he listens at the door for a minute but doesn’t hear anything. Then he looks irritated and walks away. After he does Billy, talking on the phone, says something about his Mommy.

In the evening Chris is smoking moodily by the window. Sylvia asks him to talk to her. He says that funerals suck. He’d rather have remembered his mother the way she was. He goes on to say that he knows it’s been a little hard on Sylvia but his mother never meant any harm. Sylvia half-heartedly agrees. Chris insists it’s true. He says that the two children his mother had before him, she lost. He was all she had. Sylvia says “Until Billy”. He says to her Billy was him, a chance to go back. Chris says that he realizes that it wasn’t right or fair to Sylvia. But she did it out of love.  Well, then that makes it ok. You’re right. It’s not fair to your wife. When he says she did it out of love Sylvia says love for whom? Chris gets annoyed and she apologizes but yeah, I think ‘Grandma’ was being pretty damn selfish. They snog and make up and go to bed.

Over in Billy’s room it sounds like Grandma is telling Billy the story of Peter Pan. Hmm. I think we can see where this is going. After the snog Chris and Sylvia are asleep in their chaste twin beds. Sylvia wakes up to Billy giggling. Billy’s talking on the phone, saying something will be their secret and asking if he can have a chocolate bar. Sylvia yanks it from his hand and listens for a second, then she screams and drops the phone. Billy freaks out about his phone. Chris hears from the bedroom and goes running to see what’s wrong. Chris rushes into Billy’s room. Billy is still freaking out about his phone and Sylvia is hyperventilating. Chris grabs her and asks what’s wrong. Sylvia says that she heard Chris’ mother. She says she didn’t hear words but she heard her breathing. Chris tells Sylvia to snap out of it and Billy runs out the door.

They look for him and find him in the pond. Chris pulls him out. The ambulance comes and the EMT’s have him on a respirator (or CPR machine, I’m not sure what it is…something to help him breathe, anyways). Sylvia says that she took him. The Grandmother took him. Chris tells her not to say that but she does. And then he tries to put his hand over her mouth in a really awkward way that looks like he’s smooshing her face. Sylvia starts to cry. Chris leaves her for a minute and asks he EMT’s what Billy’s chances are. The EMT looks awkward and says that they’re not good. He says if they’d gotten there a little sooner then maybe it would have been better. He tells Chris that the doctor will be there soon and he’ll give Chris’ wife a sedative. Chris looks at his wife for a second.

He goes upstairs and looks at the telephone. He picks up the phone and starts to talk to his mother. He tells her that she said she loved Billy. He begs her to give him back if she really loves him. He pleads with her, saying that Billy hasn’t lived yet. this is actually a very well-written, well-acted part. and  love that they have the father begging for his child back. You don’t see that much. It’s usually the mother. The actor also plays it perfectly. I have to admit, this scene is one of the few Twilight Zones that make me tear up. The mother’s mile-long stare is also pitch perfect.

Downstairs the EMT’s are fiddling with the gauges saying they’ve got him. The EMT says he doesn’t know how but they got him back. Sylvia calls for Chris. They embrace happily and shocked at the same time.

A toy telephone, an act of faith, a set of improbable circumstances, all combine to probe a mystery to fathom the depth, to send a facet of light into a dark after-region. To be believed or disbelieved depending on your frame of reference. A fact or a fantasy, a substance or a shadow but all of it very much a part of the Twilight Zone.

This episode was a difficult one for me. I don’t like how much the media uses child death to boost its stories or for shock value or cheap emotion manipulation. in particular, drowning seems to be a ‘popular’ accident, as well. I’m cutting Twilight Zone some slack because it is older and they don’t use it very much. The Grandmother also is very grating.

I’m pretty sure that the boy who plays Billy in this episode is the same kid who has the unfortunate tendency to send people into the cornfield.

Next week’s episode is a great one so stay tuned!

Join us again for next week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday – A Hundred Yards Over the Rim

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Prime Mover

Prime Mover

Ace Larson – Dane Clark
Jimbo Cobb – Buddy Ebsen
Kitty Cavanaugh – Christine White
Big Phil Nolan – Nesdon Booth
Sheila – Jane Burgess
Narrator – Rod Serling

We see the Happy Daze Cafe from the outside. A few people can be seen through the glass front. Even though it’s a diner, I feel like the Happy Daze Cafe should refer to a bar. Well, they do have cold beer, ham & eggs & french fries for eighty four cents, burgers for thirty cents and hamburger steak for sixty five cents. Man, with our paychecks now we’d be, if not millionaires, incredibly well off. A trucker is sitting at the counter and a young, dark-haired lady is pouring him some coffee. Another man looks up when the fourth man starts talking. Ace pops into the scene cajoling his sweetheart. He says he’s her lover boy and they’ve been through thick and thin together and he’s been real good to ‘her’. He says he fed her, took care of her so it’s time to start paying off. Just when you’re getting creeped out and disgusted it is revealed that the gal he’s sweet-talking is a slot machine. He puts his quarter in and closes his eyes when he pulls the handle. The counter lady (Kitty) rolls her eyes as the bars come up as a loss. He pulls out another quarter saying this time it better pay up or it’s out of there. He quickly says he’s just kidding. Wouldn’t want to hurt its feelings now, would we? I think that he and Franklin would get along great. Another coin, another loss. He asks Kitty for another quarter. The trucker at the counter tells Ace he ought to slow down, he’ll blow a gasket.

Ace offers to flip the man for the burger. The trucker tells Ace he must like getting kicked around. Ace tells him to never mind what he likes. Are they on? The trucker agrees and Ace demands a quarter from Kitty again. She starts to say something but he just demands the quarter in a snippy voice. He thinks that he can’t lose forever. Yeah, just keep thinking that dude. Ace does the flip and guess who wins? The trucker says thanks! It must be a lucky quarter and he snags it from Ace. Which seems a little jerkish but Ace did bet double or nothing. The guy plugs it into the machine and hits the jackpot. And, to be fair, the guy gives Ace his quarter back and tells him thanks without rubbing it in. Ace gets pissed at the machine and kicks it. Jimbo says that Ace’s luck will change sometime. Ace replies that yeah, he’ll probably get electrocuted next time.

While Ace is grumping around, Kitty is putting on her coat and heading for the door. He asks where she’s going. She’s going home to bed, does he have a problem with that? He chills out and says no an he wouldn’t be surprised if she quit. She says that she’s not going to…he owes her three months salary. Umm, I think I’d still quit and get my pay. However, methinks she has another reason for sticking around. As Kitty leaves, Jimbo asks Ace when he and Kitty are going to get married. Ace says what can they get married on? Jimbo says that he has a little saved up and they could use that but Ace thinks that a little is not enough to get married on. Why not? You don’t need to spend a gajillion dollars on a wedding. He says a girl like Kitty deserves the best and the best doesn’t come cheap.

As they’re talking they hear a screech of tires outside. They look in time to see a car roll over across the street and crash into a big electrical thing, throwing up sparks. They run out to help but the electricity is making the car untouchable. Ace says there’s people inside and wants Jimbo to help. Well of course there’s people inside! The car didn’t drive itself. Jimbo doesn’t move but gets a really weird look on his face. At first he looks like he’s concentrating really hard. Then he looks constipated. The car moves by itself and rolls off of the electricity. Ace looks surprised and Jimbo looks tired.

A portrait of a man who thinks and thereby gets things done. Mr. Jimbo Cobb might be called a Prime Mover. A talent which has to be seen to be believed. In just a moment he’ll show his friends, and you, how he keeps both feet on the ground and his head in the Twilight Zone.

Jimbo’s laying on a bed, rubbing his head. Ace comes into the room and says that the people in the car are going to be ok, just a few broken bones. Then he asks Jimbo how he did it. Jimbo tries to play dumb but Ace wants to know. Jimbo tells him to leave it alone and Ace gets pissy and tells him to keep his secrets, he doesn’t care. Jimbo relents and says he’ll tell him. Jimbo says he can’t explain it very well but it’s a power. He can move things around by thinking about it. Ace is a bit dumbfounded so Jimbo says that he knows it sounds dumb but he can. He doesn’t know how or why but he can. Ace asks how long he’s been able to do it. Jimbo says that for a long time he thought that it was something everyone could do. Ace wants to know why he hasn’t seen him do it before. Jimbo says it used to get him in trouble at school  and stuff so he gave it up. It also started to give him very bad headaches, like the one he’s got now.

Ace is all excited and wants to know if Jimbo can do it again, like now? Apparently Jimbo rubbing his head and neck and saying he gets headaches. Ace don’t care though and he pulls Jimbo off the bed and asks him to do something with it.  So Jimbo lifts it and Ace is amazed. He asks Jimbo if he could move something a little smaller, like a quarter? Jimbo says sure, the smaller the easier. Ace asks Jimbo to flip it to heads and Jimbo does. This gives Art an idea and he has Jimbo roll some dice. Ace is super psyched and he calls Jimbo a big dummy. They’re busting their humps in the diner every day when they could e getting rich. Jimbo wants to know how. Ace doesn’t answer him but calls Kitty and tells her to get ready for a trip, don’t pack, just get ready.

And boom, we’re in Vegas. On a side note my grandpa used to go to Vegas every year in the spring. The Golden Nugget and Stardust were his favorites. He also brought back a hat one time…imagine my surprise later when I found out it was a strip club…

Ace, Jimbo and Kitty are all at the roulette table. Ace bets a hundred and Kitty freaks out, saying that’s all they have. Ace tells her not to worry. The ball goes and Jimbo makes it land on the right number. He spreads out the winnings and Kitty again tells him to chill out out he again tells her that it’s ok. Jimbo once again helps. They hit casino after casino, raking in the dough using Jimbo’s power. Apparently they didn’t let Kitty in on it because she’s worried that Ace’s luck will change and he’ll go bust. He says they’ve got a system and not to worry. Jimbo breaks in to say that he’s got to take a break, his head’s killing him. At first Ace wants to keep going but then he realizes that maybe they shouldn’t push Jimbo’s talent too much. He cashes their chips out. As he is a cigar/cigarette girl comes over. Ace scoops up a handful of cigars and throws her a hundred. She says she can’t cash a bill that big but he says keep it. Kitty looks a little disgusted and Jimbo looks tired. Apparently they’ll just hand you cash in boxes when you cash out large sums. Is this accurate? That can’t be safe. Ace yanks Jim off the couch and they head up to their room.

It’s a very large room. Jimbo just wants to sleep, he’s very tired but Ace wants to go out and party. Kitty says that she’ll see them tomorrow. Ace gives Jimbo a head massage and has Kitty get him some aspirin. Jimbo says that he can’t do it anymore, that it isn’t right because it’s cheating. Ace says fine, they’ll quit. Jimbo asks if he means it and Ace says sure. After one more time. Jimbo says fine, one more time. He takes an aspirin and he lays down to rest his head. Ace grabs Kitty and says they’re going to go out and have some fun. Kitty wants him to stop though, she’s worried that the luck will run out and why can’t he be happy with all of the money that he’s made? Ace says that it’s not enough and by tomorrow he’ll have enough money to buy the state. Aceville, USA. Kitty She’s having none of it. She says she’s going home and look her up when he’s done playing Ceaser. Ace wants to know wht her problem is. Jimbo says that he’s been ignoring her all night. Ace says he’s been busy. Jimbo says a man should never be that busy and Kitty’s worth more than any money and urges Ace to go after her.

He catches up to Kitty but she hasn’t changed her mind. If he’s going to gamble the next day then she’s out of there. She leaves and Ace looks bummed for about two seconds. The cigar/cigarette girl asks if anything’s wrong with a pouty little expression. He asks her name and she says it’s Sheila. He asks how she’d like to come work for him? She rolls her eyes and says doing what? he wants her to help him spend some money. She doesn’t believe him but he hands her a grand and says it’s a down payment. She takes it and asks when he wants her to start. He says right now and she whips off her box of goodies. Her boss comes over and wants to know if there’s a problem. Ace says no, he’s buying the girl for the night, oh, sorry “hiring” her for the night and hands the boss a wad of bills. Ace asks the manager who the biggest whale in town is. No limits. The guy thinks for a minute then says Mr. Phil Nolan. Ace wants Phil to call him at the hotel and bring plenty of money. Ace goes back to his cigarette homey and she says she’s ready to go but she wants to get dressed first. Ace says ok but not too much. Ew.

The next morning the phone rings. Jimbo floats it over to the bed and answers it. It’s Mr. Nolan for Ace. He tells Mr. Nolan that he’s got two hundred grand and wants a game. You’re lucky Mr. Nolan doesn’t just show up with a shotgun and take your money. Jimbo is a bit leery. He asks if Mr. Nolan is from Chicago and asks if he’s a gangster. ace says yeah but so what? They have a code of honour. Uh huh.  Every single one of them. While Ace cleans up Jimbo asks him about Kitty but Ace just shrugs him off. Jimbo looks a bit worried.

Mr. Nolan shows up with some other guys and ask to see the money. Ace orders breakfast while he’s counting it and asks if Nolan’s boys want something. They don’t eat. Ever. They start off with ten grand. Ace starts to roll but Nolan suggests they use his dice. i think either way is unfair. They should call the casino for some dice that are more likely to be untainted. Ace says fine, they’ll use Nolan’s dice. They roll, Jimbo helps. The usual. Ace is pretty stupid. He should lose occasionally, it would look less suspicious. Nolan does get suspicious and grabs the dice to double check that they’re his. Nolan tells Ace to remember that people only cheat on him once.

After the threatening Sheila comes bouncing in, asking if Ace is ready to go to Lake Meade. the toughs ask who the dame is and Ace says she’s his lucky charm, his shweetheart. They have a snuggle. Jimbo looks very upset. To hurry things up Ace decides to bet it all. Jimbo tries to get his attention but Ace ignores him and asks for the other box of money. Nolan seems hesitant but says that Ace is covered. Ace says he wants an eleven and eyeballs jimbo meaningfully. Jimbo tries to get his attention but Ace ignores him. Ace is all happy but he’s a little premature. He hasn’t looked at the dice which are decidedly not on eleven. Nolan’s thrilled, though. His guys scoop Ace out of the way to scoop up the money. Ace looks stunned.

After the other guys leave Jimbo says that he’s sorry but he tried to tell him. Jimbo says that a fuse must have blown or the power went out because he just couldn’t do it. Ace should have quit while he was ahead. Jimbo asks if Ace is mad at him. Sheila wants to know if they’re still going to Lae Meade. Ace just says that Jimbo blew a fuse. She gets huffy and leaves with a glare for Jimbo. Ace snaps out of it and starts laughing at the blew a fuse. Jimbo, looking a bit relieved, joins in. To give him credit, Ace does not yell at Jimbo or blame him. Which was unexpected. usually they turn into dicks.

Back at the diner some guys are removing the slot machine. They ask Ace if he’s sure he wants to get rid of it and he says, yeah, who needs it? Ace is in a good mood and not as grouchy as he was in the beginning of the episode. After its gone ace starts to ask Kitty something about pooling their money after…will she marry him? Jimbo’s broom falls, startling them. Kitty looks a bit shocked and asks Jimbo if he’s got a quarter. She tells ace to call it. She flips it and he calls ‘Heads’. She peeks at the quarter and then tells Ace, yes, she will marry him. Did you really doubt it? Jimbo goes to grab his broom but remembers that it’s on the floor. He uses his mind powers to pick it up. I don’t blame him. He probably saved Ace’s ass from a dirt nap, eventually.

Some people possess talent, others are possessed by it. When that happens, the talent becomes a curse. Jimbo Cobb knew that right from the beginning. But before Ace Larson learned that simple truth he had to take a trip through the Twilight Zone.

This one is a bit, eh to me. Well, next week’s episode is good and creepy, anyways.

Join us next week for Twilight Zone Tuesday’s episode – Long Distance Call

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Static


Static – Season 2 – Episode 20

Ed Lindsay – Dean Jagger
Vinnie – Carmen Matthews
Professor Ackerman – Robert Emhardt
Roscoe Bragg – Arch Johnson
Mrs. Nielson – Alice Pearce
Miss Meredith – Lillian O’Malley
Mr. Llewellyn – Pat O’Malley
The Boy – Stephen Holt

We slowly move up to what looks like a genteel boarding house with ‘Rooms for Rent’. Inside there’s an assortment of middle aged and above men and women watching tv. The camera comes to rest on two men playing checkers. Sort of. One of them isn’t paying attention and the other man is getting grouchy. Ed finally gets the other’s attention but he moves the wrong colour and goes back to watching tv. Ed wins and then sourly watches everyone else watching tv, The tv is playing an ad for ‘chlorophyll cigarettes’. The smoke that doesn’t smell like smoke but…grass? Hmm, which kind? I wonder if they’re talking about menthols?

Ed gets irritated and wants to know what’s wrong with everyone? Are they hypnotized? A lady on the sofa scolds him and tells him if he doesn’t like it he can ask for another channel. He says forget it but goes to change the channel anyway. He flips through a few stations: a car race, some guy singing “Little Brown Jug” (which everyone disapproves of, at least they disapprove of the way the guy is singing) and a guy selling land for a quarter a week. Ed gets irritated and pokes fun at the television commercial before heading down to the basement, muttering to himself. As he digs through the junk in the basement he comes across a picture of a young man and woman. It makes him smile for a minute and the lady looks suspiciously like a younger version of one of the ladies upstairs. A kid is looking through the mesh of the basement window (wouldn’t that flood?) and asks Ed what he’s got there? Ed says it’s a radio and the kid asks him what it does. Well, he does know what a radio does but he’s never seen one like the one Ed is picking up (remarkably easily for how big it is).

No one ever saw one quite like that, because that’s a very special sort of radio. In its day, circa 1935, its type was one of the most elegant consoles on the market. Now, with its fabric-covered speakers, its peculiar yellow dial, its serrated knobs, it looks quaint and a little strange. Mr. Ed Lindsay is going to find out how strange very soon. When he tunes into the Twilight Zone.

The boy is helping Ed take the radio up the stairs. The Professor asks what he’s got there and the lady from the photograph bounces down the stairs to look at it. She says she remembers it but she thought he’d thrown it out. Ed replies that he’s never thrown anything away that was worth keeping. From the look she gives him I’m guessing that there was at least one thing he threw away that he should have kept.

The Professor asks if Ed needs any help but Ed rudely refuses him saying he “doesn’t want to disturb him”. He and the boy cart it upstairs while the Professor watches. Upstairs Ed plugs the radio in and the boy asks Ed if he thinks it will still work. Ed turns it on and rock music plays. The boy likes it and strts snapping his fingers. Stop. I’m getting Spiderman 3 flashbacks. Annoyed, Ed shoves some money in the kid’s hand and tells him to get lost. Go buy a switchblade. Seriously. That’s what he says. Not even a thank you. After the kid leaves Ed is happy to be alone with his radio. So happy that he immediately starts fiddling with his knobs. He gives it a whack and the radio begins playing big band music. The song ends and the DJ says thank you to Tommy Dorsey and exhorts the listeners to listen to the applause. Ed, comfy on his bed with a book claps along. Up next is Major Bowes and his Amateur Hour. After the speaker is done, however, the radio goes to static. He whacks the radio again and gets a modern station. This displeases him and he whacks it again until he gets a good station from the past.

Somebody knocks on the door and Ed is irritated. He opens it and it’s the woman from earlier, Vinnie. He charmingly asks her what she wants. She tells him cheerfully that dinners ready. He says he’s not hungry but apparently Mrs. Nielson does not approve of boarders skipping meals. I noticed that was a big thing back in the day. A lady who owned a boarding house was rated on the table she kept. Whether she was stingy or not. If you’ll forgive a bit of an aside there were a couple that stuck out to me. One in a story called ‘The Hall Bedroom’ by Mary E. Wilkins Freeman the renter of said hall bedroom (which apparently was disgraceful for some reason?) comments that the lady who runs the house is conscientious about keeping a good table and giving her renters their money’s worth rather than try to scrape a bit more off the top by feeding them at little cost. The other was in True Grit (the John Wayne one, not the remake). When the hunky, aptly named La Boeuf (they invariably pronounce it La Beef in the movie and isn’t ‘La’ the feminine form? It’s been a while since French class). Anywho, during the dinner scene La Beef compliments the lady of the house on her dinner and one of the other diners tells him to be careful, the chicken and dumplings will hurt his eyes. La Beef asks how and the other boarder jokes that he’ll hurt his eyes looking for the chicken. LaBeef just gives him a withering look (and it does seem like a lame joke since at that moment La Beef is pulling a huge chicken leg out of the pot (with his bare fingers…ick).

Well, that was fun but back to Ed and his not-so-fun bitchiness. He turns off his radio and whips over to the ever-patient (and ever-awesome) Vinnie. Later I’ll tell you why I like her so much, apart from this episode. He says women have always been running his life (hahahaha, in between the thirties and fifties? Whatever.) “Do this, do that. Come to dinner, don’t come to dinner”. Vinnie breaks in and says, “Frankly Mr. Lindsay I don’t care whether you starve to death. I just wants to make sure it’s on purpose and not because you’d forgotten that food is available.” To which I say, “So there!” She stomps off as he says he’s not quite that old yet.

Downstairs Ed is being terribly rude and humming at the table. Mrs. Nielsen none-so-gently brings it to his attention. Despite the scene upstairs Ed actually seems to be in a good mood while he eats his pudding (so I’m guessing he ate his meat because he’s got his pudding. I’m sorrynotsorry.) The Professor with the pipe asks Ed what he was humming. They both start humming the tune together and get a double disapproval look from Mrs. Nielsen. They identify the song as “Getting Sentimental Over You”. Ed says that he heard it on the radio that afternoon, live from – but the killjoy across the table cuts him off and says he couldn’t have listened to it live because Tommy Dorsey is dead. Ed replies a bit sarcastically and says “You don’t say?” then asks what about Major Bowes and the youngster says he doesn’t know who that is. Ed says that he’s dead too but he heard Tommy Dorsey and Major Dorsey that afternoon on the radio. Smarmy Killjoy, who’s name (appropriately) seems to be Bragg, says it couldn’t be. Ed asks how Bragg can have such a tiny brain but such a big mouth. Bragg gets offended and starts to say something but Mr. Professor breaks in saying that he thinks what Ed is trying to say is that some of the radio stations must have been playing recordings of the shows. Bragg dismisses this saying that they didn’t have tape in those days. No, but they did have phonographs you nimrod. The Professor agrees saying that they had wires and other things back then. Ed throws in that they also had good music back then. And plays that were real magic. Bragg chuckles to himself and says he doubts it. Ed jeers at this (as do I, look up Suspense – Ghost Hunt on YT and you’ll hear a great one). Ed mocks him and says “Mr. Bragg doubts it. Mr. Bragg, who watches tv until his brains turn into oatmeal and his eyes roll down his face into his beer”. That…sounds uncomfortable.

Ed goes off in search of the portable radio because Mr. Bragg is a ‘modern man’ and needs to be proven wrong. Mrs. Nielsen thinks Ed is crazy and turns to Vinnie to say “you were very lucky to not marry that man”. Vinnie takes a sip of her coffee. Vinnie doesn’t say anything, just takes an agitated sip of coffee. Ed brings back the portable radio to teach that whippersnapper Bragg a lesson. Ed can’t find it in a whole three seconds so Bragg laughs at him. Bragg says he can’t wait. Gunsmoke is on in five minutes. Everyone else gets excited and leaves the table. Apparently it’s only polite to ditch the table for television but not to grab a radio. The only people left at the table are Ed, Mr. Professor and Vinnie. Ed says he’s not surprised he can’t pick anything up on such a dinky little radio. Hey, it’s not the size of the radio that counts but the size of the antenna! Mr. Professor asks if Ed can remember the name of the station and Ed replies that he heard the DJ mention a WPDA (WPublicDisplayofAffection?) call sign then suggests they go up to his room to listen. Mr. Professor readily agrees. Making Ed’s earlier “hate to tear you away from the tv” comment earlier even more of a jerk thing to say. Obviously Mr. Professor likes the oldies just as much as Ed. Mr. Professor asks Vinnie to join them, saying that he’d really like to hear that program. Vinnie gives him a smile even though she looked a bit sad before.

Upstairs Ed is trying to get the radio tuned into the same station but not having any luck. Mr. P and Vinnie knock on the door and enter the room. Mr. P is looking somewhat excited and Vinnie looks a little nervous. Ed says he can’t seem to get it tuned in. Mr. P suggests that perhaps they’re having technical difficulties and suggests calling the station. Ed thinks that’s a great idea and rushes off to call. Wow. That’s straight up dedicated! I think I would have just shrugged it off and said let’s try it again tomorrow. Ed is way too excited by this and calls information to get the number for the WPDA station. Good luck with that, buddy. I couldn’t get a business address because apparently the town I was in doesn’t exist….go figure. Ed almost giggles with Mr. P and they reminisce about Major Bowes who says “round and round she goes and where she stops, nobody knows” (is that where that started?). The Information Lady gets back to Ed and he gives a few flat “ohs” before hanging up. Then he goes back to his room. Vinnie is waiting there quietly and Mr. P asks what the lady said. Ed replies that she told him that WPDA has been out of business for 13 years. Mr. P says that maybe he got some cross interference and picked up another state or even another country. Ed says that the DJ specifically said Cedarburg. That doesn’t mean there’s not another Cedarburg somewhere else in the United States. Hell, I just found out a week or so ago that there’s a London, Canada (yeah, Geography was never my strong suit). Vinnie, who has been thumbing through a newspaper says that there’s no listing for them in the paper. Were they actually listed in the paper?

Ed’s a bit flummoxed but doesn’t seem too upset by it. He swears he heard it. Vinnie asks the Professor if it would be so impossible? Mr P says impossible is a dangerous word as what was impossible a few years ago is now commonplace. Mr. P doesn’t say anything rude, or act like Ed is lying. He just calls it highly unlikely and waddles off. As Mr. P is leaving Ed asks what he heard then? Mr. P just says that he can’t say and continues out the door. Vinnie tries to talk to him but Ed goes back to fiddling with his knobs so she leaves him alone and goes after Mr. P. Vinnie asks if he thinks that Ed really heard the programs. Mr. P hesitates a bit and says that he believes that Ed believes he heard them. As they’re talking in the hall Ed tunes in a speech from the White House and the President of the United States…Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He seems about ready to call them back but sits down to listen to the radio.

A day later, I’m assuming. Mr. Professor and Ed kind of wear the same kind of clothes all of the time but Vinnie’s dress is different. Ed comes running i into the tv room to call Mr. P and Vinnie, saying he really has it this time. Bragg pokes fun and says they’ll hear nothing but static. Mrs. Nielsen calls Ed “that poor man, he’s quite gone. Completely psychological”. Vinnie and Mr. P come in but it’s obviously gone again. He says it was Tommy Dorsey again, playing “Getting Sentimental Over You” again. It shows Vinnie again, when he says what music it was. So I’m guessing the song was special to them. And Ed doesn’t think it’s odd that it seems as though it only plays a few specific songs? Ed asks Mr. Professor why he loses it whenever anyone else is around. Mr. Professor tells Ed that he’s sure they’ll hear it soon and leaves Ed and Vinnie alone. Vinnie looks as though she’s hesitant to say something.  Ed sees Vinnie still there and asks what she wants. She says she was hoping they might talk a little.

He says “Talk away but don’t get too close, I might start climbing the walls, barking like a dog” in other words he thinks that she thinks he’s crazy. Vinnie’s had enough, though. She tells him if he’d stop talking she’d tell him what she thinks. He sits. And she starts. She tells him that right now he’s the meanest, sourest, most cantankerous old man in the world.” He says thanks a lot and she replies that she’s not much better. They’ve been ‘living like hermits’ the last twenty years, staring at each other and wondering for the last twenty years what went wrong. He tries to play dumb but she’s not having it. Apparently they were going to get married. He starts to interrupt but she says to cool it, she’s not trying to change anything. She’s just talking.

They met there in the boarding house in 1940 and he proposed to her there. When she wanted to set a date his mother was ill. So they waited until the waiting became too long and it was too late. He starts to interrupt again but she stops him. She says she knows he doesn’t think of her that way now. She’s just a silly woman who watches tv, dyes her hair and grows older. She’s pretty sure he doesn’t even like her anymore. She says they both are what they are. They had their chance and missed it. She says that she’ll tell him one thing that’s true and she knows it’s true. He loved her as much as any man ever loved a woman. She asks if it’s true. With a pained expression he says yes, it was true. She says that now he’s in love with what they might have been. What they could have been. Every time that year would have been their anniversary so every year around that time he gets unhappy. He wants to go back to that time and do it over again. That’s why he keeps hearing that song and those programs. They used to listen to them together. He looks very sad, almost like he’s about to cry and says he’d forgotten. She tells him that when he hears them he feels like a young man again with his whole life ahead of him but it isn’t so. They missed their chance.

He accuses her of saying it’s all in his head. She says that’s not what she thinks at all but he tells her to get out and leave him alone. After he boots her out he turns on his precious radio and there’s a program going about Allen’s Alley in Portland and the senator’s home tonight with his hound dog? Ummkay. Ed grabs some pillows off the bed and relaxes on the floor (but looks very uncomfortable doing so). Whatever he’s listening to he finds insanely funny and I don’t get it. It’s senator Cleghorn and when he eats crackers in bed he only eats Georgia crackers? I dunno, I guess I’m just another young whippersnapper raised on too much tv.

Either way, his pretend radio has got him in a good mood. He brings in the groceries rather cheerfully. Mr. Professor asks if Ed would like to play a game of checkers but Ed says no way! His programs are starting soon. Vinnie asks if he’d like some lemonade bu he says no and asks “What’s that funny looking thing?” about the tv and laughs because that’s jst too darn funny, I guess. He says that when he started listening to radio again he kept wondering about the picture tube but then remembered, it’s all in his head! Imagination is wonderful, you know the rest. Vinnie and Mr. P share an odd look as Ed heads upstairs to listen to his programs. Ed bursts into his room all happy but his radio isn’t there anymore. Mr. P and Vinnie look at each other and Ed calls out “what happened to my radio?” Mr. P goes up to tell him. Apparently they gave it to the junk dealer.

Understandably Ed is very, very unhappy about this. I would be too! I don’t care if they were trying to ‘help’ him, it wasn’t theirs to give away! The next scene is Ed at the junk dealers, place, looking for his radio. He goes and grabs it and starts carting it away. The dealer comes down and they start to argue about it. The dealer says he picked it up that morning but if Ed wants to buy it then he’ll gladly sell it to him. Ed asks how much and the dealer starts going into his spiel. Ed doesn’t care, he just wants to know how much. The guy says ten bucks. Ed hands it over and grabs his precious radio. He also says that it had better still work or its going to cost the junk dealer, it’s going to cost a lot of people (presumably Vinnie and Mr. P)

Fortunately it still works. Ed calls for Vinnie to come up quick, Tommy Dorsey’s on. A much younger Vinnie comes running into the room and the room looks a bit different. Ed has also become a young man, as well. Well, he should be happy. He’s back in The Past. They embrace a PG embrace.

Around and around she goes and where she stops, nobody knows. All Ed Lindsay knows is that he desperately wanted a second chance and he finally got it through a strange and wonderful time machine called a radio.

One of the many Escape to the Past episodes. This one ends a little unclear, though. Is Ed actually in the past? Did he disappear from the future? Is he dead? It doesn’t really say. I guess it’s up to us to decide. It’s also one of the few episodes to not include the Twilight Zone in its outro. I really like the actress that plays Vinnie. I’ve on;y seen her on this and M*A*S*H but she’s great in both episodes. I like her character in this except for that last part. You don’t just give something away that belongs to someone else, no matter how ‘worried’ you are about them. Weirdly though the show seems to lean towards “watching tv for hours makes your brain turn to mush” but staying holed up in your room listening to the radio for hours on end doesn’t. Just because you use your imagination more with a radio the fact is that you’re still sitting by yourself in a room. I don’t see much of a difference.

Join us again for next week’s Twilight Zone Tuesday: Prime Mover

Twilight Zone Tuesday – A Penny for Your Thoughts

A Penny for Your Thoughts

Hector B. Poole – Dick York
Helen Turner – Jane Dayton
E.M. Bagby – Dan Tobin
L.J. Smithers – Cyril Delevanti
Sykes – Hayden Rorke
Jim – James Nolan

Our ‘Everyday Joe (or Hector) of this episode enters a busy city scene amidst the cries of “Papers! Get Your Papers Here!” cries. He buys a paper a flips his coin into the boy’s cigar-box. The newspaper kid thinks it’s awesome but Hector just looks a tad, “Whatever”. As he walks away from the stand someone bumps into Hector. The guy smiles politely but Hector hears, “You miserable, dirty, lowdown”…Hector shakes it off as he walks away. A lady walks near him fixing the relationships in Hollywood hoping for Liz to marry Rock. Presumably Rock Hudson. Another guy rams into Hector. He shakes his head at Hector but his interior monologue says, “Oh, gosh, terribly sorry…if he hits me I’ll die!” Wow. Are you used to getting jacked when you accidentally run into someone? Although I think it’s more to show the difference between thoughts and looks. The first guy looked sorry but was a dick internally. The second guy looked displeased and angry but his interior thoughts were scared.

Not looking, Hector steps out into the street. This seems to be a real problem or Twilight Zone characters. I’m not sure if he actually got hit or i he just fell over. The driver rushes out to help him and says they should get Hector to a hospital but Hector says no, no. He’s good. No broken bones or even any scrapes and scratches. The driver apologizes profusely, even though Hector stepped out in front of him. Inside though, the guy is calling Hector a clumsy fool. Hector wants to know what he said. The guy looks confused and asks Hector if he’s sure he’s alright. As Hector walks away the guy thinks to himself that Hector’s a “Lamebrain and that his asinine jaywalking took ten years off his life”.

Mr. Hector B. Poole, resident of the Twilight Zone. Flip a coin and keep flipping it, what are the odds? Half the time it will come up heads and half the time tails. But in one freakish chance in a million, it’ll land on its edge. Mr. Hector B. Poole, a bright human coin on his way to the bank.

Hector is ten minutes late for work. As he slides into his cubicle we get to see his boos on the phone with his mistress. It sounds like she’s pushing for him to get a divorce but he doesn’t want to because the headlines will say “Prominent banker divorces wife to marry chorus girl”. Headlines? Would the papers care? As the bank prez is about to cajole her into a weekend together instead of marriage Hector comes rushing in, eager to explain why he was late. Apparently he prides himself on his promptness and spotless record. He must because whenever I was late I tried to slide in and hope no one noticed. Mr. Bagby really doesn’t care, though. He’s more anxious to get back to his honey on the phone. Thinking to himself, Bagby says, “If you ruin my weekend I’ll string you up by your thumbs”. Hector asks about the weekend and Bagby starts wondering if Hector knows about Felicia. Hector starts catching on and leaves the office.

He walks around the bank a bit, listening in on people’s thoughts. The bank guard is thinking about baseball. He asks a patron if everything’s ok and the guy smiles and says “Yes, thank you” but inside is wondering if Hector is the “grinning ape that sent him the overdrawn notice”. Hector says no, he works in a different area. I think he’s testing out whether the thought reading is real or not. He goes to listen in on a well-dressed woman fondling a bunch of hundreds. But it’s strangely silent…

He goes to his desk and the lady behind him has some nice thoughts about him. He hears his name but doesn’t immediately look, thinking it’s in his head. Finally he looks up at the speaker. The speaker is introducing a Mr. Sykes of Ajax Cement. I’m curious why Ajax was such a generic name then? Mr. Sykes’ loan has been approved and Hector is to make sure the i’s are dotted, the t’s are crossed and the check is made out. The loan is for $200,000. Quite the sum. Hector asks Mr. Sykes if he’s expanding and Mr. Sykes agrees. Apparently the loan is to be repaid within 90 days. Holy crap. That’s a lot of money to repay in three months. He doesn’t plan on that, though. In his head he’s planning on doubling it at the track enough to keep Ajax out of bankruptcy and repay the loan. Yeeah, good luck with that plan. I’m guessing I know how Ajax got into bankruptcy in the first place. Hector asks what he means by Nimble Runner at 5:1. Mr. Sykes takes offense and Mr. Bagby rushes over to see what the yelling’s about. Hector says that Sykes just told him he’s going to bet the loan. Mr. Sykes warmly refutes this. Bagby ushers Sykes into his office to calm him down and tells Hector that he’ll speak to him later.

He starts hearing a female voice sympathize with him in how he does all of the work but never gets any credit. At first he doesn’t see anyone and starts to eye a bust (statue) suspiciously. Then the lady from earlier, Helen, pops up from where she was watering something. He follows her to the water jug and thanks her for the kind thoughts. As they’re talking, Jim from earlier wanders over and teases Hector about romancing the staff. Then he says, who can blame him? Helen is the prettiest girl in Accounts. In his head though, he says that doesn’t count for much since he hasn’t seen such a collection of beasts since the circus. After more chit-chat with Hector Slimeball Jim thinks to himself that “Helen is probably a ‘tiger’ under the right circumstances”. Ick. Hector is properly grossed out as well and pours his cup of water over Jim’s head. Jim gets riled but gets called away. Helen smiles to herself and says good for you, he certainly had that coming.

After all this Hector goes back to his desk but is tuning into the guy next to him. He appears to be planning on robbing the bank when he leaves this afternoon and jetting to Bermuda. Almost everyone is leaving and as they go out the guard thinks to himself “One more day nearly done and no notches on the gun”. He sounds happy about it, not damn, I didn’t get to use it. Hector asks if he would really use it and the guard says yes, what does hector think he keeps it on his belt for? To hold up his pants? Ok, yes, a belt is used to hold up pants but a holster on a belt with a gun tends to drag them down. I’m only explaining because I was actually asked what that meant. Hector is obviously thinking about the geriatric bank robber.

Hector hurries over to Helen and says he must speak with her. She’s sitting at her desk but urgent speaking requires…standing…I guess. She thinks to herself that she wishes there was somewhere they could talk in private an that Mr. Jones’ office is empty since his transfer. Hector says that’s a great idea! So they haul off to said office. She looks a little be-fluttered. I think she’s hoping for him to ask her out. He lays it out for her, the mind reading and all. He tells her to think something. so she thinks, “This is a strange approach. Why did he wait so long?” He responds that it just happened that morning. He clutches her shoulders to make her believe him (and in the process seems to realize they are very nice shoulders). What is it with desperation and shoulder-clutching? He tells her that someone’s planning on robbing the bank. She says if he knows that then he should do something about it. He’s afraid he might be wrong. He also has that “I just noticed you’re hot” voice. She says he has a responsibility to the bank’s customers. It looks like he might be leaning in for a smooch but jets off to tell Bagby about the incipient robbery. Incidentally, I’m not sure why they bothered to go in the office. As they enter and when he leaves you can see the door doesn’t touch the ground and only comes partway up.

Bagby isn’t happy with Hector and says they lost the Ajax account because of him. He wants to know why Hector has been weird today and wants to know if something’s bothering him. Hector is a bit hesitant to tell Bagby about the robbery. Finally he does tell Bagby that Smithers is planning on robbing the bank. Bagby is a bit hesitant on believing him because Smithers has worked there for eons. Probably literally. Bagby is at first resistant but then, watching Smithers, it comes to mind that the person that usually runs off with the company funds is an old, trusted employee. Bagby tells Hector that he’s a good man and since Bagby seems like an ok boss (a rarity in the Twilight Zone) then something’s going to go wrong with this praise. He does seem to be a douche of a husband though. And, I will point out that thinking a random thought is much different than acting on it. Hector said he wouldn’t have believed it to be possible if he hadn’t ‘heard’ it himself. As they watch Smithers, Hector tells Bagby what Smithers is planning. As they watch we get a riveting account of what Smithers is doing, step-by-step.

After Smithers goes into the vault, Bagby rushes over to inform the guard. As Smithers comes out of the vault the guard grabs his briefcase away from him. Careful! Smithers is old! Hell, he’s practically a mummy, he might break! Smithers wants to know what’s going on. As Bagby is gloating they empty the bag. Even though he hasn’t stolen anything, Smithers does keep some weird stuff in his briefcase. Travel folders, a sandwich and socks. Let’s just hope the socks are clean. Bagby asks where the money is. Smithers, understandably, wonders what in the heck is going on. Bagby looks like a fool and goes after Hector.

Bagby lays into Hector for making him look like a fool. Bagby apologizes handsomely to Smithers and walks over to Hector to say “Poole…” and Hector finishes for him. He’s fired. Ok, so it’s a bit embarrassing but I don’t think it’s firing worthy unless Smithers makes a big deal out of it. Which he doesn’t seem to be. Feeling badly for maligning him, Hector also apologizes profusely to Smithers. After a quick look around Smithers does confess that he does think it and plan it, not always Bermuda. Sometimes he chooses another spot to flee to. But it’s just a dream of his. He wants to know how Hector knew, though. He says he dreams of it but he’ll never go through with it.

As Hector goes over to clean out his desk, Helen tries to comfort him by saying that it doesn’t matter, a man with his abilities…she trails off into thinking “Believing he can read minds, what a strange delusion. But with proper medical care it will go away.” This frustrates Hector and he tells her that it’s not a delusion! She looks startled and he says, “See! I can read your thoughts!” He doesn’t like it. It’s screwed up that day for him and seems…a little dirty, like seeing people with their clothes off. He says that people do things without thinking and also think things they have no intention of doing. He says he’s learned one thing: People are not like you think they are at all.

In the middle of this speech Bagby comes bursting in, glad to have caught Hector before he left. Helen wwalks a few steps away to give them a bit of privacy. Bagby says that Mr. Sykes was just arrested for “gambling with the company funds, I know” finishes Hector finishes for Bagby. Bagby is grateful that the loan hadn’t gone through and offers Hector his old job back. Helen thinks at Hector: “If he really can hear her then he’s wasted in that job. Everyone knows that he should be in charge of the Accounts section”. And he should be moved into Mr. Jones’ old office. Bagby starts to put up some resistance but looks at his watch and thinks of his honey waiting for him. He tries to contain a rather creepy smile as he thinks what a wonderful weekend it’s going to be. Ugh. Helen is giving some mental moral support during this conversation. Hector says they should go into Bagby’s office to talk ‘business’.

Bagby wants to know what kind of business. Hector says the business Hector says the business of Felicia and his wife. Hector says he knows all about it. This catches Bagby’s attention. He immediately gives in and gives Hector a promotion and begs Hector not to say anything. Seeing Smithers’ desk however, Hector makes one more demand. At the bank’s expense he wants to buy Smithers a round trip to Bermuda. Bagby reluctantly agrees. I think after everything was carried through I would still drop an anonymous tip to the wife. It’d only be fair.

Hector hurries to meet Helen and like a gentleman helps her into her sweater. She ‘forgets’ he can read minds and she says she’d go anywhere with him but wishes he’d call her Helen. H does and she calls him Hector. I smell romance in the air! He asks if he can walk her home and she thinks to him “What do you think she’s been waiting for?”

As they’re walking home Hector gets a paper and when he tosses his quarter in it knocks the first quarter down. The paper-teen starts to complain, saying that the quarter was on its side all day. Then he realizes that it’s the same guy and says what a coincidence! The mind-reading seems to be gone. Hector is thrilled and he and Helen walk off happily.

One time in a million a coin will land on its edge. But all it takes to knock it over is a vagrant breeze, a vibration or a slight blow. Hector B. Poole, a human coin on edge for a brief time in the Twilight Zone.

I like this one. One of the few played more for comedy with the slight moral message that people can think differently than what they say. Something I daresay everyone has figured out from time to time.

Thank you for joining us and come back next week for: Twenty Two (another great episode)

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 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.

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 for 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 an 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 sends 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 mightily confused. The Professor asks where William is but the butler says that there’s no William on duty there. The Professor 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 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.

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: Night of the Meek.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Dust


Luis Gallegos – John A. Alonzo
Gallegos – Vladimir Sokoloff
Estrelita Gallegos – Andrea Darvi
Sheriff Koch – John Larch
John Canfield – Paul Genge
Mrs. Canfield – Dorothy Adams
Peter Sykes – Thomas Gomez

Trigger Warnings: Execution by hanging

Spoiler Tidbit

There was a village built of crumbling clay and rotting wood and it squatted ugly under a broiling sun like a sick and mangy animal wanting to die. This village had a virus shared by its people. It was the germ of squalor, of hopelessness, of a loss of faith. For the faithless, the hopeless, the misery-laden there is time, ample time, to engage in one of the other pursuits of men. They begin to destroy themselves.

You can always tell what kind of episode it’s going to be from Rod Serling’s voice alone, even if you had no synopsis. You can tell from the amusement, the wryness or, in this case, the absolute disgust with humanity.

It’s a dry, dusty town. Exactly as described by Mr. Serling. The horse in the foreground is absolutely pitiful looking. I hope it was taken care of. It’s very skinny and sway-backed. As it stands there in the dust someone comes riding up, yelling that he’s there, Peter Sykes is there. A man in a ail cell looks annoyed and distressed. Sykes is apparently a peddlar but a nasty one. He’s dirty and looks like he’d be stinky. He says that he’s stocked up in St. Louis with everything one needs for the house, kitchen and a parched throat. If the only whiskey he’s got is the one he’s chugging on, thanks but no thanks. He’s leading a pack of four mules (the middle one must not like company because it has blinders and a muzzle on). Sykes takes a swig from his bottle and sidles up to the jailhouse window. He greets the man inside. His name is Mr. Gallegos.

Sykes acts forgetful and says that it’s a very special day today for Mr. Gallegos, isn’t it? Mr. Gallegos just looks at Sykes. Sykes, being the kindly gentleman that he is, suddenly remembers why it’s such a great and special day. Mr. Gallegos is set to be hanged that day. Gallegos turns his back on the window and Sykes. Sykes gleefully announces that today “Young Mr. Gallegos, killer of children, dances on the gallows!”

Who he’s shouting to is beyond me because it doesn’t seem like there’s anybody around. Sykes slides into the jailhouse and asks Sheriff Koch if he needs anything. More rope, perhaps? The Sheriff does not look amused. In fact, he looks deeply troubled at the thought of the day before him. Sykes goes on to tell Gallegos of the fancy, brand-new, five stranded rope that he sold the town for Gallegos’ necktie party. He says it could lift five more of Gallegos so it’s super-strong. He turns his attention away from Gallegos to ask what Sheriff Koch has a fancy for. Sheriff Koch says he has a fancy for taking Sykes’ carcass and his loud mouth out into the open air. He finally raises his head from his hands to glare piercingly at Sykes. Koch says it’s a small room and a hot time of the morning. Failing to get much out of the Sheriff, Sykes turns his attention back to Gallegos. Sykes asks what Gallegos would like, a nice hacksaw, maybe? Sykes says that there’s going to be a burial procession down the street soon. They’re burying the little girl that Gallegos ran over with his wagon. Gallegos looks up at Sykes. Sykes says that now that Gallegos has sobered up he remembers the little girl that he ran over with his wagon while stinking drunk. To be fair, it doesn’t look like he’s forgotten. His depression seems a bit more than just for his own pity. That’s the last straw for Gallegos and he lunges at Sykes and tries to grab him through the bars. Sykes says “uh uh uh, he’ll have plenty of time to move round later that day. Then he laughs and turns away.

Sykes takes another swig of his ‘tonic’ and tells the Sheriff that it will be just the thing to set him up for a hanging-. Eww, I wouldn’t want to drink after him (or anyone else, for that matter). Sykes says that it makes a man strong and firm and then makes a muscle for the Sheriff to feel. The Sheriff tells Sykes that he doesn’t touch dog meat. Sykes looks quite offended. Sykes accuses Koch of talking big while hiding behind a badge. Koch replies that it only sounds big because Sykes is such a midget, Sykes says he always wondered about Koch, how he’s always taken to foreigners and strays but is close-lipped when it comes to his “own kind”. Koch says he’s not any kin to Sykes so kindly stop claiming that. Sheriff Koch tells Sykes that Gallegos has had his trial and will swing for it later that day. Koch goes on to say that there’s nothing in his sentence that says Gallegos has to be tormented by a pig that sells trinkets at funerals. Koch tells Sykes to get out and Sykes huffily snatches up his ‘tonic’ and stomps out. Sykes pops his head back in to ask Koch what he’s hoping to be a zinger: “After today which one will you weep for, Koch?” Koch replies that he has tears enough for both.

Just after Sykes leaves the door a procession appears down the street. It’s a wagon with a coffin on it. It’s followed by a preacher and mourners. Sykes takes off his hat and wheedles up to the Canfields and gives them his condolences. The Canfields are the parents of the little girl. They don’t seem to be listening to Sykes. He tells them that the afternoon would be a lot more cheerful. Sykes goes on to say that the dirty dog who did it is going to be strung up and their little girl will be avenged. He acts like he caught the guy himself and got the whole thing done. Sykes prattles on to say that “they’ll string up that mangler of children” yessiree. How freaking tacky is it to say that to someone going to their child’s burial. Douche. The Canfields don’t seem to be listening to him, at least. The Sheriff stops Sykes from following and bothering the Canfields further. The Sheriff tells Sykes he can act like a brainless ijit some other time but not now.

Looking down the street Sykes sees something that offends his delicate feelings. He says that Gallegos’ old man has a lot of nerve to show his face. yeah, what a jerk, showing compassion for something his son did. He starts to say that somebody ought to horsewhip him but the Sheriff gives him a look that stops him.

As the procession goes by the man and little girl, the old man takes off his hat and kneels to the parents. Speaking for him (I think to show humility and that he doesn’t feel that he has the right to address them himself) the little girl starts to talk: “My gather wishes me to tell you that his heart is broken. That if he could, if he could give his own life in return, he would. He would do so with great willingness.” She starts to say he understands but Mr. Canfield tells her to get out of the way. Not unkindly, exactly, but blankly, I guess. Which is understandable.

Some men are approaching the jail and the father starts to say to them that his son did not mean to do it. That he’s a lover of children. They throw a rock at him. Gallegos tells his father to go, he’s no needed. Sykes breaks in to say “That’s what you say to your own father?” Uhh, yeah, when he’s trying to not get his father toned in front of his sister. I think Sykes was just hoping for more rock-throwing. Luis’ father tries to give his son a coin. A lucky coin that it’s said one can make a wish on it. Sheriff Koch tells Gallegos’ Father to go home and make his prayers and wishes. Father Gallegos asks the sheriff if he’s ever been drunk? If he’s never been so filled with misery that salvation only seemed to look at him from a bottle? Has he never felt such pain that he’s had to ride through the night and not look behind him? He says that his son was so hungry and felt such pain that he felt the need to drink to forget it.

After everyone leaves Sykes tells the little girl to go and get her papa. To tell him that his coin is no good but he, Sykes, has magic dust that turns hate into love. But it’s very, very precious. So he wants her to run home and tell her papa to bring 100 pesos to his room in an hour and he’ll sell him the dust of love and forgiveness. As the little girl runs off he chuckles to himself and takes out a bag of tobacco (I think) and dumps it. Then scoops up a handful of dust out of the street and puts it in the bag. To presumably be ‘magic dust’. What a dick. He’s very pleased with himself over his plan.

There are more people gathering in the town and Luis remarks that it should be a good gathering. Sheriff Koch remarks a bit bitterly “When was it God made people? The sixth day? He should have quit on the fifth.” Luis says they’re tired of hating the town, they need something else to hate. The Sheriff tells the man driving the wagon that just pulled up that it’s a hanging, not a carnival. Mr. Rogers tells Sheriff Koch that he brought the kids because they’ve never seen a hanging before and that it’s a good time to show them what happens to drunks who kill kids. Koch wants to know how he teaches them pain? Shoot them in the arm? Rogers just rolls his eyes and unloads the family, telling them to stay together. One of the little boys marches over to the window and asks if Luis is the man they’re going to hang. Luis says yes, he is. The boy asks if it will hurt and Luis responds “If God wills it”. Koch tells the boy to run along. He asks Luis if he’s ready, it’s about that time. Luis says he’s ready. Sheriff Koch leads him out of the jail, where more people have gathered.  Luis is on the scaffold, with the crowd looking on. Luis kneels down to pray with the priest. People are pissy about it and want to get on with the show. The Canfields are not yelling, just the crowd.

Back at the town, Father Gallegos comes running to see Sykes, who dangles the bag in front of him. Sykes tells the father that the dust is very special, magic and if it’s sprinkled over the heads of the crowd it will make them feel sympathy for his son. Then he asks if Papa brought the money with him. Father Gallegos holds out a handful of gold coins to Sykes. Sykes is astonished to see gold coins and asks where Father Gallegos got them from. Father Gallegos says that all of his friends helped. One sold a wagon, one a horse and some borrowed. They got many pesos and converted them. He asks Sykes if it will work, is he sure it will work? Then he says that Sykes sold the rope that will hang his son and now he’s selling him that which will save him? Why? Sykes says that he’s a businessman. He makes no distinctions, he repeats that the dust will work. Sykes takes the money and Father Gallegos grabs the bag and runs to his son. Sykes is very pleased with his scam.

The onlookers are getting restless. Father Gallegos runs through the crowd yelling at them to wait. He runs to the front of the crowd and says to please wait! They must pay heed to the magic, now, and starts throwing the dust around. The people laugh at him (because there’s nothing funnier than a desperate parent, dontcha know). Father Gallegos keeps throwing the dust around saying “Magic for compassion, magic for his son’s life”. He falls off the scaffold but still tries to throw it. Sykes and the rest of the crowd are highly amused. Father Gallegos is saying the magic is for love, for compassion, for them to be like they used to be.

As he’s begging for his son the gallows doors bang open and the crowd gasps and looks stunned. I’m not really sure why since that’s what they were all gathered for and were just bugging the Sheriff to get on with it. The crowd gasps and the father looks around and gasps in surprise. The rope is broken and Luis fell to the ground, still alive. Sykes is baffled. The rope he sold was awesome and strong and absolutely could not break. There was supposedly a rule that if the rope broke then it meant that the criminal could go free. I don’t know if that’s true or just an urban legend.

Someone in the crowd tells them to go ahead and try it again. Sheriff Koch tells him that there are only two people in the crowd who have the right to ask for an eye for an eye. Sheriff Koch asks the Canfields how about it? Are they ok with Luis going free? Mr. Canfield looks like maybe he does but Mrs. Canfield tells him no. No more. Mr. Canfield says that he killed their child. Mrs. Canfield says that he also killed part of himself when he did so.

Mr. Canfiled tells the sheriff for the rope to break like that there must be another hand in it. Perhaps the hand of Providence. Sheriff Koch asks Mr. Canfield if that’s the end of it then and Mr. Canfield says that this is where it ends. One victim is enough. Everyone wanders off. No hanging today. Sheriff Koch uncuffs Luis and tells him he can go home. Father Gallegos insists that it was the magic dust that brought back the love to the people. It brought back the love to the people. Luis agrees that it was magic and asks to go home now. Luis and his father look happy at the turn of events as they walk off but not overly happy. Just relieved, really.

Sykes wanders over to marvel at the rope breaking some more. Then he clinks his ill-gotten coins in his hand. Three children walk up and look at him. One of them is Estrelita, Luis’ sister. The other two kids are probably the children of the neighbors that helped to buy the dust. Sykes tosses the coins on the ground and tells the kids to go ahead, pick them up. He walks off, laughing at the thought of it being actual magic.

It was a very small, misery-laden village on the day of a hanging and of little historical consequence. And if there’s any moral to it at all let’s say that in any quest for magic, any search for sorcery, witchery, legerdemain, first check the human heart. For inside this deep place there’s a wizardry that costs far more than a few pieces of gold. Tonight’s case in point in the Twilight Zone.

Spread out by a week it’s probably not as noticeable but The Twilight Zone watched back to back can give you whiplash. First there’s a goofy camera, a cute Santa story and…a hanging. I also have to give Rod credit for not taking the easy way out and making the boy totally innocent. There’s a large grey area that leaves a lot of room to talk about. we welcome comments but please keep them polite.

Thank you for joining us and come back for next week’s episode: Back There

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.

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.

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 Trouble with Templeton

The Trouble with Templeton

Booth Templeton – Brian Aherne
Laura Templeton – Pippa Scott
Arthur Willis – Sydney Pollack
Marty – Dave Willock
Sid Sperry – King Calder
Freddy – Larry J. Blake
Eddie – David Thursby
Barney Flueger – Charles S. Carlson

We open on what looks like a very nice mansion where a distinguished, older man is getting dressed. Templeton, I presume. While he’s doing up his tie he takes a peek out of the window to watch the two people playing by the pool. A young lady playfully pushes the man into the water and a few other tomfooleries. I was thinking it was his daughter but from the way he’s watching them I’m thinking she’s his wife. As he’s watching a butler enters the room carrying a tray with a glass of water. Apparently the young man is a ‘guest’ at the house. I’m guessing his wife’s guest since Templeton doesn’t even know the guy’s name. Templeton says the guy must be ‘new’, then he asks if “these are new too” gesturing to some medication on the tray.  One every hour, on the hour. That…seems like a lot of medicine.

As Templeton and his butler watch, the Mrs. and her, ahem, ‘guest’, walk off with their arms around each other. Not very discreet, I’m guessing. Templeton says that her discretion was an early fatality and that perhaps she’s hoping that his pills will one day fail or that he’ll forget to take them. And you’re married to her…why? Templeton then adds that perhaps he’s hoping for that, too. Well, this episode is off to a cheery start. The Butler tells Templeton that he shouldn’t say such things. Templeton tells his friend not to be anxious. When a man his age marries a woman her age he gets exactly what he deserves. Again, why are you married to her, then? Templeton tells Marty (the butler) that he’s getting old. Marty tells him that that’s nonsense. Then Templeton gives a speech and a quote  from “all of his plays” (so we know he’s an actor) about being old leading to contentment or some crap like that. Marty is a bit troubled by his boss’ depression so he suggests calling the theatre and telling them that Templeton won’t be able to make it. Templeton thanks Marty for the thought but he’ll go in. He says that he’ll cover up the years with make-up, stand in the right places, hope to say his lines right and when it’s over they’ll say “You were wonderful, Mr. Templeton”. And then do it all again the next day. Bed, sleep, oblivion, they all sound good to him.

Marty tells Mr. Templeton that he shouldn’t talk like that but Templeton tells Marty not to worry. With a small nod at the window, Templeton tells Marty that he doesn’t love her anymore. In fact, he’s not sure he ever did. He can’t recall one single moment when he did. Then maybe you shouldn’t have married her! It doesn’t look like she gives you much companionship and hell, you could hire someone to be your friend for probably less than your wife costs. Templeton says that he hasn’t known much contentment in his life, except for some. “Laura” he sighs and picks up a little music box.

Laura is apparently his first wife. They were only married for eight years. She was eighteen when they were married and twenty-five when she died. It doesn’t say how nor how long it has been. Although, I’ll just make this comment. If you marry someone else still mourning your first to the point that you think them the ultimate perfection then there’s an almost 100% chance that your marriage will not work out. So, for the last time, why bother remarrying? Marty begs Templeton not to do this to himself. Templeton says that the only moments left to him of “indescribable loveliness” were those moments with Laura. Templeton reassures Marty that he’s all right.

Pleased to present for your consideration, Mr. Booth Templeton, serious and successful star of over 30 Broadway plays who is not quite all right today. Yesterday and its memories are what he wants, and yesterday is what he’ll get. Soon his years and his troubles will descend on him in an avalanche. In order not to be crushed, Mr. Booth Templeton will escape from his theatre and his world and make his debut on another stage, in another world called The Twilight Zone.

Mr. Templeton arrives at the Savoy Theatre in a long, fancy car. The play being billed is “The Angry Lovers”. A man rushes out to tell Mr. Templeton that it’s late, it’s after 12:00. He warns Templeton that ‘The Boy Wonder’ won’t be pleased. Templeton wants to know who ‘The Boy Wonder’ is. The man says that his name is Arthur Willis and he’s the new director. Templeton says that he thought Dothmeager is directing. The other man tells Templeton that Dothmeager was fired the night before. The man (i’m guessing some sort of investor?) wants someone younger, with more pep. This doesn’t bode well for Templeton. Especially since it seems he fired him without knowing anything about the business but he “knows what’s good and what’s bad as well as the next guy”. The man says he wanted to drop by that morning to let everyone know that he’s very personally interested in ‘this thing’. Then he asks if Templeton is ok with Art Willis being the director. It hardly seems to matter now since the other director has been fired, seemingly on a whim. Templeton says that he’s heard of Willis but doesn’t know him. Templeton stumbles on the guy’s name and he reminds Templeton that his name is Sid Sperry and that his money is backing the play. So, I’m curious. I don’t know much about how plays work but do backers actually have that much power? Can they fire and hire people willy-nilly? Sperry looks like a smarmy jackass. Templeton apologizes for forgetting his name and says he’s always been bad with names. Sperry accepts his apology but looks displeased and ‘jokes’ that he hopes  Templeton doesn’t forget his lines. Templeton looks a bit offended at that. Sperry opens the door for Templeton with a stupid grin and Templeton gives him a glare as he goes by.

As Templeton is walking in he hears The Wonder Boy giving a very serious speech that he’s going to make sure everyone understands it and he’s going to say it once, and only once: “Don’t talk about Fight Club!” Err, sorry, wrong movie…Anyways, the all-important message is that Michael Franz is producing the play, Mr. Coombs has written it (I guess the writer doesn’t warrant a first name), and they have been hired to act in it. and he has been contracted to direct it. So make no mistake about what they’re doing there and make no mistake about him. Is he planning t storm the beach of Normandy, or something? It’s a freaking play, not D-Day. He goes on to say that he will direct the play his own way at all times and that had better be clear to everyone. So, in other words, he’s an insecure baby that’s worried because he’s “young” he won’t be taken seriously. A secretary in heels and a dress she can barely move in (but she’s wearing glasses and is a brunette so you know she’s serious) comes up to whisper in his ear. Sperry takes this interruption to tell Templeton that he likes Mr. Willis very much, take charge right from the start. I’m more of the opinion that if you have to pee on the hydrant to show you’re the boss then you’re probably not going to be a very good boss. But that’s just me. Sperry remarks that Art will “give us a good play”. Templeton wants to know what he means by us…Mr. Whatever. Templeton apologizes for forgetting Sperry’s name again, it was impolite of him. Sperry says it’s ok but I don’t like the look he’s giving Templeton. Sperry is being more impolite. Templeton is consistently calling Sperry “Mr. Sperry” but Sperry keeps calling him “Templeton” right from the start although they obviously barely know each other.

Art Willis is yelling at the secretary to call “him” at home. Then he tells her, Valencia, to forget it. They were obviously talking about Templeton and Willis sees him now. And his first words are “Some of us are young, some of us are old” (and this is very obviously directed at Templeton, who looks a bit hurt by it) “But neither state precludes any of us, young or old, from ignoring the basic cooperation that will be necessary here.” So, basically, cutting through the pompous all he’s really saying is that he wants teamwork. He goes on to say that there are no ‘significant’ actors in his productions. But there are significant dates. The first day of rehearsal, opening night and closing night. Really? I’m sure the actors didn’t know that! He’s a freaking genius! He goes on to say that when he says 12:00 for rehearsal, he means 12:00, Templeton! Everyone, young and old! I notice he’s not saying experienced and non-experienced, he’s really hammering the young and old thing. And it’s maybe a couple of minutes past twelve. Templeton obviously got there in time for the speech he was only going to say once. He yells at Templeton if he’s ready to work with them. And, he asked a question so he expects an answer, dammit! He keeps yelling at Templeton so Templeton says no, and leaves. Mr. Director is telling (well, yelling at) Templeton to come back. Ugh, he sounds like he’s talking to a kid. I’d leave, too, if I had just showed up and some dick was yelling at me. Sperry yells at him to come back, too.

Templeton bursts out of the door to be greeted by people clapping. He looks as confused as we are. They all crowd around him as he goes to a car that he thinks is his but it zips away. Oops, wrong car. Then he notices a poster on the building advertising a movie called “The Great Seed”. No. Comment. It’s starring Booth Templeton and introducing Laura Templeton. I don’t know if we’re supposed to notice that but you can see it sticking out from under the “1927’s Big Hit!” banner.

An older man calls to him from off-screen and tells him that his wife is waiting for him at Freddy Iaccino’s. Templeton asks what year it is and at first the older gentleman is wondering if Templeton is joking, then tells him that it’s 1927. Templeton says that Laura’s dead, how can she be waiting for him? The other man answers that she’s the best-looking ghost he ever saw then. Templeton looks extremely happy and goes running off to meet her at Freddy’s. The street he walks on looks very familiar. I don’t know if it’s because it’s a standard street-scene set or if cities just look alike like that.

Templeton buzzes at a door to be let into Freddie’s (I’m assuming, what with Prohibition and all) speakeasy. Freddie recognizes him and lets him in. Templeton is amazed to see Freddie alive. Freddie gives the secret knock on another door that opens into the real part of the club. Freddie asks if Templeton wants a steak or chops. Mmm. Steak. He tells Templeton that his wife is having the Kansas City and Templeton goes rushing over to their ‘usual table’ but she’s not there. Freddie points to a table literally right behind Templeton and she’s sitting there with a younger  man. I don’t know how he didn’t see her running up to the table.

Templeton zeroes in on Laura and tells Freddie that he doesn’t want anything to eat. They won’t be staying long. His wife is drinking and laughing it up with the other guy, who’s name is Barney. Barney excuses himself. Templeton tries to hug her but she kind of shrugs him off and says that the steak is great tonight. Really juicy, as she takes a big chomp out of it. Great. Thanks a lot. Now I’m hungry. She tells Templeton that he looks worried then says she told him to take his make-up off before coming in there. He touches his face but, no make-up, he’s just older. Then she waves at someone at another table. He asks if they can go somewhere else, somewhere quieter, he wants to talk with her. She pouts for a second and then says she wants to have a good time. She flags down a waiter  to bring her another tankard of booze. He says again that he wants to talk to her so she says, “Well?” He starts to talk about being there and he doesn’t know how he got there or for how long he’s there but he wants to make good use of the time. She starts to primp in her compact. He says that he wants her all to himself. She tells him not to be dull.

Barney comes back with a beer for Laura and says the new band is swell. Barney tells Templeton that he’d better order and she yells at the waiter to bring him a steak. Then she starts fanning herself with what looks like a sheaf of papers. Then she wants to know why on earth Templeton is wearing an overcoat on a night  that’s too darn hot. He grabs the papers out of her hand and stuffs them in his coat. He says he doesn’t know what happened or why but he’s here with her and she’s alive so he wants to make the most of it. He says that he’s been lonely for so many years with only the memory of her to live on. And he’s missed Barney, too, his best friend. He’s just so thrilled to have them back again. He tries to explain that he doesn’t have make-up on, that he’s actually older and he’s not sure how long he can stay there. They’re looking pretty tenderly at him through the speech but then toast each other and say, “Let’s have a good time, huh?” Barney drops a wink at Laura but it doesn’t seem to be a flirty wink.

He asks Laura why she’s so different. She says it’s the way she is and what did he expect? Barney chimes in with a “What did you expect, old chap?”. Templeton says he doesn’t know. Then he tells Laura she was his love and everywhere they went people knew they were in love. She asks impatiently if he’s finished. He tells her he doesn’t like what she’s become. She covers her mouth for a moment then bursts out laughing. Barney joins in and Templeton yells at them to shut up. He tells Laura to come with him but she says no! He’s a silly old fool of a man. She looks weird for a second then the music starts up. She says, “That’s for me!” and starts jitterbugging like she’s on speed or something. He tries to grab her again and she slaps him and tells him to go back where he came from. They don’t want him there. Then she starts dancing again. Templeton looks around, very confused and hurt. The band’s playing, Laura’s still doing her cracked out jitterbug and he runs off.

As he runs off the people stop clapping and lose their smiles, the lights dim. The camera focuses on Laura and Barney, quietly watching him. Laura steroids forward as the lights dim behind her with one last, longing look at Templeton.

Back on the street Templeton runs back to the theatre. As he runs, he accidentally runs into some fans who recognize him. It seems like they’re asking him to start but he says no, thank you, he can’t. He’s very polite. He sees the same poster from the twenties. When he runs inside the theatre, though, he sees Sperry and Boy Wonder. Upset and confused, he wonders if it really happened. He takes the papers that he took from Laura out of his coat and fans himself with them. As he fans himself he noticed the title. It reads “What to Do If Booth Comes Back”. Inside he sees the same lines that the people were saying. They were acting. All for him. This makes him happy and he figures out that they want him to live the life he’s in right now. Really live it.

Wonder-Schlong sees Templeton and asks him very snottily if he’s in or out? Templeton says he’s most definitely in and Mr. Youngster Director can call him Mr. Templeton. He also tells Sperry that he insists that those not directly involved with the play not attend his rehearsals. Sperry starts to object but Young’un tells Sidney to run along. Templeton asks the Director, Art Willis, if he’s ready for rehearsal. He’s being much nicer, now. Templeton tells him he just had a wonderful experience and he can’t possibly expect Mr. Willis to understand. Maybe he will when he’s older.

Mr. Booth Templeton, who shared with most human beings, the hunger to recapture the past moments, the ones that soften with the years. But, in his case, the characters of his past blocked him out and sent him back to his own time, which is where we find him now. Mr. Booth Templeton, who had a round-trip ticket into The Twilight Zone.

I really do like this one but it is one of the ones better to be watched. The faial expressions are great. I feel so bad for Templeton but that last look Laura gives him is almost heart-breaking. It’s also nice when he gets his ‘zest’ back. Hopefully he ditches his current wife for one he actually likes.

Join us next week for Twilight Zone Tuesday: A Most Unusual Camera (which should be titled three yahoos find a magic camera). So, tune in next week to enjoy some snark!

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.

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.

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 – The Howling Man

The Howling Man

David Ellington – H.M. Wynant
Brother Jerome – John Carradine
Howling Man – Robin Hughes
Brother Christophorus – Friedrich von Ledebur
Housekeeper – Ezelle Poule

We open with thunder, lightning and a very sweaty man telling us that it’s an incredible story. It must be to make you sweat so, dear. Whatever it is we wont believe it until he tells us the whole thing. Then we’ll believe him for sure because…we must. Well, I’m convinced. After World War I our sweaty man was on a walking trip through Europe but one evening got lost in a storm. We zoomy out the window, through the rain and back into the past.

A very tweedy looking man is staggering through the rain and knocks on some really big wooden doors. His coat looks awfully dry for having been wandering about in a storm. A monk who looks like a Planet of the Apes extra opens the door for him. Ellington tells the monk(ey) that he’s been lost in the rain and can he please com in? The monk tells Ellington that they don’t allow visitors. Ellington says that he’s not a visitor. He’s a stranger to the area and he’s lost. He tries to walk around the monk but the monk cane-blocks him. Apparently, saying he’s lost the third time is really the charm because the monk lets him in.

It looks like it might be a bit drier inside but the hall they walk through looks like it’s just as cold. As they walk through the hall all the monks come out to check out the new guy. Ellington can barely walk and gives a very dramatic cough and clutch at a rail/banister/divider/thing. Even though the monk doesn’t seem all that concerned Ellington reassures him that he’ll be all right once he’s dried out. Brother Christophorus tells Ellington to wait there. Ellington takes a minute to dramatically catch his breath. While he’s doing so he hears an ungodly howling noise that startles him. Immediately after Brother Chris comes out to tell Ellington that Brother Jerome will see him now. Ellington asks what the noise is. Brother Chris says it’s the wind.

Brother Chris leads Ellington into a room to talk to Brother Jerome. Who looks a lot like Moses. Brother Moses wants to know why Ellington came there. Ellington explains that he was on a walking trip and got lost in the storm. He gives another little cough. Brother Moses wants to know what Ellington wants from them. Ellington says some shelter and maybe food. I get that he got lost but did he really bring no extra food at all? That doesn’t seem very smart. Either way Brother Moses says they’re all out of that stuff and tells Ellington to leave. Like now. Ellington looks surprised but turns to go. Luckily for him, he faints.

The prostrate form of Mr. David Ellington. Scholar, seeker of truth and, regrettably, finder of truth. A man who will shortly arise from his exhaustion to confront a problem that has tormented mankind since the beginning of time. A man who knocked on a door seeking sanctuary and found, instead, the outer edges of the Twilight Zone.

Ellington is pacing around the hall, holding his head. I guess they just left him lying there? He hears the howling noise again. He finds the source of the howling just a few doors down. He peeks in to see a dirty, bearded man dressed in raggedy clothes. The man in the cell comes to the bars and grabs Ellington’s shoulder, begging for help. The man in the cell says that Ellington isn’t one of them. Ellington says that he’s an American. The man tells him to come closer, they only have a few minutes. Although I’m not sure how much closer Ellington could be unless he gets in the cell with the guy.

The Howling Man tells Ellington that the monks are mad. They’re all stark, raving mad. Well, they might be mad but they looked pretty calm. Nary a rave to be seen. The man then goes on to tell Ellington that he lived in the village of Schwarzwald. While walking with his honey one day they paused for a kiss. He stops here to ask Ellington if it’s wrong to kiss. Ellington (who still looks either wet from the rain or sweaty) says no, he doesn’t think so. The man agrees. Ok, everyone agrees that kissing is a-ok. The man then calls someone a lecherous old fool. As the man and his woman were smooching he looked up to see someone watching. Before he could say anything the guy watching them beat him down with the big heavy staff. Ah. They’re talking about Brother Moses.

Ellington asks why would Brother Moses do that. The Howling Man claims that his woman rejected the advances of Brother Moses. Ellington says he finds it hard to believe. The Howling Man says of course it is, that’s how convincing and powerful Brother Moses is. Which would make more sense if Ellington had talked to Brother Moses for more than two seconds. The Howling Man says that Brother Moses seems like a harmless madman. Just your ordinary religious zealot. Then goes on to say that it’s not a religious order. He says that they’re cast out of the world because the world doesn’t want them. He does speak very eloquently. The man in the cell says that they’re not evil…just mad. The man in the cell has some pretty buff-looking arms. Ellington starts to walk away and The Howling Man asks where he’s going. Ellington says he’s going to speak to Brother Moses. The Howling Man freaks out and says that Brother Moses is the maddest of them all. Ellington asks how he’s supposed to help him then. From the door Brother Jerome calls Ellington. Uh-oh, busted.

Brother Moses tells Ellington to come with him. Once they’re in a different room Brother Moses tells Ellington that he’ll have to leave immediately, they don’t have the facilities to care for the ill. So monks never get sick? Brother Moses starts to say that arrangements can be made in Schwarzwald but Ellington interrupts him. Ellington gets pissy and says he’s not leaving until they explain what’s going on. I don’t really think they have to. You barged into their monk hangout, talked to a random guy for two seconds and now you’re demanding answers. Bit presumptuous, no?

Brother Moses says that Ellington doesn’t understand. Ellington wants to know why Brother Jerome wants him out so bad. He’s already seen The Howling Dude. Brother Moses wants to know what Ellington thinks he’s talking about. Ellington says he doesn’t know anything about their order, what’s permitted and what’s not. But he doubts that they have the authority to keep a man unlawfully locked up. Brother Jerome agrees that they don’t have that authority. Brother Jerome dances around the truth for a bit by saying that no man has ever been imprisoned in the hermitage. Ellington is like “I just talked to him!” Brother Jerome tries to tell Ellington that he’s been ill, intimating that Ellington is delusional, but right then another howl is heard. Ellington tells Brother Jerome that “honest men make unconvincing liars”.

Ellington tells Brother Jerome that eventually he’ll find out what’s going on and the police will be very interested in knowing they have a man locked up there. Brother Jerome insists that there is no man locked up there. Ellington says forget it and starts to walk out. Brother Jerome stops him and asks Ellington if he’d really go to the police. Ellington asks Brother Jerome wouldn’t he in his place. Brother Jerome gives in. He tells Ellington that he told him the truth but not all of it. He tells Ellington to come back inside and he’ll tell him. As Ellington comes back in the howling starts again and Brother Jerome covers his ears. Ellington says, “Aha! You hear it, too!”Brother Jerome says he’s heard it every hour of every day for the last five years. And then he does such a great eye-roll.

Ellington wants to know why Jerome lied. He says that he didn’t lie when he said no man howled there. He tells Ellington that what he spoke to was not a man. It is The Devil himself..

Just after a perfectly timed thunder crash Jerome continues. What is in that cell is Satan. Ellington believes him doesn’t he? Ellington’s all “Suuure, I believe you!” Brother Jerome can see that Ellington’s full of it, though. He says that Ellington thinks he’s mad. Then he tells him to have a seat (he might as well, Jerome backed him into a chair). Jerome tells Ellington that he’ll explain it all then we’ll just see who’s mad and who’s not. It’s ok. We all go a little mad sometimes. Sorry.

Brother Jerome tells Ellington that he supposes Ellington thinks of himself sophisticated and they primitive because they live in solitude. Ellington starts to interrupt and say he doesn’t think that but Brother Jerome just gives him a “bitch, please, I know you do” and continues his story. Jerome says he lived in the “real world” for forty years with the best schooling, a degree in philosophy and a job that took him to the ends of the earth. I’m wondering what job he got with a philosophy degree. He says the beard, the staff and the faith are merely the results of a differing point of view. Never underestimate the beard. Another howl interrupts. Jerome goes on to say that five years ago there wasn’t any howlin’ in the monastery. It was just a bombed out ruin belonging to Wolfen. The Baron gave the Brothers the monastery in exchange for tending the vineyards.

Ellington asks if it’s a legit religious order. Brother Jerome dances around it a bit by saying that they feel that they are recognized by God. Truth is their dogma, believing it to be the ultimate weapon against The Devil, The Father of Lies. Brother Jerome says that after The Great War everywhere was in chaos, except the little town of Schwarzwald. They were happy and God-fearing and resistant to despair. Of course, the Devil can’t resist destroying happy so he popped in for a little corruption campaign. The Mighty Brother Moses stopped him though.

The Devil thought he would be easy to tempt but Brother Moses chucked him in a cell. Makes me wonder how he tempted Brother Moses? And now Ellington looks like he is thinking Brother Moses might be a crayon or two short of a rainbow. He asks Brother Moses how he keeps The Devil in a cell and Brother Jerome answers with The Stick (Staff) of Truth. And “He Shall Not Pass!”

Ellington wants to know how Brother Jerome recognized him as Satan and Jerome says he’s seen him literally all over the world. Sin, strife, corruption…boom, The Devil was there. Well, yeah, that’s kind of his thing. Ellington is getting dizzy again and the camera is tilting again. Ellington says he doesn’t doubt Brother Jerome but is it possible he might have made a mistake. Nope, uh-uh. Brother Jerome is sure. There has been peace for the last five years. Um, I’m going to call b.s. on that one. Ellington points out that there’s still murders and robberies and general bad shit still happening. Basically that’s just your normal, everyday human suffering. It’s just the really bad stuff like unnatural catastrophes, wars and whatnot that putting The Devil away stopped.


Ellington says he believes Brother Jerome. He didn’t at first but Brother Jerome has him convinced. Uh-huh. Sure. Ellington promises to keep their secret. Brother Jerome thanks him and then says that Ellington may leave the next day if he’s feeling well enough. What’s with this “you may leave”? They were trying to kick him out the door a minute ago. Jerome tells Ellington to go straight to Brother Christophorus’ room.

Ellington makes his way down the hall, passing The Devil’s cell. Maybe if they don’t want people to know about The Devil being there they shouldn’t keep him in the main hall. Ellington just can’t resist one more peek at The Devil. The Devil instantly says that Brother Jerome lied to him, he can see it on Ellington’s face. Ellington tells him that Jerome said he was The Devil. The Howling Man thinks it’s funny and laughs a bit. But stops when he sees Ellington’s face. He asks if Ellington believed Jerome. Ellington says he guesses not. The Howling Man asks Ellington to help him again and Ellington is kind of wiffly about it. He says he’ll come back with the authorities. The Howling Man says that he’ll be dead and disappeared by the time Ellington comes back. At this a very large hand falls on Ellington’s shoulder and Ellington turns to see Brother Chris. Brother Chris came to escort Ellington to his room. Ellington follows Brother Chris into the room but freaks out a little when Brother Chris locks the door.

The key is on an extremely long necklace, just right for gently lifting off over the head. Which Ellington proceeds to do as soon as Brother Chris is asleep. Ellington overacts his way to The Devil’s cell. Ellington asks what does he need to do to help the man get out. The Howling Man tells him to lift the bar off the door. That’s one mighty big Stick of Truth. Ellington asks why hasn’t the man done it himself? Which is a valid question. It’s within arms reach and easily grabbable. I think I would start wondering a bit, myself. The man tells Ellington that if he doesn’t do it they’ll kill them both. Well then why haven’t they? They’ve had him there for five years and Ellington’s been there for several hours. If the monks were that crazy they could have killed him years ago. If Ellington weren’t sick (and his thinking skills ill as well) he’d probably realize this. Right about now Brother Chris wakes up and realizes that his key is missing. Ellington has locked him in so he yells at Ellington to stop. Ellington goes to grab the staff but it looks like it burns his hands at first? I’m not sure but he grabs it, drops it and then wipes his hands on his shirt. The second time goes fine and Ellington frees the man. Ellington hands him his coat as protection from the storm.

The man throws it on then does some magic whammy at Ellington that makes him drop like he’s a rag doll. Well, now we know he’s The Devil because he evilly strokes his goatee before heading for the door. He turns Ellington’s coat into some pretty snazzy demonic threads and poofs away in a puff of smoke (and presumably brimstone or sulfur). Ellington watches him then face plants back onto the floor. Brother Jerome and Brother Chris come in. Jerome kneels down by Ellington and says he feels sorry for him because he’ll remember tonight for the rest of his life and he’ll know exactly who he let back into the world. Ellington says he didn’t believe him. He saw him but didn’t recognize him. Well, The Devil’s tricksy like that.

Aaand we’re back to the beginning of the episode. Ellington says he spent the rest of his life tracking down the Evil One. Looks like it took quite awhile because it wasn’t until after the Korean War had happened. Way to go Ellington. Ellington says he finally did it and points to a steel door with a little baby Truth Staff on it. I guess it doesn’t need to be a great big staff. He’s telling all this to his housekeeper, saying she must never, never open the door. Or touch the staff. Dude, I think a “Don’t open this door or you’re fired” would be sufficient. Or clean your own freaking house. He says that he’s taking him back to Brother Jerome. So maybe it’s a freight crate? How would one transport The Devil? He tells the housekeeper that The Devil will howl a bit but just ignore it. I can already tell by the “this guy’s crazy” look on her face that she’s going to open the damn door. Yup, first damn howl and she takes it off. So The Devil gets free again because she can’t keep her hands off the staff (the ladies love the staff) and he can’t clean his own damn house.

Ancient folks say “You can catch The Devil but you can’t hold him long”. Ask Brother Jerome. Ask David Ellington. They know, and they’ll go on knowing to the end of their days and beyond in the Twilight Zone.

Uhh, did Serling just insinuate that Ellington and Jerome are going to Hell for their failure to hold The Devil. It kind of sounded like it to me. A good episode but holy crap. I could do a better job of keeping The Devil than this ijit. Maybe all he needs is an Uncle Bobby. I always wondered though, why does he howl? Just to annoy the hell out of the person keeping him? I thought it was to makethe person keeping him seem crazy but he seems to do it whether or not anyone’s there.

Join us again next week on Twilight Zone Tuesday for – Eye of the Beholder (one of it’s top-rated episodes and an awesome one).