Twilight Zone Tuesday – Dust

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


SERLING:
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.

SERLING:
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The 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.

SERLING:
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.

SERLING:
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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

Twilight Zone Tuesday – 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.

SERLING:
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.


SERLING:
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).

Twilight Zone Tuesday – A Thing About Machines

A Thing About Machines

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Man in the Bottle

The Man in the Bottle

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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


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

Twilight Zone Tuesday – King Nine Will Not Return

King Nine Will Not Return

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

Twilight Zone Tuesday – A World of His Own

A World of His Own

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gregory: Rod!

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

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

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

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

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


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


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

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