“There is a fifth dimension, beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity.It is the middle ground between Light and Shadow, between Science and Superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of Imagination. It is an area which we call…The Twilight Zone.”
With Rod Serling’s clipped tones we begin our adventure into The Twilight Zone.
Starring: Earl Holliman
Narrated by Rod Serling
Rod Serling: The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we’re about to watch could be our journey.
The scene opens with a man in coveralls strolling down a nice country lane and finds a diner. The diner’s empty even though there’s a jukebox playing loudly. He’s trying to buy some breakfast with a couple of American bucks. He’s relieved to establish his nationality as, it’s soon revealed, he has amnesia.With no one at the diner to make him some breakfast he helps himself to a cup of coffee and heads out in search of people.
Down the road a bit he wanders into Small Town, America. Which is also empty as well. The clocks seem to be a bit off in the town. at the diner it was 6:15, now the town clock is tolling 7:00 and the 4:00. Me thinks strange things are afoot in Small Town, America.
He strolls around the town a bit, looking for people. He finally sees a woman sitting in a car and approaches, telling her (and us) about his amnesia. But when he opens the door, oops! She’s actually a mannequin. He apologizes like a gentleman and pops her gently back into her car.
He goes wandering about, still looking for people, eventually coming to the conclusion that someone might be watching him. A payphone rings and he gets briefly trapped inside the tollbooth. He goes into a jail house to find a cigar smoldering in the ashtray and (stupidly) walks into a jail cell, which he narrowly avoids being trapped in.
He wanders around a bit more, stopping in at the drugstore to make himself an ice cream sundae and quote a little Charles Dickens, and spin a few book racks. The books on display are The Last Man on Earth (tee hee).
After a bit he does what any rational person does when trapped in a town with no people. He sits on a park bench, playing Tic-Tac-Toe in the dirt. He’s also pondering on what could have happened to everyone. He goes from plague to atomic war but decides on neither. No destruction and no bodies.
The street lamps come on and the theater marquee lights up so A. Nonymous wanders over to see what’s up. He notices the theater poster (Battle Hymn starring Rock Hudson and Martha Hyer) and realizes that the suit he’s wearing is an Air Force jumpsuit. So, one mystery solved.
Afterwards he goes…slightly nuts. running around town and he eventually ends up pleading with a cross-walk sign for help, punching it’s button and talking to it.
The scene pulls back to reveal that Mr. Nonymous is being watched. He’s strapped to a chair in some kind of isolation room being watched by Air Force majors and such.
It seems he was taking part in an experiment to test a person’s capability of withstanding isolation for space travel. The astronaut in training is named Mike Ferris and he had been in isolation for almost 21 days before cracking up. Not too shabby. their thoughts behind the experiment (and conclusions) were to see how long a person could survive without human companionship. Now, my only fault to find with this is that they say they can give an astronaut entertainment such as books, movies (of a sort) and other things but that nothing can take the place of personal contact. But they drew their conclusions by putting him in an isolation cell with no forms of entertainment whatsoever.So, he probably would have lasted a bit longer if they’d given him something to do.
The episode ends with Mike looking up at the moon telling it to wait, “We’ll be up in a little while.”
Serling: Up there, up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky, up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience of eons, forever waiting…in the Twilight Zone“
Not a very thrilling episode to start the series on but it’s solid and strong. The ultimate ‘moral’ of “People need people” really isn’t that ground breaking of a revelation. The ‘twist’ at the end isn’t as strong as a lot of the later ones but the acting is good. Earl Holliman carries the whole show without over-acting or hamming it up.
In general I like it but I do have one leetle nitpick with it. How did they feed him with no human interaction. It doesn’t show any IV’s or any kind of feeding tubes. I know, I know. I’m probably overthinking it a tad too much.
Next week is One for the Angels which is a great one. so, join me next time for a trip through the Twilight Zone.