Monday, May 14, 2018

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 1 Episode 36 (A World of His Own)

The Twilight Zone was known for stories that bent the rules a little.  Someone might find themselves transported to an alternate reality.   A dying man may get the chance to cheat death.  A walk might result in a trip back in time.  Sometimes, there’d be a catch.  Not always, though.

Gregory West, for instance, has a tape recorder that allows him to create people.  His wife, Victoria, looks through a window Gregory and Mary.  When Victoria finally comes into the house, Mary is gone.  There are no secret doors.  There are no hidden compartments.  Gregory explains that he describes a character into the microphone and the person he describes appears. If he burns the corresponding tape, the person goes away.

She doesn’t believe him.  In fact, Gregory has to create an elephant to keep her from leaving the room.  When Gregory produces an envelope marked Victoria, she grabs it from him and throws it into the fire only to realize that he was telling the truth.

Gregory starts to recreate Victoria only to realize that he could have Mary as his wife, instead.  The episode ends with Rod Serling appearing on screen only to find out that he, too, is a figment of Gregory’s imagination.  (This is the only episode from the first season where Serling made an appearance within the episode rather than simply having a voiceover.)  

The episode takes place entirely within the house.  This may have been done to save money, as the Twilight Zone is said not to have had a huge budget.  It seemed common for episodes to have a small area in which the story was set and to have very few actors.  (Including the elephant and Rod Serling, there are only five characters in this one.)  I think it says something that the series was able to come up with so many memorable episodes given the restrictions.

This was actually a pretty fitting ending for the first season of The Twilight Zone.  This episode effectively leaves you wondering what’s real and what’s imagination.  How many wives has Gregory had?  Is he even really a playwright?  Richard Matheson came up with some fairly good episodes for the series.  This was one of the better episodes, despite the fact that it was somewhat streamlined.

I’m somewhat surprised that I’ve never seen it.  Then again, there were over 150 episodes.  Eve if I catch a lot of marathons, I’m going to miss a few.  This is where modern technology comes in handy.  Given services like Netflix  and that most libraries allow you to check out DVDs, it’s not difficult to watch the series at my own pace.

For those watching or renting/borrowing the series, the episodes can be watched out of order.  The last scene of this episode makes a little more sense when you consider that this was the season finale, but not knowing that doesn’t really detract from it.  If this happened to be the first episode you had ever seen, it would still be a good one.

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