With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all most half of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us?
The Twilight Zone (Episode #36): “A World Of His Own” (airdate 7/1/60)
The Plot: A man discovers that anything he records on his tape deck becomes true in the real world.
The Goods: Gregory West (Keenan Wynn) seems to have it all. He’s happy, a popular and successful playwright, and he has a loving wife who makes the perfect dry martini. Did I say wife? I meant mistress. Did I say mistress? I meant fictional character that comes to life after West “creates” her by describing her into his Dictaphone.
Welcome to The Twilight Zone.
West is spending time in his study with Mary (Mary LaRoche) when his wife, Victoria (Phyllis Kirk), appears at the window and sees the two of them together. She storms in only to find that Mary has disappeared and her husband is playing coy. She confronts him with what she saw and he eventually explains what he’s capable of doing with the tape recorder. She doesn’t believe him of course so he recreates Mary and then “erases” her right before Victoria’s eyes. He also puts an elephant in the front hall to block her from leaving…
Richard Matheson’s script uses the premise of wish fulfillment for a tale and a denouement that play out far lighter than the series has taught viewers to expect. Instead of something as simple as another warning about being careful what you wish for or the consequences of too much power the story becomes a comedic and romantic triangle of sorts. It’s lightweight to be sure, but that doesn’t mean it’s not entertaining.
Wynn, who it turns out is not Keenan Ivory Wayans’ father, is playful and lively in the role as a man who quite literally can create the world around him to his own liking. The degree of that power isn’t really touched upon here, for example he makes no changes to the outside world that would affect society at large, and instead the idea is kept fairly intimate. What would you do if your supposed happiness were as easy to affect as talking into a microphone?
The episode’s ending offers a double whammy of sorts, first as the truth of West’s relationships comes out and second with a special guest appearance that may just be one of the first examples of meta-fiction on TV. Rod Serling appears onscreen to narrate the closing comments, and aside from this being the first time he physically appears in the episode’s setting (ie the study) Matheson has one last trick up his sleeve. It’s very funny, would never happen again throughout the run of the series, and if nothing else makes the episode one worth watching.
What do you think of the episode?
The Trivia: Stephen King penned a story decades later called “Word Processor Of the Gods” that mined a similar premise with much more dramatic results. It was filmed for an episode of Tales From the Darkside.
On the Next Episode: “A pilot of a downed WWII bomber comes to in the African desert and desperately tries to find out what happened to the rest of his crew.”
Catch-Up: Episodes covered by Twitch / Episodes covered by FSR
We’re running through all 156 of the original Twilight Zone episodes over the next several weeks, and we won’t be doing it alone! Our friends at Twitch will be entering the Zone as well on alternating weeks. So definitely tune in over at Twitch and feel free to also follow along on our Twitter accounts @twitchfilm and @rejectnation.