The Bewitchin' Pool
|"The Bewitchin' Pool"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Joseph M. Newman|
|Written by||Earl Hamner Jr.|
|Original air date||June 19, 1964|
"The Bewitchin' Pool" is the final episode (in original broadcast order) of the American television series The Twilight Zone.
Sport Sharewood and her brother Jeb live in a large, expensive house, but their parents are both cold, insensitive and self-centered.
While Sport and Jeb are sitting beside their pool, a young boy in a Huckleberry Finn straw hat pops up from the deep end of their pool and invites them to follow him. The children follow him by diving underwater only to come back up in a lake bordering a rustic, simple homestead. All around them are children swimming, fishing, and playing. In contrast to their lavish home of neglect and insults, they are welcomed and loved from the moment they arrive at this children's paradise. There is only one adult there named "Aunt T", a sweet, gentle and kind elderly woman who loves children; she explains she has many children there who came from parents who didn't deserve them.
When Sport and Jeb decide to go home, for fear that their parents will be worried, they learn that their parents have decided to divorce and hadn't even missed them while they were gone. When the parents tell the children the news, they give them the choice of either living with their mother or their father and berate them for not deciding quickly enough. The children have an epiphany that their parents do not genuinely love them and never will. Ignoring their parents' shouts, Sport and Jeb race back to the pool, dive in, disappear and escape back to Aunt T.
In the end the children are happily living with Aunt T whose love is unconditional. Sport hears the increasingly distant voices of her parents, but -- after a moment of regret -- ignores them, and focuses on her new life.
This was the final episode of the original Twilight Zone series to be broadcast, though not the last to be filmed. The last episode filmed was "Come Wander With Me", while, according to Marc Scott Zicree's "The Twilight Zone Companion", the reediting of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (including the addition of new footage of Serling) was the last episode "produced" before cancellation. The last episode broadcast during the original run — as a repeat — was "The Jeopardy Room".
Numerous production problems delayed the premiere of this episode, which was originally scheduled for March 20, 1964. Most noticeably, backlot noise rendered much of the outdoor dialogue unusable -- only the indoor scenes with Aunt T were considered audible. The entire cast (except Aunt T) consequently redubbed their outdoor dialogue in September, 1963, but Mary Badham's voice was still deemed not right. Unfortunately, by the time this decision had been made, Badham had returned to her home in Alabama, and the cost of flying her back to LA to re-record her lines yet again was ruled to be too expensive. Eventually, June Foray dubbed Sport Sharewood's lines for all the scenes that take place outdoors. In the finished episode, the change in Sport's voice is noticeable when she moves indoors, and Badham's own deeper voice and more authentic accent are heard in place of Foray's overdubbed voice characterization.
Another production peculiarity is that "The Bewitchin' Pool'" is the only episode of The Twilight Zone to open with a teaser scene that is repeated in its entirety later in the episode. This opening teaser scene (which is over two minutes in length) was not included in Earl Hamner's original episode script; it appears to have been included to lengthen the episode after some other footage was dropped. Note that actor Harold Gould is listed in some sources as a cast member for this episode, but does not appear in any capacity in the finished production.
Other re-used footage in the episode includes an identical shot of Sport and Jeb swimming up to the foot of a tree on two occasions, and the first and final shots of various children playing in front of Aunt T's house.
There appear to be numerous references to the book and film To Kill a Mockingbird in this episode. To wit:
- Mary Badham plays the character Sport Sharewood in this episode; she played Jean Louise "Scout" Finch in the movie. (No other forename is given for Sport, which could therefore could either be a nickname or her given forename.)
- Scout's older brother in Mockingbird is named Jem; in The Bewitchin' Pool Sport's younger brother is named Jeb.
- Finally, Kim Hector, who plays Whitt and who teases Sport and Jeb when they first arrive at the children's paradise, played Scout's schoolyard nemesis, Cecil Jacobs, in the film.
The episode is also believed[who?] to be the basis for the B-52s song entitled "Private Idaho". That song uses portions of the Twilight Zone's theme song--and it also tells you to "Beware of the Pool" and "Don't Let the Chlorine in Your Eyes Blind You to the Big Surprise that's waitin' for you at the bottom of the bottomless blue blue blue pool".
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