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It's a Good Life (The Twilight Zone)

"It's a Good Life" is episode 73 of the American television series The Twilight Zone. It is based on the 1953 short story "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby and is considered by some, such as Time and TV Guide, to be one of the best episodes of the series. It originally aired on November 3, 1961.

"It's a Good Life"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no.Season 3
Episode 8
Directed byJames Sheldon
Teleplay byRod Serling
Based on"It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby
Featured musicStock plus "Moonglow" and "Stardust"
Production code4801
Original air dateNovember 3, 1961
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
← Previous
"The Grave"
Next →
"Deaths-Head Revisited"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 3)
List of The Twilight Zone episodes

Contents

Opening narrationEdit

Plot summaryEdit

Six-year-old Anthony Fremont has godlike mental powers, including mind-reading. He has isolated his town of Peaksville, Ohio from the rest of the universe. The people must thus grow their own food, and supplies of common household items, such as bar soap, have been dwindling. He has blocked television signals and caused cars not to work. He creates horrible creatures, such as three-headed gophers, which he then kills. Everybody is under his rule, even his parents. The people live in fear of him, constantly telling him how everything he does is "good," since he banishes anyone thinking unhappy thoughts to be buried in Peaksville's abandoned cornfield. Even the children are scared of him, after Anthony sent a boy and girl into the cornfield. Never having experienced any form of discipline, Anthony does not even understand that his actions are wrong, and is confused when his father tells him that the neighbors are reluctant to let their children play with him after he sent several of his playmates to the cornfield.

One night each week, Anthony gives the townsfolk one hour of television, which he creates and projects onto the family TV set. The adults gather around in the Fremonts' living room, squirming uncomfortably as Anthony shows them a vision of screaming dinosaurs, engaged in a gory battle. Unable to voice their real feelings, they tell Anthony that it was far better than what used to be on TV.

After the program is over, the adults celebrate Dan Hollis' birthday. He gets two presents from his wife: a bottle of brandy – which is one of only five bottles of whiskey left in the village – and a Perry Como record. Dan is eager to listen to the record, but he's reminded by everyone that Anthony does not like singing and he must listen to it at home. Getting drunk from the brandy, he starts complaining about the miserable state of the town, not listening to the record, and no one singing "Happy Birthday" to him. Anthony at first ignores him after telling him to be quiet. Dan eventually snaps with repressed rage surfacing and confronts the child, calling him a monster and a murderer. While Anthony's anger grows, Dan yells for someone to attack Anthony from behind and end his reign of terror. Aunt Amy (who isn't able to sing anymore because of Anthony) tentatively reaches for a fireplace poker, but no one has the courage to act. Declaring Dan to be "a very bad man," Anthony transforms Dan into a jack-in-the-box, causing his wife to break down. The adults are horrified at what Anthony has done, and his father asks him to wish it into the cornfield, which he does.

Anthony causes snow to begin falling outside, because Aunt Amy complained about the day's heat earlier. The snow will kill off at least half the crops and the town will face starvation. Anthony's father starts to rebuke Anthony about this, but his wife and the other adults look on with worried smiles on their faces. The father then smiles and tells Anthony in a terrified voice, "...But it's good you're making it snow. A real good thing. And tomorrow... tomorrow's gonna be a... real good day!"

Closing narrationEdit

CastEdit

Reception and legacyEdit

Time named this the third-best Twilight Zone episode, behind "Time Enough at Last" and "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".[1]

Rod Serling's introduction at the beginning of this episode, was recycled and digitally edited for the preshow of the Disney Parks attraction The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror. In the preshow video, Serling stands in front of a service elevator door, rather than a map of the United States, and explains to guests the journey they're about to experience. The attraction, which first opened at Disney-MGM Studios in 1994, almost two decades since Serling's death, is an homage to the original series with an original story based on it. When conceiving the attraction, Disney Imagineers wanted to include Rod in the attraction and opted for a voice artist to play Serling; Mark Silverman was chosen to provide his voice and was chosen by Serling's widow.[2] A poster advertising "Anthony Fremont's Orchestra" is displayed next to the concierge desk in the lobby of the attraction, an ironic tone to Anthony's hate for music.

In 1997 TV Guide ranked the episode number 31 on its 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time list.[3]

The opening narration of this episode is sampled in "Threatened" by Michael Jackson in his 2001 album, Invincible.

RemakeEdit

In a 1974 interview with Marvel Comics, Rod Serling said "I'm on my third draft of a feature film based on Jerome Bixby's short story, 'It's a Good Life'. We did it originally on Twilight Zone but now we're doing a full-length version. Alan Landsburg, who produced Chariots of the Gods, is producing it. It's in the fantasy-horror genre."[4] This was one of Serling's last interviews before his death in 1975.

Twilight Zone: The Movie "It's a Good Life" segment is a remake of the original episode directed by Joe Dante.

Pop CultureEdit

This episode was also remade as a parody in The Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror II" in 1991.

The episode "Johnny Real Good" from Johnny Bravo is also based in this episode. Johnny has to babysit a boy named Timmy, who also has supernatural powers and sends Johnny several times to a nearby cornfield for "thinking bad thoughts".

The episode was referenced in an episode of American Dad!, "I Can't Stan You", where Stan listened in on his neighbors private conversations. Anyone who was heard criticizing him had their house seized by the CIA and was summarily banished to the Cornfield Motel.[5]

The episode inspired the opening episode of the fourth season of Black Mirror, "USS Callister" which is split between a Star Trek-like online game and the company developing the game.

The episode was referenced in Season 2, Episode 12 of “The Drew Carey Show” in which Drew enters his house and calls out for his parents. When they don’t reply, he says “I must have wished them to the cornfield.”

SequelEdit

In the 2002 revival series, a sequel to this episode was broadcast, titled "It's Still a Good Life". In the episode, Anthony is a middle-aged man who now has a daughter Audrey who has inherited his powers.[6] Bill Mumy and Cloris Leachman reprised their roles from the original episode.[7] Anthony Fremont's daughter, Audrey, is played by actor Bill Mumy's real-life daughter Liliana Mumy.[7][8]

A commercial for Me-TV airing on that channel in 2015 features an adult Bill Mumy as adult Anthony intercut with scenes from the original episode, apparently interacting as the adult Anthony uses his powers to beam Me-TV to little Anthony's set. In early 2017, the network used clips from this episode in promos for the show's late-night reruns.

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Top 10 Twilight Zone episodes". Time. 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
  2. ^ MacDonald, Brady (July 28, 2015). "Disney voice-over actors bring theme park rides to life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 30, 2017.
  3. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 667. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1.
  4. ^ Rod Serling Recalls—'Marvel Planet of the Apes' UK Issue 12 (1975)
  5. ^ "I Can't Stan You". TBS.
  6. ^ "Bill Mumy—Biography". Billmumy.com. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
  7. ^ a b "The Twilight Zone". Zap2it.com. Archived from the original on 2008-04-09. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
  8. ^ "The Twilight Zone Special Remake Episodes". Sci Fi Weekly. Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2007-06-22. Played by Mumy's real life daughter, Liliana Mumy

BibliographyEdit

  • Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1-59393-136-0
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9703310-9-0
  • Diaz, Junot. Penguin Books New York (2007) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao p.g 224

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit