Definitions

Where Is Everybody

Where Is Everybody?

"Where is Everybody?" is the first episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone.

Opening narration

:
The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we're about to watch could be our journey.

Plot summary

A man, Mike Ferris, finds himself alone in a strange town. He is dressed in an Air Force jumpsuit, but he does not remember who he is or how he got there. The town seems deserted, but everywhere the man goes, he seems to almost find someone — food is cooking on the stoves, water is still dripping in the sinks, and cigarettes are still burning in the ashtrays. He grows more and more unsettled as he wanders through the empty town, looking for someone, anyone, to talk to. He finally collapses next to a street crossing, and presses a button labeled WALK. It is revealed that the walk button is in fact a panic button. He is really an astronaut confined to an isolation room for 484 hours, testing to see if he can stay sane cooped up in a small spacecraft for the duration of a trip to the Moon. The town was a complete hallucination, an escape valve for his sensory-deprived mind.

Closing narration

:
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.

In the written form of the story, published as a collection of Rod Serling stories, as Mike is carried on a stretcher away from the isolation booth, a ticket falls out of his pocket. It is the ticket to the movie he saw in his "hallucination." He really WAS there, it seems. But the TV version omits this.

Original pilot narration

There is a sixth 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, 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 that might be called The Twilight Zone

The barrier of loneliness: the palpable, desperate need of the human animal to be with his fellow man. 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.

Preview for Next Week's Story

Next week, I'll have a reunion with a unique talent and a valued friend, our first since Requiem for a Heavyweight. Next week on The Twilight Zone, Mr. Ed Wynn stars in "One for the Angels," playing an old pitchman who sells mechanical toys like this, but whose competition is Mr. Death. We hope you'll join us then. Thank you and good night.

Production information

Prior to this episode, Rod Serling had written an episode called "The Happy Place" as the pilot for his new series, but it was rejected because of its subject matter — a society where people were executed when they turned 60 due to their inability to contribute to society (see euthanasia) — was considered too depressing by network executives. This premise of old for young was later used, slightly modified, in the novel Logan's Run and adaptations of the novel, as well as an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation ("Half a Life").

This is a strange Twilight Zone as it contains no supernatural or science fiction elements. Episodes that are also like this are "The Shelter", "The Silence", and "The Jeopardy Room".

Once the episode had been given the green light and filming had concluded, it originally featured narration by announcer Westbrook Van Voorhis. As Voorhis was unavailable for subsequent episodes, however, Serling himself recorded the narration (for both the episode and the introduction) for consistency; his presence later became a hallmark of the series. This is when the Twilight Zone became the fifth dimension rather than the sixth in the original pilot naration. Additionally, because he is the only person to appear, or at least play a part, in every episode, he is technically listed as the star, with the rest of the cast considered guests.

Several years later, Serling adapted this and other episodes into short stories for a book, Stories From the Twilight Zone. Reportedly dissatisfied with the lack of science fiction content, he added an additional twist to the end by having Mike Ferris discover a movie ticket in his pocket after being carried away on the stretcher. A variation on this twist was later used in "King Nine Will Not Return".

The haunting score composed by Bernard Herrman for this episode would be reused for several episodes of the series, most notably "The After Hours."

Themes

The main theme in this episode, as the title suggests, is the difference between aloneness and loneliness and its effect on humans. The commanding officer in the final scene sums this up, observing, "The barrier of loneliness — that's the one thing we haven't licked yet." Serling would return to this theme in several other episodes, most prominently "The Mind and the Matter", in which a man finds he can eliminate outside influences and uses the power to rid himself of all humanity, only to realize the extreme loneliness that comes with deprivation of human interaction.

As part of the Sci Fi Channel's participation in Cable in the Classroom, "Where is Everybody?" may be recorded and retained indefinitely for educational exhibition. A suggested lesson plan expands on the concept of aloneness vs. loneliness by shifting the focus to "using a gift for personal gain or for the benefit of others" and how students might help those who are most affected by isolation and the effects of social deprivation.

Critical response

The pilot episode began a trend for The Twilight Zone of critical success accompanied by adequate, if not phenomenal, ratings. A New York Times review of the episode on October 3, 1959 stated:
Mr. Serling conceived his playlet in imaginative terms and underscored his point that science cannot foretell what may be the effect of total isolation on a human being. Indeed, the play's situation was almost bound to be better than its resolution, which by comparison seemed trite and anticlimactic. In the desultory field of filmed half-hour drama, however, Mr. Serling should not have much trouble in making his mark. At least his series promises to be different.

Later that year, in the December issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction, Charles Beaumont wrote:

...I read Serling's first script. It was, or seemed to be, an end-of-the-world story. Resisting the impulse to throw the wretched thing across the room, I read on. A man is alone in a town which shows every sign of having been recently occupied. He finds cigarettes burning in ash trays. Stoves are still warm. Chimneys are smoking. But no one is there, only this one frightened man who can't even remember his name...Old stuff? Of course. I thought so at the time, and I think so now. But there was one element in the story which kept me from my customary bitterness. The element was quality. Quality shone on every page. It shone in the dialogue and in the scene set-ups. And because of this, the story seemed fresh and new and powerful. There was one compromise, but it was made for the purpose of selling the series.

Footnotes

References

  • DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
  • Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090

External links

Search another word or see Where Is Everybodyon Dictionary | Thesaurus |Spanish
Copyright © 2014 Dictionary.com, LLC. All rights reserved.
  • Please Login or Sign Up to use the Recent Searches feature