With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us?
The Twilight Zone (Episode #28): “A Nice Place to Visit” (airdate 4/15/60)
The Plot: A violent man is killed in a violent way, and he ends up in a place that grants his every wish for the rest of eternity. What could be so terrible about that?
The Goods: Rocky Valentine (Larry Blyden) shoots a man, robs a pawn shop, and feels the sting of lead shove itself into his body when the cops take him down. Not the most honorable way to go, but everything seems to work out for the best because Rocky wakes up in a beautiful place with his very own wish fulfillment assistant.
That assistant is the rotund Mr. Pip (Sebastian Cabot) who can get Rocky anything his heart can conjure. But why should this villain assume he belongs in Heaven?
This episode is drawn from an ancient story that’s been retold countless times. The title might be one of the more evocative hints that Rod Serling and company ever gave, but this isn’t truly a twist episode because of how obvious and easily recognizable the scenario really is. It’s a matter of watching Rocky dig himself deeper emotionally, investing in this new paradise while we know what awaits him. It’s dramatic irony done with sleek skill.
Mr. Pip satisfies Serling’s vision of the devil as a portly, older gentleman with a sweet disposition (and he also continues the tradition of supernatural beings proving themselves by reading of a list of intimate details from a notebook). Cabot dyed his hair white for the episode, but that’s not the only dedication to the role he puts on display – he’s a giant snake that you feel comfortable crossing the street with. No easy feat for an actor, but Cabot pulls off being loveable and sinister all in the same breath.
As for Blyden, he takes the stereotypical Rocky to the appropriate extreme. CBS had some issues with how blatantly sexist and sexual he was, but he’s a sufficiently bad guy, and he treats objects like women. They seem tame by today’s standards, but CBS wanted to avoid at all costs the feeling that the busty women in paradise weren’t overtly offering Rocky mouth jobs.
The lesson here may also be one of the more abstract bits of ethics that The Twilight Zone has ever attempted. It’s better to want than to have. Rocky goes insane because there’s no more challenge in his existence, there’s no more effort needed, and there’s nothing to hope for because it all exists as soon as he wants it. This is a bit like the lesson from The Escape Clause – which features a fat Satan making a deal with an idiotic human who thinks he can cheat the system. Just as death defines life in that episode, the challenge of working for and possibly not getting what you want defines desire here.
Of course, the other option here is that Rocky was handed the keys to Heaven but ended up making it Hell himself.
What do you think of the episode?
The Trivia: Sebastian Cabot was Mr. French on Family Affair. Mr. French! He plays Satan here! How cool is that?
On the Next Episode: A teacher meets a young girl in her apartment building who seems to know everything about a traumatic moment from her past.
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.