It's a Good Life (The Twilight Zone)
|"It's a Good Life"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Directed by||James Sheldon|
|Written by||Rod Serling from the story "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby. First published in the 1953 collection Star Science Fiction Stories No.2.|
|Featured music||Stock plus "Moonglow" and "Stardust"|
|Original air date||November 3, 1961|
"It's a Good Life" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. It is based on the 1953 short story "It's a Good Life" by Jerome Bixby and is considered by many, such as Time Magazine and TV Guide, to be one of the best episodes of the series.
Plot summary 
Six-year-old Anthony Fremont looks like any other little boy, but looks can be deceiving: he is a monster, a mutant with godlike mental powers. Early on, he isolated the small town of Peaksville, Ohio. In fact, the handful of inhabitants do not even know if he destroyed the rest of the world or if he whisked them away to some uncharted territory. Anthony has also eliminated electricity, automobiles, and television signals. He controls the weather and what supplies can be found in the grocery store. Anthony creates and destroys as he pleases (such as when he made and killed a "three-headed gopher"), and controls when and what the residents can watch on the TV.
The adults, including his own parents, tiptoe nervously around him, constantly telling him how everything he does is "good", since displeasing him can get them wished away into a mystical "cornfield", from which there is no return. At one point, a dog is heard barking angrily. Anthony thinks the dog is "bad" and "doesn't like [him] at all", and wishes it into the cornfield. His father and mother are horrified, but they dare not show it.
Finally, at Dan Hollis' birthday party, Dan gets two presents from his wife: a brandy and a Perry Como record. As he is eager to listen to the record, he is reminded by everyone that Anthony doesn't like singing. Getting slightly drunk from the brandy and complaining about not listening to Perry Como and no one singing "Happy Birthday" to him, Dan cannot take the strain anymore and confronts Anthony, calling him a monster and a murderer. While Anthony's anger grows, Dan yells for someone to kill 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. Anthony cries out to Dan, "You're a bad man! You're a very bad man! And you keep thinking bad thoughts about me!" and points at him. Dan is killed, shown indirectly by his shadow, transformed into a jack-in-the-box with his human head, causing his wife (now widow) to break down. The adults are horrified at what Anthony had done to Dan and beg him to wish it to the cornfield, which he does.
Because of Amy's earlier complaints about the heat, Anthony causes snow to begin falling outside. His father observes that the snow will kill off at least half the crops and as he is about to confront Anthony about this, his wife and the other adults look on with worried smiles on their faces. The father then smiles and tells Anthony in a horror-tinged voice, "...But it's good you're making it snow. A real good thing. And tomorrow... tomorrow's gonna be a... real good day!"
An updated remake of this episode with a lighter ending written by Richard Matheson and directed by Joe Dante, was featured as the third segment of 1983's Twilight Zone: The Movie. Bill Mumy also made a cameo appearance in the segment.
In the 2002 revival series, a sequel to this episode was broadcast, entitled 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. Bill Mumy and Cloris Leachman reprised their roles from the original episode. Anthony Fremont's daughter, Audrey, is played by actor Bill Mumy's real life daughter Liliana Mumy.
- Audio samples from the episode and referencing lyrics were used in the song "Cemetery Girls" from the 1980 album Voobaha by the novelty rock group Barnes & Barnes. Mumy, using the stage name Art Barnes, is one of the members of Barnes & Barnes (although this was not generally known when the album was released).
- The 1990 EP "Escape From Pain" by the Nashville, TN based thrash metal band Intruder contains a song entitled "It's A Good Life" which is based on the episode.
- "It's a Good Life" was parodied on the season three Simpsons episode "Treehouse of Horror II", in the 1991 segment, "The Bart Zone." In the parody, Bart plays the "monster" character who turns Homer into a jack-in-the-box when Homer goes to kill Bart after Bart sends Homer flying into a goal post during a football game. The segment ends on a more upbeat (though ultimately sarcastic) note, where Marvin Monroe advises Homer to spend more time with Bart (whose omnipotence is diagnosed as a cry for fatherly attention) and, after a day of bonding, Bart turns Homer back to a human and the two share a hug (which is interrupted when Bart wakes up screaming from the dream).
- This episode was also parodied in the 1997 Johnny Bravo episode "Johnny Real Good", in which Johnny, in order to make money for a new car, babysits a young boy with godlike powers, and is tormented when he doesn't speak to the boy nicely, including being sent to a literal cornfield outside the boy's house whenever he tries to discipline him.
- The opening narration features as the introduction to Michael Jackson's "Threatened," from his 2001 album, Invincible.
- In the 2007 novel Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz, "Peaksville" and The Twilight Zone are mentioned in comparison with Trujillo's reign of the Dominican Republic between 1930 and 1961.
- The animated series American Dad! parodies "It's a Good Life" in its 2007 episode I Can't Stan You. Main character Stan Smith finds out his neighbors don't like him and abuses his CIA authority to have all their houses seized. The neighbors receive "a coupon good for five nights' stay at the Cornfield Motel". Later in the episode, his family members Francine, Hayley and Klaus quietly discuss Stan's madness, with Klaus warning "Shh! If he hears us, he'll send us all to the Cornfield Motel!"
- The first sentence and a half of the opening narration from this episode is used in the pre-boarding video for Disney's The Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions. Voice actor Mark Silverman dubs the voice of host Rod Serling and the shot of Serling (masked out of its original environment and placed onto a background showing one of the ride's elevators) is cut short. Serling's original dialogue was "Tonight's story on The Twilight Zone is somewhat unique and calls for a different kind of introduction. This, as you may recognize, is a map of the United States..." For the attraction video, the Serling footage is used up to the point that Serling forms the sounds "This as you may recognize..." then cuts away from Serling to just a shot of the elevator as Silverman instead goes on to say "is a maintenance service elevator, still in operation, waiting for you."
- The comic book PS238 describes the chronically terrified parents of a child with telepathic powers as suffering from "Wish You Into the Cornfield" Syndrome.
- The on-line virtual world Second Life has a "region of mythological status where once naughty avatars were sent to think about what they had done" called "The Cornfield".
- Legends, a two-part episode of Justice League, features homages to "It's a Good Life" and The Prisoner, in which the survivors of an alternate universe's nuclear war are forced to act out normal lives in a simulated world created by psychic mutant Ray Thompson. Four dimension-lost members of the Justice League help the recreated Justice Guild of America defeat Ray and free the people.
- The 1999 horror game Silent Hill features a young girl, Alessa Gillespie who has powers similar to Anthony, and even is mentioned to have made classmates "disappear".
- In the 2008 videogame Fallout 3, the character known as Betty, encountered within the Tranquility Lane computer simulation, was partially based upon Anthony Fremont.
- In the season 2 Falling Skies episode "The Price of Greatness," when angered, character John Pope tells his antagonist, "I'm gonna wish you into the cornfield."
- In the TV show Buffy the Vampire Slayer, on the episode Older and Far Away, the cast gets stuck in Buffy's house when Dawn accidentally wishes that nobody would leave her. When the cast first finds out about their inability to leave, the character Xander says "No, it's just, you know, you're upset 'cause we want to leave, and now we can't leave. Only thing missing is a cornfield. There- there isn't a cornfield, is there?", referencing It's a Good Life.
- The Disney series for Aladdin features an episode with a similar plot, "Bad Mood Rising", where African child king King Mahmud controls the weather based on his mood. Whenever he's angry or upset, there are storms and droughts. When Princess Jasmine tells him stories, he demands she stay, as do his subjects when his moods bring more disaster. Aladdin, Genie, Abu, and Iago help Mahmud to stop being selfish when they come to say goodbye, with Iago, Genie, and Abu playing Jasmine's grieving parents, grandfather, orphans of Agrabah, and pet wallaby Edgar. Mahmud is touched and upset, letting them go. It is then he realizes doing things for others makes him happy.
- In the TV show Bunheads episode "It's Not A Mint," Milly apparently cuts in line but no one else in line will acknowledge that, leading Michelle to remark, "And note that the group successfully avoided being wished into the cornfield." To which Milly replies, "Why does everyone make that same cornfield reference about me?"
- The 1996 novel The Regulators by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) features a scary little kid, Seth, using miraculous powers and tormenting a community in Ohio; but King explains these powers as caused by a possessing entity rather than "just there."
- "Top 10 Twilight Zone episodes". Time. 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2009-10-09.
- TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 667. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1.
- "Bill Mumy - Biography". Billmumy.com. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- "The Twilight Zone | Episode Detail". Zap2it.com. Retrieved 2007-06-22.
- "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"
- Michael Jackson; Invincible http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5ydpNBwF64
- Second Life; Second Life Wiki
- Nguyen, Thierry. "Fallout 3 Afterthoughts". 1up.com. Retrieved 2012-05-24.
- 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
- Michael Jackson's Threatened: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5ydpNBwF
- Diaz, Junot. Penguin Books New York (2007) The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao p.g 224