It's a Good Life (The Twilight Zone)

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"It's a Good Life"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 3
Episode 8
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"
Production code 4801
Original air date November 3, 1961
Guest actors

John Larch: Mr. Fremont
Cloris Leachman: Mrs. Fremont
Don Keefer: Dan Hollis
Bill Mumy: Anthony Fremont
Alice Frost: Aunt Amy
Max Showalter: Pat Riley
Jeanne Bates: Ethel Hollis
Lenore Kingston: Thelma Dunn
Tom Hatcher: Bill Soames

Episode chronology
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"Deaths-Head Revisited"
List of Twilight Zone episodes

"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.

Opening narration[edit]

Plot summary[edit]

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, including mindreading. 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 bottle of 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 by being transformed into a jack-in-the-box with his human head, causing his now-widowed wife to break down. The adults are horrified at what Anthony has done, and his father begs 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!"

Closing narration[edit]

Reception and Legacy[edit]

Time Magazine 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 map background intro which is seen at the beginning of this episode, was masterfully recycled and edited with a sound alike voiceover artist to place him within the show and accommodate a service elevator theme. This new version serves as the library room pre-show introduction for Disney's Twilight Zone Tower of Terror attractions. The library room also contains other numerous episode artifacts from The Twilight Zone TV series such as Rod Serling's name engraved on a shelf, books titled with all the episode names from the series, and a broken pair of glasses from "Time Enough At Last," among many other things.

In 1997 TV Guide ranked the episode number 31 on its 100 Greatest Episodes of All Time list.[2]

Remake[edit]

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."[3] This was one of Serling's last interviews before his untimely death in 1975.

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.

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

Sequel[edit]

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.[4] Bill Mumy and Cloris Leachman reprised their roles from the original episode.[5] Anthony Fremont's daughter, Audrey, is played by actor Bill Mumy's real life daughter Liliana Mumy.[5][6]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Top 10 Twilight Zone episodes". Time. 2009-10-05. Retrieved 2009-10-09. 
  2. ^ TV Guide Guide to TV. Barnes and Noble. 2004. p. 667. ISBN 0-7607-5634-1. 
  3. ^ Rod Serling Recalls - 'Marvel Planet of the Apes' UK Issue 12 (1975)
  4. ^ "Bill Mumy - Biography". Billmumy.com. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  5. ^ a b "The Twilight Zone | Episode Detail". Zap2it.com. Retrieved 2007-06-22. 
  6. ^ "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" 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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

External links[edit]