The Bewitchin' Pool

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"The Bewitchin' Pool"
The Twilight Zone episode
Episode no. Season 5
Episode 156
Directed by Joseph M. Newman
Written by Earl Hamner Jr.
Production code 2619
Original air date June 19, 1964
Guest actors

Mary Badham: Sport Sharewood
June Foray: Sport Sharewood (uncredited) (voice in outdoor scenes only)
Kim Hector: Whitt
Dee Hartford: Gloria Sharewood
Jeffrey Byron (as Tim Stafford): Jeb Sharewood
Georgia Simmons: Aunt T
Tod Andrews: Gil Sharewood

Episode chronology
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"The Fear"
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List of Twilight Zone episodes

"The Bewitchin' Pool" is the final episode (in original broadcast order) of the American television series The Twilight Zone.

Opening narration[edit]

A swimming pool not unlike any other pool, a structure built of tile and cement and money, a backyard toy for the affluent, wet entertainment for the well-to-do. But to Jeb and Sport Sharewood, this pool holds mysteries not dreamed of by the building contractor, not guaranteed in any sales brochure. For this pool has a secret exit that leads to a never-neverland, a place designed for junior citizens who need a long voyage away from reality, into the bottomless regions of the Twilight Zone.

Plot[edit]

Sport Sharewood and her brother Jeb live in a large, expensive house, but their parents are both cold, insensitive and self-centered.

While Sport and Jeb are sitting beside their swimming pool, a young boy in a Huckleberry Finn straw hat pops up from the deep end of their pool and invites them to follow him. The children follow him by diving underwater only to come back up in a lake bordering a rustic, simple homestead. All around them are children swimming, fishing, and playing. In contrast to their lavish home of neglect and insults, they are welcomed and loved from the moment they arrive at this children's paradise. There is only one adult there named "Aunt T", a sweet, gentle and kind elderly woman who loves children; she explains she has many children there who came from parents who didn't deserve them.

When Sport and Jeb decide to go home, for fear that their parents will be worried, they learn that their parents have decided to divorce and hadn't even missed them while they were gone. When the parents tell the children the news, they give them the choice of either living with their mother or their father and berate them for not deciding quickly enough. The children have an epiphany that their parents do not genuinely love them and never will. Ignoring their parents' shouts, Sport and Jeb race back to the pool, dive in, disappear and escape back to Aunt T.

In the end the children are happily living with Aunt T whose love is unconditional. Sport hears the increasingly distant voice of her mother, but – after a moment of regret – ignores her, and focuses on her new life. Rod Serling does his narration for concerned parents during a shot of children playing in Aunt T's yard.

Closing narration[edit]

A brief epilogue for concerned parents. Of course, there isn't any such place as the gingerbread house of Aunt T, and we grownups know there's no door at the bottom of a swimming pool that leads to a secret place. But who can say how real the fantasy world of lonely children can become? For Jeb and Sport Sharewood, the need for love turned fantasy into reality; they found a secret place - in the Twilight Zone.

Episode notes[edit]

This was the final episode of the original Twilight Zone series to be broadcast, though not the last to be filmed. The last episode filmed was "Come Wander With Me", while, according to Marc Scott Zicree's "The Twilight Zone Companion", the reediting of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (including the addition of new footage of Serling) was the last episode "produced" before cancellation. The last episode broadcast during the original run – as a repeat – was "The Jeopardy Room".

Numerous production problems delayed the premiere of this episode, which was originally scheduled for March 20, 1964. Most noticeably, back-lot noise rendered much of the outdoor dialogue unusable – only the indoor scenes with Aunt T were considered audible. The entire cast (except Aunt T) consequently redubbed their outdoor dialogue in September, 1963, but Mary Badham's voice was still deemed not right.[1]

Unfortunately, by the time this decision had been made, Badham had returned to her home in Alabama, and the cost of flying her back to LA to re-record her lines yet again was ruled to be too expensive. Eventually, voice actress June Foray, best known as the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel in the Bullwinkle cartoons, dubbed Sport Sharewood's lines for all the scenes that take place outdoors (and sounding very much like Rocky). In the finished episode, the change in Sport's voice is noticeable when she moves indoors, and Badham's own deeper voice and more authentic accent are heard in place of Foray's overdubbed voice characterization. Foray also dubbed the voice of actor Jan Handzliky in the season one episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".[1]

Another production peculiarity is that "The Bewitchin' Pool'" is the only episode of The Twilight Zone to open with a teaser scene that is repeated in its entirety later in the episode. This opening teaser scene (which is well over two minutes in length) was not included in Earl Hamner's original episode script; it appears to have been included to lengthen the episode after some other footage was dropped. Note that actor Harold Gould is listed in some sources as a cast member for this episode, but does not appear in any capacity in the finished production. (In one account, Gould is given credit for having played a radio announcer, but there is no radio announcer in the actual completed episode.)[1]

Other re-used footage in the episode includes an identical 10-second shot of Sport and Jeb swimming up to the foot of a tree on two occasions; Sport and Jeb's mother twice telling them in the space of a minute "Darn you loudmouth kids" -- using exactly the same footage of her dialogue, as well as of the kids' reaction; and the first and final shots of various children playing in front of Aunt T's house.

The episode is also believed[who?] to be the basis for the B-52s song entitled "Private Idaho". That song uses portions of the Twilight Zone's theme song--and it also tells you to "Beware of the pool" and "Don't let the chlorine in your eyes blind you to the big surprise that's waitin' for you at the bottom of the bottomless blue blue blue pool".

Earl Hamner, Jr., got the idea for The Bewitchin' Pool while living in the San Fernando Valley region of California and witnessing an alarming divorce rate and the effect it had on children. The episode was one of the first shows on television to really address the problem of divorce and bad parenting, and in part it represents wish fulfillment or escapism for children in such situations.[1]

The episode was a parodied in the Grim Adventures of Billy and Mandy.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Presnell, Don; McGee, Marty (2008). A Critical History of Television's The Twilight Zone, 1959-1964. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-7864-3886-0. 

Bibliography[edit]

  • 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
  • Presnell, Don and Marty McGee. (2008). A Critical History of Television’s The Twilight Zone, 1959–1964. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3886-0

External links[edit]