The Eye of the Beholder
|"Eye of the Beholder"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Douglas Heyes|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Bernard Herrmann|
|Original air date||November 11, 1960|
Janet Tyler has undergone her eleventh treatment (the maximum number legally allowed) in an attempt to look like everybody else. The details of the treatment are not given, but Tyler is first shown with her head completely bandaged so that her face cannot be seen. She is described as being "not normal" by the nurses and doctor, whose own faces are always in shadows or off-camera.
The outcome of the procedure cannot be known until the bandages are removed. Tyler pleads with the doctor and eventually convinces him to remove the bandages early. After a climactic buildup, the bandages are removed. The reaction of the doctor and nurses is horror and disappointment. The procedure has failed, and her face has undergone "no change—no change at all". The camera pulls back to reveal that she is actually beautiful.
At this point, the doctor, nurses and other people in the hospital are revealed to be horribly deformed by our perspective, with large, thick brows, sunken eyes, swollen and twisted lips, and wrinkled, pig-like snouts. Distraught by the failure of the procedure, Tyler runs through the hospital as the faces of everyone she runs into, the norm in this society, are revealed. Flat-screen television screens throughout the hospital project an image of the State's despotic leader giving a speech calling for greater conformity.
Eventually, a handsome man (by our standards) afflicted with the same "condition" arrives to take the crying, despondent Tyler into exile to a village of her "own kind", where her "ugliness" will not trouble the State. Before the two leave, the man comforts Tyler, saying that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder".
The episode was written by Rod Serling, who recycled the theme for a later teleplay "The Different Ones" for his later series Night Gallery. This one takes place in a futuristic world where a disfigured hermit teenage boy is sent on a NASA rocket to a planet where the inhabitants look like him.
It was directed by Douglas Heyes. His primary concern, when he was casting the show, was to pick actors with sympathetic voices: to achieve this he cast the episode with his back to the performers.
Heyes had planned to have Maxine Stuart, who spoke all of the lines of the main character Janet Tyler when her head is entirely covered by bandages, dub in the single line spoken by Tyler when she is revealed, portrayed by the actress Donna Douglas. However, Douglas had been listening to Stuart's voice as she recorded her part, and was able to imitate her so successfully that she was allowed to speak the line on camera herself.
The original title for this episode was "Eye of the Beholder." Stuart Reynolds, a television producer, threatened to sue Serling for the use of the name because at the time he was selling an educational film of the same name to public schools. Reruns following the initial broadcast featured the title screen "The Private World of Darkness." Because CBS consulted different prints over the years for syndication packages, the closing credits for this episode varies from one title to the other depending on which television station is using which package. In The Twilight Zone's original DVD release the syndicated version was marketed as an "alternate version". Other than the appearance of the title itself in the closing credits, however, there are no differences between the two "versions".
According to The Twilight Zone Companion this was one of the hardest episodes technically to put on film.
|This section does not cite any references or sources. (May 2012)|
This episode was re-made for the 2002-2003 revival of the series using Serling's original script (but discarding Bernard Herrmann's original score), with Molly Sims cast as Janet and Reggie Hayes as the doctor. The make-up was changed to make the faces look more melted, ghoulish and decayed with deep ridges. A few scenes of dialogue were omitted. The projection screens were changed to plasma screens and the leader's monologue was slightly embellished.
This episode, much like other Twilight Zone episodes such as "Time Enough at Last" and "It's a Good Life", has been referenced and parodied on other television shows. A Saturday Night Live episode hosted by Pamela Anderson (credited as "Pamela Lee") features Anderson as the patient, though in a comic twist she and all the male doctors conclude that she is now "hot". The suspenseful bandage removal sequence has been parodied on three Fox TV animated sitcoms: The Simpsons ("Pygmoelian" and "Gone Maggie Gone"), Family Guy ("He's Too Sexy for His Fat", "Meet the Quagmires"), and Futurama ("The Cyber House Rules"). It was also used in the TV sitcom 3rd Rock from the Sun.
An episode of SpongeBob SquarePants called "The Two Faces of Squidward" is based upon this episode.
The opening of the program was sampled and used in Dillinja's 1998 track "Hard Noise".
This episode is also sampled in the 2010 song "Southern Comfort" by Envy on the Coast.
See also 
- 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
- "The Eye of the Beholder" at the Internet Movie Database
- TV.com episode page
- Eye of the Beholder Review at "The Twilight Zone Project"