The Fever (The Twilight Zone)
|This article relies on references to primary sources. (December 2011)|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Robert Florey|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Stock (taken primarily from Jerry Goldsmith's "jazz themes", which are used as incidental music on many other Twilight Zones, and Rene Garriguenc's "Street Moods In Jazz")|
|Original air date||January 29, 1960|
|List of Twilight Zone episodes|
Franklin and his wife Flora go to Las Vegas because she won a slogan contest. He detests gambling, but his wife is excited about their vacation. Franklin is given a coin by a drunk man at the casino, who makes Franklin use it in a slot machine. He wins and tells his wife that they should keep the winnings and not lose it back like the other people.
As they depart, Franklin believes he hears the slot machine calling his name. He continues to hear this as he tries to sleep. As he imagines his winnings piling up, he decides to try his luck, telling his wife he cannot keep "tainted" money, and that he is going to get rid of it by putting it back in the machine. Later, Flora goes to the casino and finds him playing the machine obsessively. Addicted, Franklin has lost a great deal of their money. When Flora tries to coax him to stop, Franklin declares that he has lost so much, that he has to try to win some of it back. He becomes enraged when she presses for him to leave, declaring that the machine is "inhuman", that it "teases you, sucks you in." Others observe that he has been playing the machine for hours.
When Franklin puts his last dollar into the machine, it malfunctions and will not spin. Feeling fiendishly cheated out of his last chance to strike it rich, Franklin begins yelling and attacking the machine to give him back his "last dollar." He is taken out of the casino screaming. Later in bed, Franklin tells Flora that the machine was about to pay off, but deliberately broke down so that it wouldn't have to. He then hears the machine again calling his name. To his horror, he sees the slot machine coming down the hallway towards their room, "chasing" him, but Flora cannot see it and believes that he is going crazy. When the machine continues to follow him, repeating his name over and over, "Franklin, Franklin, Franklin!", he backs up towards the window, his hands over his ears, finally crashing through the glass and falling to his death. The police stand over his body, noting that his wife had stated that he had not slept in 24 hours. A casino manager comments that he's "seen a lot of 'em get hooked before, but never like him." The last scene shows Franklin's last dollar rolling up and spinning out flat near his outstretched, dead hand. The camera pans over to the direction from which the coin came and there sits the slot machine "smiling" at him.
In Serling: The Rise and Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man, Gordon F. Sander wrote, "Serling celebrated the signing of his new show, The Twilight Zone by spending a weekend in Las Vegas. While Carol Serling was having good luck nearby, he became enslaved by a merciless one-armed bandit, an incident he would turn into one of his first Twilight Zone episodes.
This is one of several episodes from Season One with its opening title sequence plastered over with the opening for Season Two. This was done during the Summer of 1961 to help the season one shows fit in with the new look the show had taken during the following season. This is also one of three Season One episodes with Marius Constant's theme instead of Bernard Herrmann's over the closing credits.
In Stephen King's Danse Macabre, King (who admits to being more of a fan of The Outer Limits and Thriller) erroneously states that the episode stars William Shatner instead of Everett Sloane (although Shatner does play a character battling a fortune telling machine in "Nick of Time").
- Sander, Gordon F.: Serling: The Rise And Twilight of Television's Last Angry Man. New York: Penguin Books, 1992.
- 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