Elegy (The Twilight Zone)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1
|Directed by||Douglas Heyes|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont|
|Featured music||Nathan Van Cleave|
|Original air date||February 19, 1960|
Running out of fuel, astronauts Meyers, Webber, and Kirby land their spaceship on a remote asteroid in 2186. They find the place quite Earth-like with buildings and people, but after looking around begin to wonder where everyone is. The first place they come to is a farm where they can find no one. No one, that is, until they see a farmer gazing off into the distance. They approach him, tap him on the shoulder and try talking to him, but realize he is nothing more than a statue.
The men later come to a town hall in which a man is being elected mayor. There's a large audience and a band playing. They can hear music, but everyone and everything is dead-still. A beauty pageant, in which several lovely ladies are participating on stage, is where they find themselves next. Again there's a large audience and the sound of much activity, but no one is moving - as if they are frozen. Just as they leave the room, an old man in the audience suddenly turns around and smiles.
The astronauts explore the area for some time, and grow more and more disturbed by their surroundings as they find everything - even the animals - eerily motionless. Finally, they are startled to find someone who does move - "Wickwire," the caretaker of this place. Wickwire explains to the astronauts that the asteroid they have landed on is an exclusive cemetery called "Happy Glades," founded in 1973 where rich people can live out their life's greatest fantasy - after they die. He is told by the men that a nuclear war destroyed much of the Earth in 1985, and that it has taken over two hundred years to recover from it. Wickwire serves the three men wine and asks what their greatest wish is. All three reply that they wish they were on their ship heading for home. Suddenly, they realize that their drinks have been poisoned with what Wickwire refers to as "eternifying fluid." As the men are dying, Wickwire (who is actually a robot that has been deactivated for "about 200 years" and only turns on for occasional duties such as cleaning, dusting, and performing minor maintenance on a few clocks) apologizes to them, and explains that it's his job to ensure peace and tranquility at "Happy Glades." He emphasizes that they "are men, and where there are men there can be no peace."
Later, Wickwire re-installs the embalmed astronauts in their ship, posing them at their posts as if they were, indeed, on their way home - just as they'd wished.
This episode is based on the short story "Elegy" by Charles Beaumont. The story was first published in Imagination (February, 1953).
Inside the spaceship, "equipment" originally constructed for the film Forbidden Planet was reused for this episode, and show up in a number of other Twilight Zone episodes. The set of the room of the frozen mayor addressing the crowd had been used in the previous episode, The Purple Testament as the lobby of an Army hospital and would be used again as a hallway of a college campus in Long Live Walter Jameson.
- 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