Elegy (The Twilight Zone)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 1|
|Directed by||Douglas Heyes|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont|
by Charles Beaumont
|Featured music||Nathan Van Cleave|
|Original air date||February 19, 1960|
The time is the day after tomorrow. The place: a far corner of the universe. A cast of characters: three men lost amongst the stars. Three men sharing the common urgency of all men lost. They're looking for home. And in a moment, they'll find home; not a home that is a place to be seen, but a strange unexplainable experience to be felt.
In the late 22nd century, astronauts Meyers, Webber, and Kirby land their spaceship on a remote asteroid after running low on fuel. They find the place quite Earth-like although "655 million miles away from Earth", but more closely resembling Earth of a past era, although they notice that it has two suns. The first place they come to is a farm where they find a farmer gazing off into the distance. They acknowledge him and try to get his attention, but realize he is nothing more than a statue.
The astronauts find a town and they split up to explore it. They are disturbed by their surroundings as they find this town populated by more of the apparently frozen human beings; everything remains eerily motionless. Converging on the center of town, they are startled to find someone who does move: "Jeremy Wickwire", who tells them that he's the caretaker. Amiably, 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 two hundred years to recover from it. Wickwire serves the three men Liebfraumilch, toasts their safe arrival, and asks each man what his 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 maintenance on a few clocks) apologizes to them, and explains that it is his job to ensure peace and tranquility at "Happy Glades". He emphasizes that they "are men, and while 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 on their way home, just as they had wished. In the final scene, Wickwire is shown entering one of the stately buildings of Happy Glades, presumably shutting down again, probably forever, possibly until additional astronauts unwittingly land at "Happy Glades".
Kirby, Webber, and Meyers, three men lost. They shared a common wish—a simple one, really. They wanted to be aboard their ship headed for home. And fate—a laughing fate—a practical jokester with a smile stretched across the stars, saw to it that they got their wish with just one reservation: the wish came true, but only in the Twilight Zone.
- Cecil Kellaway as Jeremy Wickwire
- Jeff Morrow as Karl (or Carl?) Meyers
- Kevin Hagen as Captain James Webber
- Don Dubbins as Peter Kirby
Inside the spaceship, "equipment" originally constructed for the film Forbidden Planet was reused for this episode, and shows up in a number of other Twilight Zone episodes. The sound effects heard inside the spaceship will be used again six years later as some of the sounds on the bridge of the starship USS Enterprise, in the original Star Trek television series. The song played in the scene with the frozen marching band is "Hot Time" by the University of Wisconsin’s marching band. The set of the room of the frozen mayor addressing the crowd had been used in the previous episodes "The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine" as part of Barbara Trenton's home, as well as in "The Purple Testament" as the lobby of an Army hospital. It 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
- Zicree, Marc Scott (2018) The Twilight Zone Companion 3rd Expanded and Revised ed. Silman-James Press ISBN 978-1935247173