I of Newton
|"I of Newton"|
|The Twilight Zone (1985 series) episode|
Scene from "I of Newton" featuring Ron Glass as Demon.
|Directed by||Kenneth Gilbert|
|Written by||Joe Haldeman|
|Original air date||December 13, 1985|
Sam is a college professor who is frustrated at his multiple failures to solve a complex mathematical equation. He angrily exclaims, "I'd sell my soul to get this thing right!" A demon instantly appears and announces that Sam's math problem "was the phonetic equivalent of a demonic invocation." He makes it known that he intends to steal his soul and sell it to otherworldly bidders. Despite Sam's protests that the "selling my soul" remark was an idle afterthought, the demon explains that it set the deal in motion. Throughout the episode, the demon's T-shirt changes remarks, casually encouraging Sam to "choose damnation" or like remarks. The demon also explains that Hell has been able to thrive due to the real world's weakening belief in spirituality, along with the inside joke "Most people, when asked about Dante, will answer with the guy who produced Gremlins!"
The demon says the term will be as follows: Sam is permitted to ask three questions about how the process works or of demonic powers. Sam is then permitted to ask a fourth question or make a request of the demon. If the demon fails to perform the task or is unable to answer the question, the deal is off and Sam's soul is spared. When Sam asks stupidly "Really?" the demon responds "Yes, really" and that Sam has posed his first question.
Sam's carefully plans his next question. He asks if there are any physical limitations to the demon's powers. The demon gleefully claims that he is able to travel faster than the speed of light and can make two electrons occupy the same quantum state.
The third question forms a corollary to the second. Sam queries if there is any place from which the demon cannot find his way back. The demon informs Sam that he can move through galaxies in a microsecond and even see alternate history timelines, such as "Berlin if the Nazis had won the war" or Rome had Alexander the Great "lived to a ripe old age." He then implores Sam to give up, as he expected more from him.
The demon demands that Sam pose his final question or task. Sam calmly provides the impossible task: "Get lost." Defeated the demon screams and melts away, leaving only his sunglasses. Sam picks them up and throws them away. Turning back to his math problem with a rueful smile, he notes, "Well, that guy wasn't any help at all."
|“||Another of our continuing tips on what to do if the Devil shows up on your doorstep. A public service announcement from the Twilight Zone.||”|
The teleplay was based on a short story by Joe Haldeman which first appeared in the June, 1970 issue of Fantastic Stories magazine (Volume 19, no. 5). In the original short story, the exclamation that is tacked onto a string of math to summon the demon is "no, goddammit," which is possibly censored for television. The demon plans to eat Sam's soul and not sell it and proclaims "Unfortunately the loss of your soul will drop your intelligence to that of a vegetable — I am also a vegetarian." When the demon has been banished, Sam plays with the Fermat's Theorem disproof fragment the demon left behind and thinks about summoning the demon and tricking him again. The final sentence is fashioned after Aesop and suggests that if there was a devil there must also be a god, "watching his language."
A boom mic is briefly visible at the top of the screen in the scene where the devil is telling Sam about selling his soul to the big chains.
The inside joke about Dante was likely homage to Joe Dante directing multiple episodes of the show.