In Praise of Pip
|"In Praise of Pip"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Jack Klugman as Max Phillips
|Directed by||Joseph M. Newman|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||Rene Garriguenc, conducted by Lud Gluskin|
|Original air date||September 27, 1963|
"In Praise of Pip" is an episode of the American television anthology series The Twilight Zone. In this episode, a crooked bookie learns that his son has suffered a mortal wound in the Vietnam War, only to encounter a childhood version of his son.
This was the first episode of The Twilight Zone to be 25 minutes long since "The Changing of the Guard".
|“||Submitted for your approval: one Max Phillips. A slightly-the-worse-for-wear maker of book, whose life has been as drab and undistinguished as a bundle of dirty clothes. And though it's very late in his day, he has an errant wish that the rest of his life might be sent out to a laundry, to come back shiny and clean. This to be a gift of love to a son named Pip. Mr. Max Phillips, homo sapiens, who is soon to discover that man is not as wise as he thinks. Said lesson to be learned in the Twilight Zone.||”|
In South Vietnam, medics are examining Pip Phillips, a wounded soldier. The medical officer says Pip's case is hopeless and it is only a matter of time before he will die. In the United States, Pip's father Max, a bookie, suckers a young man into placing $300 on a bad bet. The man comes to him for help, saying that he made the bet on loaned money and will go to jail if he doesn't get it back. Max returns the $300, but his boss notices the discrepancy in the books and summons both Max and the debtor to his office. As the young man is strong-armed into returning his bet, Max receives a telegram about Pip's condition. Max vocally rues the time he spent working as a bookie instead of being a father to his son, and returns the money to the debtor. He tells him to run and threatens his boss and his underling with a knife. The underling shoots Max, but Max is still enraged by his son's fate and uses his knife to kill both men.
Wounded, he stumbles outside towards a closed amusement park and is surprised to see Pip at age 10. The two have some fun and redress Max's near-constant absence from his son's life, with Max teaching Pip how to shoot at a shooting gallery. Pip runs off into the house of mirrors, and Max follows. When Max finds him, Pip explains that he is dying and vanishes. Max prays to God and offers to trade his own life in exchange for Pip's. He collapses and dies on the midway.
Some months later, the adult Pip is seen at the park, now walking with the aid of a cane. Max's former landlady is also there with her granddaughter and recalls Max's love for his son. Pip visits the shooting gallery, remembering the wonderful times he had as a child with his father. He proclaims that his father was "[his] best buddy" as he begins to play.
|“||Very little comment here, save for this small aside: that the ties of flesh are deep and strong; that the capacity to love is a vital, rich, and all-consuming function of the human animal. And that you can find nobility and sacrifice and love wherever you may seek it out: down the block, in the heart or in the Twilight Zone.||”|
The episode was filmed on location at the Pacific Ocean Park in Santa Monica, California. It is often incorrectly cited as the first American television drama to mention the growing Vietnam War, or the first to show a Vietnam veteran. However, starting in March 1963, actor Glenn Corbett had become a regular on the series Route 66, playing returned Vietnam soldier Lincoln Case. The Vietnam War and its effects on Linc were crucial plot points in several Route 66 episodes, including his debut, which was broadcast six months before this episode.
"In Praise of Pip" opens in Vietnam, with a wounded Pip being brought into a front-line mobile hospital. Rod Serling originally wanted the episode's opening to take place in Laos; it was CBS who asked for the change to Vietnam.
Jack Klugman appeared in four episodes of the original series. In addition to this episode, he appeared in "Death Ship", "A Game of Pool", and "A Passage for Trumpet". In addition to this episode, Billy Mumy appeared in two other episodes of the original series: "It's a Good Life" and "Long Distance Call". Bill Mumy also appeared in Twilight Zone: The Movie (1983) and second Twilight Zone revival episode "It's Still a Good Life" in 2003.
This was the first episode sponsored by American Tobacco (on alternate weeks), on behalf of Pall Mall cigarettes, who suggested that Rod and some of the guest stars and supporting players "light up" during the episodes. Unlike previous sponsor Liggett & Myers, American Tobacco did not have Rod plug their products at the end of the program.
- 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