Shadow Play (1961 The Twilight Zone episode)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||John Brahm|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont (adapted from his short story, "Träumerei")|
|Original air date||May 5, 1961|
|“||Adam Grant, a nondescript kind of man, found guilty of murder and sentenced to the electric chair. Like every other criminal caught in the wheels of justice, he's scared, right down to the marrow of his bones. But it isn't prison that scares him, the long, silent nights of waiting, the slow walk to the little room, or even death itself. It's something else that holds Adam Grant in the hot, sweaty grip of fear, something worse than any punishment this world has to offer, something found only in – The Twilight Zone.||”|
A man convicted of murder, Adam Grant (Weaver), tries to convince those about to execute him that the world all around them is just his recurring nightmare. The story opens with the jury finding Grant guilty of murder and the judge sentencing him to death. He laughs uncontrollably, and exclaims that he refuses to die again. He claims that the district attorney and lawyers are all people he has known in his past, selected by his subconscious to play roles in his dream.
Speaking to others, including District Attorney Henry Ritchie, he points out logical errors accepted as normal by those around him, such as the fact that his arrest, trial, and execution are happening on the same day, and the fact the prisoners seem to stereotypically look like what you'd see in a story. He describes the electric chair execution experience, from the perspective of the condemned, to a fellow prisoner in the cell block in chilling graphic detail. Later, Paul Carson, a reporter and friend of (DA) Ritchie is questioning his own reality (he wonders about his impossibly perfect life). He persuades Ritchie to visit Grant. Ritchie speaks to Grant, but does not believe him. He asks Grant why he cares about dying if it's all a dream. Grant explains that he cannot get a decent night's sleep because he always wakes up screaming. He predicts what Ritchie's wife is preparing for dinner.
Ritchie goes home and finds that Grant's prediction is correct. This unnerves him, and he returns to the prison to talk with Carson. Carson says that Grant's claims call into question his sanity, and that Ritchie should ask the governor to issue a stay of execution. With reservations, Ritchie calls the governor, and the governor agrees to make the necessary phone call. The stay of execution arrives too late, Grant is executed, and the world descends into darkness and vanishes.
Grant finds himself back in the courtroom, being convicted and sentenced to death for murder again. The same people surround him in the courtroom, but their identities and roles have changed (e.g., a fellow inmate from the previous version of the dream is now the judge behind the bench). The viewer is left with the knowledge that this pattern will be repeated endlessly for the unfortunate Mr. Grant.
|“||We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as flesh-and-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it, and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live, instead, – in The Twilight Zone?||”|
- Dennis Weaver as Adam Grant
- Harry Townes as District Attorney Henry Ritchie
- Wright King as Paul Carson
- Bernie Hamilton as Coley
- William Edmonson as Jiggs
- Anne Barton as Carol Ritchie
- Tommy Nello as Phillips
- Mack Williams as Father Beaman
- Gene Roth as Judge
This section needs additional citations for verification. (April 2016) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
- List of The Twilight Zone episodes
- 12:01 PM
- Allegory of the Cave
- Dark City
- End Day
- Groundhog Day
- "Store". Twilight Zone Radio.
- 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