The Bewitchin' Pool
|"The Bewitchin' Pool"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Directed by||Joseph M. Newman|
|Written by||Earl Hamner Jr.|
stock cues by|
Nathan Van Cleave
|Original air date||June 19, 1964|
"The Bewitchin' Pool" is the 156th and last episode of the American anthology television series The Twilight Zone. (Come Wander With Me, however, was the final episode to be taped.) It originally aired on June 19, 1964 on CBS.
Right before the end of the introduction, as in a typical episode, Rod Serling appears on-screen and says:
|“||A swimming pool not unlike any other pool, a structure built of tile and cement and money, a backyard toy for the affluent, wet entertainment for the well-to-do. But to Jeb and Sport Sharewood, this pool holds mysteries not dreamed of by the building contractor, not guaranteed in any sales brochure. For this pool has a secret exit that leads to a never-neverland, a place designed for junior citizens who need a long voyage away from reality, into the bottomless regions of the Twilight Zone.||”|
After the opening credits are finished rolling, Serling, in voice-over, says:
|“||Introduction to a perfect setting: Colonial mansion, spacious grounds, heated swimming pool. All the luxuries money can buy. Introduction to two children: brother and sister, names Jeb and Sport. Healthy, happy, normal youngsters. Introduction to a mother: Gloria Sherwood by name, glamorous by nature. Introduction to a father: Gil Sherwood, handsome, prosperous, the picture of success. A man who has achieved every man's ambition. Beautiful children, beautiful home, beautiful wife. Idyllic? Obviously. But don't look too carefully, don't peek behind the facade. The idyll may have feet of clay.||”|
While Sport and Jeb are sitting beside their swimming pool, Whitt (Kim Hector), a young boy in a straw hat pops up from the deep end of the pool and invites them to follow him. The children dive underwater only to come back up in a swimming hole bordering a rustic, simple homestead. An assortment of children are playing in the yard. In contrast to their lavish home of neglect and insults, they are welcomed and loved from the moment they arrive at this humble children's paradise. There is only one adult there, "Aunt T." (Georgia Simmons), a kind and patient elderly woman who loves children. She explains that she has many children there who came from parents who did not deserve them.
Sport and Jeb go home, for fear that their parents will be worried. "Aunt T." advises them that they likely will not return as very few children leave and return. Back home their parents inform them they are planning to divorce and they must decide which parent they will live with. The children refuse and dive back in to the pool, and are able to escape. When they do not reemerge, their father jumps in to rescue them, but discovers they have disappeared. Sport and Jeb are now happily living with Aunt T. Sport hears the distant and remorseful voice of her mother, but ignores it and focuses on her new life.
|“||A brief epilogue for concerned parents. Of course, there isn't any such place as the gingerbread house of Aunt T, and we grownups know there's no door at the bottom of a swimming pool that leads to a secret place. But who can say how real the fantasy world of lonely children can become? For Jeb and Sport Sharewood, the need for love turned fantasy into reality; they found a secret place—in the Twilight Zone.||”|
- Mary Badham as Sport Sharewood
- June Foray as dubbed voice of Sport Sharewood, in outdoor scenes only
- Jeffrey Byron (as Tim Stafford) as Jeb Sharewood
- Kim Hector as Whitt
- Georgia Simmons as Aunt T
- Dee Hartford as Mrs. Gloria Sharewood
- Tod Andrews as Mr. Gil Sharewood
This section possibly contains original research. (October 2013) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)
This was the final episode of the original Twilight Zone series to be broadcast, though not the last to be filmed. The last episode filmed was "Come Wander With Me", while, according to Marc Scott Zicree's "The Twilight Zone Companion", the reediting of An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (including the addition of new footage of Serling) was the last episode "produced" before cancellation. The last episode broadcast during the original run – as a repeat – was "The Jeopardy Room".
Numerous production problems delayed the premiere of this episode, which was originally scheduled for March 20, 1964. Most noticeably, back-lot noise rendered much of the outdoor dialogue unusable – only the indoor scenes with Aunt T were considered audible. The entire cast (except Aunt T) consequently re-dubbed their outdoor dialogue in September 1964, but Mary Badham's voice was still deemed not right. Unfortunately, by the time this decision had been made, Badham had returned to her home in Alabama, and the cost of flying her back to LA to re-record her lines yet again was ruled to be too expensive. Eventually, voice actress June Foray, best known as the voice of Rocky the Flying Squirrel in the Bullwinkle cartoons, dubbed Sport Sharewood's lines for all the scenes that take place outdoors (and sounding very much like Rocky). In the finished episode, the change in Sport's voice is noticeable when she moves indoors, and Badham's own deeper voice and more authentic accent are heard in place of Foray's overdubbed voice characterization.
Another production peculiarity is that "The Bewitchin' Pool'" is the only episode of The Twilight Zone to open with a teaser scene that is repeated in its entirety later in the episode. This opening teaser scene (which is well over two minutes in length) was not included in Earl Hamner's original episode script; it appears to have been included to lengthen the episode after some other footage was dropped. Note that actor Harold Gould is listed in some sources as a cast member for this episode, but does not appear in any capacity in the finished production. (In one account, Gould is given credit for having played a radio announcer, but there is no radio announcer in the actual completed episode.)
Other re-used footage in the episode includes an identical 10-second shot of Sport and Jeb swimming up to the foot of a tree on two occasions; Sport and Jeb's mother twice telling them in the space of a minute "Darn you loudmouth kids" – using exactly the same footage of her dialogue, as well as of the kids' reaction; and the first and final shots of various children playing in front of Aunt T's house.
Earl Hamner, Jr., got the idea for The Bewitchin' Pool while living in the San Fernando Valley region of California and witnessing an alarming divorce rate and the effect it had on children. The episode was one of the first shows on television to really address the problem of divorce and bad parenting, and in part it represents wish fulfillment or escapism for children in such situations. There seems to be a parallel between the names "Sport" and "Jeb" and the "Scout" and "Jem" characters in To Kill a Mockingbird, especially considering that the same child actress played Scout and Sport.
- 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
- Presnell, Don and Marty McGee. (2008). A Critical History of Television’s The Twilight Zone, 1959–1964. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-3886-0
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