The Bewitchin' Pool
|"The Bewitchin' Pool"|
|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Joseph M. Newman|
|Written by||Earl Hamner Jr.|
|Original air date||June 19, 1964|
Sport Sharewood and her younger brother Jeb live in a large, expensive house, but their parents are both cold, insensitive and self-centered.
While Sport and Jeb are sitting beside their swimming pool, Whitt, a young boy in a Huckleberry Finn straw hat pops up from the deep end of their pool and invites them to follow him. The children follow him by diving underwater only to come back up in a swimming hole bordering a rustic, simple homestead. An assortment of children are playing in the yard of the house. 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." is 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.
When Sport and Jeb decide to go home, for fear that their parents will be worried, they learn that their parents have decided to divorce and hadn't even missed them while they were gone. When the parents tell the children the news, they demand that they decide which parent they will live with, and berate them for their hesitation. The children have an epiphany that neither parent truly loves them. Ignoring their parents' shouts, Sport and Jeb race back to the pool and dive in. When, after a moments, the children do not reemerge, their father jumps in to rescue them, but discovers that they have disappeared. He and their mother shout their children's names in despair.
Sport and Jeb are now happily living with Aunt T., whose love is unconditional and everlasting.
Sport hears the increasingly distant and remorseful voice of her mother, but – after a moment of regret – ignores her, and focuses on her new life. Rod Serling, in his closing narration, asks the audience to consider how "real" an unhappy child's world of escape might become.
- Mary Badham as Sport Sharewood (June Foray: voice 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)|
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 1963, 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. Foray also dubbed the voice of actor Jan Handzliky in the season one episode "The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street".
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.
- Presnell, Don; McGee, Marty (2008). A Critical History of Television's The Twilight Zone, 1959-1964. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland. p. 194. ISBN 978-0-7864-3886-0.
- 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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