Twenty Two (The Twilight Zone)
|The Twilight Zone episode|
Barbara Nichols and Fredd Wayne
|Episode no.||Season 2
|Directed by||Jack Smight|
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Featured music||stock from Elegy|
|Original air date||February 10, 1961|
"Twenty Two" is episode 53 of the American television series The Twilight Zone. The story was adapted by Rod Serling from a short anecdote in the 1944 Bennett Cerf Random House anthology, Famous Ghost Stories, which itself was an adaptation of "The Bus-Conductor," a short story by E. F. Benson published in The Pall Mall Magazine in 1906.
||This article's plot summary may be too long or excessively detailed. (February 2015)|
The preview for "next week's story" originally appeared at the end of "A Penny For Your Thoughts" (February 3, 1961). Rod Serling stands in front of the swinging doors to Room 22 and says: "This is Room Twenty Two. And on the other side of its doors lies an adventure that is as fascinating as it is inexplicable. It's a story that comes to us from Mr. Bennett Cerf, who describes it as an age-old horror tale whose origin is unknown. We've dressed it up in some hospital wrappings and enlisted the performance of Miss Barbara Nichols. Next on The Twilight Zone: 'Twenty Two'. Be prepared to be spooked!" (Serling jabs his left forefinger toward the camera.) "It's that kind of story."
Liz Powell is in a room, trying to sleep. She wakes up, sees a stuffed leopard looking at her, and tries to pick up a glass of water, but drops it. She hears a noise outside the room and gets up, carrying a stuffed animal. She goes out into the corridor and sees an elevator starting to close. A nurse is inside the elevator, but her face is obscured. Liz summons an elevator, gets into it, and presses for the basement level. The elevator descends to the basement; she exits and walks down the hall. She sees doors swinging, revealing the entrance into Room 22, the hospital morgue, as a nurse steps out and says, "Room for one more, honey." Liz screams and runs back into the elevator as the camera pans to the left to reveal Rod Serling standing and speaking in front of the entrance:
"This is Miss Liz Powell. She's a professional dancer and she's in the hospital as a result of overwork and nervous fatigue. And at this moment we have just finished walking with her in a nightmare. In a moment she'll wake up and we'll remain at her side. The problem here is that both Miss Powell and you will reach a point where it might be difficult to decide which is reality and which is nightmare, a problem uncommon perhaps but rather peculiar to the Twilight Zone."
While in a hospital, Liz Powell, an over-worked professional dancer, has a strange, recurring nightmare. In this nightmare Liz experiences a false awakening - a vivid dream about awakening from sleep - in which she sees herself awakening suddenly to the loud sound of a ticking clock. As she reaches for a drinking glass full of water the ticking sound becomes so loud that it drowns out all other sounds. Her hand shakes so violently that she loses her grip on the glass, which drops to the floor and shatters. Suddenly the ticking sound stops. Liz then hears strange footsteps outside her door.
As she exits her room she sees an elevator, and notices that the nurse is on the elevator. The Nurse's face is hidden in the shadows, but Liz sees her clearly as the elevator door closes. Liz sees the elevator floor indicator panel, which shows that the elevator has gone to the basement of the hospital. Liz rides the same elevator to the basement. She gets off the elevator, and approaches a room with a set of swinging doors. The word "morgue" is printed on the doors, and over the doorway she sees the number "22". The strange nurse then emerges from the room and says: "Room for one more, honey." Liz screams and runs back to the elevator.
Liz claims that the dream is not a dream - that it is really happening. Her doctor states that this is impossible, and to prove it he brings in the nurse who works in the basement on the night shift. This nurse is obviously not the nurse in Liz's dream. The doctor then suggests that Liz prove that her dream is only a dream by changing some small part of the dream...such as not reaching for the glass of water. That night Liz has the dream again. This time though she dreams that there is a pack of cigarettes beside the drinking glass. She starts to reach for the glass, but stops herself. Then, instead of reaching for the glass of water she reaches for the cigarettes. She removes a cigarette from the pack on the nightstand, takes a lighter from the stand, and lights the cigarette.
As she returns the lighter to the stand she accidentally drops the lighter on the floor. As she reaches for the lighter, her other hand strikes the drinking glass, which falls to the floor and shatters. From here the dream plays out as before, and Liz again goes to the morgue. In the next scene we see Liz in hysterics, and a nurse holding her as the doctor gives her an injection. The doctor leaves the room and goes to the nurses station. Although the doctor is still not convinced that Liz's dream is anything more than a dream, he comments to the nurse how odd it is that Liz, who has never been to the hospital morgue, knows that the room number is 22.
Later, apparently cured, Liz is discharged from the hospital. We next see Liz at an airport, preparing to go to Miami Beach. As she picks up her ticket from the airport ticket counter she learns that her plane is designated as Flight 22. She begins to experience details from her dream: she hears the loud ticking of a clock on the wall, bumps into a woman carrying a vase - which falls to the floor and shatters - and hears loud footsteps.
In a long, slow shot, Liz walks across the tarmac and climbs the stairs to the plane. She is met by a stewardess (Arlene Sax Martel) who looks just like the dream-nurse, who says, "Room for one more, honey." Screaming, Liz runs back down the stairs and toward the terminal, falling to the ground. In the next scene we see Liz in the terminal with concerned airport staff attempting to comfort her. As they look out the window they see Flight 22 take off, and then explode.
The original 1906 story by E.F. Benson features a large, middle-aged male protagonist named Hugh Grainger from the English country visiting a friend in London. He is haunted by a man dressed like a bus conductor - but driving a horse-drawn hearse. He sees the same man a month later actually driving a bus that is involved in a tremendous auto accident. The 1944 Cerf anecdote features instead a young New York woman visiting the Carolina plantation of distant relatives, with the hearse's coachman eventually revealed to be the operator of a medical building elevator that plummets when its cables break. In the 1944 film, Dead of Night, the protagonist is again male, also with the name Hugh Grainger, haunted by a man driving a hearse, and has a premonition about a fatal bus crash.
As the Twilight Zone's second season began, the production was informed by CBS that, at about $65,000 per episode, the show was exceeding its budget. By November 1960, 16 episodes, more than half of the projected 29, were already filmed, and five of those had been broadcast. It was decided that six consecutive episodes would be videotaped at CBS Television City in the manner of a live drama and eventually transferred to 16-millimeter film for future syndicated rebroadcasts. Eventual savings amounted to only about $30,000 for all six entries, which was judged to be insufficient to offset the loss of depth of visual perspective that, at the time, only film could offer. The shows wound up looking little better than set-bound soap operas and, as a result, the experiment was deemed a failure and never tried again.
Even though the six shows were taped in a row, through November and into mid-December, their broadcast dates were out of order and varied widely, with this, the fifth one, shown on February 10, 1961 as episode 17. The first, "The Lateness of the Hour", was seen on December 2, 1960 as episode 8; the second, "Static" appeared on March 10, 1961 as episode 20; the third, "The Whole Truth" was broadcast on January 20, 1961 as episode 14; the fourth was the Christmas show, "The Night of the Meek", shown as the 11th episode on December 23, 1960; and the last one, "Long Distance Call", was broadcast on March 31, 1961 as episode 22.
Two photographs (dated "12-10-60") of Barbara Nichols, one of her receiving direction from director Jack Smight and the second of her being given glycerin drops to simulate tears, appear in the book Dimensions Behind The Twilight Zone on p. 126. The book also cites "Twenty Two" as one of Serling's classic "dream-state episodes" (p. 42-43).
- List of The Twilight Zone episodes
- Dead of Night, a 1944 anthology film featuring a fatal crash premonition
- Final Destination, a movie that starts out with a fatal crash premonition
- Zicree, Marc Scott (1992). The Twilight Zone Companion (Second ed.). USA: Silman-James Press. pp. 190–191. ISBN 1-879505-09-6.
- Stanyard, Stewart T.; Gaiman, Neil (2007). Dimensions Behind The Twilight Zone: A Backstage Tribute to Television's Groundbreaking Series. Toronto: ECW Press. ISBN 978-1-55022-744-4.
- 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
- "Twenty Two" at the Internet Movie Database
- TV.com episode page
- The original 1906 short story "The Bus-Conductor" by E. F. Benson
- Snopes entry on the urban legend based on the Benson story