Where Is Everybody?

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"Where Is Everybody?"
The Twilight Zone episode
Earl Holliman Twilight Zone 1959.jpg
Earl Holliman in "Where Is Everybody?"
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 1
Directed byRobert Stevens
Written byRod Serling
Featured musicOriginal score by Bernard Herrmann
Cinematography byJoseph La Shelle
Editing byRoland Gross
Production code173-3601
Original air dateOctober 2, 1959
Guest appearance(s)
Episode chronology
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"One for the Angels"
The Twilight Zone (1959 TV series) (season 1)
List of The Twilight Zone episodes

"Where Is Everybody?" is the first episode of the American anthology television series The Twilight Zone. It was originally broadcast on October 2, 1959 on CBS.

Opening narration[edit]

Original pilot[edit]

The Twilight Zone[edit]

Plot[edit]

A man finds himself alone on a dirt road dressed in a U.S. Air Force flight suit, having no memory of who he is or how he got there. He finds a diner and walks in to find a jukebox playing loudly and a hot pot of coffee on the stove, but there are no other people besides himself. He accidentally knocks over and breaks a clock, upon which the jukebox stops playing.

The man leaves the diner and walks toward a nearby town; he sees a parked truck with a driver, but both turn out to be mannequins. Like the diner, the rest of the town seems deserted, but the man seems to find evidence of someone being there recently. The man grows unsettled as he wanders through the empty town, needing someone to talk to but at the same time feeling that he is being watched. In a soda shop, the man notices an entire spinning rack of paperback books titled The Last Man on Earth, Feb. 1959; he grows upset and leaves. As night falls, the lights in the park turn on, leading the man to a movie theater, the marquee of which is illuminated. He remembers he is an Air Force airman from the advertised film, Battle Hymn. When the film suddenly begins onscreen, he runs to the projection booth and finds nobody there, then becomes even more paranoid that he is being watched.

Running through the streets in a panic, the man hits a pedestrian call button, screaming for help. The call button is revealed to be a panic button: the man, whose name is given as Sgt. Mike Ferris, is actually in an isolation booth being observed by a group of uniformed servicemen. He has been undergoing tests to determine his fitness as an astronaut and whether he can handle a prolonged trip to the Moon alone, though the town was a hallucination caused by sensory deprivation.

The officiating general warns Ferris that while his basic needs will be provided for in space travel, he will not have companionship: "next time [he will] really be alone". Ferris is carried from the hangar on a stretcher as he tells the Moon in the sky not to "go away up there", reminding himself of the loneliness he faces.

Closing narration[edit]

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Serling's original pilot for The Twilight Zone was "The Happy Place", which revolved around a society in which people were executed upon reaching the age of 60, being considered no longer useful. CBS executive William Self rejected the story, feeling it was too dark; Serling eventually relented and wrote "Where is Everybody?" as a more acceptable substitute. Unlike other episodes, which were filmed at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, "Where is Everybody?" was filmed at Universal Studios, using Courthouse Square as the episode's Oakwood town.

The episode originally featured Westbrook Van Voorhis as narrator. When Voorhis was unavailable for later episodes, Serling re-recorded the narration himself for consistency. Serling notably changed the opening narration to place the Twilight Zone within the fifth dimension, among other alterations.

Serling later adapted "Where is Everybody?" for a novelization titled Stories From the Twilight Zone. Serling allegedly[where?] grew dissatisfied with the lack of science fiction content and changed the story to include Ferris discovering a movie ticket in his pocket while on the stretcher.[citation needed] A variation on this plotline was used in the episode "King Nine Will Not Return".[citation needed]

Reception[edit]

The New York Times praised the episode, saying that Serling proved "that science cannot foretell what may be the effect of total isolation on a human being", though "[the episode's] resolution... seemed trite and anticlimactic. In the desultory field of filmed half-hour drama, however, Mr. Serling should not have much trouble in making his mark. At least his series promises to be different.[1]

Charles Beaumont praised the episode in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction, writing that he "read Serling's first script... Old stuff? Of course. I thought so at the time... but there was one element in the story which kept me from my customary bitterness. The element was quality. Quality shone on every page. It shone in the dialogue and in the scene set-ups. And because of this, the story seemed fresh and new and powerful. There was one compromise, but it was made for the purpose of selling the series."[1]

Further reading[edit]

  • 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

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)

External links[edit]