Monday, July 16, 2012

"The Mighty Casey"


Jack Warden, Abraham Sofaer, and Robert Sorrells


"The Mighty Casey"
Season One, Episode 35
Original Air Date: June 17, 1960

Cast:
Mouth McGarry: Jack Warden
Casey: Robert Sorrells
Dr. Stillman: Abraham Sofaer
Monk: Don O'Kelly
Doctor: Jonathan Hole
Beasley: Alan Dexter
Commissioner: Rusty Lane

Crew:
Writer: Rod Serling (original teleplay)
Directors: Robert Parrish and Alvin Ganzer
Producer: Buck Houghton
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Music: stock

And now, Mr. Serling:
"This locker and liniment emporium houses a major league baseball team known as the Hoboken Zephyrs, all of which by way of introduction to next week's show, a wild and wooly yarn about the great American pastime. It's called 'The Mighty Casey' and it's all about a left-hander who pitches like nothing human simply because he isn't. Mr. Jack Warden takes us into the stadium next week for nine fast innings on The Twilight Zone."

Rod Serling's Opening Narration:
"What you're looking at is a ghost, once alive but now deceased. Once upon a time it was a baseball stadium that housed a major league ball club known as the Hoboken Zephyrs. Now it houses nothing but memories and a wind that stirs in the high grass of what was once an outfield, a wind that sometimes bears a faint, ghostly resemblance to the roar of a crowd that once sat here. We're back in time now when the Hoboken Zephyrs were still a part of the National League and this mausoleum of memories was an honest-to-Pete stadium. But since this is strictly a story of make-believe, it has to start this way: One upon a time in Hoboken, New Jersey, it was tryout day. And though he's not yet on the field, you're about to meet a most unusual fella, a left-handed pitcher named Casey."

Summary:
            A scientist and inventor, Dr. Stillman, invents a robot named Casey. In an attempt to test Casey's skills, Stillman strikes a deal with Mouth McGarry, the manager of the Hoboken Zephyrs, a dreadful team on a tremendous losing streak. Stillman discloses to McGarry the true nature of Casey and after seeing what Casey can do from the pitching mound McGarry, as desperate as he is, agrees to put him on the team.
            Casey is an instant sensation. He pitches shutout after shutout and nobody from any opposing team can figure out how to hit his impossible pitches. The Hoboken Zephyrs zoom into fourth place and make national headlines. Then tragedy strikes and Casey is hit in the head with the baseball, landing him in the hospital where it is quickly discovered by the team doctor that Casey has no heartbeat. He has, in fact, no heart. The commissioner of baseball is brought into the situation and he consults the rules, which state that a team is made up of nine men. It seems that without a heartbeat Casey isn't a man and is disqualified from any further play.
            McGarry appeals to Stillman and the inventor agrees that he can give Casey a heart. Soon after, Casey returns to the team fully healed and with a new beating heart that members of the team can hear pounding away in his chest. Casey is reinstated with the league and put back on the mound for the Zephrys. Unfortunately, there is a side effect involved in giving a Casey a heart and it quickly becomes apparent. Casey no longer strikes out opponents but throws easy pitches that batters hammer away at, sending the Zephyrs right back on the path of a losing streak. Stillman explains to McGarry and the rest of the team that Casey's newly installed heart has built a great deal of compassion within the robot and that Casey no longer can bear to strike out opposing batters. With his baseball career effectively washed out, Casey states that he intends to go into social work where he can help people.
            As a consolation gift, Stillman give to McGarry the blueprints to Casey and it doesn't take long for it to dawn on McGarry that there is a very real possibility of creating an entire team of incredible robots.

Rod Serling's Closing Narration:
"Once upon a time there was a major league baseball team called the Hoboken Zephyrs, who during the last year of their existence wound up in last place and shortly thereafter wound up in oblivion. There is a rumor, unsubstantiated of course, that a manager named McGarry took them to the West Coast and wound up with several pennants and a couple of World Championships. This team had a pitching staff that made history. Of course, none of them smiled very much but it happens to be a fact that they pitched like nothing human. And if you are interested as to where these gentlemen come from you might check under "B" for baseball, in the Twilight Zone."

Commentary:
            "The Mighty Casey" is an episode marred by a series of unfortunate events. Firstly, the episode is a tongue-in-cheek comedy and, as we here on the Vortex have stated again and again, this type of episode almost always came across as patently unfunny. Rod Serling and other writers for the show would continue their attempts to bring the comedic touch to the series and they would almost always fail in these attempts as the screwball style of comedy simply had no place on the show. "The Mighty Casey" is a particularly dreadful example of this type of show and is arguably the worst single episode on The Twilight Zone until the arrival of producer William Froug to close out the latter half of season five with a bevy of deplorable and detestable episodes.
            Secondly, the episode had to be filmed twice as little to no footage from the first production and filming of the episode is known to have made it into the final cut seen today or to even still exist at all. The reason for the reshoot of the episode was the death of actor Paul Douglas, who portrayed Mouth McGarry in the first shoot, directed by Alvin Ganzer. Douglas, who had little to no experience in comedic roles and who also found the script unfunny, took the job chiefly because of a personal invitation from Rod Serling. Both Serling and Douglas were familiar names on the live anthology show Playhouse 90, Serling as a writer and Douglas as an actor, and this certainly also had much to do with it. Serling's only major reservation about hiring Paul Douglas was the aging actor's propensity to drink heavily. Serling contacted Douglas's agent about this and was reassured that Douglas no longer had a drinking problem. Satisfied, Serling went ahead and green lit the production.
            When Serling began to view the daily rushes from the shooting, he begins to believe he's been lied to about Paul Douglas's drinking because the actor looked haggard, mottled, and high in color. Douglas also had trouble delivering his lines, even brief passages, without running out of breath. When Serling contacted Douglas's agent to complain, the agent again guaranteed that Douglas was not drinking. The truth was much more tragic. Only a handful of days after the completion of photography for the episode, Paul Douglas died. The symptoms that Serling viewed on the daily rushes were those of heart failure and not excessive drinking. As Serling morbidly stated, "we were watching him literally die in front of us."
            Devastated, Serling avowed to himself that he wasn't going to send out this knuckleball comedy of an episode with a well respected actor slowly dying on camera. Still, he was obligated to show CBS something and, after showing the completed episode, told the executives for the network that this wouldn't air as an episode and that it would have to be reshot in its entirety. CBS agreed that the show wasn't funny just not in the same way Serling intended. They seemed to have no problem with the fact that Paul Douglas died shortly after the shoot and they were unwilling to part with the additional money required to reshoot the episode.
            According to Marc Scott Zicree in The Twilight Zone Companion (revised ed. Silman-James, 1989) Serling put $27,000 of his own money on the line to recast, reshoot, and re-edit the entire episode. Director Robert Parrish was brought on for filming duty and actor Jack Warden was brought in to assume the role of Mouth McGarry. The planned airing date of the re-filmed episode was pushed back from December to the following June and the reshoot attempted to be as efficient as possible. Little remained on the cutting room floor and nearly all reshot footage was left in to fill the time length required by the episode.
            Martin Grams, in his book The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic, reprints several unused or alternate intros, outros, and promos that, for one reason or another, were unused in the final cut of episodes. Most of these unused passages are of insignificant variation and are of little interest. Rod Serling's unused promo for "The Mighty Casey," however, is of interest because of the fact the death of actor Paul Douglas necessitated the change. The unused promo is as follows: "Next week we take you into a state of wonderful confusion. The late Mr. Paul Douglas stars in a play we call 'The Mighty Casey.' Bring your imagination as we recount for you the trials and tribulations of a major league ball club called the Hoboken Zephyrs, a put upon manager, and the most fabulous baseball pitcher you'll ever watch in action. Next week on the Twilight Zone, 'The Mighty Casey.'"
            The result of Serling taking the initiative to fund the reshoot from his own money was that CBS would forever after had their eyes glued to the financial books and constantly pressure Rod Serling about the budget for the series, a problem that the creator of the show often spoke about in a negative way.
            It would have been difficult for an episode with a fantastic script to come out of the other side of the catastrophe that was the production of "The Mighty Casey" with any semblance of its initial impact or resonance much less an episode that purported to be humorous but came off only as, at best, amusing. By all indications, "The Mighty Casey" was a bad episode with Paul Douglas in the lead role and Alvin Ganzer behind the camera. With an under budgeted, rushed, and poorly edited reshoot, the episode comes off simply as an unfunny, uninteresting blemish on the face of a show generally held to an exacting, high standard. It is perhaps because of the unfortunate events that characterized its production that "The Mighty Casey" has not simply been forgotten altogether.

Grade: F

Notes:
--Rod Serling apparently found enough fascination in the story of Casey to make it the very first teleplay he adapted into prose form for the three book short story series he wrote based on the show. "The Mighty Casey" can be found in Stories from the Twilight Zone, originally published by Bantam Books in April, 1960 and reprinted numerous times thereafter.
--Actor Jack Warden also starred in the earlier season one episode, "The Lonely."
--Director Alvin Ganzer also directed the season one episodes, "The Hitch-Hiker," "What You Need," and "Nightmare as a Child."
---Director Robert Parrish also directed the season one episodes, "One for the Angels" and "A Stop at Willoughby."
--"The Mighty Casey" was adapted as a radio play for The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas and starred Paul Dooley.

--Jordan Prejean

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Rod Serling: Other Dimensions



Some news from the Vortex: Mark Quigley, Manager of the Archive Research and Study Center at the UCLA Film and Television Archive, e-mailed me this morning with the following message:

Hope this upcoming screening series is of interest. Some rarities and some familiar favorites --

    Rod Serling: Other Dimensions
    July 27, 2012 - September 19, 2012
    UCLA Film & Television Archive - Billy Wilder Theater


 Submitted for your approval, a journey through time and space for a retrospective exploring the other dimensions of Rod Serling. Forever remembered as the iconic host and creative force responsible for the television classics "The Twilight Zone" and "Night Gallery," Serling also contributed to a remarkably wide array of additional motion picture and TV projects. These celluloid and cathode curios, some famous, others relegated in our collective memory to the outskirts of the Serling canon, further illuminate the hallmarks that define the writer's most beloved works: hard-    edged narratives, psychologically-driven characters, and a championing of the "meek" over the "mighty."
    Serling's humanist take on controversial issues, from the blacklist to civil rights, placed him in frequent conflict with powerful sponsors and network censors. However, Serling's distinctive ability to transform contemporary morality plays into timeless fables endured, with the prolific dramatist amassing over 200 film and TV credits during his tragically brief career. This retrospective celebrates the full depth of Serling's legacy with treasures both familiar and obscure.

Click here to read the full release

--Jordan Prejean

Thursday, July 5, 2012

"The After Hours"

Anne Francis as Marsha White, a mannequin turned flesh and blood.

"The After Hours"
Season One, Episode 34
Original Air Date: June 10, 1960

Cast:
Marsha White: Anne Francis
Saleswoman: Elizabeth Allen
Elevator Operator: John Conwell
Mr. Armbruster: James Millhollin
Mr. Sloan: Patrick Whyte
Miss Keevers: Nancy Rennick

Crew:
Writer: Rod Serling (original teleplay)
Director: Douglas Heyes
Producer: Buck Houghton
Director of Photography: George T. Clemens
Makeup: William Tuttle
Music: Stock

Rod Serling's Promo:
"Next week you'll see our friends here along with Anne Francis and Elizabeth Allen in one of the strangest stories we've yet presented on The Twilight Zone. It's called 'The After Hours' and concerns the shadowy time when normal people go back to their homes and concurrently what happens to those who perhaps are not quite so normal, or perhaps not quite so human. Intriguing? I think you'll find it so, next week on The Twilight Zone."

Rod Serling's Opening Narration:
"Express elevator to the ninth floor of a department store carrying Miss Marsha White on a most prosaic, ordinary, run-of-the-mill errand. (Later) Miss Marsha White on the ninth floor, Specialties Department, looking for a gold thimble. The odds are that she'll find it but there are even better odds that she'll find something else because this isn't just a department store. This happens to be. . . The Twilight Zone."

Summary:
            Miss Marsha White is visiting a large, multi-leveled department store. She walks around the first floor looking at display cases but not finding what she wants. Moving to the elevators, Marsha stands with a small cluster of other shoppers waiting for the next available elevator carriage. Suddenly, the door to a service elevator a few feet away opens up and the uniformed elevator operator calls out the availability of the carriage. It seems as though only Marsha notices the available elevator and walks over.
            Inside the elevator, the operator asks Marsha for what specifically is she shopping today. When Marsha tells the man she is searching for a gold thimble for her mother the operator informs her that it can be found on the ninth floor, Specialties Department. After they silently ride upwards in the carriage, Marsha comments on the strangeness of the situation, the situation being that she should be given a private elevator when all those other shoppers were waiting for one. The operator tells Marsha that this elevator is strictly an express elevator to the ninth floor.
            When they arrive at the ninth floor, Marsha quickly exits the elevator only to see that the floor appears to be darkened and sparsely filled with empty display cases. She turns to comment to the elevator operator about this but the man has already closed the elevator doors and left Marsha seemingly alone on the ninth floor.
            Marsha tries in vain to call the elevator back up to get her and soon resigns herself to looking around the area. It seems to be an abandoned and unused floor until a voice speaks out from the darkness and from the shadows emerges a well dressed and attractive saleswoman that offers to help Marsha. Though taken aback by the woman’s sudden appearance, Marsha nevertheless tells the saleswoman what it is she is looking for and the woman says that they have something in stock that may be just what Marsha wants. The saleswoman leads Marsha over to a seemingly empty display case until the woman turns on an interior light and illuminates a single object on display: a gold thimble, just what Marsha is looking for.
            Though Marsha is clearly finding the whole encounter strange she agrees that this gold thimble is exactly what she is looking for and pays cash for the item. As she turns to walk back toward the elevator, Marsha says, "That's odd." To which the saleswoman replies, "What is, Marsha?" Marsha then goes on to explicate on the strangeness of her experience in the store, the solitary elevator ride, the seemingly empty floor devoted to a single item, the only item that Marsha was looking for, etc. Suddenly Marsha stops, realizing that the saleswoman has called her by her first name. She calls attention to this, stating that she has not given the woman her name nor has she seen the woman around the store. Marsha, now unnerved as well as annoyed, rushes to the elevator. The saleswoman calls out to her once more before Marsha reaches the elevator. "Miss White? Are you happy?" asks the saleswoman. Marsha looks back at the saleswoman, incredulous that this woman would ask her that question. To which Marsha finally replies, "It's none of your business." The saleswoman seems to find this response both hilarious and unbelievable. Marsha goes to the elevator which opens at her approach.
            Marsha, obviously relieved at being back in the elevator and going down to more crowded floors, is complaining to the elevator operator when she realizes that the gold thimble she has just purchased is both scratched and dented. The operator lets Marsha off at the third floor, Complaints Department. There, Marsha runs into a problem. When she complains of her encounter on the ninth floor and the purchasing of the gold thimble, both the department manager and the store manager tell Marsha that the store does not have a ninth floor nor does the store carry gold thimbles. Suddenly, Marsha spies the saleswoman that sold her the thimble and she calls out to the lady only to discover that it is a store mannequin with a terrifying and uncanny resemblance to the woman. Marsha has a near panic attack from this bizarre encounter and is allowed to lie down in the manager's office.
            Marsha falls asleep, the store workers forget about her, and she is inadvertently locked up in the department store after closing hours. The vast and empty building has now become a terrifying entity, alive with voices that seem to pursue Marsha as she runs from one end of the store to the other looking for a way out or someone to help her. The voices, she soon realizes, seem to be coming from the store mannequins, which seem to be scattered about on pedestals everywhere. Marsha runs, always to be confronted by another mannequin at every corner of the store. When one mannequin actually reaches out to her, Marsha loses it, panics and, crying, backs into an opening elevator. It is the express elevator to the ninth floor and when the doors open upon the carriage’s destination, the mannequin figure of the saleswoman who sold Marsha the gold thimble stands there, unmoving. Marsha screams and sinks down to the floor of the elevator car. The Saleswoman suddenly moves to Marsha’s side to comfort her and leads Marsha out of the elevator, the whole time telling Marsha that she is overreacting and needs to get a hold of herself.
            As the saleswoman leads Marsha through the ninth floor, the two women pass by several display mannequins who individually come to life and climb down from their pedestals. They encircle Marsha. The saleswoman holds Marsha at arm’s length and implores Marsha to think, to concentrate and try to recollect why she is here in the department store. Recollection eventually dawns on Marsha's face and she remembers everything: she is a mannequin and was given a month to leave the store and live among humans as though herself were made of flesh and blood. Marsha overstayed her vacation and is returning to the store a day late. The saleswoman is the next mannequin scheduled to get a month long vacation out into the world of humans and Marsha has set her back a day. While the other mannequins follow the departing saleswoman to the elevator, all wishing her a wonderful vacation, Marsha and the elevator operator stay behind. The operator asks Marsha if she enjoyed her vacation and Marsha tells him she had so much fun. She had, in fact, completely forgotten who she really was.
            On the following day, the department manager of the store, the man that helped Marsha with her complaint about the damaged gold thimble, is walking through his department, keeping his workers on task when he passes by a mannequin that causes him to pause and give a double take. It is, of course, the mannequin image of Marsha White, on display.

Rod Serling's Closing Narration:
"Marsha White, in her normal and natural state, a wooden lady with a painted face who one month out of the year takes on the characteristics of someone as normal and as flesh and blood as you and I. But it makes you wonder, doesn't it? Just how normal are we? Just who are the people we nod our hellos to as we pass on the street? A rather good question to ask, particularly . . . in The Twilight Zone."

Commentary:
            Rod Serling's "The After Hours" stands as a creative high point not only for the first season but for the series entire. Along with a select number of other episodes, "The After Hours" has achieved the status of cultural milestone, the traits and characteristics of its plot and thematic effects recognizable even to those that have never seen the episode. It is, indeed, a mini-masterpiece and shows off the talents of some of The Twilight Zone's greatest creators in a tightly-written, superbly acted, frighteningly claustrophobic exercise in urban terror.
            From the production side of the episode, much of the advantage lies in the use of a single soundstage upon which director Douglas Heyes could set up any number of cameras to achieve the entire spectrum of extreme shots, from a close-up of actress Anne Francis's character Marsha White calling for help from the other side of a frosted, pebbled glass door to the high mounted grand perspective shots expertly utilized to display Marsha's panicked run through the empty department store. The set was inherited by the production staff on The Twilight Zone and converted from a previous set used for a large newspaper office into the department store set used for the episode. The jarring juxtaposition from act one to act two, from a bustlingly busy shopping day during opening hours to the silent darkness of the store after closing hours, displays an unnerving contrast and creates a shuddering effect that makes the episode one of the most genuinely frightening ever produced for the series. Though few, if any, of us viewers have ever been locked inside an enormous department store after closing hours, it isn't very difficult to image the terror that would grip you were you in that situation, alone in the darkness without a way out and without knowing your way around. And, of course, there are those voices calling out and those mannequin faces watching your every move.
            Director Douglas Heyes really comes into his own, creatively speaking, with this episode. His previous two episodes for the show, "And When the Sky Was Opened" and "Elegy," were competent directing jobs but Heyes would, beginning with "The After Hours," begin to stretch his creative muscles and create the most memorable episodes of the entire series. His directing style is characterized by an intense focus on both character and mood. Heyes likes to move the camera around a great deal and he often experiments with angles and lighting effects to achieve a desired mood or effect. At the same time, Heyes knows well when to keep the audience's attention off of the movement of the camera and to focus it upon the actor or actress at a critical junction in the plot. For a full examination of Douglas Heyes's career and contribution to the show, stay on the lookout for the commentary on the season two episode "Eye of the Beholder."
            Heyes also seemed to be the director called upon to work on special effects- or makeup-heavy episodes and in later commentaries we will further explore his ability to highlight these effects with his use of the camera. Luckily, Heyes was surrounded by some of the finest workers in the business with photographer George T. Clemens (a multiple Emmy Award winner for his work on The Twilight Zone) and Academy Award winning makeup artist William Tuttle. Producer Buck Houghton expressed that his principle concern for the episode was the believability of the props, i.e. how much the mannequin doubles resembled their respective actors/actresses. The simple solution for veteran makeup artist William Tuttle and his assistant Charles Schram was to cast facial molds of the actors, Anne Francis, Elizabeth Allen, and John Conwell, in order to create life-sized plaster head models which were then painted with acrylics and mounted upon mannequin bodies. The effect, like most of Tuttle's work for the show, is convincing and frightening. For a full examination of William Tuttle's career, refer to the commentary on the earlier episode, "Long Live Walter Jameson."
            The supporting characters in "The After Hours" are capably handled. Elizabeth Allen is suitably unnerving as the saleswoman and veteran character actor James Millhollin offers some effective comic relief in an otherwise grim episode. His double-take of the mannequin and breaking of the fourth wall (looking directly into the camera) to end the episode is whimsical yet seems an apt fit to the odd nature of the episode and remains a perfectly memorable way to close out the play.
            The true acting triumph of the show belongs to Anne Francis as Marsha White. The success of the episode hinged on her performance and Francis brings it off in stunning fashion, marking one of the finest performances from an actress for the entire series. Though author Marc Scott Zicree, in his The Twilight Zone Companion (revised ed. Silman-James, 1989), states that "As a rule, women in The Twilight Zone come across as drab, colorless, uninteresting," I disagree with this assessment. Some of the finest performances of the entire series belonged to actresses, think Inger Stevens in "The Hitch-Hiker," Vera Miles in "Mirror Image," Gladys Cooper in "Nothing in the Dark," Agnes Moorehead in "The Invaders," or Patricia Breslin in "Nick of Time," to name only a few. Anne Francis is another prime example of what a talented actress can do with a talented crew and a well written script. To be fair, Zicree does go on to commend Anne Francis’s performance for “The After Hours.” Francis takes anything but the usual approach in her portrayal of Marsha White and comes off as fierce, independent, and strong, making the effect of her terrified pursuit and subsequent breakdown all the more shocking and increases the unease of the episode significantly. Director Douglas Heyes felt that Francis was excellent in the role and undoubtedly improved the episode's quality. Miss Francis often told interviewers that despite her, arguably, more famous work on the 1956 film Forbidden Planet or the television series Honey West (1965-66) she was often approached by fans to tell her how much they enjoyed her on "The After Hours" and The Twilight Zone. Francis would go on to star as the antagonist whose namesake is the title of the season four episode, "Jess-Bell."
            Rod Serling's script for "The After Hours" is arguably his best original teleplay for the entire series. I've always felt that Serling was well suited, in the fantasy field, at least, to adapt previously existing work and would often improve upon, or at least present a different take on, the chosen source material. See his work on "It's a Good Life," "To Serve Man," "The Hitch-Hiker," or "Five Characters in Search of an Exit." When it came to crafting the original teleplay Serling often found himself, no doubt because of his contractual obligation to write 80% of the show's output, falling back on genre clich├ęs and often getting himself in trouble with calls of plagiarism from professionals in the field. I can probably count on one hand the number of original teleplays written by Serling that are both excellent and do not, intentionally or unintentionally, closely resemble another writer's work. What episodes immediately come to mind are "Eye of the Beholder," "The Masks," and "The After Hours." Though there were calls of plagiarism concerning Serling's script for "The After Hours," most strongly by a pulp writer named Frank Gruber who had submitted a teleplay titled "The Thirteenth Floor" to producer Buck Houghton and felt that Serling swiped "The After Hours" from this submitted teleplay, the claims are most certainly unfounded in the case of this episode. One of the stories most closely associated with the show is John Collier's seminal, and often anthologized, short story "Evening Primrose." Other than the fact that both take place in a department store and that much of the action takes place after closing hours, the two stories are quite different in plot, mood, and resolution. There is no doubt that Serling was familiar with Collier's work and the idea for "The After Hours" may even have germinated in Serling's reading of Collier's story but Serling took a suitably different approach when crafting his teleplay in order to avoid the plagiarism bug that pursued him throughout his time writing scripts for The Twilight Zone.
            Author Martin Grams documents Serling's feud with writer Frank Gruber over the similarities of Serling's "The After Hours" and Gruber's "The Thirteenth Floor" in his book The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic (OTR, 2008). Grams also notes in his commentary on "The After Hours" that Serling may have been exposed to the John Collier story from its adaptation on the radio show Escape, broadcast on November 5, 1947. Grams claims that Serling was a frequent listener of the show. Writer Frank Gruber made his name writing western and detective stories for pulp magazines, credited as having written over 300 stories for 40 different pulps under a variety of names besides his own including Stephen Acre, Charles K. Boston, and John K. Vedder. Gruber had a script floating around titled "The Thirteenth Floor" and eventually submitted the script to Rod Serling's Cayuga Productions and it landed in the hands of producer Buck Houghton. Serling claimed to never have read the Gruber script at the time of the writing of "The After Hours" and the only real similarity in the scripts is that of the setting, a department store, and the plot element that a character ends up on a non-existing floor. In Gruber's script it is the thirteenth floor; in Serling's it is, in final draft form, the ninth floor. The likeness of the scripts ends there. Yet, Gruber took it a few steps further, spreading the word that Rod Serling was a plagiarist at social gatherings. Serling, obviously feeling the need to defend himself, went so far as to send Gruber the shooting script for "The After Hours," confident that the writer would see the obvious differences in the treatments. Gruber, however, replied to Serling in a ranting letter that both admitted differences and defended Gruber's claims of plagiarism. After Serling sent one final reply to Gruber the situation seemed to end on its own as Serling heard no more from Gruber. It seems a shame to me that of the many Serling scripts that borrow heavily from unaccredited source material, "Nightmare as a Child," "A Passage for Trumpet," “The Obsolete Man,” or "A Thing About Machines," to name a few, an issue would be publicly made for an episode that is suitably original in treatment and execution. Suffice to say that the science fiction and fantasy community of the 1950s and '60s was a crowded field and full of writers covering the same grounds in terms of theme and plot and that it was inevitable to have similar stories floating around at the same time.
            Nevertheless, "The After Hours" stands as a creative high point for the series and justifiably remains one of the most popular episodes among fans of the show. The only element truly lacking from the show's production was a fine original musical score from one of the show's mainstay composers like Jerry Goldsmith or Bernard Herrmann. Still, this element doesn't take away any of the episode's dramatic effect and it remains a seminal piece of work.

Grade: A

James Millhollin stands between Anne Francis and her mannequin likeness
Notes:
--As stated above, Anne Francis also stars in the fourth season episode, "Jess-Bell."
--Director Douglas Heyes also directed some of the show's most seminal episodes, including "The Howling Man," "The Invaders," and "Eye of the Beholder."
---"The After Hours" was originally broadcast with the rare and unusual opening intro of a woman's open eye slowly closing and the following alternate introduction narrated by Rod Serling: "You are about to enter another dimension, a dimension not only of sight and sound but of mind, a journey into a wondrous land of imagination. Next stop, the Twilight Zone."
--"The After Hours" was adapted as a radio play for The Twilight Zone Radio Dramas and starred Kim Fields.

--Jordan Prejean