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"In Praise of Pip" is an episode of the The Twilight Zone, and usually thought of as the most overlooked episode.
From the CBS Video Library cover:
"It's just another thankless day of conning and boozing for bookie Max Phillips (Jack Klugman) when he gets the worst news of his life: His son Pip lies near death in a place called South Vietnam. Frustrated...angry...and remorseful for years of empty promises to his son, Max decides to reach out and help a luckless young bettor. But all his compassion gets him is a bullet in the chest. Seriously wounded, Max Phillips comes face to face with his last chance to do something meaningful for his son. And this time there's no conning and there's no turning back—because Max Phillips has just entered The Twilight Zone."
"Submitted for your approval, one Max Phillips, a slightly-the-worse-for-wear maker of book, whose life has been as drab and undistinguished as a bundle of dirty clothes. And, though it's very late in his day, he has an errant wish that the rest of his life might be sent out to a laundry to come back shiny and clean, this to be a gift of love to a son named Pip. Mr. Max Phillips, Homo Sapiens, who is soon to discover that man is not as wise as he thinks— said lesson to be learned in the Twilight Zone."
When bookie Max Phillips learns that his son Pip has been wounded and lies dying in a field hospital in Vietnam, he realizes that he could have been a better father; a better man. With that epiphany in mind, he shows pity for an unlucky gambler and returns $300 to him, much to the dismay of his boss. Upon the loss being reported, a confrontation ensues, ending with Max on the run from the boss' hitman. The chase ends quickly enough and Max is mortally wounded. He limps away into an amusement park and finds himself face-to-face with his son Pip, somehow a boy again. Max is overjoyed and expresses his love for his son and the two relive treasured moments in their past before his son runs off. Max gives chase, not willing to let his formerly estranged son go again so quickly. When he finally catches up to him, Pip reveals that he is approaching death, back in Vietnam, and vanishes. Wanting his son to live, Max makes a deal with God to exchange his fate with Pip's and, with that request granted, Max dies in his son's place. Several years later (after the war), Pip returns to the same fair his father died in, and is alive and with a cane (probably a leg injury). He plays the same shooting game that he and his father used to play together, which reminds him of his father. He will never know that his father had sacrificed his life for him.
"Very little comment here, save for this small aside: that the ties of flesh are deep and strong, that the capacity to love is a vital, rich and all-consuming function of the human animal, and that you can find nobility and sacrifice and love wherever you may seek it out; down the block, in the heart, or in the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
Next on Twilight Zone, we dabble in the manly arts with a show called "Steel." Written especially for us by Richard Matheson, this one isn't just for prizefighting buffs, because the story is above and beyond anything remotely involving the Marquis of Queensberry. Rather, it's a tender, touching and tough analysis of some very bizarre people. Lee Marvin and Joe Mantell take a walk in The Twilight Zone next, in "Steel".
- Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series
- CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0309 "The Living Doll/To Serve Man/Judgment Night/In Praise of Pip" ; UPC: 000309060002, EAN: 0000309060002, ASIN: B0007LHTX8; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)
- Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, MD: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090