"Where is Everybody?" is the first episode of The Twilight Zone.
From the CBS Video Library cover:
"Mike Ferris (Earl Holliman) finds himself walking into a town utterly devoid of people, with no memory of who he is or how he got there, the only clue to his identity being the Air Force jumpsuit he's wearing. Thus began the first episode of The Twilight Zone, the pilot, the half-hour that sold the series."
The opening featured the sun/horizon animation.
When the episode's narrative for the title sequence was originally recorded, it was worded as follows:
"There is a sixth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the sunlight of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area that might be called the Twilight Zone."
When a second introduction was recorded, the lines were changed thusly:
"There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man's fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area we call the Twilight Zone."
"The place is here, the time is now, and the journey into the shadows that we're about to watch could be our journey."
A man finds himself alone walking towards a diner. Inside he finds a jukebox playing loudly and coffee hot on the stove. He hollers to the people in the kitchen, asking if they realize how loud it is, but he receives no response. He turns the music down and attempts to ask the cooks about the town up the room but no one answers him. He inquires for some breakfast, but no chef or waitress is to be found. He hops over the bar and shouts out the backdoor, but no one is to be found. He discovers breakfast food on the stove in the kitchen and a broken clock on the floor. As he helps himself to a cup of coffee, he shouts, hoping to get someone's attention. Finding no one, he leaves. He is not able to remember who he is or how he got there.
After leaving the diner, he walks to the nearby town which also seems to be deserted. He shouts into the bakery, then notices what he believes to be a woman watching him in a car from across the street. He tells her that he is unable to remember who he is and has not seen anyone since he woke up that morning (or rather started walking down the road). Upon approaching the car, he realizes that the "woman" is actually a mannequin who falls out.
He hears a payphone ring and rushes to answer it, but there is no one on the other end or an operator. After inserting coins, the man only gets a recorded operating system. He checks the telephone directory, curious where all of the town's inhabitants and storekeepers are. When trying to leave the booth, he is unable to exit because he attempted to open it the wrong way.
The man grows more and more unsettled as he wanders through the empty town, looking for someone—anyone—to talk to, all the while having the strange feeling that he is being watched. Attempting to find someone, he goes into the police station. He talks into the police radio, joking that a strange man is walking through town, until he sees a smoking cigar in the ash tray. There are no prisoners being detained in any of the jail cells, but he finds a few things in one cell: the faucet is still running, a towel, a razor, shaving cream and a shaving brush. After finding these things, h tells himself that he needs to wake up. As the cell door almost creaks closed, the man rushes out of the prison and into the town square, asking where everyone is.
As he walks down the street, he hears the church bells ring just before entering a drug store. After seeing no one come out of the church, he ducks inside the drug store and asks the invisible patrons if they would like a sundae. He talks to his reflection, apologizing that he cannot remember his name, and tells a tale about Ebenezer Scrooge, then wonders why he can't wake up from the nightmare he is stuck in. He then comes to several racks of books and spins them all around. He looks one of the racks and picks up a book called "The Last Man on Earth". After spinning the rack around and seeing the same book, he is spooked and leaves the store.
That night, he plays a game of tic-tac-toe with himself when several evening street lights switch on. After realizing all of the lights have turned on, he approaches the movie theater and realizes that the man in the poster (a member of the Air Force) is wearing a similar jumpsuit as he is. He comes to the conclusion that he must also be in the Air Force. He excitedly rushes in to tell the moviegoers his revelation, but there is no one to hear the news. The man begins to think that perhaps he is having this dream because of a bomb or another accident. Just then, the film begins to play with a plane being seen flying on the projector screen. He dashes upstairs hoping to find someone in the booth running the pictures, but instead there no one is seen.
Even more spooked by this, the man heads downstairs only to smack into a reflection of himself in the mirror. He then runs outside and trips over a curb, then a bicycle. After tripping over the latter, he believes the picture of an eye on the optometrists office is watching him and screams. He quickly gets up and runs down the street again, only to finally collapse next to a street crossing and presses the button labeled WALK. It is revealed that the walk button is actually a panic button. A group of men is watching the proceedings of this experiment in a nearby room, and after the man panics, they break him up. The broken clock he saw earlier in the café actually the clock, which he has repeatedly pounded, that was counting his time in the simulator.
The man is really a training astronaut named Mike Ferris, confined to an isolation room located within an aircraft hangar for 484 hours and 36 minutes, testing to see if he can stay sane cooped up in a small spacecraft for the duration of a trip to the Moon. The town was a complete hallucination, an escape valve for his sensory-deprived mind.
As Ferris is carried out of the hangar on a stretcher, he asks the doctor what went wrong. The doctor tells him that they are able to fix any problem but the need for companionship. Ferris sees the Moon above him, and says wistfully, "Hey! Don't go away up there! Next time it won't be a dream or a nightmare. Next time it'll be for real. So don't go away. We'll be up there in a little while."
"Up there, up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky, up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience of eons, forever waiting... in the Twilight Zone."
Preview for Next Week's Story
Next week, I'll have a reunion with a unique talent and a valued friend, our first since "Requiem for a Heavyweight". Next week on The Twilight Zone, Mr. Ed Wynn stars in "One for the Angels," playing an old pitchman who sells mechanical toys like this, but whose competition is Mr. Death. We hope you'll join us then. Thank you and good night.
Preview for Another CBS Show
"For the young and the old, the sick and the troubled, give the united way."
The main theme in this episode, as the title suggests, is loneliness and its effect on humans. The commanding officer in the final scene sums this up, observing, "The barrier of loneliness — that's the one thing we haven't licked yet."
As with the subject of age, isolation would be a theme often revisited by Serling in various episodes throughout the series, most prominently Season 2's "The Mind and the Matter", in which a man finds he can eliminate outside influences and uses the power to rid himself of all humanity, only to realize the extreme loneliness that comes with deprivation of human interaction. Other notable episodes with the theme include Season 1's "The Lonely" and "Time Enough at Last", Season 3's "Nothing in the Dark", and Season 5's "A Kind of a Stopwatch".
As part of the Sci Fi Channel's participation in Cable in the Classroom, "Where is Everybody?" may be recorded and retained indefinitely for educational exhibition. A suggested lesson plan expands on the concept of aloneness vs. loneliness by shifting the focus to "using a gift for personal gain or for the benefit of others" and how students might help those who are most affected by isolation and the effects of social deprivation.
Response and Analysis
- Space travel has long been a theme in science fiction; some of the best-known examples being French philosopher Voltaire's Micromegas (1752), French author Jules Verne's From the Earth to the Moon (1865), and British writer H. G. Wells' The First Men in the Moon (1901).
- Space exploration in motion pictures dates as far back as 1902, with the pioneering science fiction film, Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip to the Moon), a 14-minute film from French filmmaker Georges Melies. Another early depiction can be found in Fritz Lang's The Woman in the Moon (1929) (aka By Rocket to the Moon). The film's explorers discovered a mountainous landscape on the moon which was dotted with precious metals and gems. The film is notable for introducing a backward countdown to a rocket launch (i.e., the "5-4-3-2-1" count as later used by NASA in their real-world launches), future real-life space shots, and centrifugal force effects to future space travel films. A more realistic portrayal was found in Destination Moon (1950), "historically important - [as] it 'invented' the realistic look of spacesuits, rocketships (skillfully-produced models), and the lunar surface."
The pilot episode began a trend for The Twilight Zone of critical success accompanied by adequate, if not phenomenal, ratings. A New York Times review of the episode on October 3, 1959, stated:
"Mr. Serling conceived his playlet in imaginative terms and underscored his point that science cannot foretell what may be the effect of total isolation on a human being. Indeed, the play's situation was almost bound to be better than its resolution, which by comparison 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."
Later that year, in the December issue of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science-Fiction, Charles Beaumont wrote:
"...I read Serling's first script. It was, or seemed to be, an end-of-the-world story. Resisting the impulse to throw the wretched thing across the room, I read on. A man is alone in a town which shows every sign of having been recently occupied. He finds cigarettes burning in ash trays. Stoves are still warm. Chimneys are smoking. But no one is there, only this one frightened man who can't even remember his name...Old stuff? Of course. I thought so at the time, and I think so now. 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."
Notes and Annotations
- This episode aired two years before Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first to achieve human spaceflight, orbiting the Earth aboard the Vostok 1 spacecraft. Although the first animal in orbit was the dog Laika, launched aboard the Soviet Sputnik 2 spacecraft on November 3, 1957, the consequences of manned spaceflight remained uncertain until Gagarin's launch on April 12, 1961.
- Rod Sterling originally wrote a script entitled "The Happy Place" in which there was a society in ounce a person turned 60, they were to be executed, but it was rejected, years later it was adapted into a Star Trek episode and then "Logan's Run".
- Rod Serling as Narrator (voice only); uncredited
- Earl Holliman as Mike Ferris
- James Gregory as Air Force General
- Paul Langton as Doctor
- Jay Overholts as Reporter Two [Credited as Jay Overholt]
- Garry Walberg as Reporter Three [Credited as Gary Walberg]
- Carter Mullaly as Air Force Captain [Credited as Carter Mullaly]
- Jim Johnson as Air Force Staff Sergeant
- John Conwell as Air Force Colonel
- James McCallion as Reporter One
- Rod Serling (executive producer: Cayuga Productions)
- William Self (producer)
- Buck Houghton (producer)
- Joseph LaShelle (director of photography)
- Roland Gross (film editor)
- Robert Clatworthy (art director)
- Alexander Golitzen (art director; credited: Alex Golitzen)
- Russell A. Gausman (set decorator)
- Ruby R. Levitt (set decorator; credited: Ruby Levitt)
- Bud Westmore (makeup artist)
- Joseph E. Kenney (assistant director; credited: Joseph E. Kenny)
- Leslie I. Carey (sound)
- Vernon W. Kramer (sound
- Van Allen James (sound effects editor; uncredited)
- Bernard Herrmann (conductor; uncredited)
- Cayuga Productions
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS)
- Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) (1959) (USA) (TV) (original airing)
- Paris Corporation (2008) (France) (DVD)
Home media release
The alternate version of this episode is included on the Image Entertainment Vol. 43 DVD along with "Eye of the Beholder" (alternately titled "The Private World of Darkness"), "A World of His Own" and "A Thing About Machines". The original version is included on the Treasures of The Twilight Zone DVD along with "The Encounter" and "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge".
- Rod Serling was not originally intended to be the narrator for the episode (or the series). Instead, announcer Westbrook Van Voorhis was slated for the job. When it became known that he would be unavailable for future episodes of the series, Mr. Serling opted to record the narration himself and would continue to do so for the sake of consistency.
- An alternate explanation for the replacement of Van Hoorhis was given in the CBS Video Library summary: "Westbrook Van Hoorhis, the voice of The March of Time, narrated the pilot, but it was decided that he was a little too pompous-sounding. Orson Welles was a favored choice, but wanted too much money. 'Finally,' says William Self, the producer of this episode, 'Rod himself made the suggestion that maybe he should do it. It was received with skepticism. None of us knew Rod except as a writer. But he did a terrific job."
- Mr. Serling revealed how he developed the idea: "This particular show I got from a Time magazine article that they were putting guys in isolation booths in preparation for extra-terrestrial travel."
- Rod Serling later adapted this tale to be included in a short-story anthology Stories From the Twilight Zone (1960, ASIN: B0000CKNSM), although he changed the ending. In the revised version, Mike Ferris, after being carried away on a stretcher, discovers a movie ticket in his pocket from the theater he visited while suffering the supposed hallucination. This was an attempt to give the story a more definite sci-fi/fantasy twist.
- Although this was the first episode of The Twilight Zone to be aired, Rod Serling had written another proposal for the pilot, titled "The Happy Place". The plot centered on a society that executed its citizens when they reached the age of 60 because of their perceived obsolescence (a theme that would pop up again in other works of science fictions such as Logan's Run). The network rejected the story because of its dark subject matter. 
- With the exception of Season 5's "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge", this was the only The Twilight Zone episode not to be filmed at MGM Studios. The episode was filmed at Universal Studios. The marquee at the theater advertises "Battle Hymn", a movie released in 1956 by Universal.
- This episode was the first pilot ever produced by William Self.
- The haunting score composed by Bernard Herrmann for this episode would be reused for several episodes of the series, most notably Season 1's "The After Hours".
- The episode was rehearsed and shot in 9 days. It was dubbed, scored and edited in 3 days.
- Producer William Self stated that the episode's budget was "around $75,000...in those days very high for a half-hour pilot."
- Jay Overholts appeared in a total of eight episodes of The Twilight Zone, the others being Season 1's "One for the Angels", Season 2's "A Thing About Machines", Twenty-Two, "The Odyssey of Flight 33", and "Static", and Season 3's "The Jungle" and "Showdown with Rance McGrew".
- John Conwell appeared in "The After Hours" later in the season. He also worked as the assistant to the producer during Season 4.
- James Gregory also appeared in Season 3's "The Passerby".
- Paul Langton also appeared in Season 4's "On Thursday We Leave for Home".
- “Let me put it to you this way -- I'm not sure who I am. But I've got two dollars and eighty- five cents and I'm hungry.”
- “ I wish I could shake that feeling...That crazy feeling of being watched... listened to...”
- “ But now I'd like to wake up. I've had it... I'd like to wake up now. And if I can't wake up, at least I'd like... I'd like to find somebody to talk to.”
- “ You see, Ferris, we can feed stomachs with concentrates. We can supply microfilm for recreation, reading, even movies of a sort. We can pump oxygen in, waste material out. But there's one thing we can't simulate. That's a pretty basic need -- man's hunger for companionship, the barrier of loneliness. That's one we haven't licked yet.”
- Main article: List of memorable quotes from the first series
Notes and References
- CBS Video Library: Twilight Zone #0323 "Where is Everybody?/Perchance to Dream/The Jungle/Nick of Time" ; UPC: 003230803991, EAN: 0003230803991, ASIN: B000BUHEZ8; Format: NTSC, VHS, Collector's Edition (1987)
- CrazyAboutTv.com: The Twilight Zone TV Show (1959) Retrieved on: 2009-04-13
- Producer William Self elaborated on this revision for the CBS Video Library release: "The opening line read, 'There is a sixth dimension...' Self: 'I said, "Rod, what is the fifth one?" He said, "I don't know. Aren't there five?" I said, "I can only think of four." So we rewrote and rerecorded it and said, "There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man...'"
- An alternate draft of the title narrative was also prepared:"The barrier of loneliness: the palpable, desperate need of the human animal to be with his fellow man. Up there, up there in the vastness of space, in the void that is sky, up there is an enemy known as isolation. It sits there in the stars waiting, waiting with the patience of eons, forever waiting... in the Twilight Zone."
- Wikipedia: Where Is Everybody?
- Blass, Laurie and Elder, Pam. "LESSON PLAN". Twilight Zone: Cable in the Classroom; Retrieved 2009-04-16.
- History of Space Exploration: Early Developments; Retrieved 2009-04-15
- Tim Dirks. AMC Filmsite: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon) (1902). Retrieved 2009-04-27.
- AMC Filmsite: Le Voyage Dans La Lune (A Trip To The Moon) (1902). Retrieved: 2009-04-27.
- Zicree, Marc Scott: The Twilight Zone Companion. Sillman-James Press, 1982 (second edition)
- Wikipedia: Human Spaceflight
- IMDB: "The Twilight Zone" Where Is Everybody? (1959)
- Fantastic Fiction: Stories From the Twilight Zone by Rod Sterling
- Wikipedia: William Self (actor); Retrieved 2009-04-15
- 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
- Internet Movie Database. "Where Is Everybody?." Retrieved: 2009-04-30.
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