The Twilight Zone Episode 1: Where Is Everybody?

General Information

Director: Robert Stevens

Writer: Rod Serling

Cast: Earl Holliman, James Gregory, Paul Langton, James McCallion, John Conwell, Jay Overholt, Carter Mullaly, Gary Walberg, and Jim Johnson

Composer: Bernard Herrmann

Air Date: 10/2/1959

Production Code: 173-3601

 

Overview

the-twilight-zone-where-is-everybodyWalking on a dirt road, Air Force pilot Mike Ferris (Earl Holliman) arrives in a town devoid of residents. Though initially unperturbed by the apparent absence of human life, Ferris—unable to shake the feeling of “being watched”—develops an extreme case of paranoia.

A chilling introduction to the greatest anthology series ever made, “Where Is Everybody?” should be requisite viewing for fans of The Twilight Zone. Especially remarkable is the performance of Earl Holliman, whose character—a calm and rational human being at first—experiences a rapid, albeit entirely believable, mental breakdown over the course of this episode.

 

Pros

By talking to his reflection, conversing with mannequins, and playing tic-tac-toe with himself, Holliman—whom fans of classic science fiction will identify as the cook from Forbidden Planet—strengthens the credibility of Rod Serling’s narrative the-twilight-zone-where-is-everybodypremise (i.e. that all humans, introverted or not, require a certain degree of social interaction in order to avoid going insane).

Accentuating the bizarre transition of Holliman’s character, many tilted camera angles embody the disturbed psychological state of Ferris—a surreal technique that one might expect from director Alfred Hitchcock. Also unnerving is the composition of Bernard Herrmann, whose heavy use of stringed instruments effectively complements the panic, if not absolute terror, felt by Ferris in the climactic scene.

 

Cons

Despite benefiting from an air of realism, the explanation for Ferris’ predicament may underwhelm viewers who enjoy The Twilight Zone for its iconic, masterfully executed twist endings.

 

Analysis

the-twilight-zone-where-is-everybodySimilar to “The Lonely” from later in season one, “Where Is Everybody?” operates on the premise that no person can survive, let alone function, in a world without companionship, even when surrounded by an abundance of material comforts—an ironic insight from Serling, whose perspective on the human condition often borders on misanthropic.

 

Concluding Comments

“Where Is Everybody?” is a haunting, skillfully directed introduction to The Twilight Zone. Worth praising in particular is Serling’s unique approach to the ghost town trope, which, perhaps for the first time in television history, is employed in conjunction with a science fiction theme.

 

Overall Quality: 9/10

 

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One thought on “The Twilight Zone Episode 1: Where Is Everybody?

  1. A great introduction to the TZ. The first time I saw it (which was recent; I never caught this one back in the day) I did not predict the ending.