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
Walking 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.
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 premise (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.
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.
Similar 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.
“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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