The Twilight Zone Episode 87: A Piano in the House

General Information

Director: David Greene

Writer: Earl Hamner

Cast: Barry Morse, Joan Hackett, Don Durant, Muriel Landers, Philip Coolidge, and Cyril Delevanti

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Air Date: 2/16/1962

Production Code: 4825

 

Overview

To celebrate the birthday of his wife Esther (Joan Hackett), theater critic Fitzgerald Fortune (Barry Morse) brings home a special gift: a player piano that forces people to express their inmost thoughts and desires. Later that evening, Fitzgerald The Twilight Zone A Piano in the Houseactivates the piano for party guests Marge Moore (Muriel Landers), Gregory Walker (Don Durant), and several others—with a most embarrassing outcome.

This episode deserves praise for its delicate acting and poignant subject matter. Additionally worth noting are the revelations of each main character, which offer an insightful commentary on human social behavior.

 

Pros

The Twilight Zone A Piano in the HouseWhile affected by the magic piano, Marge—an overweight, middle-aged woman—shares her lifelong dream of performing as a ballerina. Thereafter, Fitzgerald encourages Marge (now referring to herself as a little girl named Tina) to dance for the group, inviting mockery from the other attendees—an emotionally stirring display, and one that serves to elicit contempt for Fitzgerald prior to his comeuppance.

 

Cons

“A Piano in the House” contains one minor character flaw: Fitzgerald behaves in a sadistic manner toward the only woman who treats him with love and The Twilight Zone A Piano in the Housekindness—a bizarre reaction from a lonely, psychologically wounded man.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

Also problematic is the twist ending, wherein Fitzgerald predictably becomes a victim of his own malice. (Viewers with a sense of justice will, however, enjoy watching Fitzgerald throw a childlike tantrum during an elegant birthday party.)

 

Analysis

The Twilight Zone A Piano in the HouseFor exposing the artificial nature of modern human interactions, “A Piano in the House” should be commended. Specifically, the actions of Fitzgerald, though motivated by cruelty, reveal the elaborate disguises that people often wear in order to avoid criticism or humiliation from others—a message that remains quite relevant in the current age of social media.

 

Concluding Comments

“A Piano in the House” is a touching, if slightly underwhelming, episode. Those of a sensitive disposition will thus appreciate this offering, which benefits from the performances of Barry Morse, Muriel Landers, and Cyril Delevanti—known to fans of The Twilight Zone for appearing in “The Silence,” “A Penny for Your Thoughts,” and “Passage on the Lady Anne.”

 

Overall Quality: 8/10

 

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