Director: Lamont Johnson
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Andy Devine, Milton Selzer, Howard McNear, Dabbs Greer, and Clem Bevans
Composer: Tommy Morgan
Air Date: 4/13/1962
Production Code: 4833
Known for spinning yarns about his past adventures, country store owner Somerset Frisby (Andy Devine) is abducted by aliens. Given a slight deficiency in their native language, the aliens have no concept of dishonesty and therefore accept at face value any tales of war, heroism, and invention conveyed by Frisby—supposedly the most interesting and accomplished man on Earth. While later imprisoned aboard a flying saucer, Frisby relies on a small but terrible weapon to orchestrate his escape.
“Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” is a cute and humorous entry of The Twilight Zone. Especially worth praising is the hilarious finale of this episode, which offers a science fiction twist on the ending of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.”
Though a pathological liar, Somerset Frisby comes across as a likable, small-town folk hero who, in contrast to the used-car salesman from a previous episode, embellishes the truth in order to entertain rather than to cheat or cause harm—a factor that allows the audience to understand why Pete (Clem Bevans), Mitchell (Howard McNear), Scanlan (Dabbs Greer), and the other townsfolk continue to tolerate Frisby in spite of his blatant dishonesty. (Viewers with a strong sense of ethics may, however, take issue with this episode for depicting Frisby—a deceiver and a braggart—in a positive, amusing, and sympathetic fashion.)
Despite being highly intelligent, the aliens fail to detect the absurdities, contradictions, and inconsistencies that appear throughout Frisby’s extraordinary tales.
Ostensibly a modern retelling of “The Boy Who Cried Wolf,” this offering demonstrates how decent people should overlook the harmless or minor shortcomings—at least within reason—of a true and worthwhile friend.
Complementing alien invasion tropes with tongue-in-cheek humor, “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” will appeal to fans of the sci-fi/comedy crossover genre. Also deserving of mention are the poignant interactions between Frisby and his friends, which compensate for the moral ambiguities contained in this episode.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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