Director: Ralph Nelson
Writer: Richard Matheson
Cast: Keenan Wynn, Phyllis Kirk, and Mary La Roche
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 7/1/1960
Production Code: 173-3634
After Victoria West (Phyllis Kirk) observes her husband Gregory (Keenan Wynn) in the company of a beautiful woman named Mary (Mary La Roche), the eccentric playwright weaves a fantastic tale to explain his suspicious behavior. According to Mr. West, a special dictation machine allows the user to manifest characters out of thin air simply by recording a description of their physical and personality attributes. Naturally, the incredulous Victoria threatens to have her husband committed after listening to his nonsensical ravings, but not before Gregory reveals a harrowing secret about his wife’s true nature.
Whereas many of The Twilight Zone’s comedic offerings suffer from stale punchlines and dated material, Richard Matheson’s quirky but timeless humor makes “A World of His Own” a piece that modern audiences can surely appreciate. Likewise, Rod Serling’s hilarious cameo results in a memorable conclusion to the mostly excellent first season of this series.
In contrast to the cringe-inducing gags featured in “Mr. Bevis” and “The Mighty Casey,” Matheson’s screwball humor actually works quite well here thanks to the brilliant chemistry shared by Keenan Wynn and Phyllis Kirk. Despite his amorous advances toward Mary, Gregory comes across as an overall charming individual who earns his likability by making every effort to salvage his failing marriage. On the other hand, Kirk portrayed Victoria as a vain, distrustful housewife whose exaggerated reactions to Gregory’s outlandish stories offer a great deal of comic relief.
Occasionally silly humor and a predictable twist ending may deter serious fans from enjoying this episode.
While “A World of His Own” was perhaps intended as nothing more than a tongue-and-cheek glimpse into the minds of writers Matheson and Serling, observant audiences may wish to follow Gregory’s example due to his independent and generally free-spirited characteristics. As a man who lives by his own rules, Gregory succeeds in creating a reality under his absolute control. Notably, by disregarding society’s flawed standards of happiness, Wynn’s character eventually ends up with the woman of his dreams instead of the “ideal” wife most men would desire. Though the means through which Gregory attains such an existence can only be described as fantastic, many viewers will undoubtedly appreciate this character for his nonconformist attitude, which perhaps serves as a reflection of Serling’s own worldview.
With the exception of several goofy scenes, “A World of His Own” excels where other comedic Twilight Zone entries fall embarrassingly flat. Those who admire Serling and Matheson should enjoy this episode for its semi-autobiographical qualities, while fans of quirky situations will appreciate the zany tone of this amusing season finale.
Overall Quality: 9/10
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