Director: Buzz Kulik
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Shelley Berman, Jack Grinnage, and Chet Stratton
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 5/12/1961
Production Code: 173-3659
Archibald Beechcroft (Shelley Berman), an intolerant office drone, receives a book entitled The Mind and the Matter from coworker Henry (Jack Grinnage). After reading the book, Archibald improves his concentration to a point that allows him to remove the human race from existence—a power that he employs without hesitation, oblivious to the consequences of doing so.
“The Mind and the Matter” is a mediocre episode of The Twilight Zone. Notably, the satirical tone of this installment serves to undermine, if not entirely, the intriguing premise on which it operates.
Having wished away all humans, Archibald tries but ultimately fails to entertain himself. Though tediously executed, the antics of Berman’s character imply that even recluses, misanthropes, and introverts require a certain amount of social interaction to exist in a healthy, functional manner.
Unable to fully embrace a solitary lifestyle, Archibald decides on a compromise to his original plan: instead of eliminating the human species altogether, the protagonist creates a variety of people in his own image. Thereafter, Archibald must fight his way through a crowd of bitter, extremely impolite men and women, prompting him to appreciate his initial circumstances for the first time. Despite being somewhat clever, the above-described concept falls ridiculously flat for one reason: in addition to behaving like Archibald, every person now physically resembles the main character—an effect that was produced, at least in part, by requiring extras to wear poorly constructed Shelley Berman masks.
Similar to “Time Enough at Last” from season one, “The Mind and the Matter” indicates that isolation is a poor means of coping with the chaotic nature of modern society—a solemn, thought-provoking thesis marred by a tongue-in-cheek narrative.
A quirky episode, “The Mind and the Matter” should be criticized for its juvenile examination of a profound subject. This offering may, however, appeal to those who enjoy The Twilight Zone for its comedic entries.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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