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



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.



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.



“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.)



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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2 thoughts on “The Twilight Zone Episode 87: A Piano in the House

  1. “A piano in the house” is another TZ episode whos lead man Fitzgerald who’s not a very nice character. He berates and insults his sweet natured wife Esther, his servant, an overweight friend of his wife’s, Marge, and another friend Barry.
    Fitzgerald doesn’t seem so rude in the first scene in an antique gift shop, it’s the shop worker who is rude and Fitzgerald confronts him on his rudeness. He immediately barks at Fitzgerald (Fitz) making it clear his presence is a personal annoyance to him. He asks him why he’s being rude, and then tells him that he expected in a store like that to find a kindly old dear with an wholehearted interest in all the store’s different antiques, rather than a misanthrope, a man who hates people. He then asks about a player piano for his wife, he says yes, then Fitz asks him to show it to him, which the keeper once again is rude and snaps “you’re wasting alot of my time!”. The bizarre begins here, the keeper plays a song on the player piano and immediately changes into a very different kind of person. He tells Fitz how lovely this piano would be for the wife, how he’s giving her the gift of music, and tells him about how sweet it is to look straight into the eyes of the one you love under the moon. And his tone and expression has changed over from grumpy and hardened to pleasant, smiling, and full of light and whimsy. Fitz then discovers what he has found and says with quiet surprise ” how extraordinary “.
    I gotta go now, I will write the rest of the review for this episode later today when Fitz brings the piano home and sets up the wife’s birthday party.

    • When Fitzgerald comes home to his lush apartment, he finds the piano delivered (this was obviously several hours later since the piano’s already there and hadn’t even left the store yet in the store scene). It starts to show how Fitz really treats people, he berates his Butler for looking too grim, and tells his wife Esther directly that her having no musical talent is the reason that he got the player piano. He also tells an actor friend of Esther’s that his plays are terrible. These people all seem pretty decent too in their nature. I figured that Fitz is only rude to those who are nice and let him be rude. He didn’t act rude to the shopkeeper because he was clearly so rude himself, but he’s rude to the one’s who are nice to him including his wife.
      Anyway, when Fitz starts playing this new magic piano, the magic spells starts to show a less nice side to Esther, and she reveals what she really thinks of him. The piano brings out a much more happy cheerful persona to the grim Butler and it gets Esther’s actor friend to reveal that he has a crush on a certain someone. It also gets an overweight woman friend to dance, who people laugh at, not very nice. Esther keeps begging Fitz to stop playing the piano but he refuses to respect her wish. Let’s just say someone eventually gets a taste of their own medicine.

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