Jump to: Spoilers (6)
When Mike leaves the mannequin factory building and looks around, the shoot is of a very familiar town square. The set has been used for decades - it was later used in Bye Bye Birdie (1963) (during the number, Honestly Sincere), Support Your Local Sheriff! (1969), the Back to the Future (1985) films, and TV shows too numerous to count or mention as well as films.
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Although this was the first aired episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), it is not the first one written. Rod Serling wrote an episode called "The Happy Place", which was rejected because of its subject matter (a society where people were executed when they turned 60), which was considered too depressing.
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The scene where Mike Ferris becomes trapped in the telephone booth was based on an incident which happened to Rod Serling. Serling was at an airport, making a call when he heard the boarding announcement for his flight over the intercom. Trying to get out of the booth, he started pushing on the door, forgetting in his panic that phone booth doors open by pulling the door's handle, inwards. Serling waved down a passerby for help, and the man kicked in the door. Though Serling found his mental lapse embarrassing, he incorporated it into this episode.
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According to Rod Serling, while discussing this episode during a 1975 lecture at Sherwood Oaks College, Earl Holliman was running a fever of over 100°F during the filming of this episode.
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The blaring jazz combo heard playing on the radio in the empty diner is an old stock music cue, heard on many other programmes, such as in Perry Mason: The Case of the Desperate Daughter (1958).
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The original cut featured narration by Westbrook Van Voorhis. Van Voorhis' narration was replaced by that of Rod Serling when the show actually aired.
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Although Buck Houghton is listed as this program's producer, this was actually the pilot show for The Twilight Zone (1959), and at that time, William Self was producer. It was Self's job to shop the show around to the networks. It's possible that without him, the show might never have gotten off the ground. Houghton's credited as producer of this episode, as by the time it aired, Self was no longer connected with the series.
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With the exception of The Twilight Zone: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge (1964) (acquired from an outside source), this was the only The Twilight Zone (1959) episode not filmed at MGM Studios.
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Tony Curtis was offered the role of Mike Ferris, but he wanted too much money.
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Rod Serling was not the original narrator for either this pilot episode or the series. Announcer Westbrook Van Voorhis recorded the original narration and was expected to remain on as the series narrator. Due to multiple contractual obligations, Van Voorhis decided he could not commit to the series and withdrew from the show. CBS Producer William Self felt that Van Voorhis sounded too pompous and unconnected to the show's science fiction theme, anyway, and looked for a more suitable replacement to narrate the show. He sought out Orson Welles however Welles wanted too much money to do it. 'Finally,' said William Self, 'Rod himself made the suggestion that maybe he should do it. It was received with skepticism. None of us knew Rod except as a writer. But he did a terrific job." Serling overdubbed Van Voorhis and became the permanent narrator.
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When Mike's in the drugstore, and walks over to the paperback books, one book's on every rack of one spindle; The Last Man On Earth (1959). Whilst it seems this episode could be about just such a man, the actual book and screenplay (written by Richard Matheson a.k.a. "Logan Swanson") led to the films "The Last Man On Earth", "The Omega Man" " I Am Legend" (which starred Vincent Price, Charlton Heaston, and Wil Smith respectively).
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French title (DVD): Solitude (Episode); La Ville Secrète (The Secret Town).
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One of only a handful of TZ episodes that do not feature any supernatural elements to the plot. Other episodes that lack a definite supernatural or "other-worldy" theme include Season 2's "The Silence", Season 3's "The Shelter" and "Two", and Season 5's "The Jeopardy Room".
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In Rod Serling's original script, there is an additional twist where Mike Ferris discovers a movie ticket in his pocket after being carried away on the stretcher. Serling's novelization in "Stories From the The Twilight Zone (1959)" restores this ending. A variation on this twist was later used in The Twilight Zone: King Nine Will Not Return (1960).
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Near the beginning Ferris knocks over an alarm clock. The close-up of the clock on the floor shows it has a shattered crystal and the time of 6:15. At the end when he is compulsively tapping the clock in the isolation booth, the crystal is also shattered and the time on it is 6:15.
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In his audio commentary, Earl Holliman (Mike Ferris) said that he had suggested to Rod Serling that he tear a page out of the phone book and it would fall out of his pocket at the end, but Rod Serling advised that CBS wanted the program to be more of a reality.
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According to the scientist's report to the General, Mike Ferris was in the isolation booth for approximately 20 days-4 1/2 hours.
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At the time this episode was made it was not known how long a trip to the moon would take and two weeks was thought to be sufficient. Testing g the reaction of a subject to two weeks of isolation would not have been unreasonable.
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In the US Air Force, E-4s are addressed as Staff Sergeants, not simply Sergeants.
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