Original Air Date: April 15, 1960
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Director: John Brahm
The title of this episode comes from the popular expression “It’s a nice place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.” This was the last episode written by Charles Beaumont for Season 1, and also it was last episode directed by John Brahm for Season 1. “A Nice Place To Visit” is both an amusing and chilling story that contemplates the necessary suffering and finitude of life while exploring alternatives to the traditional mythology of Heaven and Hell.
“Portrait of a man at work, the only work he’s ever done, the only work he knows. His name is Henry Francis Valentine, but he calls himself “Rocky”, because that’s the way his life has been – rocky and perilous and uphill at a dead run all the way. He’s tired now, tired of running or wanting, of waiting for the breaks that come to others but never to him, never to Rocky Valentine. A scared, angry little man. He thinks it’s all over now but he’s wrong. For Rocky Valentine, it’s just the beginning.”
An urban ruffian and robber named Henry “Rocky” Valentine (played by Larry Blyden) is caught in a shoot-out while attempting to escape an encounter with the police. He awakens to find himself beside an elderly, plump man dressed in a white suit named Pip (played by Sebastian Cabot who appeared in a variety of famous Disney films). Pip seems to know incredibly detailed information about Rocky’s life. The two travel to a beautiful penthouse hotel room where Rocky grows suspicious of Pip while hoards of money, food, and women are paraded before him for amusement. When Rocky tries to shoot and kill Pip he discovers that his bullets have no effect. Rocky discerns that he must be dead and Pip is his guardian angel.
In this world, nothing is real but everything he wishes is granted. Rocky starts gambling but soon he loses interest because there is no challenge in winning every time. At his request, Pip takes Rocky to the Hall of Records where Rocky finds his own file. It is filled with a list of his own sins. As time goes by Rocky grows listless. He asks Pip why he was sent to Heaven rather than ‘the other place’ to which Pip responds, ‘Whatever gave you the idea you were in Heaven, Mr. Valentine? This is the other place!’ Rocky desperately tries to escape through a locked door while Pip descends into maniacal laughter. For Rocky, Hell is a fantasy-land where he is given everything he desires in the form of infinite meaninglessness. There are no thrills, challenges, joy, or suffering -there is only too much of a good thing in this inverted vision of Hell.
“A scared, angry little man who never got a break. Now he has everything he’s ever wanted – and he’s going to have to live with it for eternity – in The Twilight Zone.”
One thing I love about The Twilight Zone is the way the writers manage to create protagonists akin to the common man. Often these are ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances beyond their control. In the case of “A Nice Place To Visit” we see a low-brow schemer transformed into a gluttonous resident of hell. Wishes have consequences in The Twilight Zone.
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- Mickey Rooney was the first choice to play Rocky Valentine. In a memo to Rod Serling, Charles Beaumont suggested, should Rooney not be available, that Serling consider playing the part. Long story short Rooney was unavailable and Serling declined and Rooney. But Serling turned down the role so Larry Blyden was hired.
- “A Nice Place to Visit” was singled out for its brazen sexual innuendo by the CBS censors.
- Guest star Sebastian Cabot had to bleach his hair white for the role; it took three months for the actor’s hair to return to its original dark color.
- The slot machine seen in the episode is the same one used in “The Fever.”
Click here to return to my survey of The Twilight Zone series.
For a quintessentially cautionary tale on being careful about what you wish for, this one deserves a grand prize and especially thanks to the dynamic acting by both Blyden and Cabot.
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