Original Air Date: June 3, 1960
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: William Asher
“In the parlance of the twentieth century, this is an oddball. His name is James B. W. Bevis, and his tastes lean toward stuffed animals, zither music, professional football, Charles Dickens, moose heads, carnivals, dogs, children, and young ladies. Mr. Bevis is accident prone, a little vague, a little discombuberated, with a life that possesses all the security of a floating crap game. But this can be said of our Mr. Bevis: without him, without his warmth, without his kindness, the world would be a considerably poorer place, albeit perhaps a little saner…Should it not be obvious by now, James B. W. Bevis is a fixture in his own private, optimistic, hopeful little world, a world which has long ceased being surprised by him. James B. W. Bevis, on whom Dame Fortune will shortly turn her back, but not before she gives him a paste in the mouth. Mr. James B. W. Bevis, just one block away from The Twilight Zone.”
James B.W. Bevis (played by Orson Bean) is a lovable but accident-prone character who enjoys playing with the neighborhood children before driving his 1924 Rickenbacker to work. He is something of an adult child -he dons a bow tie and plays with toys. On this particular morning, Bevis arrives thirty minutes late to his job and he is promptly fired. He steps outside to find that his car has rolled away and crashed into a light post. When he returns home his landlord is bitterly angry. Bevis is evicted from his apartment. With nowhere left to turn he heads to the nearest bar.
At the bar, he sees a man in the mirror who waves at him from a booth, but in reality there is no man seated in the booth. In the mirror the man motions for Bevis to join him. Bevis walks over and the strange man suddenly materializes. His name is Mr. J. Hardy Hempstead (played by Henry Jones). He is Bevis’s guardian angel and he offers Bevis the chance to relive this horrible day all over gain.
Bevis wakes up at his home again. It is now clean and organized (Hempstead says Bevis needs to keep himself clean and organized if he is to become successful). Bevis is also forbidden from playing with the neighborhood children, he now has a new sports car, and at work his desk has changed. Exasperated Bevis calls out to Hempstead. He does not want an inauthentic life. In the end, Hempstead obliges and Bevis is returned to his normal life. We find him back at the bar and he runs outside to find his Rickenbacker car parked on the street, not crashed, but a police officer is writing a ticket because it is parked next to a fire hydrant. Then suddenly the hydrant disappears and Bevis nods to Hempstead as he avoids a ticket and drives off.
“Mr. James B. W. Bevis, who believes in a magic all his own. The magic of a child’s smile, the magic of liking and being liked, the strange and wondrous mysticism that is the simple act of living. Mr. James B. W. Bevis, species of twentieth-century male, who has his own private and special Twilight Zone.”
“Mr. Bevis” is a delightful, comical episode in the series, but admittedly it is not one of the best (perhaps because it was discussed as possibly being spun-off into its own series).
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- Ben-Hur is alluded to several times in this episode.
- Rod Serling was apparently disappointed in this episode for its campiness. He originally intended for it to become the pilot episode for a new comedy series on CBS.