Original Air Date: July 1, 1960
Writer: Richard Matheson
Director: Ralph Nelson
The conclusion of Season 1 of The Twilight Zone ends on a comedic high note. “A World of His Own” is a wonderful meta-contemplation on the art of writing as fictional characters are suddenly brought to life. I found this triumphant conclusion to the first season both hilarious and yet subtle.
“The home of Mr. Gregory West, one of America’s most noted playwrights. The office of Mr. Gregory West. Mr. Gregory West—shy, quiet, and at the moment, very happy. Mary—warm, affectionate…And the final ingredient: Mrs. Gregory West.”
We are introduced to a renowned playwright, Gregory West (played by Keenan Wynn) who is seated in his study with a woman named Mary (played by Mary LaRoche who also appeared in Hitchcock episodes as well as Hollywood classics like 1963’s Bye Bye Birdie). However, lurking outside the window is Gregory’s wife Victoria (played by Phyllis Kirk). When she spots Gregory alone with a woman she sneers and quickly enters the house. In a frenzy, Gregory tries to hide Mary before his wife enters the study.
When Victoria storms in she searches but cannot find another woman. Eventually she traps Gregory into admitting the truth. He tries to explain an extraordinary ability -when he dictates stories into a dictaphone the characters miraculously come to life. He demonstrates the creation of Mary when she is suddenly imagined into life. She appears with a knock at the door. Victoria, however, remains unconvinced. Gregory takes his scissors, cuts off a piece of the recording from the dictaphone, and casts it into the fire which then makes a despondent Mary disappear. He also dictates an elephant to appear in the hallway to prove the ability to Victoria. When she threatens to alert the authorities about Gregory, he calmly pulls a box off his shelf. In truth Victoria is merely another creation of Gregory’s writing. When he casts her recording section into the fire she suddenly disappears and Gregory decides, instead, to reanimate Mary.
At the end of the episode Rod Serling appears and he starts saying, “We hope you enjoyed tonight’s romantic story on The Twilight Zone. At the same time, we want you to realize that it was, of course, purely fictional. In real life, such ridiculous nonsense could never—” But Gregory interrupts: “Rod, you shouldn’t!” and he pulls a box off his shelf that reads “Rod Serling.” Gregory then casts its contents into the fire and Serling shrugs and says, “Well, that’s the way it goes,” as he fades away. Like Gregory’s wife and lover, Rod Serling has been a mere figment of the writer’s imagination. This wonderful ending elicited more than a few laughs from me. What a delightful, witty way to end one of the greatest seasons of network television!
“Leaving Mr. Gregory West—still shy, quiet, very happy… and apparently in complete control of The Twilight Zone.”
“A World Of His Own” offers a glimpse at a writers’ fantasy, to see his characters truly come to life. It is a delightfully fitting ending to a show which celebrates great writing (even as Rod Serling himself is uncharacteristically written out of the story!)
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- Although Rod Serling appears on-screen at the end of most first season Twilight Zone episodes to plug the following week’s show, this is the only episode in the first season in which Rod Serling appears on-screen within the episode itself. From the second season onward Serling appears in most every episode.
- Richard Matheson’s original script was much darker in tone than the final cut of this episode.
- Like the protagonist in this episode, Rod Serling often dictated Twilight Zone scripts into a recorder beside his Olympic sized pool in Pacific Palisades, California.