Original Air Date: March 3, 1961
Writer: Rod Serling
Director: John Brahm
“Uniquely American institution known as the neighborhood bar. Reading left to right are Mr. Anthony O’Toole, proprietor, who waters his drinks like geraniums but who stands foursquare for peace and quiet and for booths for ladies. This is Mr. Joseph J. Callahan, an unregistered bookie, whose entire life is any sporting event with two sides and a set of odds. His idea of a meeting at the summit is any dialogue between a catcher and a pitcher with more than one man on base. And this animated citizen is every anonymous bettor who ever dropped rent money on a horse race, a prize fight, or a floating crap game, and who took out his frustrations and his insolvency on any vulnerable fellow barstool companion within arm’s and fist’s reach. And this is Mr. Luther Dingle, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose volume of business is roughly that of a valet at a hobo convention. He’s a consummate failure in almost everything but is a good listener and has a prominent jaw. And these two unseen gentlemen are visitors from outer space. They are about to alter the destiny of Luther Dingle by leaving him a legacy, the kind you can’t hardly find no more. In just a moment, a sad-faced perennial punching bag, who missed even the caboose of life’s gravy train, will take a short constitutional into that most unpredictable region that we refer to as The Twilight Zone.”
Burgess Meredith reappears in this episode as Mr. Luther Dingle, a weakling and a vacuum cleaner salesman. Don Rickles also makes an amusing appearance in this episode. One day at the bar which he frequents, two strange floating martians enter (two heads, one body) and offer Mr. Dingle a gift -superhuman strength. Suddenly, Mr. Dingle is able to toss around his vacuum cleaners like feathers and he rips off the door to the bar.
For the rest of the day he goes around lifting cars and statues and other impossible feats while he is photographed for the local paper. Soon enough a television crew comes to film his incredible strength. He lifts a bar stool and breaks a table to the applause of the audience, however soon the martians reappear. They are disappointed in Mr. Dingle’s decision to exploit his powers for himself, rather than something constructive. They take his powers away and Mr. Dingle is once again a weakling and a laughingstock.
In an amusing epilogue, on their way out of the bar the martians run into a couple of aliens from Venus (played by two nine year olds). They are looking for a human to implant superhuman intelligence. The martians suggest they use Mr. Dingle. Thus concludes “Mr. Dingle, the Strong” -a silly screwball comedy episode of The Twilight Zone. It is not a great episode but it boasts an extraordinary cast.
“Exit Mr. Luther Dingle, former vacuum cleaner salesman, strongest man on Earth, and now mental giant. These latter powers will very likely be eliminated before too long, but Mr. Dingle has an appeal to extraterrestrial notetakers as well as to frustrated and insolvent bet losers. Offhand, I’d say that he was in for a great deal of extremely odd periods, simply because there are so many inhabited planets who send down observers, and also because, of course, Mr. Dingle lives his life with one foot in his mouth—and the other in The Twilight Zone.”
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- This was one of four episodes Burgess Meredith appears in. This was the only episode in the series that Don Rickles ever appeared in.
- A year prior to this episode a reporter misquotes “Mr. Denton on Doomsday” as “Mr. Dingle” hence where Rod Serling likely got the name.