Original Air Date: April 13, 1962
Writer: Rod Serling/Frederic Louis Fox
Director: Lamont Johnson
“I’m just an old country boy with a big mouth!”
A loose-lipped small town yokel named Somerset Frisby (played by legendary actor Andy Devine) spends his days spinning yarns, telling unbelievable tall tales for his friends in his general store. He continues to tell story after story, each one inflating his persona ever greater. He claims to have fought in battle, traveled widely, studied many subjects, met U.S. Presidents, holds numerous doctoral degrees, can predict the weather and other fanciful claims. As his friends roll their eyes, Mr. Frisby hears a horn honk and so he steps outside.
“The reluctant gentleman with the sizable mouth is Mr. Frisby. He has all the drive of a broken cam shaft and the aggressive vinegar of a corpse. As you’ve no doubt gathered, his big stock in trade is the tall tale. Now, what he doesn’t know is that the visitors out front are a very special breed, destined to change his life beyond anything even his fertile imagination could manufacture. The place is Pitchville Flats. The time is the present. But Mr. Frisby is on the first leg of a rather fanciful journey into the place we call…the Twilight Zone.”
Two men pull up in their car muttering to themselves about how Mr. Frisby must be the most impressive and experienced man on earth. They pay for gas, his friends leave for the night, and then Mr. Frisby begins to close down shop when he is suddenly plagued by a strange voice and transported to a spaceship piloted by the two men he met earlier. They explain that he must be the most accomplished man on earth, and that they intend to return him to their home planet as an exemplary citizen of earth who can teach them a great many things. However, Mr. Frisby cops to his lies and tries to escape by punching one of the aliens in the face but the alien visage merely crumbles revealing a hideous appearance underneath.
Later, Mr. Frisby starts playing his harmonica but the grating sound terrorizes the aliens who collapse in agony and immediately allow him to escape back down to terra firma. Mr. Frisby then rushes back to his store where his friends have planned a surprise 63rd birthday party for him. They demand to hear another ludicrous story so Mr. Frisby proceeds to tell them about his recent alien abduction amidst roars of laughter.
“Mr. Somerset Frisby, who might have profited by reading an Aesop fable about a boy who cried wolf. Tonight’s tall tale from the timberlands of the Twilight Zone.”
This episode might as well be called the man who cried wolf. It is a comical portrayal of a liar who finally meets his match. The idea for the episode asks: what would happen if a habitual liar were to be taken seriously by a pod of space aliens?
The Twilight Zone Trivia:
- At the end of the episode for his 63rd birthday, Mr. Frisby receives a trophy from his friends reading “World’s Greatest Liar”.
- Mr. Frisby lists various nicknames he has supposedly been given over the years: “Ol’ Infilatin’ Frisby,” “Old Cumulus Frisby,” “Ol’ Archimedes Frisby,” “Rear-Engine” and “Ol’ Rear-Engine Frisby,” “Stonewall Frisby” and “Stony,” “Ol’ Rocket Sauce Frisby,” “Old Liquid Propellant Frisby,” “Ol’ Mile-A-Minute Frisby.”
- This modern Aesopian fable was taken from an unpublished story by Frederic Louis Fox originally called “Mister Tibbs and the Flying Saucer.” Frederic Louis Fox also wrote the story idea for the earlier Season 3 episode “Showdown with Rance McGrew.”
- This is one of many episodes to feature the spaceship from Forbidden Planet.
Click here to return to my survey of The Twilight Zone series.