episode #073 - It's a Good Life

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episode #073 - It's a Good Life

Post  BoG on Tue Dec 28, 2010 10:01 pm

Air Date: 11/3/61  Arrow  Director: James Sheldon  Arrow  written by Rod Serling, based on story by Jerome Bixby
PLOT: the town of Peaksville, Ohio has been taken over by a monster, one who has either moved the town to another dimension or removed the rest of the world... and he sends people & animals he doesn't like "into the cornfield" (oh, and, he doesn't like a lot). Cloris Leachman and John Larch play the parents in hell.
In other episodes, the godlike manipulation of reality was kept mysterious. We didn't know who or what was causing these cosmic imbalances and restructuring of reality on such a scale; even in Shadow Play, there is some mystery on who or what may be causing the repeating dream. But in this one, the godlike manipulator is given a face - and we kind of wish we didn't see it. Maybe, it would be better if we were kept in the dark; perhaps there would be less horror if the face of ultimate evil were kept hidden.
<Don Keefer, jacked!
There are still questions but some of these can be easily addressed. Anthony (Billy Mumy) is evidently some kind of a mutant, born with the ability to alter reality in any way he sees fit. Because he is a very young god, he has yet to learn the concepts of benevolence or mercy. Therefore, his personal universe is ruled by chaos and cruelty - this is a dark god, indeed. Reality here can shift at his whim and normal humans are completely helpless, all caught in the undertow of uncertainty.

This is also a study in survival techniques; it shows how humans can adapt to situations - to new realities - even very abnormal ones. They have developed their own code of speech here, revolving around keeping the dark god complacent - whenever possible. This is not living, of course, just a form of existence. This is despair - one can reason that there is no point in this continued existence, especially as the rest of the world has ceased to exist, but the humans cling on, perhaps holding out for that faint hope that someday... reality will shift in their favor.
I can sort of picture a being like Anthony also causing the unsettling incidents of other episodes. Couldn't someone (something) like Anthony, perhaps a slightly older version, be playing games with Arthur/Gerry in A World of Difference and David Gurney in Person or Persons Unknown? Couldn't Anthony be exercising his more sadistic tendencies in And When the Sky Was Opened, sending 3 astronauts into the cornfield? And maybe Anthony is inflicting the same dream over & over on someone. BoG's Score: 9 out of 10
Trivia From the Zone: this one had a slightly different style beginning with Rod Serling introducing the episode; it was also redone a couple of times before the result was settled on. This was remade, less effectively, as one of the segments in Twilight Zone the Movie (1983) and there was also a sequel to this one, It's Still a Good Life, in the 3rd Twilight Zone series airing in 2003; Mumy and Leachman reprised their roles. There was also a parody done for a Simpsons episode in 1991. Also, one can look on the characters in the film The Power (1967) as the adult versions of Anthony.

Here's a remake done for the off-Broadway Players Halloween Show, Corner Brook, Newfoundland, Canada, in 2007: