The Twilight Zone Vortex

“The reluctant gentleman with the sizable mouth area is Mr. Frisby. He has all the drive of the broken cam shaft and the aggressive vinegar of the corpse. As you’ve no doubt gathered, his big stock in trade is the high tale. Now, what he doesn’t know would be that the visitors out entrance are a very special breed, destined to change his life beyond anything even his fertile creativity could manufacture. The place is Pitchville Flats.

The time is the present. Somerset Frisby can be an aging small-town yokel who spends his days lazily manning his calm general store, playing his harmonica, and interesting the locals with luxurious tales of a life well resided. Taken at his word, Frisby is a pugilative war hero, an accomplished government engineer, and a meteorologist-Old Cumulus Frisby, they called him-to list just a few of his former occupations. His friends don’t believe a word of his fantastical claims but listening to them passes enough time likewise.

While shutting up his shop one evening, two men in suits drive to buy gas up. Frisby walks out to greet them. They seem inquisitive and slightly peculiar but Frisby brushes it off as the interest of out-of-towners just moving through. Following the shop is shut and everyone went home Frisby hears a voice.

Believing it is a prank, he performs along. The voice tells him to walk outside and travel a mile roughly down the highway where he’ll find a great surprise. Before he can make the trip, however, he is whisked away to a barren field where he discovers a spaceship waiting quietly for him. Curious, he climbs inside and finds the two men in suits from earlier.

They believe Frisby to be the most accomplished individual to ever live and they want to take him back to their planet to be researched and marveled. Frisby tells them that his tales are mainly lies, tale tales made up to entertain and complete the right time. He needs that he is released by the aliens simultaneously.

They refuse his request so Frisby punches one of these. To his horror the man’s face breaks into several parts before dropping off completely revealing a bizarre body beneath. Later, Frisby begins to play his harmonica out of boredom. The creatures clamp their hands over their ears and start to scream immediately. Frisby plays as loud as he can and the aliens are forced to release him.

Frisby races back again to his store and it is surprised to find his friends waiting for him. Today is Frisby’s 63rd birthday. He tries to tell them about the spaceship and the aliens but his tale is fulfilled with good-natured laughs and jeers. They simply wish him a happy birthday and thrust a package into his hands. He starts it to find a trophy inside with the inscription: World’s Greatest Liar. “Mr. Somerset Frisby, who may have profited by reading an Aesop fable about a young man who cried wolf.

“Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” is Rod Serling’s whimsical version of an unpublished story treatment by Frederic Louis Fox which itself is a twentieth century undertake “The Boy Who Cried Wolf” fable as Serling mentions in his closing monologue. This was actually the second Fox story that Serling adapted for the show, the first being “Showdown with Rance McGrew” which aired in February of the same 12 months. Like its earlier counterpart, “Hocus-Pocus and Frisby” comes with an interesting premise and begins promisingly enough, with an all-star cast and a well-crafted starting sequence, but quickly loses its momentum following the first take action.

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It handles to redeem itself with a light-hearted last scene where Frisby is reunited with his friends who certainly care a good deal about him but by this point the episode has become more or less forgettable. This is unfortunate for a number of reasons but mostly because it shows a missed opportunity for experienced director Lamont Johnson and a highly talented ensemble solid.

Frederic Louis Fox (1902 – 1981) enjoyed a fairly successful profession as a television writer through the medium’s golden age group, contributing to western series such as Lawman primarily, Zane Grey Theatre, Branded, Rebel, and Bonanza amongst others. His film career was a little more sporadic but it do produce a couple of feature-length titles like the 1956 crime play When Gangland Strikes, the 1969 Elvis Presley vehicle Charro!