‘The Twilight Zone’ Series Finale Aired 60 Years Ago: Why Was It Such a Dud?

The Twilight Zone, The Bewitchin Pool

Rod Serling’s beloved The Twilight Zone ended 60 years ago.

“The Bewitchin’ Pool,” the last original episode of the series, aired on CBS June 19, 1964. It was not the finale the show deserved.

It’s not the worst episode, but it’s near the bottom. IMDB users ranked it 139th out of 156.

Preteen girl Sport Sharewood (great name!) and her younger brother Jeb discover that their in-ground swimming pool is a portal to escape their spiteful, shallow, soon-to-be-divorced parents and go to a quaint old place where kids wear straw hats, fish in the river, ride on see-saws, roll hoops and hang out with warmhearted senior Aunt T.

Aunt T. is a sweet old woman who lets Sport and Jeb help her frost a cake on their first visit. On their second visit, she has Jeb polishing shoes so he learns the “dignity of work and the joy of labor.” By now, we’re pretty sure Aunt T. is running some kind of racket that should be reported to the proper authorities. We fully expect Jeb will be cleaning Aunt T.’s gutters by the fourth visit.

There’s something phony about Aunt T., like she’s buttering up Sport and Jeb just to throw them into the oven at any moment. It’s unsettling, and a big reason why this episode doesn’t work.

Poor, naive Sport seems to believe her parents aren’t empty husks of human beings, and she holds out hope that things will be like before they moved to La-La Land. “We’re gonna take trips together … Disneyland, Ohio, Australia, the North Pole,” she says. One of those destinations seems humorously out of place.

Sport convinces Jeb that they should go back to their parents because everything’s going to be different. Oh, it will be different, all right! Gil and Gloria are getting a divorce! The kids have to choose who they want to live with!

And they decide they want to live with Aunt T. and eat ungodly amounts of cake, presumably for eternity. Would these kids grow up (if they grow up at all) to realize there’s more to life than cake-eating, hoop-rolling and shoe-polishing? What if they decided they wanted to be terrible parents, as well? Could they go back to L.A., long after they had been listed as missing and presumed dead? Oh, so many questions remain!

But, yeah, the episode had issues. It was originally scheduled to air in March 1964. Turns out that noise on the backlot during shooting forced them to re-recorded most of the dialogue, which delayed the airdate.

It’s also kind of a shoddy episode, with an unusual amount of recycled shots and repeated lines as though a scene or two had been cut and they needed to pad the runtime. The opening sequence in which Gil and Gloria announce they’re divorcing — about two minutes long — is shown in its entirety at the end of the episode.

Considering that the fifth and final season gave us gems like “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet,” “Living Doll,” “The Masks” and the Oscar-winning 1961 French short film “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.” It’s unfortunate that one of those installments couldn’t have been saved for a fitting finale.

But that’s the way the TV business worked in the time of The Twilight Zone.

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60s Sci-Fi Favorites

March 2020

Do you remember all the great Sci-Fi TV shows of the ’60s?

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