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1 review, 4 user ratings

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Twilight Zone, Episode 2.27: The Mind and the Matter
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by Chris Parry

"I wish for... a better ending?"
2 stars

“A brief, if frenetic, introduction to Mr Robert Beechcroft, a child of the 20th century, a product of the population explosion, and one of the inheritors of the legacy of progress. Mr Beechcroft again, this time act 2 of his daily battle for survival, and in just a moment our hero will begin his personal one man rebellion against the mechanics of his age, and to do so he will enlist certain aids available only… in the Twilight Zone.”

In the Twilight Zone, you have to always be careful what you wish for. When said Mr Beechcroft utters the words, “If I had my way, here’s how I’d fix the universe… get rid of all the people,” you can see what’s coming pretty clearly, and when he receives a book from a workmate entitled, “The Mind and The Matter,” that espouses the power of concentration in performing miracles, the dots are almost connected. Cue a disappearing population and an inevitable regret or ten, and what you have in front of you is a pretty good, though not great, episode.

A mildly entertaining twist on the old ‘genie in the bottle’ tale, where being granted wishes invites more trouble than it’s worth, The Mind and The Matter is more fluff than impact. This Rod Serling penned 1961 episode of the series is certainly watchable, and Chicago stand-up comedian Shelley Berman is perfectly suited for the grizzled old bore Mr Beechcroft.

Berman, who today’s viewers may recognize from his cameo roles in Friends (as Mr Kaplan Jr) and LA Law, manages to infuse a lot into a fairly staid screenplay, mostly with his talent for a scowl, a sneer and a sarcastic raised eyebrow. Having said that, a lack of true surprises, some pretty hokey costumes, and a score that comes across more Andy Griffiths Show than Twilight Zone, all combine to bring down the average and make The Mind and The Matter somewhat of an anti-climax in the end.

One interesting point of note might be Jack Grinnage, who plays Henry, Beechcroft’s well-meaning, coffee-spilling, pain in the arse workmate. Though Grinnage had cut his teeth in 1950’s TV western series’, such as Gunsmoke, The Rifleman and Wagon Train, not to mention his role as Chick in Rebel Without A Cause opposite James Dean, his character here is so fey and feminine that you half expect him to throw a leg over Beechcroft and stick the tongue in. Grinnage would go on to measured success in the Kolchak TV detective series of the 70’s, but he doesn’t add a lot to this particular production.

Seasoned Gunsmoke, Brian’s Song and Naked City TV director Buzz Kulik’s direction is just fine and Serling’s dialogue mostly decent, but this is a filler episode and there’s no denying it. When compared to the all-time classics, especially the numerous other "where did everybody go" Twilight Zone episodes, The Mind and The Matter just doesn’t hold water and is easily forgotten.

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originally posted: 07/10/02 09:40:02
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This episode of Twilight Zone has been reviewed as part of an ongoing retro TV series. For more in the Twilight Zone Episodes series, click here.

User Comments

7/28/06 David Cohen Humor just didn't work on TZ, and this is actually one of the better attempts at humor 3 stars
11/19/05 BrendaS918 Eh 3 stars
5/31/04 dude good 4 stars
7/10/02 Kilmore Trout Fairly average half hour of TV. 3 stars
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  12-May-1961 (NR)


  12-May-1961 (G)

Directed by
  Buzz Kulik

Written by
  Rod Serling

  Shelley Berman
  Jack Grinnage

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