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Rod Serling Turned A Newspaper's Typo Into A Brand-New Twilight Zone Character

Rod Serling Turned A Newspaper's Typo Into A Brand-New Twilight Zone Character

The Martians that descend on Earth are intentionally designed to look barely convincing: they sport pointed domed heads with radar dishes and blinking lights, mimicking a crude representation of what an alien might look like. Mr. Dingle (Burgess Meredith), a vacuum cleaner salesman who has been bullied all his life, is given an opportunity to reclaim control over his legacy when he is gifted with superhuman strength by the Martians — a power he is more than happy to display around town, even though he does not understand how or why he can suddenly beat up his bullies without batting an eye.

There’s also a considerable amount of physical comedy that adds to the hilarity of Dingle’s situation, such as when he accidentally smashes his alarm clock when he reaches out to turn it off or when he casually lifts a person with one hand in a park. However, this grand ability is taken away as freely as it was given after the Martians realize that Dingle is wasting it by putting on a show instead of saving lives or committing to the greater good. This is when we see two Venusians imparting him with superior intellect, which allows him to do things like predicting the next move in a baseball game — once again, this is hardly a good use of enhanced brain matter, and the episode ends on this hilariously baffling note.

Whether Mr. Dingle is eventually able to command his own destiny is left to the audience’s imagination, but it is clear that he has already stepped into the unpredictable void of the Twilight Zone. While Serling uses a single gag to fuel this unconventional entry, this departure from the usual bleakness of the series is a welcome, light-hearted change. 

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