The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 23 – A World of Difference

The episode opens up with a man named Arthur Curtis entering an office suite in the early morning and being greeted by his secretary as she arrives.  He tells her to reschedule some airline tickets for a vacation he’ll be taking with his wife on Saturday.  He goes into his private office and sits at his desk and picks up the phone to make a call but he gets no dial tone.  He’s perplexed by this and is about to do something about it when a voice calling him Gerry speaks to him from behind him.  He turns around to look and realizes that his office is only a set on a motion picture sound stage and the director is criticizing him for messing up the phone call portion of the scene.  So that’s the set up.  The protagonist thinks he’s the character in the movie, Arthur Curtis but the whole world around him says that he is just an actor Gerry Raigan playing that part in a movie.  He tries calling his home and finds out there is no such address or even street name in Los Angeles.  He meets up with Gerry Raigan’s ex-wife Nora who hates him vehemently and demands he pay her some back alimony.  We hear from a number of characters including the director, Nora and Gerry’s agent Mr. Brinkley that Gerry is an alcoholic actor whose career is falling apart.  He drives Nora’s car to where he thinks his home is but can’t find the street.  She drives to Gerry’s house where he meets his agent Brinkley (played by David White of Bewitched “fame”) and we learn that the studio is cancelling the Arthur Curtis film and is currently tearing down the set.  Arthur panics when he hears his last link to the world, he thought he belonged to, the office set is being dismantled and steals Brinkley’s car and drives crazily to the studio.  He arrives at the set as the stagehands are taking the set apart.  He sits down at the desk and starts to break down when all of a sudden someone calls his name.  He looks up and it’s Arthur Curtis’s wife Marian standing in his office.  The office is now an office and not a sounds stage.  He runs to her and embraces her and she asks him where he’s been because she couldn’t reach him at his phone.  In the background he can hear the muffled sounds of the workmen talking as they disassemble the set.  He hurries her out of the office and into the outer office where his secretary is once again his secretary and not an actress.  When his wife questions him as to why he is hurrying her out of the office he says “because I don’t want to lose you.”  He exits the office door to the street with her and behind we see the office is the set again and Brinkley arrives looking for Gerry.  But he’s gone.  The last scene has Arthur’s plane taking off on his vacation with Marian.

Although there is a good amount of running around screaming and panicking, I actually enjoyed this one.  And I was trying to figure out why.  I think it’s because of the happy ending.  From the point of view of metaphysical mechanics this isn’t that much different from “The Sixteen-Millimeter Shrine” where a woman manages to escape reality into a fictional construct, namely a motion picture.  Here he seems to have entered into a movie script.  But based on his reactions you want to believe that he really is Arthur Curtis and he has become trapped in an alternate reality where his life is a fiction.  And when he finds Marian standing next to him and he miraculously ducks out of the trap he has found himself in I’m sympathizing with him and felt the relief to have escaped a reality where instead of a happy family life and good career he is saddled with a “harpy” ex-wife, a dying career and the reputation of being an alcoholic loser.  From my point of view Serling got this one just about dead right.  B+