The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 19 – Mr. Dingle, the Strong


Burgess Meredith and Don Rickles.  Need I say more?

The episode opens up in a bar where two of the patrons, an unnamed bettor played by Don Rickles and his bookie are arguing over whether a bad call in a baseball game means Rickles doesn’t have to pay up on a bet.  Rickles asks the opinion of Luther Dingle (played by Meredith), a stuttering vacuum cleaner salesman who has more honesty than sense of self-preservation and for his opinion gets knocked over the bar by Rickles.

As the bartender breaks up the fight and gives Dingle advice on staying out of trouble a two headed Martian enters the bar (invisibly) and discussing what they just observed decide to give Dingle the strength of three hundred men.  Dingle notices something is wrong when he can lift one of his vacuum cleaners with his pinky.  But the first indication that something had really changed for Dingle was when he accidentally pulled the front door to the bar off its hinges while trying to open it.

The next day Luther is in the town park when a young woman with a baby carriage sits down next to him on a bench.  Striking up a conversation, he asks her if he appears normal.  When she says yes, he asks her to observe something strange.  He lifts her and the bench she is sitting on with one hand.  He follows this up by taking a round rock about eighteen inches in diameter and pulling it apart with his bare hands.  A passing newspaper photographer asks him to do it again but instead Dingle lifts a larger than life size bronze statue of a soldier over his own head with one hand.  The photographer snaps the shot and it ends up on the front page of the town gazette.

Now Dingle is a celebrity and he is receiving job offers for everything from television shows to boxing careers.  A tv crew arrives to televise his story and Dingle provides examples of his strength.  He punches holes in the walls, smashes a table in two and even cracks one of the supporting beams of the bar while showing how he can lift the building.  And he picks up Don Rickles and spins him around and tosses him away.

But the Martians are not impressed with what Dingle has done with the power they have given him so they reverse the treatment and while attempting to continue in his exhibition of strength he becomes a laughing stock.  As the crowd disperses the Martians meet a pair of Venusian experimenters who are looking for Earth subjects to test their high intelligence ray.  On the Martians’ suggestion they pick Dingle and give him five hundred times the intelligence of a normal man.

While Rickles and his bookie are arguing about what a batter is going to do in a televised baseball game Dingle opines that based on his understanding of probability and quantum mechanics the batter would hit a home run, which he immediately does.  While Dingle lectures the barroom denizens on advanced physics Serling tells us that Dingle will continue to draw the attention of interplanetary behavioral scientists in this corner of the Twilight Zone.

Dopey?  Of course.  Cheesy?  Indubitably.  Good or bad?  Good.  B+