★★1/2 Janurary 29, 1960 Season 1 Episode 17
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
This is the second time I’ve published this…it vanished from the Reader.
I watched this last week and also Thursday night again just to make sure I wasn’t marking it too low.
This is the only episode so far I’ve given a lower than 3 stars to. As always the episode has a moral lesson but…it loses something. Everett Sloane plays Franklin Gibbs who is a grouchy man who with his suffering wife Flora wins a trip to Las Vegas. Flora is just excited to be there but Everett will have none of it. He reluctantly plays a slot machine and wins…from there on it’s all down hill for Franklin. He is hooked like a bass on a line. Everett catches the gambling “fever.” I feel the episode is forced. Yes there is an important lesson but it doesn’t happen naturally at all.
Rod is preaching in this episode. Franklin goes from hating everything about gambling and fun to being a grumpy gambler in the span of a few minutes. This one needed more time to build.There is nothing wrong with Everett Sloane’s acting…the change is just too quick.
I do have sympathy with his wife… You can also tell poor Flora never gets out of the house.
The Fever was inspired by Rod Serling’s celebratory trip to Las Vegas when The Twilight Zone was first signed. His wife Carol Serling had good luck at the casino, but he himself kept losing to a slot-machine not unlike the one shown here, and battled it for a good while.
Even though the episode takes place in Las Vegas, it was filmed in California where slots were illegal at the time. The producers had to broker an arrangement with the LAPD to borrow real slot machines that had been confiscated by the police for use in the episode. Said producer Buck Houghton, “There was a policeman on the set at all times, to make damn sure that somebody didn’t take one off and set it up in his uncle’s barber shop.”
This show was written by Rod Serling
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Gibbs, three days and two nights all expenses paid at a Las Vegas hotel, won by virtue of Mrs. Gibbs’s knack with a phrase. But unbeknownst to either Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs is the fact that there’s a prize in their package, neither expected nor bargained for. In just a moment, one of them will succumb to an illness worse than any virus can produce. A most inoperative, deadly life-shattering affliction known as the Fever.
Flora and Franklin Gibbs head off to Las Vegas for a two-night, all-expense-paid vacation won by Flora in a contest. Franklin has agreed to go with her but he is unimpressed with the place, especially the casino looking down on all of those poor fools, as he calls them, playing slot machines. He severely admonishes Flora when she puts a nickel in a slot machine, accusing her of throwing away her money. When a drunken gambler gives him a dollar and insists that he play the machine, Franklin wins and there begins his descent into madness.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
Mr. Franklin Gibbs, visitor to Las Vegas, who lost his money, his reason, and finally his life to an inanimate, metal machine, variously described as a “one-armed bandit”, a “slot machine”, or, in Mr. Franklin Gibbs’ words, a “monster with a will all of its own.” For our purposes, we’ll stick with the latter definition because we’re in the Twilight Zone.
Rod Serling … Narrator (voice)
Everett Sloane … Franklin Gibbs
Vivi Janiss … Flora Gibbs
William Kendis … Hansen
Lee Millar … Joe
Lee Sands … Floor Manager
Marc Towers … Cashier
Art Lewis … Drunk
Arthur Peterson … Sheriff