★★★★★ December 23, 1960 Season 2 Episode 11
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episode
This one is a sentimental, touching, and timeless, episode of the Twilight Zone. I watch this every year around Christmas. One of the reasons Rod Serling wrote this episode is to see Art Carney play Santa Claus. This is a genuinely funny episode, with the humor feeling natural and enhancing the characters. There are no big laughs but rather many great moments.
John Fiedler plays Mr. Dundee does a great job and has good comedic moments with Robert P. Lieb who plays Flaherty. Fielder would appear on the Bob Newhart Show later on in the seventies. It was taped just three weeks before Christmas, it had a special effect on the cast and crew, and especially on the many children on the set. Production assistant Lillian Gallo later said there were more children performing on that show as extras than on the other tape shows, and she remembers their excitement and their joy. Sometimes, it was difficult for them to contain themselves during the times that you have to be quiet during the show.
One sour viewer was so enraged at the blasphemy of presenting a drunk as Santa Claus that he sent outraged letters to Serling, the network, and several newspapers.
This show was written by Rod Serling
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely popular American institution, that of the department-store Santa Claus in a road-company version of ‘The Night Before Christmas’. But in just a moment Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found… in the Twilight Zone.
Henry Corwin is a down and outer who is normally unemployed and who definitely drinks too much. Every year he works as a department store Santa Claus. This year however, he’s spent just a little too much time in the bar and is quite drunk by the time he shows up for work. He’s fired of course and deeply regrets what he’s done. In fact, Henry has a big heart and worries not only about the children he’s disappointed at the store but about all of those children who will not get what they’ve asked for Christmas. When he comes across a large bag of gifts, everything changes for the kids and for himself as well.
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There’s a wondrous magic to Christmas and there’s a special power reserved for little people. In short, there’s nothing mightier than the meek. And a Merry Christmas to each and all.
Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Art Carney … Henry Corwin
John Fiedler … Mr. Dundee
Robert P. Lieb … Flaherty
Val Avery … The Bartender
Meg Wyllie … Sister Florence
Kay Cousins Johnson … Irate Mother (as Kay Cousins)
Burt Mustin … Old Man
Steve Carruthers … Bar Patron (uncredited)
Andrea Darvi … Kid with Santa (uncredited)
Jimmy Garrett … Street Child (uncredited)
Larrian Gillespie … Elf (uncredited)
Jack Kenny … Man in Mission (uncredited)
Caryl Lincoln … Store Customer (uncredited)
Mathew McCue … Man in Mission (uncredited)
Frank Mills … Man in Mission (uncredited)
Mike Morelli … Man in Mission (uncredited)
Nan Peterson … Blonde in Bar (uncredited)
Ray Spiker … Man in Mission (uncredited)
Glen Walters … Store Customer (uncredited)