★★★★★ October 13, 1961 Season 3 Episode 5
If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.
A classic episode. A Game of Pool has the great comedian Jonathon Winters and character actor Jack Klugman. This was Winters first dramatic role. The director Buzz Kulik thought his inexperience at a serious role would bring a freshness to his role…and it did. This was Klugman’s second Twilight Zone (his favorite) and he would end up in four of them.
The two characters share one thing. They both are great at pool… but Klugman’s character is obsessed with the game but doesn’t stop to enjoy life. Fats Brown lived life fully and pool was just part of it. Being the best carries a weight of where you are always looking over your shoulder to see who is gaining.
Jackie Gleason was approached about playing Fats Brown but turned it down.
George Clayton Johnson’s script originally featured an alternate ending in which Jesse loses the game. Seeing that Jesse is bedazzled that he has lost a life-or-death game and is still alive, Fats explains that he will die “as all second-raters die: you’ll be buried and forgotten without me touching you. If you’d beaten me you’d have lived forever.” This ending was eventually filmed for The Twilight Zone: A Game of Pool in the 1989 reboot version.
This show was written by George Clayton Johnson and Rod Serling
Rod Serling’s Opening Narration:
Jesse Cardiff, pool shark, the best on Randolph Street, who will soon learn that trying to be the best at anything carries its own special risks. In or out of the Twilight Zone.
Jesse Cardiff is a frustrated pool player. He’s very good at his game but his frustration comes from the fact that no matter how well he plays or how often he wins, onlookers always conclude that he’s not as good as the late, great James Howard “Fats” Brown. He says he would give anything to have had the chance to play Fats and his wish comes true when the man himself suddenly appears. They agree to a game but Fats warns his eager opponent that winning has its consequences as well
Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:
Mr. Jesse Cardiff, who became a legend by beating one, but who has found out after his funeral that being the best of anything carries with it a special obligation to keep on proving it. Mr. Fats Brown, on the other hand, having relinquished the champion’s mantle, has gone fishing. These are the ground rules in the Twilight Zone.
Jack Klugman…Jesse Cardiff
Jonathan Winters…Fats Brown