Twilight Zone – A Game Of Pool

★★★★★  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.


Rod Serling…Narrator
Jack Klugman…Jesse Cardiff
Jonathan Winters…Fats Brown


Author: Badfinger (Max)

Power Pop fan, Baseball fan, old movie and tv show fan... and a songwriter, bass and guitar player.

26 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – A Game Of Pool”

      1. I think he was some type of Snooker champion, which I never played. The guy that I played 9 ball with was a much better player than I was and his name was Bumper. He used to spot me several balls to make the games more fair.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I played at a pool hall in our town….I wasn’t good I was lucky at times and appeared good….then when I was bad…I was bad. It’s a fun game. I would love to have a pool table.

        Liked by 3 people

  1. Sounds very good, and I agree, the Serling version seems like the better outcome. Makes sense, being the best is something that you have to constantly prove, after awhile I guess that gets old!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I truly enjoyed this episode for the acting and the story. I also liked seeing the old pool hall set up. I haven’t seen those hanging counter things in forever. I think it did a good job of setting Jesse’s background story. I also like how it shows being “the best,” especially in heaven, ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. Leaves it open that maybe Fats had grown tired of the duty and decided to lose on purpose…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s one of my favorites…to see these two early in their careers. Winters was a comedic genius to me…Robin Williams said he was the one that inspired him….I can see that.
      It would get tiring defending your title….I think he did lose on purpose.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Really enjoyed the acting in this one and it was interesting to see Winters in a non comedic role. Another one of the be careful what you wish for episodes 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s alright Vic…the reboot but not anywhere near this. I like Winters…he did a great job…that man was brilliant. You can tell Robin Williams borrowed a lot from him.


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