Twilight Zone – To Serve Man

★★★★★  March 2, 1962 Season 3 Episode 24

If you want to see where we are…HERE is a list of the episodes.

This episode may have the most famous of all twists and be the most remembered episode of the Twilight Zone. The Kanamits arrive on Earth with seemingly one purpose in mind: to aid mankind in every possible way using their superior technology. They end famine, supply a cheap power source and provide defensive force fields. Armies become obsolete. Earrth becomes without cold war or hunger worries…sounds great! As the old saying goes…nothing is for free.

Richard Kiel appeared as many of the Kanamits. He would later be better known as Jaws in a couple of James Bonds movies.

This one is a classic. It serves as a commentary on the Cold War mentality of the time and this scfi episode works today. This episode has been parodied in a lot of shows including The Simpson’s first Treehouse of Terror. Watch this one if you get a chance.

Damon Knight (writer): To Serve Man was written in 1950, when I was living in Greenwich Village and my unhappy first marriage was breaking up. I wrote it in one afternoon, while my wife was out with another man. Serling kept the basics of Knights story, but made some changes, the first of which was in the aliens themselves. In the story, the Kanamit (singular: Kanama) look something like pigs and something like people. In his script, Serling made them nine feet tall and essentially humanoid, noting, At the moment, no one knows whether we cast this part, or make it! As they appear in the show, the Kanamits (singular: Kanamit) resemble angels gone to seed, with full-length robes, high-domed heads, and just a hint of corruption about the eyes and mouth. The effect is striking, with seven-foot-two Richard Kiel (later to play the character Jaws in several James Bond films) playing the various Kanamits.

I thought the adaptation was kind of neat it made me famous in Milford, Pennsylvania; suddenly everybody knew who I was. I didnt mind the aliens being acromegalic giants, because I knew they couldnt film my pig-people without making it look like a Disney film. The only thing that bugged me was Serlings treating the alien language as if it were just another kind of code.

This show was written by Rod Serling and Damon Knight

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

Respectfully submitted for your perusal – a Kanamit. Height: a little over nine feet. Weight: in the neighborhood of three hundred and fifty pounds. Origin: unknown. Motives? Therein hangs the tale, for in just a moment, we’re going to ask you to shake hands, figuratively, with a Christopher Columbus from another galaxy and another time. This is the Twilight Zone.

Summary

Michael Chambers recounts recent events on Earth after the arrival of a alien space craft. The aliens, known as Kanamit, seem friendly and assure everyone they have nothing to be afraid of. In fact, they offer to share wonderful technology that will provide limitless energy, cure all disease and convert deserts into lush gardens. For the people of Earth, paradise has arrived. Chambers is an encryption specialist and they try their best to decrypt a book the Kanamit left behind. The book’s title seems benign – but it’s not what they think it is.

The COMPLETE EPISODE on Daily Motion

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

The recollections of one Michael Chambers, with appropriate flashbacks and soliloquy. Or, more simply stated, the evolution of man. The cycle of going from dust to dessert. The metamorphosis from being the ruler of a planet to an ingredient in someone’s soup. It’s tonight’s bill of fare from the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling… Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Lloyd Bochner…Michael Chambers
Richard Kiel…the Kanamits (all of whom appear alike)
Susan Cummings…Patty
Joseph Ruskin…Kanamit voice
Hardie Albright…Secretary General
Theodore Marcuse…Citizen Gregori
Bartlett Robinson…Colonel #1
Carleton Young…Colonel #2 (credited…Carlton Young)
Nelson Olmsted…Scientist

Author: badfinger20 (Max)

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

35 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – To Serve Man”

    1. Thank you so much. This is one almost everyone knows… I think my all time favorite personally is Walking Distance but it changes sometimes.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I remember this episode so well. It terrified me and my three siblings. It stayed with us forever. I remember sitting on the floor sprawled out in front of our black and white TV. I will never forget the horror I felt as to the prospect! I remember the closing scene “It’s a Cookbook,!”

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This is one I was terrified by as a kid (like Little Girl Lost) but when I watched it this most recent time I had forgotten so much of the episode — especially that gruesome ending (not that part, but when he decides to eat on the ship!) I liked reading about how the writer felt about the edits. I don’t see how this episode would have worked without the language of the ET being a code. This one is done just right in my opinion.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. One of the outstanding ones (and like you mention too, the Simpsons parody is one of their very best Halloween episodes) … would have to be a contender for the top TZ I would bet.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “wait there’s still more space dust!”… just thought of that… it was sort of a throwaway catchphrase a couple of friends and I said a lot for a bit after that Simpson’s episode.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That is today’s Hollyweird. They’ve lost the ability to tell good stories and continue to fall back into victim status. I am SO TIRED of manufactured hysteria. If they want to drown themselves in a history that we have moved forward from, then…take a qualuud & STFU.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. First time I had seen this so didn’t know about the twist. But when they weight the one guy getting on the ship and they scale went crazy and the two aliens smiles at each other I knew what it was ! – because it reminded me of the Simpsons episode!! Haha. The parody helping me understand the original! Great one!

    Liked by 1 person

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