Twilight Zone – Mute

★★★★ January 31, 1963 Season 4 Episode 5

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

I really like this one. It’s not among the best but again a really good sci-fi episode. The show has some very good character actors like Frank Overton and Barbara Baxley.  A girl who  loses her parents in a fire manages to escape their burning house. A couple named Harry and Cora take her in but cannot uderstand why Ilse doesn’t talk. It turns out that Ilse used telepathy with her parents…her parents were molding her to use that skill. When Harry and Cora took her to school for the first time Ilse was horrified and could not commuicate like other kids.

This episode has depth and there are a lot of moving parts. What I saw in this episode is parents who treat their children as objects to be molded rather than people with needs and rights. Its a good episode and moves quite well. It does give a back story on why Ilse’s parents were teaching her telepathic abilities.

The biggest surprise to me was who played Ilse…it was an 80s sitcom actress…Ann Jillian.

Ann Jillian/"Mute" - Sitcoms Online Photo GalleriesAnn Jillian: Movies, TV, and Bio

From IMDB: The main street that Ilsa runs across is the same one used in The Twilight Zone: I Sing the Body Electric (1962). Located on the MGM backlot in Culver City, it was known as the “New England Street”, and is same set that was featured in the Andy Hardy movies, starring Mickey Rooney., Elvis Presley’s “Jailhouse Rock”, Frank Sinatra’s “Some Came Running” and the 1970s musical fantasy “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Heart’s Club Band”, starring The Bee Gees, which was the last major film shot there. Much of the MGM backlot had been demolished in 1974, and the remainder, including the New England Street, was pulled down in 1978, soon after filming wrapped on “Sgt Pepper’s”.

This show was written by Rod Serling and Richard Matheson

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

What you’re witnessing is the curtain-raiser to a most extraordinary play; to wit, the signing of a pact, the commencement of a project. The play itself will be performed almost entirely offstage. The final scenes are to be enacted a decade hence and with a different cast. The main character of these final scenes is Ilse, the daughter of Professor and Mrs. Nielsen, age two. At the moment she lies sleeping in her crib, unaware of the singular drama in which she is to be involved. Ten years from this moment, Ilse Nielsen is to know the desolating terror of living simultaneously in the world and in the Twilight Zone.


Sometime after World War II, a small group of people make a pact to develop their telepathic abilities as a means of communicating, foregoing any type of oral communication. One couple, the Nielsens, announce that they are migrating to a small town in the USA, German Corners, Pa. After a tragic fire at their house 10 years later, Sheriff Harry Wheeler and his wife Cora take in the only survivor, the now orphaned Ilsa Nielsen. The young girl has never learned to speak, always using telepathy to communicate with her parents. They don’t quite understand why Ilsa won’t speak to them and Cora sees her as a replacement for the daughter she lost in an accident some years ago. When they enroll Ilsa in school, her teacher is determined to make her act like all the other children.


Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

It has been noted in a book of proven wisdom that perfect love casteth out fear. While it’s unlikely that this observation was meant to include that specific fear that follows the loss of extrasensory perception, the principle remains, as always, beautifully intact. Case in point, that of Ilse Nielsen, former resident of the Twilight Zone.


Rod Serling … Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Barbara Baxley … Cora Wheeler
Frank Overton … Harry Wheeler
Irene Dailey … Miss Frank
Ann Jillian … Ilse (as Ann Jilliann)
Éva Szörényi … Frau Werner (as Eva Soreny)
Robert Boon … Holger Nielsen
Claudia Bryar … Frau Nielsen
Percy Helton … Tom Poulter
Oscar Beregi Jr. … Karl Werner (as Oscar Beregi)
Fred Aldrich … Pedestrian (uncredited)
William Challee … Rude man on porch (uncredited)
Bill Erwin Bill Erwin … Man in Flashback (uncredited)
Charles Morton … Bartender (uncredited)
Norbert Schiller … Committee member in prologue (uncredited)
Glen Walters … Pedestrian (uncredited


Author: Badfinger (Max)

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

19 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – Mute”

  1. Sounds interesting, though like your score suggests, maybe not among the greats.
    Ann jillian… know her name but not really anything she’s done, other than didn’t she have a series of workout videos?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. She may have but she was in a sitcom of It’s A Living…I liked her alot!
      It is really interesting and good…is it a classic? No but well worth watching.


  2. Max, I agree, this one was more textured than some. The only part of it that had me scratching my head was the teacher. Can’t remember what it was exactly that she’d been through but it sounded pretty horrible. What the girl’s parents did was unconventional based on a belief system, but I don’t think it was nearly as bad as what the teacher said she’d been through. I think that there is also a subtle message in this episode to conform and you’ll suffer a terrible fate.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The teacher didn’t make any sense because telepathy… it’s not communicating with the dead that’s why it was confusing to me.

      I didn’t understand why she would not be allowed to talk also that was a question that I had. From what the friend’s said they used her in a project without much love… Not the teacher but the little girl.

      There are a lot of things going on in this one and it’s hard to pin down reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh right, someone was trying to force the teacher to be a medium and that doesn’t make any sense in the first place! I also don’t understand why the parents wouldn’t let her talk, as there is no way you can live in the world and not have to communicate with others who don’t believe like you do. I think maybe the biggest takeaway is that, no matter what you believe or practice, love is the most important thing of all.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That is a good thing to take out of it…but yea the medium thing is a head scratcher…and yea…you have to be able to talk also because the friends of the family did….they did both.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. My personal observation: the town square Ilsa runs through is also used in “Nick of Time”, “Of Late I Think of Cliffordsville”, “Black Leather Jackets” and “Stopover in a Quiet Town”, as well as “I Sing the Body Electric”

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is really cool…this show really amazes me and it was so far ahead of it’s time.
      I’m on the 4th season now and I always thought of it as weaker…and just me…I think it is somewhat because Serling wasn’t involved as much as before and the hour format.
      I don’t ‘see how the man wrote this many quality episodes.


  4. Enjoyed this one a lot. Very creative idea I though and like you said multi-layered story with a number of things going on. I agree the whole thing about being a medium was weird but I guess they needed some plot device way of showing that the teacher knew about her telepathy power?

    Liked by 1 person

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