Twilight Zone – The Shelter

★★★★★ September 29, 1961 Season 3 Episode 3

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

This is human nature driven story with no supernatural things happening. This is a great episode. It is similar to “The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street” and looks like it could have been on the same street. Unlike that more well known episode though… this one has no alien pulling the strings…man pulls his own strings in this harsh look at human nature.

Larry Gates portrays Dr. Bill Stockton, a man who built a bomb shelter for him and his family. In 1961 a bomb shelter was not an uncommon addition to a house. A manufacturing industry grew up around the fact that the world could be destroyed by a push of a couple of buttons.

The actor that is the most noticeable among all of these great character actors  is Jack Albertson of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, Chico and the Man and many other shows. He plays Jerry Harlowe who becomes very interested in the Doctor’s bomb shelter along with the neighborhood.  It is a powerful story.

Rod Serling described the inspiration for the episode as stemming from his own family’s interest in building a fallout shelter. Serling stated that the episode received 1,300 letters and cards over a two day period after the initial broadcast.

Sandy Kenyon’s character mentions going over to Bennett Avenue to get a pipe for a battering ram. Bennett Avenue is where creator Rod Serling grew up as a child in New York.

This show was written by Rod Serling

Rod Serling’s Opening Narration: 

What you are about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic, it need not happen, it’s the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of good will that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone.

Summary

Dr. Bill Stockton has prepared well for any eventuality. He’s built a bomb shelter for himself, his wife and his child. His neighbors on the other hand have done nothing to prepare. During a dinner party, there is an emergency announcement on the radio that unidentified objects have been sighted en route to the US and they may be under attack. As the Stockton’s prepare to use their shelter their neighbors panic asking to be let into the shelter with them. Stockton refuses leading to an angry confrontation.

If you have the time this is the FULL episode

Rod Serling’s Closing Narration:

No moral, no message, no prophetic tract, just a simple statement of fact: for civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized. Tonight’s very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.

CAST

Rod Serling…Narrator / Self – Host (uncredited)
Larry Gates…Dr. Bill Stockton
Jack Albertson…Jerry Harlowe
Sandy Kenyon…Frank Henderson
Peggy Stewart…Grace Stockton
Michael Burns…Paul Stockton
Joseph Bernard…Marty Weiss
Jo Helton…Martha Harlowe
Moria Turner…Mrs. Weiss
Mary Gregory…Mrs. Henderson
John McLiam…Man