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The Twilight Zone: Perchance to Dream

Edward Hall is terrified that if he falls asleep he will be murdered by the woman in his reoccurring nightmare.

Episode Info

Episode number: 1x9
Production Number: 173-3616
Airdate: Friday November 27th, 1959


Guest Stars
Eddie MarrEddie Marr
As Girlie Barker
John LarchJohn Larch
As Dr. Rathmann
Richard ConteRichard Conte
As Edward Hall
Russell TrentRussell Trent
As Rifle Range Barker
Suzanne LloydSuzanne Lloyd
As Maya/Miss Thomas
Ted StanhopeTed Stanhope
As Man on the Street
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


Edward Hall is a man with a cardiac condition. He has sought the aid of Dr. Rathmann, a psychiatrist. He tells the doctor of a dram he's been having about a carnival dancer, Maya. In his dream she leads him into a funhouse and onto a rollercoaster, with the intention of scaring him to death. If he sleeps, he knows he'll return to this dream and die. If he stays awake, the strain will be too much for his weak heart. He doesn't believe the doctor can help him and begins to leave. He realizes that the doctor's receptionist is a dead ringer for Maya. He returns to the doctor's office and jumps out the window. Dr. Rathmann calls the receptionist into his office, and on the couch is Edward. The doctor tells the receptionist that Hall came in, fell asleep on the couch, and then let out a scream and died. ..

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Episode Notes
This episode is based on the short story "Perchance to Dream" by Charles Beaumont. The story was first published in Playboy November, 1958.

John Larch returns in ''Dust'' and ''It's A Good Life.''

The first script of the series not written by Rod Serling.

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
Twelve o'clock noon. An ordinary scene, an ordinary city. Lunchtime for thousands of ordinary people. To most of them, this hour will be a rest, a pleasant break in the day's routine. To most, but not all. To Edward Hall, time is an enemy, and the hour to come is a matter of life and death.

Edward Hall: Did you ever look at this picture, I mean really look at it?
Dr. Rathmann: I think so, why?
Edward Hall: Has it ever moved?
Dr. Rathmann: No, not to my knowledge, anyway.
Edward Hall: I can make it move.
Dr. Rathmann: (slow response) Can you?
Edward Hall: Yeah, but not really. When I was a kid, we had a picture like this in our house. Not the same thing, exactly, but pretty close, a boat. My mother used to tell me to look at it. She said if I looked at it long enough, it would move. All I had to do was keep looking at it. I didn't believe her, but the idea fascinated me. I spent a whole hour just staring at that silly boat.
Dr. Rathmann: And did it move?
Edward Hall: (very slow response) Yes.
Dr. Rathmann: Now you understand there's nothing strange about that, it was an optical illusion.
Edward Hall: Yeah, I know, but after awhile I couldn't control it. The sails would fill and it would begin to dip. It wouldn't stop.
Dr. Rathmann: The imagination is strong in a growing boy.
Edward Hall: Yeah, I realize that. I realized it even then, but the point is that I got just as scared as if it were really happening. The mind is everything. If you've got a pain in your arm and there's no physical reason for it, it hurts just the same, doesn't it?
Dr. Rathmann: Granted.

Edward Hall: When I was 15 I developed a rheumatic heart. They said I'd never really get well, that I'd have to take it easy. No strenuous exercise, no long walks, no stairs, no shocks. Avoid any kind of shock, they said. They forgot about my imagination. Three years ago a woman was killed by a man who was hidden in the backseat of her car. You may have read about it. I did. Anyway, it started me thinking. Maybe somebody was hiding in the backseat of my car. Maybe one night driving over Laurel Canyon I'd look up in the rear view mirror, and I'd see somebody or something coming up out of the darkness. I had to drive the Canyon twice a day. It's a rough road. One slip and you're over the edge. One night, like every other night, I was heading for home. Suddenly I began to feel uncomfortable, as if I weren't alone in the car. It was ridiculous but I couldn't shake the sensation. I keep thinking "there's somebody back there. I'll look in the rear view mirror and I'll see his face. Then I'll see his hands reaching up." Here's the important thing, doctor. I knew intellectually that I was alone, but I also knew that my imagination could make me see something if I thought about it long enough. Of course, there wasn't anybody else in the car. It was all in my mind. What difference does that make? I crashed anyway. I was lucky. The shock should have killed me. I couldn't survive another one, the doctor said. I could be sure of that.
Dr. Rathmann: And has there been another one?
Edward Hall: No, but there will be just as soon as I fall asleep. The girl will be in this dream again, and it'll be the last shock.

Edward Hall: And you don't believe it's possible to dream in episodes?
Dr. Rathmann: I don't say it's impossible.
Edward Hall: It isn't, believe me. For a long time, I didn't dream at all. Then a week ago it started. I went to bed around 11:30. I wasn't too tired, but I needed the rest because of my heart. I don't know when I fell asleep but all of a sudden I wasn't at home anymore. I was at an amusement park. It was the kind of place you see only in nightmares. Everything warped and twisted out of shape, but it was real, too. Very real …

Maya's Barker: Hurry, hurry, hurry, hurry! The show is about to begin! See her dance! See her wiggle! The most sensational and electrifying exhibition since Little Egypt. Now, friends, you're not going to be able to see anything standing around out there! You've got to get down close! That's the idea, right over here, right down close! That's it, friends, now, not too close! Now, friends, you say you want fat ones? We got 'em. You say you want thin ones? We've got 'em. Blondes, brunettes, redheads. And believe me, folks, if they ain't up here, they ain't worth looking at! And now, to give you a little demonstration of what you're gonna see on the inside...Maya, the Cat Girl! Come on, baby, we know you're modest, but why should the folks out there take my word for it?! (Maya dances to bongo drum music for a minute or so; Hall runs off and Maya laughs loudly)

Edward Hall: Maya!
Maya: Why did you do that?
Edward Hall: Why did I do what?
Maya: Run away?!
Edward Hall: I had to.
Maya: You didn't find me nice to look at?
Edward Hall: Maybe too nice. Aren't you supposed to be back there entertaining the customers?
Maya: I'm free … for tonight. Are you alone?
Edward Hall: Yes.
Maya: Then come with me. You want to, don't you Edward?

Edward Hall: I didn't want to go anywhere near that roller coaster but I couldn't help myself. I had to follow her. Even though I knew exactly what it would mean, I had to follow her.
Maya: Edward? Edward!
Edward Hall: Get away from me!
Maya: There's nothing to be afraid of, Edward. It's only a dream!
Edward Hall: I've got a heart condition. I can't stand all this excitement.
Maya: But, silly, there isn't any excitement. You said so yourself. You're at home, asleep in bed. Now you can do all the things you can't do when you're awake.
Edward Hall: But the doctor said …
Maya: Look, Edward! Look, Edward, look! Come on, Edward, it's fun! C'mon!

(Slowly, the coaster slowly makes its way up to the crest, then begins a sharp turn and sails downward, then upward again, it is impossibly high off the ground, like a skyscraper; Hall looks down with horror as Maya grins with delight)
Maya: Hold on, Edward!!!!
Edward Hall: Stop it! Stop it!
Maya: They can't, it's too late!
Edward Hall: I've got to get out, I've got to get out!
Maya: Jump, Edward, jump! Jump, Edward, jump!! Jump, Edward!

Dr. Rathmann: Miss Thomas?
Miss Thomas: Yes, doctor?
Dr. Rathmann: Would you come here, please? (a beat) I'm afraid he's dead.
Miss Thomas: But he came in just a minute ago!
Dr. Rathmann: I know. When he came in I told him to sit down and he did. Less than two seconds he was asleep. Then he gave that scream you heard...
Miss Thomas: Heart attack?
Dr. Rathmann: Probably. Well, I guess there are worse ways to go. At least he died peacefully....

Closing Narration
They say a dream takes only a second or so, and yet in that second a man can live a lifetime. He can suffer and die, and who's to say which is the greater reality: the one we know or the one in dreams, between heaven, the sky, the earth in the Twilight Zone.

Cultural References
The title is taken from Shakepseare's "Hamlet" It is part of the "To Be or Not to Be" silioquy wherein Hamlet ponders the nature of life, death and his very existance. The full line reads:
"To die, - To sleep, -
To sleep ! Perchance to dream: - ay, there's the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause: there's the respect
That makes calamity of so long life;"

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
MusicVan Cleave
Set DesignerHenry Grace
Set DecoratorRudy Butler
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorWilliam Ferrari  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Sound Effects EditorVan Allen James
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