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The Twilight Zone: What You Need

A down-and-out man tries to turn an old man's psychic ability of knowing exactly what each person needs the most, into a get-rich-quick scheme.

Episode Info

Episode number: 1x12
Production Number: 173-3622
Airdate: Friday December 25th, 1959


Guest Stars
Ernest TruexErnest Truex
As Pedott
Steve CochranSteve Cochran
As Fred Renard

Co-Guest Stars
Arlene MartelArlene Martel
As Girl in Bar (as Arline Sax)
William EdmonsonWilliam Edmonson
As Bartender
Read MorganRead Morgan
As Lefty
Doris KarnesDoris Karnes
As Woman on the Street
Fred KrugerFred Kruger
As Man on the Street
Norman SturgisNorman Sturgis
As Hotel Clerk

Frank AlloccaFrank Allocca
As Waiter
Mark SundayMark Sunday
As Photographer
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


A petty thug, Fred Renard, is sitting in a bar nursing his drink. When the bartender complains, Renard tells him to back off. Meanwhile, a street peddler, Pedott, comes into the bar. He approaches a young woman and offers her some matches. Pedott stares at her and then tells her that what she needs is a small bottle of cleaning fluid, guaranteed to remove spots of any kind. Intrigued, the woman takes it from him...

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Episode Notes
This episode is based on the short story "What You Need" by Henry Kuttner and C.L. Moore in Astounding Science Fiction October, 1945.

Before The Twilight Zone, this story was adapted as an episode of the classic sci-fi anthology Tales of Tomorrow.

Several of the jockeys in the sports section of the newspaper are the names of crew members, including Rod Serling.

This story aired December 25th, 1959, Rod Serling's 35th birthday.

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration
You're looking at Mr. Fred Renard, who carries on his shoulder a chip the size of the national debt. This is a sour man, a friendless man, a lonely man, a grasping, compulsive, nervous man. This is a man who has lived thirty-six undistinguished, meaningless, pointless, failure-laden years and who at this moment looks for an escape - any escape, any way, anything, anybody - to get out of the rut. And this little old man is just what Mr. Renard is waiting for.

Pedott: I feel sorry for you. I really do.
Fred Renard: I don't want you to. I don't want you to go to that kind of trouble. I just want you to keep supplying me with what I need. I don't care what it is. Scissors to save my lousy hide or a leaky fountain pen so I can pick winners. But whatever it is, I want it to keep coming. I don't want it to stop.
Pedott: That's a pity, because it must stop. It must stop now.
Fred Renard: Why? Why does it have to stop?
Pedott: Because the things you need most I can't supply.
Fred Renard: What are they?
Pedott: Serenity, peace of mind, humor, the ability to laugh at oneself. Those are the things you need most, but it's beyond my power to give them to you.

Fred Renard: What are you doing, giving me the business? Is that what you're doing, giving me the business? You know, I can come over there and take you apart bone by bone. Come on, old man, tell me. Are these what I need?
Pedott: I didn't say they were. But I'll tell you something. They happen to be what I need.

Pedott: Mr. Renard, what I saw in your eyes at that bar was death. My death. You were going to kill me. So what was needed for Mr. Renard was slippery shoes... that's what was needed, slippery shoes.

Closing Narration
Street scene. Night. Traffic accident. Victim named Fred Renard, gentleman with a sour face to whom contentment came with difficulty. Fred Renard, who took all that was needed, in the Twilight Zone.

Episode Goofs
The scene just after Rod Serling's opening narration is obviously being played backwards. The smoke is traveling downward and back into Renard's cigarette.

When Renard enters the elevator, his scarf is hanging straight down his back and the edge of the elevator has already passed it. Which would make it impossible for the closing door to snag it. However, in the next shot, the scarf is caught in the door and being pulled at an angle.

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
EditorJoseph Gluck
CastingMillie Gusse
MusicVan Cleave
Set DecoratorRudy Butler  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorWilliam Ferrari  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton  |  Jean Valentino
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
Assistant DirectorEdward O. Denault
Sound Effects EditorVan Allen James
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