At a department store during the Christmas holiday, Children are in line to see Santa, who is absent. Manager Mr. Dundee assures them that Santa will be back at 6 p.m. . Meanwhile, Henry Corwin, the department store Santa, is drinking at a nearby bar at 6:30. As he finishes his sixth drink, two children see him and knock on the window to get his attention. Corwin waves to them, then wonders why there isn't a real Santa. The bartender, less than sympathetic, wants Corwin to pay his tab. Corwin pays up and staggers outside, and the same children come up and ask him for Christmas presents and a job for their father. Corwin, depressed, can't do anything but weep. ..Read the full recap
This is one of six episodes originally shot on videotape, then transferred to sixteen-millimeter film for broadcast. This was done as a cost-cutting measure.
Rod Serling's voiceover "...and a Merry Christmas to one and all" was edited out for non-holiday rerun showings.
Andrea Darvi returns in "Dust."
Art Carney is best known for his role in The Honeymooners as Ed Norton.
Burt Mustin returns in "Kick the Can" and had reoccuring appearances in Leave it to Beaver as Gus the fireman and All in the Family as Justin Quigley.
John Fiedler was a veteran actor with a famous voice. He would reappear in "Cavender is Coming" and can be recognized as the voice of Piglet in Winnie the Pooh.
Trains provided by Lionel Corp. Reindeer furnished by Santa's Village, Skyforest, CA.
Narrator: This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely popular American institute, that of department-store Santa Claus in a road company version of 'The Night Before Christmas.' But in just a moment Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found in the Twilight Zone.
Henry Corwin: As to my drinking, this is indefensible. And you have my abject apologies. I find of late that I have very little choice in the matter of expressing emotions. I can either drink, or I can weep. And drinking is so much more subtle.
Mr. Dundee: Will you please leave?
Henry Corwin: But as to my insubordination, I was not rude to that woman. Someone should remind her that Christmas is more than barging up and down department store aisles and pushing people out of the way.
Mr. Dundee: Now Corwin...
Henry Corwin: Someone has to tell her that Christmas is another thing finer than that. Richer, finer, truer, and should come with patience and love. Charity, compassion. That's what I would have told her if you'd given me a chance.
Henry Corwin: You know another reason why I drink, Mr. Dundee? So that when I walk down the tenements, I can really think it's the North Pole and the children are elves and that I'm really Santa Claus bringing them a bag of wondrous gifts for all of them. I just wish, Mr. Dundee, on one Christmas, only one, that I could see some of the hopeless ones and the dreamless ones, just on one Christmas, I'd like to see the meek inherit the Earth. That's why I drink, Mr. Dundee, and that's why I weep.
Mr. Dundee: Going home, Officer Flaherty?
Officer Flaherty: Going home, Mr. Dundee. And you?
Mr. Dundee: Going home, Officer Flaherty. This is the most remarkable Christmas Eve I've ever had. (Sleigh bells are heard overhead) Flaherty, I could have sworn that I...did you see it?
Officer Flaherty: I thought I did.
Mr. Dundee: Well, what did you see?
Officer Flaherty: I don't think I ought to tell you, Mr. Dundee. You might report me for drinking on duty.
Mr. Dundee: No, no, go ahead. What did you see?
Officer Flaherty: It was Corwin, Mr. Dundee, big as life in a sleigh with reindeer, sitting next to an elf and riding up toward the sky. That's about the size of it. Ain't it, Mr. Dundee?
Mr. Dundee: Flaherty, you better come home with me and we'll pour out some hot coffee and we'll pour some brandy in it and we'll...and we'll thank God for miracles, Flaherty.
Narrator: A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There's a wondrous magic to Christmas, and there's a special power reserved for little people. In short, there's nothing mightier than the meek.
Near the end of the episode when santa is sitting on the steps and the old man with the pipe and smoking jacket comes outside, the old man never brushes the snow off the step, just sits in it. Then Santa, right before he is left alone, sits on the step and just rests his hand in the snow for a second or 2 and acts like it isn't cold, but even in the next scene, when santa comes across sled with little girl elf, she even wipes off the snow before he sits on it.