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The Twilight Zone: Shadow Play

A convicted man swears that his life is only a recurring nightmare that ends and begins over again with him being executed.

Episode Info

Episode number: 2x26
Production Number: 173-3657
Airdate: Friday May 05th, 1961

Director: John Brahm
Writer: Charles Beaumont


Guest Stars
Harry TownesHarry Townes
As Henry Ritchie
Dennis WeaverDennis Weaver
As Adam Grant

Co-Guest Stars
Wright KingWright King
As Paul Carson
William EdmonsonWilliam Edmonson
As Jiggs
Anne BartonAnne Barton
As Carol
Thomas NelloThomas Nello
As Phillips
Mack Williams (1)Mack Williams (1)
As Father Beaman
Gene RothGene Roth
As Judge

John CloseJohn Close
As Guard
Howard CulverHoward Culver
As Jury Foreman
Jack HydeJack Hyde
As Attorney
Main Cast
Rod SerlingRod Serling
As Narrator/Host


Defendant Adam Grant sits in a courtroom as the jury finds him guilty of murder in the first degree. The judge orders Adam to rise and hear his sentence: execution at midnight. Adam starts laughing hysterically, insisting that he can’t take dying again. He lunges at the judge but the bailiffs pull him away as he screams that if he dies, everyone else will die as well...

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Episode Notes
Wright King would return for "Of Late I Think Of Cliffordville."

Dennis Weaver is best known for starring as McCloud. In 1971 Weaver would work with long-time TZ writer Richard Matheson in the acclaimed TV movie Duel.

Bernie Hamilton would later star as Captain Harold Dobey on the TV series Starsky & Hutch.

Anne Barton was also in "The Monsters are Due on Maple Street."

Harry Townes is also in "The Four of Us are Dying."

John Close is also in "A Nice Place to Visit."

William Edmonson is also seen in "What You Need."

Episode Quotes
Opening Narration:
Adam Grant, a nondescript kind of man found guilty of murder and sentenced to the electric chair. Like every other criminal caught in the wheels of justice he's scared, right down to the marrow of his bones. But it isn't prison that scares him, the long, silent nights of waiting, the slow walk to the little room, or even death itself. It's something else that holds Adam Grant in the hot, sweaty grip of fear, something worse than any punishment this world has to offer, something found only in the Twilight Zone.

Jiggs: Grant, let me give you some advice. Don't think about it. You think about it, you'll crack up like Phillips there. Listen to him. (Phillips mutters to himself) Phillips! Shut your face! A month ago he was a human being. Now what is he? An animal, a thing. Why? Because he couldn't stop thinking about it.
Adam Grant: I know it. It's just different with me.
Jiggs: You mean you want to die?
Adam Grant: No.
Jiggs: Well, it ain't different with you, so don't kid yourself. Sometimes I wonder, too, what it's gonna be like.
Adam Grant: I'll tell you what it's like. You walk out of your cell, pass two grey doors, seventy-eight steps to the final door. It's painted green. There's a guard that opens the door for you and you go into a room. It's tan. It's all tan. There's nothing in it except one chair. It's like a chair you used to sit in when you were a kid. It's hard and soft.
Jiggs: Now, cut it out! Cut it out!
Adam Grant: They strap your arms and legs. Then they attach the electrodes. It's funny. They always feel cold to the touch at first.
Jiggs: Ah, Grant. You talk like you've been through it already.
Adam Grant: Then they drop the mask. It's musty. Smells like an old sofa. Then you wait. Every muscle tense and straining. Any second. Any second. Then you can almost hear it. They pull the switch...

Henry Ritchie: If you’re a success you’re bound to think it’s a dream. If you’re not it’s a nightmare.

Adam: Well, Jiggs, don't you think that all of this is just a little bit too much the way it should be?
Jiggs: I don't get you.
Adam: Well, I mean it's so pat. I got tried and sentenced the same day. It doesn't work like that! But you see, that's the way that I saw it in my mind, and so that's the way it is! Or you take this place here, you and Coley and his harmonica or Phillips and his mother. It's like a movie. Real death houses aren't like that, but you see I've never been in a real death house, so that's my impression of it!
Paul: Fifteen more minutes. That's another thing. Why does this always happen around midnight?
Henry: Because that's when it happens!
Paul: Yeah, but why?
Henry: You tell me why.
Paul: According to Grant, he doesn't know anything about these matters except what he sees in the movies, and in the movies it always happens at midnight.
Henry: Because movies are technically accurate.
Paul: Yeah, that's strange too when you come to think of it.

Closing Narration:
We know that a dream can be real, but who ever thought that reality could be a dream? We exist, of course, but how, in what way? As we believe, as flesh-and-blood human beings, or are we simply parts of someone's feverish, complicated nightmare? Think about it and then ask yourself, do you live here, in this country, in this world, or do you live instead in the Twilight Zone?

Other Episode Crew

CreatorRod Serling
Executive ProducerRod Serling
ProducerBuck Houghton
EditorJason H. Bernie
Set DecoratorH. Web Arrowsmith  |  Henry Grace
Director of PhotographyGeorge T. Clemens
Art DirectorPhilip Barber  |  George W. Davis
Production ManagerRalph Nelson
Sound EditorFranklin Milton
Main Title ThemeMarius Constant
SoundWilliam Edmondson
Assistant DirectorE. Darrell Hallenbeck
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