Billy Bayles loves his Grandma Bayles and likes the present she's given him, a toy telephone which she says will allow them to communicate forever. Grandma Bayles is ill however and soon dies but Billy claims he can speak to her on their special telephone. When he tells his parents that she wants him to join her, wherever she's gone to, they pay no mind. When he throws himself in front of their neighbor's car however, it all gets deadly serious. Written by
A toy telephone, an act of faith, a set of improbable circumstances, all combine to probe a mystery, to fathom a depth, to send a facet of light into a dark after-region, to be believed or disbelieved, depending on your frame of reference. A fact or a fantasy, a substance or a shadow - but all of it very much a part of The Twilight Zone.
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Just before dying, an old woman gives her grandson a toy telephone for his birthday, with which the boy can seemingly speak to her from beyond the grave. This episode is a prime example of how the series could deal in depth with deeply human issues through the veil of science fiction in a remarkably frank and effective manner.
At the same time the episode creates a somewhat creepy atmosphere (owing to the brooding presence of the grandmother over the house), it simultaneously addresses the complex web of familial relationships -- the tensions between parents and their children-in-law, the attachment children find for their grandparents, and the need to deal with familial loss. The remarkably intuitive script by Beaumont and Idelson, matched by wonderful performances by the entire case (Philip Abbott as the father, in particular, is the standout), and the realistic setting of this story drives the message home -- the need to cut ties between generations.
The only small downside to this episode is the videotape look, which makes it look more like a soap opera. In the end, it doesn't matter, as the script and the performances carry this to the highest levels reached by the series -- indeed, that any half-hour show can reach.
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