The Twilight Zone (1959–1964)
11 user 1 critic

Showdown with Rance McGrew 

The star of a Western TV series suddenly finds himself transported back in time to the real Wild West, and face-to-face with the real Jesse James.



, (based on an idea by) (as Frederic L. Fox) | 1 more credit »

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Episode complete credited cast:
Larry Blyden ...
Rance McGrew
TV Bartender (as Robert J. Stevenson)
Bill McLean ...
Prop Man (as William McLean)
Cowboy #1
Jay Overholts ...
Cowboy #2
Hal K. Dawson ...
Bob Kline ...
TV Jesse James (as Robert Kline)
James Turley ...
Rance's Double (as Jim Turley)


Rance McGrew is the star of a weekly TV western where he plays the town Marshal. He is, to say the least, difficult to deal with. He is frequently late on the set, arrives unprepared and often requests script changes just as they are about to shoot a scene. To top it off, he's quite inept at handling his gun which he inadvertently tosses into the saloon mirror on more than one occasion. He's given a dose of reality however when he inexplicably finds himself back in time, coming face to face with the real Jesse James. Written by garykmcd

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis





Release Date:

2 February 1962 (USA)  »

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(Westrex Recording System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


In the "showdown" sequence, when Rance McGrew is backing away from Jesse James, the funeral parlor hoves into view and reveals that the Funeral Director is "C. Nyby" (a nice little in-joke, as the director of this episode is one Christian Nyby!). See more »


(at around 18 mins) During a scene that is taking place in a time well before cars existed, the camera elevates and shows a hilly backdrop. A cement truck can be seen driving up a road. See more »


Jesse James: [Mocking Rance McGrew] Just like I figured. This guy couldn't outdraw a crayon.
See more »

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User Reviews

Headed off at the pass by time.
31 January 2014 | by (Ireland) – See all my reviews

Rod Serling wrote two scripts for series three that were inspired by an idea from another writer, Frederick Louis Fox. The other was the quaint but likable 'Hocus-Pocus and Frisby'. Fox was generally a writer of TV western screenplays, so unsurprisingly this one is set in the world of the then popular TV-west-that-never-was.

Rance McGrew (Larry Byden) is TV cowboy who suddenly steps out of his make-believe world and into the 'real' west where he is confronted by Jesse James.

It starts brightly with visual gags, a film crew and the ridiculousness of the sixties' TV western. However when Jesse James came in he was such an anodyne character of the TV western ilk anyway, when the show needed a dynamic and deadly, movie type like Lee Marvin ('The Grave', series three) or Martin Landau ('Mr Denton On Doomsday',series one). The rest falls very flat as there is nothing to consider remotely realistic about Jesse James, and so the story peters out badly.

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