The intolerant Archibald Beechcroft is a misanthropic clerk of the Central Park Insurance Co. that hates everybody. When a colleague gives him a book about the power of the mind, Archibald reads the magic book and decides to wipe out the human race. However, he feels lonely and uses his ability to make the entire population of his city his perfect clone, discovering how hateful the world would be. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Mr. Archibald Beechcroft, a child of the twentieth century, who has found out through trial and error - and mostly error - that with all its faults, it may well be that this is the best of all possible worlds. People notwithstanding, it has much to offer. Tonight's case in point - in the Twilight Zone.
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I can't remember where I heard that quote, but it's from some famous old author like Hemingway or Faulkner or, given the cynical hilarity of it, Mark Twain. At any rate, it is exactly this conviction that haunts poor Archibald Beechcroft, a man who can only be described, as one other IMDb user has called him, as a nasty old crank. He's bitter about life in general and the world around him, and has convinced himself that if he could only somehow get rid of every other in the world so he's the only one left, he would be ecstatically happy. I am always struck by the short-sightedness of the mindsets that start out a lot of twilight zone episodes and this one is no exception, obviously, but it ends up able to make a clever comment not only about human nature but also about that old saying about being careful what you wish, lest you get it. This seems to be among Serling's most cherished themes.
It is interesting how quickly the real supernatural element of the episode is overlooked in favor of concentrating on the moral. Beechcroft learns about the power of concentration, which apparently is so strong that, just by concentrating, one can control the world around him, even to the point of moving objects and making things disappear (like people). Almost immediately, he masters the power of concentration so completely that he is almost bored as he walks through his world able to bend every little thing to his whim.
It's strange that he arrives to work one day after having made every other person in the world disappear, and yet he can't think of anything better to do than wander around his tiny office, straightening staplers and peering around that single room, glad that finally everyone is gone and he is not being bothered and has, as they say, no deeds to do and no promises to keep. Wouldn't you want to at least go outside if suddenly you were the only person left on earth?
Soon he begins to lament being the only person, as is to be expected, and wishes that other people were around so he had something to do. How about a shopping spree? Why not go get a car and drive as fast as you want through town? On the wrong side of the street, even! Or go poke through other people's houses?
Interesting that one of the immediate responses to a show like this is what kinds of things it makes you think about yourself, about what you would do if you were the last person on earth. The answer to that tells a lot about who you are, I think!
But in that case, it seems that Archibald Beechcroft is not the most creative man. He has no personal interests, he has no creativity or imagination or outside interests. At the very least, he must hate reading in peace and quiet. So soon he wills the world to become full of people exactly like him, revealing the episode's second moral - about thinking about who you are and what kind of outward appearance you have. Apparently, he never realized how unpleasant he was, and needed a world full of himself to realize it.
Being 1961, we get a few shots of Shelley Berman, the actor, wearing different outfits to come off as different people, and a lot of other actors wearing astonishingly bad masks, I imagine which are supposed to look like him, and soon his lack of creativity bears it's head again and he just gives up and wishes the world back to normal.
Interesting episode in its moral implications and its suggestion about accepting the outside world as it is, although overall the episode, like it's main character ( and not the least reason for which must surely be time restrictions) seems to lack the creativity to really make full use of its premise.
Just an aside - - when I was a freshman in high school, a good 15 years ago, there was a kid in one of my classes named Ryan Beecroft. When I first glanced at his name on the roll sheet I thought it said Ryan Beachcraft, so I starting calling him Beachcraft and the name stuck, I don't think anyone at my school ever called him Ryan after that. Ryan if you read this, email me!
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