A suburban dinner party is interrupted by a bulletin warning of an impending nuclear attack. As the neighbors scramble to prepare themselves, they turn against the one family that installed a permanent bomb shelter.

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Cast

Episode complete credited cast:
Larry Gates ...
Dr. Bill Stockton
Joseph Bernard ...
Marty Weiss
...
Jerry Harlowe
...
Grace Stockton
...
Frank Henderson
Michael Burns ...
Paul Stockton
Jo Helton ...
Martha Harlowe
Moria Turner ...
Mrs. Weiss
Mary Gregory ...
Mrs. Henderson
John McLiam ...
Man
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Storyline

Dr. Bill Stockton has prepared well for any eventuality. He's built a bomb shelter for himself, his wife and his child. His neighbors on the other hand have done nothing to prepare. During a dinner party, there is an emergency announcement on the radio that unidentified objects have been sighted en route to the US and they may be under attack. As the Stockton's prepare to use their shelter their neighbors panic asking to be let into the shelter with them. Stockton refuses leading to an angry confrontation. Written by garykmcd

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29 September 1961 (USA)  »

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(Westrex Recording System)

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1.33 : 1
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Trivia

One of four episodes that, notably, contains no science fiction or fantasy elements. See more »

Goofs

The shelter door was obviously plywood (when it finally broke, one could tell it was flimsy material). Even though it was supposed to be of a heavy substance, anything that could be opened with a battering ram would not withstand an atomic blast. See more »

Quotes

Jerry Harlowe: Hey that's a great idea, block party, anything to get back to normal, huh?
Dr. Bill Stockton: Normal? I don't know. I don't know what normal is. I thought I did once. I don't anymore.
Jerry Harlowe: I told you we'd pay for the damages, Bill.
Dr. Bill Stockton: Damages? I wonder. I wonder if anyone of us has any idea what those damages really are. Maybe one of them is finding out what we're really like when we're normal; the kind of people we are just underneath the skin. I mean all of us: a bunch of naked wild animals, who put such a price on ...
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Connections

Referenced in The Simpsons: Bart's Comet (1995) See more »

Soundtracks

Happy Birthday to You
(uncredited)
Written by Mildred J. Hill and Patty S. Hill
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User Reviews

 
A Landmark Television Event
28 April 2014 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

A suburban dinner party is interrupted by a bulletin warning of an impending nuclear attack. As the neighbors scramble to prepare themselves, they turn against the one family that installed a permanent bomb shelter.

Although a great many episodes of "Twilight Zone" were philosophical and raised ethical points (a big part of what made it great), this episode has the distinction of being one of only four to be strictly realistic in nature -- no science fiction or fantasy elements can be found.

This realism is what made the story both memorable and powerful. Rod Serling, in an interview with Bob Crane, claimed that shortly after the episode aired, he received 1300 letters within two days from folks who were both delighted and terrified, and from those who understood the message and those who obviously did not.

We have a tale of the haves versus the have nots, though not necessarily with money -- with safety and shelter. The episode shows that hysteria and panic can easily turn one group against he other -- a situation every bit as dangerous as an atom bomb.

Further, the ethical elements are compounded by having the lead character be a medical doctor. If you have a shelter, are you obligated to allow neighbors in, or wise to leave them out? And with a doctor the question must be asked: are they to be held to a higher standard because they are caregivers who are loyal to the Hippocratic Oath?

Of course, it could reasonably be argued that saving your family and excluding others is saving some people rather than risking the lives of all when oxygen runs low... but then, maybe your own kids are not as worth saving as someone else? The ethical elements are many.

Interestingly, in the Crane interview, Serling was conflicted on the whole idea of fallout shelters. He said his family thought about it, but ultimately decided against it -- not because of the ideas shown in the episode, but because of what he feared would happen to the survivors, left to scavenge like wild beasts. They might survive, but is that kind of survival worth having?


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