One of the most significant points of character that all humans must face is what our actions would be if we were to ever be in a position of absolute power over others. Having the very lives and existence of others to give and take at an emotional whim is a corrupting influence captured in the immortal line attributed to Lord Acton, "Absolute power corrupts absolutely." In "The Little People" two astronauts land on a world to make repairs to their rocket and there are significant tensions between the two-man crew. The Commander Fletcher stays on mission, working to get the ship flight-worthy again while Craig starts to whine about their situation. Craig is a sniveling whiner and when he encounters a civilization of tiny creatures, he immediately installs himself as an all-powerful god. This disgusts Fletcher and after disagreements where Craig pulls a weapon on Fletcher, Fletcher departs, leaving Craig to his godhood. That power is short-lived as another ship lands, this one containing humanoids much larger than Craig and one accidently kills him. The episode ends with the little people happily destroying the statue to the Craig-god that he demanded they erect. While the philosophical point here is significant, the weakness of the plot is the weakness of the Craig character. Astronauts would have to undergo extensive psychological screening before being allowed in space, so it would not be possible for a person of such weak character to be in space. Nevertheless, it is an episode that is well worth watching. The desire to get even with the people that wronged us in our youth is the topic of "One More Pallbearer." Wealthy Paul Radin has built an elaborate bomb shelter under a skyscraper in a major city and has arranged an elaborate ruse. False civil defense sirens and video messages have been developed and are designed to go off at his command. Radin invites three people to the shelter that he perceives as having humiliated him earlier in life. One is a former teacher, another is a priest and the third is a military man. As they discuss their common past, it becomes clear that Radin is an unstable personality for the wrongs he has so internalized were nothing beyond the bounds of their positions. When the fake civil defense warnings of an atomic attack are sounded, all three people choose to leave the shelter rather than be part of the small group of survivors. Radin is unable to cope with the failure of his ruse and the episode ends with him on the surface and in a deep psychosis, believing that the city has been destroyed when it has not. The moral of this episode is truly one for "The Twilight Zone", revenge is a powerful emotion that often backfires against the person seeking revenge. In this case, the desire for revenge is a mental cancer, destroying the psyche of a man that otherwise was very successful. In "A Thing About Machines" Bartlett Finchley is an obnoxious and very unlikable man with a visceral hatred for machines. Finchley's repeated attacks on his television set have angered the repairman, who tries to reason with him with no success. His secretary becomes disgusted with him and quits, finally ignoring his pleading for her to stay. As loneliness sets in, Finchley begins calling some women, all of which turn him down in a very abrupt manner. His next battles are with the machines in his house, they join together to first force him out of the house and then to kill him. A great deal of the appeal of this episode is due to the fact that all of us can relate to the mechanical conspiracy against us. For most of us, it seems that the machines we use on a daily basis choose a random day to go on strike and generally it is when we are in the biggest hurry of the last month. An odd event triggers an odd day in the life of Hector Poole in "A Penny For Your Thoughts." As he purchases his morning paper, Poole tosses a quarter into the bowl and amazingly, it stands on edge. While remarkable in itself, the real astonishment is that he can now read the thoughts of others in his vicinity. Ordinarily a functional but rather dull bank clerk, this day proves to be amazing. He learns of the bank president's affair, the desire of another to rob the bank and the amorous feelings that a female teller has for him. Dick York of "Bewitched" fame plays the role of Poole to perfection, his facial expressions and mannerisms are an excellent supplement to what would clearly be a Midas-like curse. All ends well, as Poole does a bit of mild blackmail on the bank president, helps out an elderly employee, gets the girl and loses the curse. This is one of the best episodes of the series.
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