Season 5, Episode 11 (131 overall)
Originally aired 12/13/1963
Cayuga Production # 2614
Fifty years ago tonight, a desperate man submitted himself to a dangerous experiment. And no, he didn’t have a pet mouse named Algernon.
“Uncle Simon,” Flora is now trapped. She’ll have to provide constant care for the li’l guy or, as Raymond observes, she’ll be out on her ass (my own paraphrasing).
Gotta love how Raymond places all the responsibility on Flora, threatening to “take it out of her skin” should Harmon be damaged or killed by the injection that he administers. Yes, we can at least partly blame her for Harmon’s state of mind, but she had no part in Harmon’s request for the injection, or Dr. Raymond’s decision to honor said request. Raymond clearly despises Flora with a passion, so it makes sense for him to relish somewhat in her fate; however, if she’s really as selfish and irresponsible as he believes, how can she be trusted to take care of the newly-infantile Harmon? In looking at all three characters with a critical eye, I’m inclined to blame Flora the least for what transpires. Harmon is a whiny self-loathing schmuck who clearly lacks the balls necessary to demand better treatment from his wife (I’m reminded of Henry Bemis, who elicited a similar disgusted reaction in me). Raymond, while ostensibly looking out for his brother, actually dooms him with both eyes wide open, and isn’t man enough to acknowledge his culpability (that’s putting it lightly). And Flora… well…
Maya the Cat Girl’s dance in “Perchance to Dream,” though not by much), and Lee reaches the highest tier of TZ Babedom with ease.
The episode is fun (albeit by-the-numbers and pretty predictable); however, the real fun is thinking ahead to what might happen after the episode ends. Once Flora’s initial shock wears off, I imagine she’ll realize that Raymond really has nothing on her. She could dump the baby at a local shelter (or on somebody’s doorstep) and report her husband as missing. Harmon will eventually be declared dead, and she’ll get all his money. Raymond almost certainly won’t go public with the truth, since doing so would destroy his career and very probably land him in prison (even if Harmon had signed a release, which he didn't do). Speaking of film noir…!
Minor technical gripe: at the top of act one, there’s an abrupt cut to a medium shot of Flora directly after the episode credits are shown. Usually act one’s opening shot will extend beyond said credits, providing a smooth flow into the action. This awkward cut makes me wonder if the episode ran a bit long, so they excised something. It reminds me of the syndication trims I used to see when I first discovered the series on local channel KPTV-12 in the early 80’s (they’d keep the episode titles but then chop a minute or two out immediately after, which almost invariably resulted in a jarring, sloppy splice).
Harmon Gordon is played by Patrick O 'Neal in his only TZ appearance; however, he crossed paths with Rod Serling again in a 1971 episode of Night Gallery (“A Fear of Spiders”). He also starred in the “Wolf 359” episode of The Outer Limits in 1964.
“The Jungle.” Genre fans may also recall his recurring role on TV’s The Incredible Hulk as Mark Foster, determined reporter Jack McGee’s boss. Also on the sci-fi fantasy front, Brooke played the unnamed U.S. President in the “Testimony of a Traitor” episode of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century in 1981.
“A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain” is the second of five episodes that comprise “The Lost Five,” a group of episodes that weren't syndicated with the rest of the series for various reasons. In this episode’s case, a plagiarism suit was filed against Cayuga Productions after it was aired (Serling based the teleplay on an unpublished story by Louis Holz; another writer claimed that Serling had stolen his idea). The ensuing litigation kept the episode out of circulation until 1984 when it (along with last season’s “Miniature” and “Sounds and Silences,” the fiftieth anniversary of which is coming up in April) reemerged as part of the syndicated Twilight Zone Silver Anniversary Special, which was hosted by none other than Patrick O’Neal, who by then looked old enough to play the role of Harmon without makeup (if memory serves, he made a crack to that effect when he introduced this episode).
Interestingly, “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain” is the only “Lost Five” episode to have been added to the syndication package since its 1984 reappearance. The other four are available on DVD, blu-ray and Hulu (as of this writing), but as far as I know, they still aren't being aired along with the rest of the series.
Ed Wynn whips out his big ol’ clock for all to see.