|The Twilight Zone episode|
Scene from "The Shelter"
|Episode no.||Season 3
|Written by||Rod Serling|
|Directed by||Lamont Johnson|
|Original airdate||September 29, 1961|
|List of Twilight Zone episodes|
|“||What you're about to watch is a nightmare. It is not meant to be prophetic; it need not happen. It's the fervent and urgent prayer of all men of goodwill that it never shall happen. But in this place, in this moment, it does happen. This is the Twilight Zone.||”|
A small gathering of neighborhood friends in a typical suburban community are having a small dinner party to honor the local Dr. Stockton's birthday at his house. Dr. Stockton is well-known and liked by this gathering because he has either administered to the health and well-being of his guests or has delivered their children. Everybody is especially friendly and jovial and mention is made of his late night work on a fallout shelter that he has built in the basement. Suddenly, a Civil Defense (CONELRAD) announcement, overheard by Dr. Stockton's son, is made that unidentified objects have been detected heading for the United States. In these times, everybody knows what that means: nuclear attack.
As panic ensues, the doctor locks himself and his family into his basement bomb shelter. The same gathering of friends becomes hysterical and now wants to occupy the shelter. All of the previous friendliness has vanished and is now replaced with bitter hate and soaring desperation as pent-up hostility and suppressed emotions boil to the surface. The end is moments away and everyone's mind is now vehemently poisoned by the clawing desire to survive, at any cost - the feelings of a neighbor, the sanctity of a friend's home, friendship itself, or the raw submission to violence. The last scene shows the once-friendly neighbors breaking down the door to the shelter with an improvised battering ram. Just then, a final Civil Defense broadcast announces that the objects have been identified as harmless, falling satellites, and that no danger is at all present. The neighbors apologize for their behavior, but Dr. Stockton wonders if they had not destroyed themselves, even without a bomb.
|“||No moral, no message, no prophetic tract. Just a simple statement of fact: "For civilization to survive, the human race has to remain civilized." Tonight's very small exercise in logic from the Twilight Zone.||”|
Announcer: "And now, Mr. Serling."
|“||Next week we move back in time to April, 1865 - the aftermath of the Civil War, and a strange dusty road that leads to a most unbelievable adventure. On our show next week, "The Passersby." This one is for Civil War buffs, the mystics amongst you, or any and all who would want a brief vacation in The Twilight Zone.'||”|
In its anthology form, the nuclear attack is actually real. The people of the town gather around the shelter, begging to be let in. One woman cries out, "At least take my children." Finally, the parents in the shelter can stand it no longer. They open the door and let two children in, in exchange for them.
This was an unusual episode of The Twilight Zone as it contains no supernatural or science-fiction elements, and instead, focused on a real-world danger (the possibility of a nuclear holocaust). Similar episodes include "Where Is Everybody?", "The Silence", and "The Jeopardy Room".