The Twilight Zone

Season 3 Episode 14

Five Characters in Search of an Exit

Aired Unknown Dec 22, 1961 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
182 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

A hobo, clown, bagpipe player, ballerina and military officer are trapped in a huge cylinder.

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  • A clown. Why did there have to be a clown?

    An entertaining enough episode, although I can see what the previous reviewer meant when he compared it to "some precious little community college production of an 'original' play". The set-up does have that air of pseudo-intellectual pretension about it which is hardly improved by the story's title.

    Being originally from Glasgow myself, I also couldn't help groaning at the stereotypical portrayal of the Scotsman (and that accent is one that even James Doohan would've been ashamed of). To be fair, though, the plot does attempt to provide a a reason *why* each of the characters is something of a stereotype.

    On another note, why did it take the prisoners so long to come up with the idea of the "human pyramid"? It occurred to me within a couple of minutes. They should also have allowed the piper to always support the bottom of the pyramid, in case he chose to wear his kilt in the traditional manner. xD

    I have to admit that, ballerina aside, the cylinder does look like an awful place to spend eternity. It even has a clown in it (yes, I'm coulrophobic). I suspect that within a relatively short space of time I would've been tempted to discover if murder were possible within its confines. After all, in addition to being a clown, he was also irritating. :Pmoreless
  • Worst show of the series!

    My pick for the worst Twilight Zone ever. Plays like warmed-over Ionesco (okay, let's make that ricotta Ionesco)'s like watching some precious little community college production of an "original" play (one that maybe would've been original 100 years ago...though every bit as tedious no doubt). Poor William Windom probably got suckered into this thing by the same agent who got him that part in The Angry Breed. At least the payoff in the finale gives you a bit of a smirk...but that's all the entertainment you're ever likely to get out of this one.moreless
  • Five characters, very different; A Clown, Hobo, Bagpipe Player, Ballerina And An Army Major are trapped in a metal cylinder.

    An excellent episode in which five people are trapped in a large metallic cylinder. The first instinct is to assume that these poor souls are in Hell; this is further verified when Major is told there is no thirst nor any hunger. The Clown, Hobo, Bagpiper and Ballerina are contented in the knowledge that they will never leave the cylinder, but the Major has other ideas, who was a recent addition to the cylinder.

    The Major uses various techniques to escape with the help of the others. What is on the other side, beyond the cylinder?

    In 1986, the British series House of Mystery and Suspense had an episode called "Child's Play". A family awakens to find themselves trapped in their own home, all windows and doors sealed by impenetrable walls. Again there is a similar ending.moreless
  • Five diverse, amnesiac characters struggle to find an escape from their cylindrical prison.

    The best Twilight Zone ever? Quite possibly; top three if nothing else. This episode had everything that makes this show great: A solid premise, good characterization, suspense, and a totally unexpected twist ending that does not "cheat" in any way (i.e., it fits in logically with the rest of the episode). Rod Serling hit a home run here, and I would love to read the short story "The Depository" by Martin Petal on which Serling's script was based. The actors all do a great job, and the overall execution was perfect. If you ever need to pick one single TZ episode to show someone as an example of what the enitre series was all about, this has to be on the short list.moreless
  • 5 totally different charachters , for some reason, are trapped in a barrel, for no rhyme or reason,... and no way out!!

    5 distinct characters, all with different personalities, like and dislike, reasons of whats importnat, are trapped in a round cylindar, with no chance of getting out, they all have to use all of the intellect to figure a way out of this predicament, its kind of scary in a way, especially the clown or juggeler type character, afetr trying time and time again to get out, by standing on each others heads, the finally get one to the top, the 4 inside never no what happens, the one that makes it out falls into to the snow, right outside of a christmas good will toys for tots type collection box, the 5 misfits who seem unloved and and having no hope, are all meant for ones who really have that life, underprivileged children, joy to watchmoreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (1)

    • In the shot just after they fall after trying to escape, the ballerina is laying with her leg straight out. In the very next shot, she is kneeling in a totally different direction.

  • QUOTES (6)

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: Clown, hobo, ballet dancer, bagpiper, and an army major - a collection of question marks. Five improbable entities stuck together into a pit of darkness. No logic, no reason, no explanation; just a prolonged nightmare in which fear, loneliness and the unexplainable walk hand in hand through the shadows. In a moment we'll start collecting clues as to the whys, the whats and the wheres. We will not end the nightmare, we'll only explain it - because this is the Twilight Zone.

    • The Major: Hey, wait a minute. Wait a minute. Who are you, what are you doing here? Is there a circus around here somewhere?
      The Clown: A circus? (laughs) Yeah. Yeah, there must be a circus. A clown, a circus. An officer, a war. That's logic, isn't it? But it doesn't figure at all. Not at all.
      The Major: Why not?
      The Clown: Because there is no circus. And there is no war.

    • The Major: Who are we?
      The Ballerina: None of us knows, Major. We don't know who we are. We don't know where we are. Each of us woke up one moment. Here we were in the darkness.
      The Major: How can that happen?
      The Ballerina: That's the question we asked ourselves. A question with no answer, Major. Nameless things with no memory. No knowledge of what went before. No understanding of what is now. No knowledge of what will be.

    • The Clown: Very active chap. For a functionary. Compulsive worker.
      The Major: You a big time psychologist, huh?
      The Clown: I'm a clown. Which is neither here, there, or anyplace. I could be a certified public accountant, a financier, a left-handed pitcher who throws only curves. What difference does it make?

    • The Clown: Brave man. Not a very bright one.
      The Ballerina: He'll come back for us. I know he will.
      The Clown: He may be back, but it won't be to get us. He may be right at that. He may have been very right. This may be Hell.

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: Just a barrel, a dark depository where are kept the counterfeit, make-believe pieces of plaster and cloth, wrought in the distorted image of human life. But this added, hopeful note: perhaps they are unloved only for the moment. In the arms of children there can be nothing but love. A clown, a tramp, a bagpipe player, a ballet dancer and a major. Tonight's cast of players on the odd stage known as the Twilight Zone.

  • NOTES (2)


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