The Twilight Zone

Season 1 Episode 17

The Fever

Aired Unknown Jan 29, 1960 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
156 votes

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Episode Summary

Tight fisted Franklin Gibbs is not pleased when his wife wins a trip for two to Las Vegas. But things change when he falls under the spell of a slot machine that calls his name.

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  • 9.5
    There is something awfully disturbing about this episode, in the best kind of way. I think those that are saying it's a heavy handed morality play where nothing happens aren't really getting it. If it has a point, it would seem to be that anyone can be susceptible to addiction. As for those who say that someone so against gambling would never succumb, keep in mind that (1) those who are the most vehemently opposed to something often have something to hide and (2) THE GUY IS BEING STALKED BY A SLOT MACHINE THAT CALLS HIM BY NAME!

    To that end, this is a good episode because it blends real life issues with the surreal and fantastical, so that neither one really becomes the focus and it works on both levels. Vivi Janiss also puts in a nice performance as Franklin's sweet wife, whom he continually treats like garbage. Perhaps Franklin's fate also has something to do with his rotten behavior toward her through the entire episode.

    The best aspect of the episode, for me, is the creepy atmosphere throughout and the fact that it becomes more and more unsettling until something just snaps. The slot machine's voice--sounding like something off of Kraftwerk's "Radio-activity" album--surely won't leave your head after watching this one.moreless
  • "Frank-lin!...Frank-lin!..."

    Wonderful to see Everett Sloane doing something for TV. And I love watching his character self-destruct without a clue of what's happening to him (and without ever really changing his point of view toward the foolish evils of gambling either). Janiss also turns in a good performance as his wife. The end, with the single coin rolling from the sardonic and malevolent machine, is Serling at his cynical and mocking best, and the music throughout suits this atmosphere perfectly.moreless
  • Point well taken, but they overstate their case.

    Like most TZ episodes, "The Fever" seems to have a moral, this one being that compulsive gambling can destroy lives, which it can and often does. There have been cases where people have mortgaged and lost their homes playing blackjack or whatever. Even suicides. This episode tries to make the case against gambling, or at least compulsive gambling, by having a tightwad like Franklin Gibbs as the poster boy for compulsive gamblers, which is really absurd. Yes, gambling can, for some, be an obsession, but someone like Franklin is the least likely person to get "the fever". Of all the people in the casino, all of whom gamble responsibly, Franklin, who has a moral code against any form of gambling, is the one who goes nuts. Oh, Please! Getting a little carried away, maybe, but still unlikely. But to the point of jumping out a window to escape a phantom slot machine?! Someone who is as against gambling as Franklin is not going to end up that way, not even close. His poor wife, watching helplessly as he loses it. And that machine, calling out "Franklin" in that ugly voice. They could have done better.moreless
  • Practical, pontificating Franklin turns into a raving lunatic and compulsive gambler with one tug of a slot machine.

    This episode will keep you waiting for something interesting to happen and then leave you madly disappointed, kind of like Franklin's slot machine. Boorish Franklin rains all over his wife's parade after she wins a trip to Las Vegas, scolding and upbraiding her for them having to be there in the first place. He derides her for wanting to play even one nickel, and she submits to his penny-pinching admonishing immediately. The moment she acquiesces, Franklin proves himself the hypocrite by agreeing to play a machine at the behest of a drunken stranger. Franklin plays one time, wins a few bucks, and is hooked from that moment on.

    Nothing else of consequence happens in this episode, except for when Franklin sees the slot machine coming towards him and begins backing away - conveniently, into a window that is behind him. As I saw him moving towards the window, my thought was, "Oh, no. Not again!" Sure enough, even though he merely backs into the window with no more force than required by leaning on it, the whole thing breaks and he goes flying through it. The end of Franklin, and the end of a sadly forgettable TZ episode.moreless
  • One of the scariest episodes for many reasons.

    Maybe it's just my childhood memeory but this is one of the scariest episodes I have ever watched. In fact, it's one of the scariest things I have watched in my entire life. I was too young when I first saw it and it was well around midnight one night when I first saw the episode. Those circumstances aside, I was terrified by it once again when I finally got up the courage to watch it a second time years later. This episode teaches a very scary but valuable lesson about gambling addiction in a way that is very likely to stick with the viewer. This may very well be the reason I don't gamble!

    Franklin's addiction starts slowly, gradually. You can see the transformation throughout the episode until it is a full blown addiction. Wheather the machine was really after him or if it was just a hallucination, this episode teaches that addiction will ultimately be one's end.moreless

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • (Opening Narration)
      Narrator: Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Gibbs, three days and two nights, all expenses paid, at a Las Vegas hotel, won by virtue of Mrs. Gibbs's knack with a phrase. But unbeknownst to either Mr. or Mrs. Gibbs is the fact that there's a prize in their package neither expected nor bargained for. In just a moment one of them will succumb to an illness worse than any virus can produce, a most inoperative, deadly, life-shattering affliction known as the fever.

    • Franklin: If there's one thing I know it's morality, and I will not have this tainted money smelling up our pockets!

    • Franklin Gibbs: Give me back my dollar!

    • Franklin: That machine was ready to pay off and it deliberately broke down so it wouldn't have to! It-it's not even a machine, Flora. It's an entity, with a mind and will of its own!

    • Slot Machine: Franklin!

    • (Closing Narration)
      Narrator: Mr. Franklin Gibbs, visitor to Las Vegas, who lost his money, his reason, and finally his life to an inanimate metal machine variously described as a one-armed bandit, a slot machine or, in Mr. Franklin Gibbs's words, a monster with a will all its own. For our purposes we'll stick with the latter definition because we're in the Twilight Zone.

  • NOTES (1)

    • "The Fever" is the only 1st season episode to not use the original Twilight Zone theme music during the closing credits. Rather, it uses the closing credits music from the 2nd-4th seasons.