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Classic Episodes: The Twilight Zone – To Serve Man

Twilight Zone To Serve Man

“Respectfully submitted for your perusal: a Kanamit,” intones Rod Serling in his distinctive voice. “Height: a little over 9′. Weight: in the neighborhood of 350 pounds. Origin: unknown. Motives? Therein hangs a tale.”

Serling’s teasing introduction notwithstanding, the Kanamits’ origin is obvious enough: They’re from outer space. As for their motives — well, they’re here to help. At least that’s what their “spokesman” — a big, bald fellow with hugely protruding brain lobes — tells the United Nations. A day after arriving, these well-meaning aliens are demonstrating new fertilizers that will eradicate famine. Thanks to Kanamit force-field technology, the nations of Earth no longer need armies, and in the spirit of transgalactic understanding, earthlings by the thousand soon rocket off on all-expenses-paid vacations to Kanamit. Too good to be true? You bet.

The one real clue we have to Kanamit motives is a book of theirs. A government cryptographer, played by Lloyd Bochner, and his crew have translated the title as To Serve Man (also the name of the episode). It’s only as Bochner himself is about to board the ship for Kanamit that his assistant (Susan Cummings) comes up with the episode’s punch line — and with it, the essence of edginess and bitter irony that made The Twilight Zone such a memorable place to visit: To Serve Man is a cookbook!

Original Airdate: March 2, 1962





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