|The Twilight Zone episode|
|Episode no.||Season 3|
|Directed by||Richard L. Bare|
|Written by||Charles Beaumont|
|Original air date||March 9, 1962|
It's been said that science fiction and fantasy are two different things: science fiction, the improbable made possible; fantasy, the impossible made probable. What would you have if you put these two different things together? Well, you'd have an old man named Ben who knows a lot of tricks most people don't know and a little girl named Jenny who loves him — and a journey into the heart of the Twilight Zone.
At a public park, a group of children are playing softball with Old Ben, an elderly but playful gentleman. When it is Old Ben's turn at bat, he hits the ball over the fence and out of sight. When they play "Spaceman", Old Ben takes on the form of a nightmarish, shelled monster. The kids are accustomed to Old Ben's supernatural abilities, referring to them as his "magic".
Old Ben's favorite of the children is Jenny, apparently an orphan, who walks with a leg brace. Old Ben carries her to her home, where she lives with her shrewish and unsympathetic aunt, Agnes Gann. As they approach the row house, Ben causes his roller skates to dematerialize. This phenomenon is observed by two men who are watching the house from across the street. They enter the apartment building, identify themselves as police, and question Agnes about Ben. Jenny overhears the conversation and limps upstairs to Old Ben's apartment to warn him. Old Ben takes on the form of a mouse, fooling the men into thinking he has left his apartment.
Jenny takes the "mouse" back to her room. Old Ben tells Jenny that he is an alien from another planet, and that his appearance is only a disguise, as he is a fugitive from justice. Old Ben says he must flee to another planet, but before departing he uses a strange device to heal Jenny's leg. The two strangers run into Jenny walking down the stairs without her brace. They recognize Old Ben's handiwork, but Jenny refuses to tell them anything. One of the men uses a similar device to make Jenny deathly ill, using her as bait for Ben. Old Ben comes back to Jenny's room and makes her well again. As she thanks him, she sees the two men watching Old Ben. They address him as "Your Majesty". He admits to Jenny he is not a criminal, but the king of his planet; Ben fled because he hated the responsibility of leadership, the negotiation of red tape, and having most of his authority overridden by "the Council".
The strangers tell Jenny that Old Ben's people love him as much as she does; they want him to return and continue his 5,000-year reign. Jenny insists that if Old Ben cannot stay with her, she will go with him. The two men say this is forbidden, but allow Old Ben a moment alone with Jenny to say goodbye after he promises not to run away. Following a plan whispered to him by Jenny, Ben transforms into her exact duplicate, forcing the men to take both of them along since they cannot tell one from the other.
At the end of the episode, Rod Serling holds up an 8-by-10 inch black-and-white print of a handsome young man, noting that the photo shows Old Ben's true appearance and that Jenny will eventually become queen.
Mrs. Gann will be in for a big surprise when she finds this under Jenny's pillow, because Mrs. Gann has more temper than imagination. She'll never dream that this is a picture of Old Ben, as he really looks, and it will never occur to her that eventually her niece will grow up to be an honest-to-goodness queen — somewhere in The Twilight Zone.
- DeVoe, Bill. (2008). Trivia from The Twilight Zone. Albany, GA: Bear Manor Media. ISBN 978-1593931360
- Grams, Martin. (2008). The Twilight Zone: Unlocking the Door to a Television Classic. Churchville, Maryland: OTR Publishing. ISBN 978-0970331090