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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 1 E 23 A World Of Difference

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Arthur Curtis talks to Gerald Raigan's wife.

Rod Serling: You're looking at a tableau of reality, things of substance, of physical material: a desk, a window, a light. These things exist and have dimension. Now this is Arthur Curtis, age thirty-six, who also is real. He has flesh and blood, muscle and mind. But in just a moment we will see how thin a line separates that which we assume to be real with that manufactured inside of a mind.
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Air date: March 11, 1960

Arthur Curtis, a respectable businessman, instructs his secretary in her room what she should do. Then he enters his cabinet and is suddenly approached by a film director. He is actually Gerald Raigan, an actor playing a businessman and it was a shooting all the time. The problem is Gerald still believes he is a businessman now after "Cut" was said and he is supposed to go out of his role.

Gerald is assaulted by his angry former wife who wants to squeeze from him the money given to her by the court decision (as much of it as she can). However he never caves in and continues claiming that he is Arthur Curtis. The episode is dedicated to his tribulations in the in-universe Real Life where he is always treated as Gerald Raigan but always says he is Arthur Curtis.

Rod Serling: The modus operandi for the departure from life is usually a pine box of such and such dimensions, and this is the ultimate in reality. But there are other ways for a man to exit from life. Take the case of Arthur Curtis, age thirty-six. His departure was along a highway with an exit sign that reads, 'This Way To Escape.' Arthur Curtis, en route to the Twilight Zone.
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Tropes

  • The Alcoholic: It's hinted that Gerald Raigan has a problem with the bottle.
  • Divorce Assets Conflict: It is harsh between Gerald Raigan and his wife Nora. Arthur Curtis however does not seem to know anything about that conflict. His wife even takes the checkbook out of Gerald's drawer and literally spells his name to him so that he can sign a check.
  • Gainax Ending: It is implied that the character might indeed have been Arthur Curtis all along. He lived in his own universe and only once crossed into the universe where the most part of this episode is set and where he had to be an actor named Gerald Raigan playing his own role. Then Arthur happily returned to his wife Marian.
  • Happily Married: Arthur Curtis and his wife Marian.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Curtis/Raigan hijacks the car of Brinkley which was conveniently parked in front of his house. Brinkley runs out of the house but can only see the departing vehicle.
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  • Longing for Fictionland: Brinkley thinks that Gerald Raigan has convinced himself that he is Arthur Curtis as he is attracted by the character's happy life with his loving wife Marian and daughter Tina.
  • Lost in Character: What the crew thinks is Gerald's problem.
  • Mind Screw: Par for the course for the Twilight Zone. It is very convoluted and no-one can definitely say whether the character ultimately was Arthur Curtis or Gerald Raigan.
  • Mistaken from Behind: Arthur Curtis mistakes a little girl for his daughter Tina from behind.
  • Nice Guy: Brinkley in the end turns out to be the one in the harsh universe of Gerald. He is first demanding to him and warns that his career can stop if he continues to be as negligent as before. However, later, as Curtis/Raigan goes on saying that he is definitely Curtis the lawyer, but not Raigan the actor, Brinkley confesses that he understands the hero and he also wishes he was another character than he is. Later Curtis/Raigan steals Brinkley's car to arrive in time before the set was dismantled to return in the other universe.
  • Proscenium Reveal: The first several minutes of the film show the businessman Arthur Curtis at his work. Then it is this trope and the viewer sees the camera and the shooting crew so one can think that the previous part was about simply Gerald Raigan playing Arthur Curtis. The rest is a bit more complicated, though...
  • Repeating so the Audience Can Hear: Gerald during his first phone call to the operator.
  • Show Within a Show: Gerald Raigan plays the title character in the film The Private World of Arthur Curtis.
  • We All Die Someday: Subverted in the closing narration.

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