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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 2 E 47 The Night Of The Meek

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Corwin gets his wish.

Rod Serling: This is Mr. Henry Corwin, normally unemployed, who once a year takes the lead role in the uniquely popular American institution, that of the department-store Santa Claus in a road-company version of 'The Night Before Christmas'. But in just a moment Mr. Henry Corwin, ersatz Santa Claus, will enter a strange kind of North Pole which is one part the wondrous spirit of Christmas and one part the magic that can only be found... in the Twilight Zone.
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Air date: December 23, 1960

On Christmas Eve, Henry Corwin (Art Carney) is fired from his job as a mall Santa and thrown out of the mall for coming to work drunk. Depressed and still wearing his Santa Claus outfit, Henry tries to go back to the bar, but the bartender refuses to let him in, saying he's had enough to drink for one day.

Stumbling aimlessly in an alley, Henry finds a burlap sack that miraculously produces any item. Overjoyed, Henry begins distributing gifts to passerby. A suspicious Officer Flaherty arrests Henry and calls the mall's manager Mr. Dundee, claiming Henry has stolen merchandise from the mall. When Mr. Dundee arrives at the police station, they examine the sack, but there's nothing in it but garbage and a cat. Dundee accuses Flaherty of incompetence and berates him for wasting his time. Henry is released, but before he goes, he pulls a bottle of cherry brandy, vintage 1903, out of the sack and gives it to Dundee as a Christmas present. Attached to the bottle is a tag that reads, "To: Mr. Dundee, From: Santa Claus." Dundee is both amazed and touched; as this vintage was his favorite drink, but he was sure the supply of it ran out years ago.

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Henry spends the rest of the night giving people presents until the bag is finally empty. As he stops to rest, a friendly old man points out Henry did not take a present for himself. Henry says he doesn't mind; his only wish is to be able to do this every year. Returning to the alley where he found that sack, he is amazed to find a sleigh with four reindeer attached. An elf walks up and says she's been waiting for him. It is time to go; they have to get ready for next year.

Dundee and Flaherty emerge from the police station, cheerful and slightly tipsy from sampling the brandy. They look up to see Henry and the elf riding the sleigh across the sky. Dundee invites Flaherty to spend the night at his house, adding that they will thank God for witnessing a miracle.

Rod Serling: A word to the wise to all the children of the twentieth century, whether their concern be pediatrics or geriatrics, whether they crawl on hands and knees and wear diapers or walk with a cane and comb their beards. There's a wondrous magic to Christmas and there's a special power reserved for little people. In short, there's nothing mightier than the meek... and a merry Christmas to each and all.
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The Night of the Tropes

  • An Aesop: Corwin gives a moving speech about how Christmas should be about more than the commercial busyness that comes with the holiday, it should be about the spirit of giving and sharing.
  • The Alcoholic: Corwin, of the "I-drink-because-I'm-miserable" variety.
  • All-Loving Hero: Corwin gives gifts to friends, children, and even the people that don't like him. The only thing he wants for himself is to be "the biggest gift giver ever." From Rogues Portal:
    Henry very much wants to make a difference so badly. Down and out, he couldn’t find a way to do it, but being a department store Santa would probably do the trick right? Nope. The consumerism of Christmas and his situation at home go hand in hand, they drag him down. They pull him lower and seeing the kids in the beginning of the story, asking him for things he wishes he could provide for them, brings him down further. He drinks to forget that his neighborhood has to deal with such things. That HE has to deal with such things. His heart is big and very heavy and he wants to make a difference, but how can you make a difference when you don’t know what to do?
  • Bag of Holding: The magic bag which Corwin discovers.
  • Becoming the Mask: Corwin goes from being a Mall Santa to the real Santa Claus.
  • Cassandra Truth: Corwin tells Officer Flaherty that he just found the bag, but, understandably, Flaherty thinks he's distributing stolen goods.
  • Cat Scare: When Corwin first hears noises, he scopes out the alley. He's about to leave when a cat jumps out. This leads to him finding the bag.
  • Christmas Episode: Obviously. It's still from the Twilight Zone.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Strongly hinted that Corwin has holiday depression.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Corwin goes from a drunk others hold in contempt to Santa Claus. The thought of having a lot of work to prepare for next Christmas delights him.
  • Friend to All Children: After leaving the bar, Corwin is approached by two poorer kids asking him for presents. It clearly breaks his heart that he can't give them what they want. note 
  • Happy Ending: One of the few Zone episodes with an unambiguously happy ending.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Mr Dundee, Corwin's Mean Boss until Corwin gets the magical sack and presents him with a bottle of his favorite drink which he was sure was unavailable. Whether it was just the gift, of the fact that it was given to him by a man who he had just fired earlier that day, Dundee is sincerely touched by the gesture and is far happier fro the rest of the episode.
  • Holiday Volunteering: In a sense. The first stop we see Corwin make is a shelter.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: When Corwin produces a 1903 vintage Brandy for Mr. Dundee, the cop advises Dundee needs a shot badly.
  • Karmic Jackpot: Corwin uses a magic Bag of Holding to deliver gifts to everyone, including his former boss and the cop that arrests him. He only says he wants to do this every year and provide joy. Corwin gets exactly what he wants, and rides into the night.
  • Legacy Character: Implied. Corwin's transformation into Santa at the episodes end hints that the magic bag was a test to see if he could takes over.
  • Mall Santa: How Corwin starts out.
  • Mean Boss: Dundee, until his Heel–Face Turn at the end.
  • Never My Fault: Defied when Corwin gets fired. Corwin makes some good points about the behavior of the Spoiled Brat's mother and society as a whole, but he fully accepts responsibility for showing up to work drunk and sincerely apologizes.
  • Nice Guy: Corwin finds a bag of goodies and immediately seeks to share the wealth. His unselfishness and ability to turn the other cheek are what prove that he's truly a man who can step up to the role of Santa Claus.
  • Nothing Personal: Corwin gives gifts to everyone, including Mr. Dundee and Officer Flaherty.
  • The Remake: This episode was remade for The Twilight Zone (1985).
  • Santa's Existence Clause: A variation on the theme. Corwin is content to adopt the role of Santa, but no one can believe he didn't just steal the gifts. The bag is real and Corwin becomes Santa in the end.
  • Selfless Wish: When asked what he wants for Christmas, Corwin answers that he just wants to do it all again.
  • Snowy Sleigh Bells: The officer and Mr. Dundee are treated to this near the conclusion.
  • Tuckerization: Henry Corwin was named after the writer Norman Corwin.
  • When the Clock Strikes Twelve: The bag runs out of gifts at the final stroke of midnight.
  • Wham Line: A cheery elf calls out to Corwin and says, "We've been waiting for you for quite a while, Santa Claus." He needs a moment to register it, tap her shoulder to realize she's real, and to mount the sleigh.
  • What You Are in the Dark: Corwin finds a Bag of Holding that can give people anything they want. He uses it to distribute gifts and make people happy. Burt even points out at the end that Corwin chose nothing for himself. Corwin says that being a gift-giver was the greatest present of all, and he only wishes he can do it every year. Cue a sleigh appearing in an alley, with an elf greeting him.
  • Wisdom from the Gutter: Corwin in spades. He's a poor drunk that everyone looks down on, but he has a far greater understanding of society.

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