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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 2 E 55 Mr Dingle The Strong

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Three guys discussing the great American Pastime, and a two-headed space alien. Perfectly typical day.

Rod Serling: "Uniquely American institution known as the neighborhood bar. Reading left to right are Mr. Anthony O'Toole, proprietor, who waters his drinks like geraniums but who stands foursquare for peace and quiet and for booths for ladies. This is Mr. Joseph J. Callahan, an unregistered bookie, whose entire life is any sporting event with two sides and a set of odds. His idea of a meeting at the summit is any dialogue between a catcher and a pitcher with more than one man on base. And this animated citizen is every anonymous bettor who ever dropped rent money on a horse race, a prize fight, or a floating crap game, and who took out his frustrations and his insolvency on any vulnerable fellow barstool companion within arm's and fist's reach. And this is Mr. Luther Dingle, a vacuum cleaner salesman whose volume of business is roughly that of a valet at a hobo convention. He's a consummate failure in almost everything but is a good listener and has a prominent jaw."
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The setting is a simple neighborhood bar. Where Callihan and the bettor are arguing over a bet. Callihan tells the bettor he owes him five dollars because the team he bet on lost last nights baseball game, while the bettor says he won't pay on grounds on a bad call. Sitting nearby is Luther Dingle, vacuum cleaner salesman and consummate wimp.

The frustrated bettor contends to Dingle about his opinion about the outcome of the game, before punching Dingle when he disagrees. The Bettor, Callahan and Dingle are all caught up in a three-way argument, with Dingle caught in the middle.

Suddenly a two-headed space alien, unseen to the others, walks in.

Rod Serling: "And these two unseen gentlemen are visitors from outer space. They are about to alter the destiny of Luther Dingle by leaving him a legacy, the kind you can't hardly find no more. In just a moment, a sad-faced perennial punching bag, who missed even the caboose of life's gravy train, will take a short constitutional into that most unpredictable region that we refer to as The Twilight Zone."
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Two Martians arrive from outer space, and decide to conduct an experiment on the wimpy Luther Dingle, by giving him superhuman strength. At first, he's pretty baffled by his sudden increase in strength, and sets about experimenting with it. He throws a kid's football across a street and through someone's door, lifts up a bunch with a woman sitting on it, lifts a large bronze statue with one hand, rips rocks and phone books in half like they're wet tissue paper, and becomes a local sensation.

He receives sponsorship offers from carnivals, TV spokesmen, boxing managers, and is all too happy to demonstrate his strength for the local news. With Mr. O'toole's blessing, he tears up the bar a little, smashing a table, ripping out a bar stool, and paying back the bettor for all the beating's he's caused him. The Martians aren't impressed with Dingle using the strength they gave him for petty exhibition. Just as Dingle prepares to lift up the entire building, they put an end to their experiment and remove his strength.

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Suddenly finding himself weak again, Dingle tries and fails to repeat his previous feats, but ends up humiliating himself instead. Just as everyone starts mocking him, O'toole orders them to clear out.

Just as the Martians are preparing to depart, a pair of Venusians arrive at the bar as well. They're also planning on running their own experiment involving super intelligence. The Martians point them in the direction of Dingle, who the Venusians turn into a genius. When Callahan and the bettor ask him what he thinks the outcome of a baseball game might be, Dingle rapidly, and correctly, calculates that the batter will hit a home run.

Rod Serling: "Exit Mr. Luther Dingle, former vacuum cleaner salesman, strongest man on Earth, and now mental giant. These latter powers will very likely be eliminated before too long, but Mr. Dingle has an appeal to extraterrestrial notetakers as well as to frustrated and insolvent bet losers. Offhand, I'd say that he was in for a great deal of extremely odd periods, simply because there are so many inhabited planets who send down observers, and also because, of course, Mr. Dingle lives his life with one foot in his mouth—and the other in The Twilight Zone."


Tropes:

  • An Aesop: You may have tremendous potential to change the world: don't waste it on revenge or showing off.
  • Artistic License – Physics: Dingle lifts a statue up by its ankle without it just breaking or falling apart.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: The Martian scientist has two heads while the Venusians have antennae.
  • The Bully: The Bettor continually beats up Dingle when he disagrees with him.
  • Can't Argue with Elves: The Martian visitors observe the jerkish behavior of the guys in the bar, referring to them as "Typical Earthmen".
  • Cosmic Plaything: Rod Serling refers to Luther Dingle as one, as he makes the perfect test subject for alien scientists' experiments.
  • Fantastic Anthropologist: Both the Martians and the Venusians conduct experiments on Dingle to see how he'll react when he gains Super Strength and then Super Intelligence.
  • Fantastic Measurement System: The Martians increase Dingle's atomic weight by "11 Secograms," which serves to make him roughly 300 times stronger than the average human without changing his physique.
  • For Science!: The reason the Martians give Dingle super strength and the Venusians give him super intelligence seems to just be to observe what he does with it.
  • Here We Go Again!: The Martians are displeased with Dingle abusing their blessing for petty gain, and take it away. However, another group of aliens (Venusians) arrive and give Dingle super intelligence instead.
  • Invisible to Normals: Neither the two-headed Martian nor the two Venusians can be seen by humans. However, they can see each other.
  • Jerkass: The Bettor constantly bullies around Dingle. He asks Dingle for his opinion, then proceeds to punch him when he disagrees. After he receives his strength, Dingle is glad to return the favor on live television.
  • Multiple Head Case: The Martian scientist's two heads each have their own personality. They seem to get along well.
  • No Name Given: The bettor (played by Don Rickles) is not given a name.
  • One-Gender Race: Of the three planets they have on their itinerary after Earth, one Martian notes that one of them seems particularly interesting, since it contains only females.
  • Super Strength: The object of the story. It is power that the aliens give Luther Dingle. It is eventually taken away.
  • Touched by Vorlons: The two-headed Martian gives Dingle the strength of 300 men. He quickly becomes a celebrity and is hailed as a modern day Hercules or Samson. However, the Martian is disappointed that Dingle is using his strength to show off and settle scores and it is removed. Two Venusian scientists then arrive and, on the recommendation of the two-headed Martian, bestow Super Intelligence on Dingle as part of an experiment.
  • Traveling Salesman: Dingle is a dismally unsuccesssful door-to-door vacuum cleaner salesman.
  • Why Did You Make Me Hit You?: The bettor harasses Dingle for his opinion, before punching him when Dingle doesn't give him the answer he wants.
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