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Recap / The Twilight Zone S 5 E 144 Whats In The Box

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Rod Serling: Portrait of a TV fan. Name: Joe Britt. Occupation: cab driver. Tonight, Mr. Britt is going to watch 'a really big show,' something special for the cabbie who's seen everything. Joe Britt doesn't know it, but his flag is down and his meter's running and he's in high gear—on his way to The Twilight Zone.

Joe and Phyllis Britt are an old married couple who do not get along. Joe comes home from his job as a cab driver late one night and Phyllis accuses him of seeing another woman. In the meantime, a television repairman is in the next room fixing their broken set. Irritated, Joe harasses the repairman about the inconvenience and cost. The repairman abruptly closes the open TV panel and announces the TV is fixed. He leaves and the TV starts getting channel 10, a station showing the past, present and future of Joe and Phyllis' lives, which, however, only Joe can see. The TV shows Joe killing Phyllis in a fight, his trial and conviction for murder, and his execution in the electric chair. Phyllis is convinced that Joe has lost his mind and taunts him. Joe, angered, attacks her and kills her by accident, just as he had seen on the television screen. As Joe is taken away by the police, he comes face-to-face with the TV repairman, who asks if he will recommend him to others. He smirks to the audience as Joe is taken away.


Rod Serling: The next time your TV set is on the blink, when you're in the need of a first-rate repairman, may we suggest our own specialist? Factory-trained, prompt, honest, twenty-four-hour service. You won't find him in the phone book, but his office is conveniently located in The Twilight Zone.


  • Aluminum Christmas Trees: What's a TV repairman? note 
  • Awful Wedded Life
  • Deadpan Snarker: Joe Britt and the TV repairman.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Maybe. The TV repairman acts at the end as if he orchestrated everything that went on in the episode. And all because Joe complained about the cost of the TV repair...
  • Downer Ending
  • Gas Lighting: Joe accuses his wife and the TV repairman of plotting to drive him crazy after his recently fixed TV shows him incriminating scenes of his life.
  • Advertisement:
  • Jerkass Victim: See Laser-Guided Karma below.
  • Karmic Death
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Both husband and wife get their just deserts for their attitudes toward each other.
  • Self-Fulfilling Prophecy: Pretty much the premise of this episode.
  • Softspoken Sadist: The TV repairman.
  • Smug Snake: The TV repairman, as evidenced by his smirk to the audience at the end.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Joe is clearly teetering on the verge of a violent breakdown after he witnesses his execution on the television. So what does Phyllis think is the best thing to do? Continue egging him on. Note that he was executed in his vision for killing her.
  • You Can't Fight Fate
  • Your Cheating Heart: Joe admits to fooling around on Phyllis when he was supposed to be taking fares. This is partly while the couple has financial issues in addition to the unhappy marriage.


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