Tales of Tomorrow – The Duplicates (07/04/52)

Calvin Bruce Bruce Calvin is sitting at home wearing a necktie as unemployed men are wont to do. He is checking the want-ads when he sees this item.  He calls and is offered an interview that same day even though it is already 7:30 pm.

Bruce still can’t figure out why he was let go from his previous employer after eight years.  His wife is about as sympathetic as an Alfred Hitchcock Presents spouse (and by spouse, I mean wife).  She nags him for not having a job, having to scrimp on paying bills, and having a conspiracy theory on why he was terminated.  Maybe he took her to the office Christmas Party — that would be my guess why they canned him.  She continues berating him for falling behind their friends, and calls him a failure.  And that is just the abuse in the living room!

He storms out to meet Mr. J in Room 34.  He is actually Dr. Johnson from the Atomic Energy Control, so it should have been Dr. J.  He asks Bruce to volunteer for an experiment.  It will cause him no harm, take about 3 weeks, and is worth $250,000. Bruce figures it is worth paying that much to get away from his awful wife for 3 weeks so will rob a bank and — oh wait, they’re paying him — maybe he can get away from her forever!

ttduplicates18Bruce recognizes that this is too good to be true.  After all, this is $2.2M in 2016 dollars and $5B in 2017 dollars.  He is also concerned that Johnson seems to have a zuckerbergian knowledge of every detail of his life, and was even expecting his application for the job.  Somehow, they even got a blood sample and determined he was perfect for this project.  They even had him fired from his old job just so he would be available.

Johnson expects earth to be in contact with another planet soon.  The life there closely parallels earth:

  1. “There is another planet where human life functions as it does here.  So closely parallel that for every living thing existing here there is an exact duplicate on this other planet.”
  2. “For every particle of life — animal, bird, flower, tree — living here, there is an identical creature living on this other planet.”
  3. “At this moment on another planet, there are people who think and talk exactly as we do.  Every creature is in direct rhythm with us.”

OK, we get it.

Johnson shows him pictures of their ships speeding through our atmosphere — UFOs to us.  We have also sent ships to investigate their world.  Johnson’s agency has built a ship to go to their world.  They want him to go to this planet and “arrive in a city just like this.  Your home would be there.  A woman who would seem in every respect to be your wife will be waiting.”  That’s reason enough to refuse right there.

ttduplicates25The agency wants Bruce to go to this planet and destroy it before they can destroy us.  Can anyone see the problem here?  Anyone?  Hands? Bueller?  They theorize that all it will take is for Bruce to poison his duplicate, then the two planets will go off on alternate timelines like the new Star Trek.

Later at home, he tells his wife about the job and says, “The future of life here on Jupiter depends on the success of my mission.”  ZING!  I can’t believe this primitive TV show suckered me in.  Especially having seen the same twist on Twilight Zone’s Third Planet from the Sun.[1]

Bruce flies to Earth and finds his duplicate house.  For some reason, he climbs in the window rather than going in the door.  He slips a vial of poison into his duplicate’s scotch bottle, gets a clean shirt from his wife, and returns home to Jupiter.  Back at his Jupiter house, he enters through the window again — I guess that’s how he always enters.  He shows his wife the $250,000 paycheck and she is all smiles for the first time.  His wife mentions giving him the shirt and Einstein suddenly realizes his duplicate was in his house.

ttduplicates16He realizes that he just drank the scotch which his duplicate poisoned. He freaks out and tears up the checks.  That’s not too nice for his wife, but she wasn’t worthy anyway. In a nicely symbolic but meaningless gesture, he breaks a mirror.  Now he will have 7 seconds of bad luck before croaking.

Probably the best episode of this primitive, low-budget series.  Of course the science is ludicrous — did it really have to be Jupiter, the ending is telegraphed, and the wife is stereotypical.  On the other hand, it did trick me and had a stinger at the end of both act breaks.  Darrin McGavin was excellent as Bruce. Patricia Ferris was given a thankless role as his wife.  Because of the sexist way she was written, it is hard to judge her performance.  However, she was attractive in a modern-era way that many of ToT’s actresses were not, so she gets a pass.  So, she’s still being objectified 64 years later.


  • [1] I might have suspected Serling of a little cryptomnesia, but his screenplay was based on a short story by Richard Matheson.
  • The room where Bruce meets Dr. Johnson has a hanging lamp with a shade clearly made from newspapers.  WTH?
  • For a better parallel Earth story, see Another Earth starring Brit Marling.  Actually see anything she is in.
  • Parallel Earth theory from Star Trek.
  • Available on YouTube.

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