"Mr. Dingle, the Strong" is the 19th episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in March of 1961. It starred Burgess Meredith as the Mr. Dingle, a weak and foolish vacuum cleaner salesman, and comedian Don Rickles as an antagonistic bully. It was the second appearance by Meredith, although this episode certainly didn't have the legacy of his first episode, "Time Enough At Last".

Mr. Dingle is a meek, stuttering vacuum cleaner salesman who drinks at a bar where he is constantly abused by an unsuccessful gambler. Seeing his plight, a two-head alien grants him superhuman strength. Most of the episode revolves around him destroying props while onlookers watch, until the aliens return and take away his powers. Which leaves Mr. Dingle where he was at the beginning of the story, until, of course, the twist ending.

This is one of several second season episodes, such as A Most Unusual Camera, The Whole Truth and A Penny for Your Thoughts that were comedic, and based around a gimmicky presence. The humor is rather broad and physical, and the space aliens are the first space aliens shown in The Twilight Zone that were clearly meant to be camp. The episode is carried by Burgess Meredith's acting, and it stands well enough on its own, but I am wondering why there was so many comedic episode in the second season. It could be that it was network interference, or it could just be that Rod Serling ran out of his more serious material.

Another thing I noticed about this episode is the casual way that everyone treats violence. Old television often can stand as a testament to social customs, although it is difficult to know whether something portrayed is a straightforward reflection of the culture of the time, or is included for dramatic effect. In this story, the gambler repeatedly physically attacks Mr. Dingle over trivial matters, and this is taken as a rude, but not outrageous act by those witnessing it. I wonder if the culture of the time really was so lenient towards casual violence, or if this is included as a comedic exaggeration of the gambler's character.

Log in or register to write something here or to contact authors.