"The Man in the Bottle" is the second episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone, and was first broadcast in October of 1960. It starred Luther Adler as antique store owner Arthur Castle and Joseph Ruskin as a genie.

Arthur Castle owns an antique store that mostly sells junk in a tenement neighborhood. He is rather generous to his neighbors, buying their old junk for much more than it is worth. This generosity has led to him being perpetually short of cash. One day, he buys a bottle for one dollar, and when it breaks, a genie comes out. What will be the result of a poor shopkeeper meeting a genie that can fulfil all his wishes? A person familiar with either The Twilight Zone or stories of supernatural wish-fulfilment can probably guess that a valuable lesson is going to be learned. And indeed, it is, although there is a few unexpected twists along the way.

I didn't find this episode that interesting. It wasn't bad, and it had the appropriate blend of comedy and the supernatural. Some of the twists did indeed surprise me. But in general, there is only so much mileage to be gotten out of a "wishes granted ironically" story. One of the things that is more interesting to me in this episode is almost incidental. This episode, like One for the Angels and What You Need features a poor, urban salesman, as an example of a good (but not perfect) man. Given one of the major images that I've grown up with of the 1950s and 1960s, of sprawling, modern suburbs, it is somewhat curious that many Twilight Zone episodes have shown affectionate views of tenements and pre-suburban living. I don't know whether that is a particular trait of Rod Serling's writing, or if despite the images, many people at the time still lived in, or remembered, urban living. In any case, like many Twilight Zone episodes, there is perhaps more to be learned by the incidental depiction of social customs than by the actual plot.

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