Today, May 12, This Day in Twilight Zone History and The Twilight Zone Encyclopedia celebrate the 1961 premiere of "The Mind and the Matter."
Comedian Shelley Berman made his TZ debut as a real miscreant: Archibald Beechcroft, a man who just hates people – his office workers, his landlady, even people standing on the subway platform. If given the opportunity, he would wipe the Earth clean of all humans – which is just what happens when an office boy (Jack Grinnage) shows him a book entitled The Mind and the Matter: How You Can Achieve the Ultimate Power of Concentration.
Shelley Berman (1925-2017) was already a major comic presence when Rod Serling came calling, and he perfectly captured the nature of the misanthrope – no one offered a pained expression like Berman. Buzz Kulik also deserves a nod for directing this episode with the appropriate atmosphere and weirdness.
Archie Beechcroft joins Patrick McNulty (Richard Erdman) in "A Kind of a Stopwatch," Walter Bedeker (David Wayne) in "Escape Clause," and Nate Bledsoe (Warren Stevens) in "Dead Man’s Shoes" as a Zone character who's given the power to change the world... and subsequently fails to get what he was looking for, proving that all bets are always off in The Twilight Zone.