Today, November 15th, This Day in Twilight Zone History celebrates the 1963 premiere of "Uncle Simon."
One element of the Zone we haven't discussed is its occasional use of exaggerated or extreme characters to make a story point. In our contemporary world where television drama is super realistic, characters are recognizable types from the world around us. In these 22-minute mini-movies, Rod Serling and his team of writers had to quickly establish the stakes of the story, and thus they created characters like Uncle Simon, a truly despicable human being who appears to enjoy tormenting his caregiver – his niece, Barbara (Constance Ford). It’s an exaggerated performance and, once again, the casting department came through in spades by delivering the wonderful British actor Sir Cedric Hardwicke as the eponymous lead.
Serling always nailed these extreme types – whether they were tormenting uncles, shrewish wives, tyrannical bosses or just pure curmudgeons – he knew how to get the story jump-started. There was no beating around the bush to figure out who they were – we knew immediately.
Another casting nod should be given to Constance Ford for playing the put-upon Barbara so beautifully. She's also not your typical demure caregiver – you're kind of just waiting for her to boil over as he once again demands his hot chocolate.
So let us raise a cup of our own hot chocolate to the extreme characters who brought their exaggerated A-game to the dimension of ultimate extremes: The Twilight Zone.