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“Jonathan Winters, Report to Heaven’s Pool Room …”

“The place is Heaven. The time is now. And the pool game we’re about to witness will take place between two gifted performers who once starred in a classic episode … of the Twilight Zone.”

It’s not hard to imagine, is it?

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Yes, the news that Jonathan Winters died today can’t help but make us feel a little sad. A man who brought laughter to millions has told his last joke. That it comes so soon after the death of Jack Klugman, his co-star in “A Game of Pool“, only magnifies our sense of loss.

But as my TZ-like opening suggests, maybe the show isn’t over. Perhaps Winters is sharing stories right now with many of the talented actors and actresses that he worked with over the years. Seeing him on a billowing cloud at the start of his Twilight Zone episode suddenly seems more fitting than ever. Read the rest of this entry

Eight Ball, Corner Pocket

It was one of Jonathan Winters’ best roles — and he played it straight as an arrow. Talk about The Twilight Zone.

The episode was “A Game of Pool.” It also starred Jack Klugman, who would eventually appear in four episodes (a streak matched by Burgess Meredith, another Zone veteran). Seeing Winters and Klugman act and react in this two-man, one-set show gives this episode special appeal.

agameofpool

Having a terrific script helps. Good Zone eps always boiled down to the writing. An intriguing story, cleverly written and engagingly acted — a formula that’s simple to understand, but hard to execute. In this case, it wasn’t Rod Serling but George Clayton Johnson (“Kick the Can,” “Nothing in the Dark,” among others) who wrote the words.

But that doesn’t mean he was wild about ALL the words that wound up in the final product. Read the rest of this entry