A father anguishes over what to do with his facially-deformed 17-year old son in the Night Gallery story “The Different Ones,” reviewed here.
Season 2 Episode 14—aired 12/29/71
“The Different Ones” **
Written by Rod Serling
Directed by John Meredyth Lucas
Dana Andrews as Paul Koch
Monica Lewis as the Official
Jon Korkes as Victor Koch
Dennis Rucker as the Man from Boreon
Peggy Webber as the First Operator
Mary Gregory as the Second Operator
Paul Koch (Dana Andrews, too stiff and too old-looking for this role) is at his wits’ end trying to figure out what the best plan of action is for his son Victor (Jon Korkes), who suffers from a congenital facial deformity which has caused him to be an outcast and the target of taunts from neighborhood children. Victor just wants to fit in but thus far in his life has not been able to.
Set in an unspecified future, Paul seeks out options from a government official (Monica Lewis). State-sanctioned mercy-killing is apparently legal, but apart from that there are very few alternatives, no group homes or institutions, and society does not seem able to handle assimilating someone with such a gruesome appearance.
Actually, his appearance is somewhat gruesome, but also somewhat hard to take seriously as it looks like a dead crab has affixed itself to his upper forehead with its legs drooping down. Also, the skin around his eyes is heavily blackened, sort of a raccoon effect.
Just as Paul is about to trudge out of her office with no alternatives, the official receives a phone call. An inter-planetary exchange program has been brought to her attention. The planet Boreon is looking to recruit people to boost its population and they have no restrictions on the appearance of its immigrants. Victor tells his father that anyplace would be better than his current situation and he agrees to go.
A long sequence of a rocket blasting off from earth, then flying through space and decoupling suggests that this will be a longer segment than it is.
When Vic arrives on the planet Boreon, a “normal-looking” young man stops to talk for a moment as he passes by. He is leaving on the return ship to earth because he doesn’t fit in on Boreon. Then the welcoming committee arrives: a group of giggling young women who all have the same facial deformity as Vic’s. No longer morose, Vic says, “I think I’ll be very happy here. I feel as if I belong,” as he walks off arm in arm with the women, who obviously find him attractive.
The segment can’t help but make one recall the Twilight Zone story “Eye of the Beholder,” which was one of the series’ best and it can’t help but pale by comparison. This one feels more like it’s going through the motions in trying to make the same points Serling made over ten years previous regarding how we view people based on appearance and the notion of beauty.