Lying can get you in a lot of trouble, 3.5 readers.
Gas station owner Somerset Frisby (Andy Devine) is an epic teller of tall tales. Some people might embellish or exaggerate their accomplishments but Frisby outright lies. Gadflies hang around the station all day long just to laugh at his whoppers – from how he single handedly won World War I, to his thirty-something advanced degrees (he claims to hold doctorates in all the sciences) and his many inventions. Mention any device and he’ll tell you he invented it. Celebrities, politicians, captains of industry, so he says, all consult him regularly, why, Henry Ford even contacted him for assistance in constructing one of the first car engines.
While the townsfolk think he’s a goof, a duo of passersby take Frisby seriously…perhaps a little too seriously. They kidnap the liar and whisk him away to a spaceship, where they remove their human masks to reveal their alien forms. They’re intrigued by Frisby’s “accomplishments” and they want to take him to their home planet in the hopes his allegedly brilliant mind will solve all of their problems. You see, these aliens have never heard of “lying” before so they take everything they hear as the truth, which makes me think this episode might have influenced Ricky Gervais’ “The Invention of Lying.”
As goofy as the show may seem, every episode of “The Twilight Zone” comes with a moral lesson. Here, it’s don’t lie, or rather, don’t write checks with your mouth that the sum of your experience can’t cash. Perhaps none of us run around telling everyone that we won wars and hold over thirty degrees, but maybe we embellish once in awhile and doing so could come back to bite us. Saying you can do something you can’t in a job interview, for example, could leave you looking pretty stupid when you get hired and fail to deliver.
It’s funny, as I watch this show I have spotted many influences on pop culture that I never realized were there before. There are a number of episodes where I can see an impact on movies, TV, comedy, parodies etc. that came later.
Do you know that old Will Ferrell Saturday Night Live sketch where Will and friends would gather around a bar and tell tales about their amazing friend, Bill Brasky? Bill Brasky did this, Bill Brasky did that, etc. Notice how Will and whoever joins him has crooked teeth and flushed faces. For the longest time, I always thought that was just a random choice to make them look like dummies but now I figure that’s got to be an homage to Andy Devine aka one Mr. Somerset Frisby.
Have you ever gotten into hot water by claiming you can do things you can’t? Discuss in the comments.
EDIT: I searched the Internet and couldn’t find confirmation that the Bill Brasky sketch was influenced by Frisby but come on, the similarities between Frisby and the Brasky buddies are pretty obvious that it makes me think these sketches were an homage: