'Way Out (TV series)

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Genre Science fiction, horror
Written by Roald Dahl
Phil Reisman, Jr.
Irving Gaynor Neiman
Elliott Baker
Sumner Locke Elliott
Larry Cohen
Nicholas Pryor
Bob van Scoyk
Jerome Ross
Directed by Paul Bogart
Marc Daniels
Mel Ferber
Daniel Petrie
Seymour Robbie
Boris Sagal
William Corrigan
Paul Bosner
Presented by Roald Dahl
Starring Various guest stars.
Theme music composer Otto Luening
Vladimir Ussachevsky
Tod Docksteader
Composer(s) Robert Cobert
Country of origin USA
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 14
Executive producer(s) David Susskind
Producer(s) Jacqueline Babbin
Location(s) New York City
Running time 25 minutes.
Production company(s) Talent Associates
Original network CBS
Picture format 4:3 black and white.
Audio format Mono
Original release 31 March – 14 July 1961

'Way Out (note that the on-screen title begins with an apostrophe) is a 1961 American horror, fantasy and science fiction television anthology series hosted by writer Roald Dahl.[1] The macabre, black-and-white, 25-minute shows were introduced by Dahl, his face projected in a disconcerting hall of mirrors effect, dryly delivering a brief introductory monologue, expounding on such unusual subjects as undertakers or frogs or murdering a romantic rival with ground tiger's whiskers.[2]


Barry Morse in Soft Focus on Way Out (July 7, 1961). Makeup by Dick Smith.

The taped series began as CBS replacement for a Jackie Gleason talk show that network executives were about to cancel. Producer David Susskind contacted Dahl to help mount a show quickly, the series was paired by the network with the similar The Twilight Zone for Friday evening broadcasts, running from March through July 1961 at 9:30 p.m. Eastern time, the show's primary sponsor was Liggett & Myers (L&M cigarettes). Writers included Larry Cohen and Sumner Locke Elliott.[3]

The only adaptation from one of Dahl's own short stories was the premiere episode, "William and Mary", a tale of a wife's posthumous revenge on her husband's disembodied brain kept alive in a bowl; in "Dissolve to Black", an actress (Kathleen Widdoes) cast as a murder victim at a television studio goes through a rehearsal, but the drama merges with reality as she finds herself trapped on the show's near-deserted set. Other dramas offered startling imagery: a snake slithering up a carpeted staircase inside a suburban home, a headless woman strapped to an electric chair, with a light bulb in place of her head ("Side Show") and half of a man's face erased ("Soft Focus").

Actors on the series included Martin Balsam, Michael Conrad, Mildred Dunnock, Murray Hamilton, Martin Huston, Henry Jones, Mark Lenard, Kevin McCarthy, John McGiver, Barry Morse, Richard Thomas, Doris Roberts, and Fritz Weaver.

Critical notices at the time were extremely good, especially for Dahl's wry commentaries, suffused with gallows humor.[4] While the series garnered high ratings in urban areas, it fared poorly in the hinterlands and was canceled after 14 episodes.[5]

The show was one of the last weekly dramatic television series produced in New York City. Only five episodes have ever turned up on [bootleg] videocassettes and none on DVD, however as of October 2016, ten episodes were posted on YouTube, the entire run is available for viewing at the Paley Center for Media in New York and Los Angeles.[6] The episodes are owned by Susskind's estate.

Dahl later hosted an anthology series called Tales of the Unexpected on British television beginning in 1979.

Episode list[edit]

Episode no. Title Directed by Written by Stars Original air date
1[7] "William and Mary" Marc Daniels Roald Dahl starred Henry Jones as William Pearl            Fritz Weaver as Dr. Landy            and Mildred Dunnock as Mary Pearl            with Barnard Hughes as Dr. Forster March 31, 1961 (1961-03-31)
2[7] "The Down Car" Marc Daniels Phil Reisman, Jr. starred Frank Overton as Nicholas Bayle            Collin Wilcox as Ellie            with Bernie West as Mr. Alvord            Herbert Voland as The Superintendent            Larry Haines as The Radio Announcer            and Ray Walston as John Ventry April 7, 1961 (1961-04-07)
3[7] "The Sisters" Tom Donovan Irving Gaynor Neiman starred Lois Smith as Louise            Carmen Matthews as Harriet            Paul Stevens as Paul            John Gibson as Uncle Robert April 14, 1961 (1961-04-14)
4[7] "Button, Button" Tom Donovan Elliott Baker starred Tim O'Connor as Captain Stone            Warren Finnerty as Sgt. Gee            William Traylor as 2nd Lt. Hubbard            Conrad Fowkes as Sgt. Burke            Sean Garrison as Specialist Willis            Lee Richardson as Canelli            Dick O'Neill as Sgt. Rockovitch April 28, 1961 (1961-04-28)
5[7] "I Heard You Calling Me" Daniel Petrie Sumner Locke Elliott starred Constance Ford as Freda Mansfield            Anthony Dawson as George Frobisher            with Angela Thornton as Rose Thorn            George Turner as Mr. Burnly            Jean Cameron as The Operator            Neil Fitzgerald as The Doctor May 5, 1961 (1961-05-05)
6[7] "The Croaker" Paul Bogart Phil Reisman, Jr. starred John McGiver as Mr. Rana            and Madeleine Sherwood as Cora Tench            with Rex Everhart as Fred Tench            Paul E. Richards as Sgt. McGoogin            and Richard Thomas as Jeremy May 12, 1961 (1961-05-12)
7[7] "False Face" Paul Bogart Larry Cohen starred Alfred Ryder as Michael Drake            Martin Brooks as The Face            with Gerry Jedd as Rita Singer            Lester Rawlins as Fred Davis            Dana Elcar as The Flophouse Manager            Louise Larabee as The Waitress May 26, 1961 (1961-05-26)
8[7] "Dissolve to Black" William Corrigan Irving Gaynor Neiman with Moultrie Patten as George            Kathleen Widdoes as Bonnie                      Day Crew Richard Morse as Harry            Mark Lenard as Paul            Dan Morgan as Murderer                      Night Crew James Patterson as Harry            Michael Conrad as Paul            Leonardo Cimino as Murderer            Frank Daly as Victim June 2, 1961 (1961-06-02)
9[7] "Death Wish" Boris Sagal Irving Gaynor Neiman with Don Keefer as George Atterbury            Charlotte Rae as Hazel Atterbury            Heywood Hale Broun as Mr. Petard            Chuck Morgan as Charon June 9, 1961 (1961-06-09)
10[7] "The Overnight Case" Paul Bogart Nicholas Pryor starred Barbara Baxley as The Woman            Kevin McCarthy as Dr. Paul Sandham            special guest star Martin Balsam as Bill Clayton            with Leon B. Stevens as The Other Man            Helen Stenborg as Miss Wickford June 16, 1961 (1961-06-16)
11[7] "Hush Hush" Mel Ferber Bob Van Scoyk starred Philip Coolidge as Ernest Lydecker            Rosemary Murphy as Bernice Lydecker            with Woodrow Parfrey as William Rogers            Nancy Cushman as Margaret Ainsley            Barry Newman as The Policeman            John F. Hamilton as The Superintendent June 23, 1961 (1961-06-23)
12[7] "Side Show" Seymour Robbie Elliott Baker starred Myron McCormick as The Barker            Murray Hamilton as Harold            Margaret Phillips as Cassandra            Doris Roberts as Edna            Martin Huston as Ronnie            Carolyn Groves as Betty June 30, 1961 (1961-06-30)
13[7] "Soft Focus" Ron Winston Phil Reisman, Jr. starred Barry Morse as Ronald Pell            Joan Hotchkis as Louise Pell            Mitch Ryan as Bill Fontaine            Dortha Duckworth as Mrs. Bickell            Anne Meacham as Dolly Granger July 7, 1961 (1961-07-07)
14[7] "20/20" Paul Bosner Jerome Ross starred Milton Selzer as Hervey            Ruth White as Stephanie            with Frederick Rolf as Mr. Jellifer            Sudie Bond as Mrs. Jellifer            Tom Shirley as Huddleston July 14, 1961 (1961-07-14)


  • Battaglio, Stephen (2010). David Susskind: A Televised Life, pp. 89–92. St. Martin's Press. ISBN 978-0-312-38286-5


External links[edit]