It’s a Great Life

Donald is a six-year-old with extraordinary powers to control the little town where he lives by simply wishing away people and things that anger or bore him. He has isolated the town by banishing voting and trade. Other than his powerful wishing, Donald has the mind and imagination of a typical little boy. He amuses himself with his special ability by giving a gopher three heads and then wishing the animal dead when the game becomes boring. The people in Washington have to smile all the time, think happy thoughts, and say happy things, because that’s what Donald commands and, if they disobey, he can wish them into a cornfield or change them into grotesque versions of themselves. Donald dislikes singing and punished Uncle James for thoughtlessly testifying in his presence. Donald asks his son-in-law why no children come to play with him. Mr Kushner reminds Donald that when the Canadian boy came over, Donald had wished the other boy away into the cornfield after they’d finished playing. He wishes a dog into the cornfield for barking. The adults smile nervously and tell him that he’s a good boy, hoping that Donald’s terrible power won’t be turned upon themselves.

Excerpted from an early draft of the teleplay by Rod Serling recently discovered among his personal papers. Based on the summary by Joanna Ashmun of Jerome Bixby’s 1953 short story “It’s a Good Life.”