The Twilight Zone (1985–1989)
10 user 3 critic

Wordplay/Dreams for Sale/Chameleon 

A salesman at a medical firm finds everyone around him undergoing a linguistic transformation. / A woman finds that her idyllic picnic may not be what it seems. / Something unusual returns with a Shuttle mission.


Rod Serling (created by), Rockne S. O'Bannon | 2 more credits »




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Robert Klein ... Bill Lowery (segment "Wordplay")
Annie Potts ... Cathy Lowery (segment "Wordplay")
Adam Raber Adam Raber ... Donnie Lowery (segment "Wordplay")
Robert Downey Sr. ... Mr. Miller (segment "Wordplay") (as Robert J. Downey)
Brian Bradley Brian Bradley ... Hotshot (segment "Wordplay")
Bernard Behrens ... Older Salesman (segment "Wordplay")
Anne Betancourt ... Admitting Nurse (segment "Wordplay")
Willard E. Pugh ... Man in Elevator (segment "Wordplay") (as Willard Peugh)
Helene Udy ... Woman #1 (segment "Wordplay")
Mimi Craven ... Receptionist (segment "Wordplay") (as Mimi Meyer Craven)
Brynja McGrady Brynja McGrady ... Secretary (segment "Wordplay") (as Brynja Willis)
Alexandra Morgan Alexandra Morgan ... Nurse #1 (segment "Wordplay")
Lee Arnone Lee Arnone ... Nurse #2 (segment "Wordplay")
Raye Birk ... Bearded Man (segment "Wordplay")
Joseph Whipp ... Doug Seaver (segment "Wordplay")


"Wordplay": A salesman at a medical firm finds everyone around him undergoing a linguistic transformation. "Dreams for Sale": A woman finds that her idyllic picnic may not be what it seems. "Chameleon": Something unusual returns with a Shuttle mission. Written by A. Nonymous

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Did You Know?


"Chameleon" featured real NASA footage of an actual space shuttle mission (of the Challenger, which exploded shortly after takeoff). See more »


Jenny's dream badge identifying her as #17 is located on the left side of her chest until the end, where it switches to the middle. See more »


[phone conversation]
Doug Seaver: Listen, Bill, can I get back to you? My wife's waiting for me; today's our 17th wedding throw-rug and I'm taking her out for a sail, and then to dinner.
Bill Lowery: I'm sorry, Doug, today's your what?
Doug Seaver: It's our throw-rug.
Bill Lowery: Your throw-rug?
Doug Seaver: That's right, seventeenth. Talk to you tomorrow.
Bill Lowery: [to dialtone] Uh oh-oh Doug wait!
Bill Lowery: [to himself] "Throw-rug"?
See more »

Alternate Versions

In syndication, the story Wordplay is instead paired with the story Personal Demons. See more »


References The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) See more »

User Reviews

Facing the language barrier/broken reality/NASA nastiness
25 March 2015 | by Leofwine_dracaSee all my reviews

WORDPLAY, an early story from THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE, deals with a classic sci-fi idea of altered reality. In it, a brash salesman finds the world turning to chaos when the everyday language used by people begins to change; what was once "lunch" is now "dinosaur", for example.

It's different, that's for sure, although the choice of horror director Wes Craven to helm the episode is an odd one. Still, this is a tale of intellectual horror and one that works well mainly because it feels original. Forget demons and monsters, this is about mental disintegration in a familiar world turned strange, and it's all the more effective for it. A shame the running time wasn't longer (this is a 15 minute one) to develop the idea further.

The second story in this episode is DREAMS FOR SALE, featuring the memorable Meg Foster (her of the icy blue eyes) playing an ordinary woman who's enjoying a romantic picnic with her partner. Unfortunately for her, reality begins to glitch and break down, so much so that the truth about her real situatin is revealed. This tale's very short but has neat shades of THE MATRIX and VIRTUAL NIGHTMARE, and I liked the execution.

The last segment of the episode is CHAMELEON and it's a lot more interesting, feeling like an episode of THE OUTER LIMITS instead of an episode of this disappointing show. The underrated Terry O'Quinn stars as a NASA scientist who uncovers an odd situation when an astronaut returns to Earth: the astronaut isn't human at all, instead some kind of alien shapeshifter who demands his release. The premise of this one is solid and the execution quite acceptable, with the emphasis on the atmosphere. A shame the ending is weak but hey, it could be (and often is) worse.

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Release Date:

4 October 1985 (USA) See more »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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