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Wordplay

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"Wordplay" is the first segment of the second episode of the first season (1985–86) of the television series The New Twilight Zone.

Plot

Bill Lowery is a salesman whose company has switched to a medical supply product line forcing him to stay up nights memorizing medical terms in order to be ready to sell the line in a week's time. His wife tells him that she’s worried about their son who’s ill. As Lowery leaves for work, his neighbor refers to his dog as an "encyclopedia" but Lowery shrugs it off, thinking he heard wrong. Lowery puts in a full morning of trying to cope with the new terms, the jibes from the younger salesmen (about teaching old dogs new "trumpets"), and the surprising usage of words completely out of place.

As Lowery leaves for lunch at home, a subordinate asks for a referral to a good place to go for "dinosaur". Lowery tries to find out why the co-worker is not using the correct word ("lunch"), but the co-worker just walks away annoyed. Lowery arrives home where his wife says their son is feeling worse. When she complains that he didn't eat his "dinosaur", Lowery thinks his wife and co-workers have been pulling a practical joke. He soon realizes, however, that he is the one out-of-sync.

Returning to the office, Lowery becomes frustrated by the increasing level of gibberish. He goes back home to find his son suffering from a very high fever. Bill picks up the boy and takes them to the emergency room, where his wife has to handle everything because Lowery cannot make himself understood. The doctors finally come out to tell them that their son is okay.

Later on, Bill sits down in his son's bedroom and picks up one of his ABC books, studying the basics of the language that he now needs to re-learn. Under the picture of a dog, the word is "Wednesday"....

Closing narration

"A question trembles in the silence: Why did this remarkable thing happen to this perfectly ordinary man? It may not matter why the world shifted so drastically for him. Existence is slippery at the best of times. What does matter is that Bill Lowery isn't ordinary. He's one of us. A man determined to prevail in the world that was, and the world that is, or the world that will be...in the Twilight Zone."

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