Cast: Don Gordon, Gail Kobe, Vaughn Taylor, J. Pat O’Malley, Douglass Dumbrille, and Doug Lambert

Composer: None (Stock Music)

Production Code: 2612


Desperate to marry a bright and cultured woman named Leah Maitland (Gail Kobe), Salvadore “Sal” Ross (Don Gordon)—a dim-witted loser with violent tendencies—develops

a remarkable and beneficial talent. Specifically, Sal acquires the ability to exchange intangible traits such as age, temperament, and intelligence for anything that he desires—with a tragic outcome.

You are watching: The twilight zone the self-improvement of salvadore ross

This effort should be commended for its valuable life message. Also praiseworthy is the acting of Don Gordon, who elicits both pity and contempt for his character of Sal.


In spite of his odious and uncouth behavior, Sal struggles to improve himself due in part to his lack of education and unfortunate life circumstances—factors that compel the audience to feel mild sympathy for the protagonist, who, in his interactions with Leah and her father, comes across as a boorish, arrogant punk with no humility whatsoever.


Providing no origin story for Sal’s extraordinary ability, “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” deserves criticism for its unexplained (albeit still

intriguing and well-suited for an installment of The Twilight Zone) main plot device.

(Spoilers beyond this point)

Astute viewers may also take issue with the paradoxical twist at the end of this episode. Notably, Sal—determined to win Leah’s heart through any means necessary—purchases Mr. Maitland’s “compassion” for $100,000. If Leah’s father were truly a selfless and compassionate man, however, he would never sell his most valued attributes to a lowlife bum.


A fantastic tale with a moral lesson, “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” reveals a striking contrast between superficial charm and genuine concern for other people—the latter of which can never be bought, traded, or faked under any circumstances.

Concluding Comments

“The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” is a well-acted, smoothly paced, and thought-provoking entry of The Twilight Zone. Nevertheless, this episode suffers from logical flaws and sci-fi/fantasy themes of an unexplored nature.

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Overall Quality: 7/10

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