Apart from the fact that it replaced Serling’s anthology, “Fair Exchange” was quite an anomaly at the time. It was one of the first full-hour television sitcoms that experimented with its structure, which garnered positive early reviews but failed to capture its audience’s attention. The story follows two World War II veterans whose daughters decide to live with the other’s family, leading to shenanigans that are both comical and heartbreaking. While “Fair Exchange” might have fared better under different circumstances, the show’s longevity was decidedly shortlived as it failed to meet audience expectations and was eventually canceled.
When the replacement happened abruptly, “The Twilight Zone” producer Buck Houghton was out of a job, with the series’ future undecided, and received several offers from Four Star Productions (now known as Four Star Television). Although Houghton had received similar offers before, he decided to “stick with” Serling as the series’ brilliance hinged on the latter, although the sudden replacement of the show forced him to reconsider. Eventually, Houghton joined Four Star, and Serling busied himself with other endeavors in the meantime.
Everything changed when the series returned in January 1963 for its fourth season, but with each episode only half an hour in length now. In an ironic turn of events, the show that Serling’s anthology ended up reclaiming — now retitled “Twilight Zone” — was none other than “Fair Exchange.” With Houghton not being a part of the team anymore, CBS brought on producer Herbert Hirschman to supervise the remainder of the seasons.
While this new rebranding brought “The Twilight Zone” back on the menu, the half-hour restriction added to Serling’s creative burnout. The stories were just not the same anymore, and the series dwindled until it ended with a fifth and final season.