Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Big Tall Wish

The Big Tall Wish


The Big Tall Wish

Bolie Jackson – Ivan Dixon
Henry Temple – Steven Perry
Frances Temple – Kim Hamilton
Joe Mizell – Walter Burke
Thomas – Henry Scott
Joey Consiglio – Charles Horvath


We open on a flyer for a boxing match at the St. Nicholas Arena between Bolie Jackson and Consiglio. Main Event! And there’s a dude leaning on some apartment stairs with a newspaper over his face. The boxer named Bolie Jackson is making a comeback that night. A boxer, whom I can only assume is Bolie Jackson, is practicing in front of a mirror.

Rod Serling:
In this corner of the universe, a prize-fighter named Bolie Jackson. 183 pounds and an hour and a half away from a comeback at St. Nick’s arena. Mr. Bolie jackson who, by the standards of his profession, is an aging, over the hill relic of what was. And who now sees the reflection of a man who’s left too many pieces of his youth in too many stadiums for too many years, before too many screaming people. Mr. Bolie Jackson, who might do well to look for some gentle magic in the hard-surfaced glass that stares back at him.

Bolie Jackson is looking a little the worse for wear. A little boy sits behind him on the bed, watching Bolie. They start goofing around, pretending to spar. It’s actually really cute. The kid gives Bolie a nice pep talk. Bolie asks if he’s going to be watching and the kid says that Bolie will be able to hear him cheering all the way to St. Nick’s. Bolie tells Henry that a fighter doesn’t need a scrapbook. His whole history is written on his face. What he’s done and where he’s fought. Then he starts listing all of his scars and when and where he got them and who gave them to him.

Bolie seems to be enjoying his trip down memory lane but Henry doesn’t seem to be enjoying it that much. Bolie calls himself a tired old man and says his bus left years ago. He says he’s short of breath with one eye almost gone. heavy arms and legs like rubber but still trying to catch the bust to glory and fame. Doesn’t really seem worth it to me. I’ve never been a huge fan of boxing so pardon me if there’s any boxing fans out there. I might get snippy about it from time to time. Anyways, when Bolie finishes up Henry hops down and snaps his fingers. Then he tells Bolie that he’s going to catch that tiger tonight. Henry’s going to make a wish. A big, tall wish. Bolie’s his good and close friend and Henry’s going to make a wish so that Bolie will win and not get hurt at all.

Bolie gives Henry a hug and goes downstairs. At the bottom of the stairs a lady, Frances, is watching him. Bolie tells Frances that she’s got quite a boy in Henry. Bolie tells her that Henry talks like a little, old man and that Henry got really intense when he said that Bolie was his “good, close friend”. Frances tells Bolie that he’s very good to Henry. Bolie takes Henry to ball games and a lot of other things. He sounds like a good guy. Frances doesn’t want Bolie to get hurt and to take care of himself. Bolie says he’ll try. It’s a little hard to promise something like that in a sport where the main even is watching two men trying to beat the crap out of each other. Henry comes down and gets all intense again and repeats that he’s going to make a wish.

 

Frances tells Bolie that Henry worships him. Bolie says he’s “nothing but a scared old man who doesn’t know anything except how to bleed.” But he’s very obliged to Henry for his wish. Frances says that Henry spends all of his time wishing. she starts to tell Bolie something but trails off. Bolie wants to know what she was going to say. Frances says that she needed fifteen dollars for the rent. Henry said he was going to make his “big tall wish”  (the biggest wish of all, he doesn’t waste it on just anything) and then a woman she had worked for sent her a check she was owed for some work done. A check for fifteen dollars exactly.

Bolie looks very sad and talks to the mailboxes about little boys with heads full of dreams. But what happens when they find out that there’s no magic. “When does someone shove their face into the sidewalk and say, ‘Hey little boy, it’s concrete.’ ?” Damn. That got dark. Bolie’s in his own little depressed world for a moment. Frances tells Bolie good luck and Bolie says sure and that he’ll see Henry later. Leaving the apartment building he passes the guy with the newspaper on his face. Maybe he’s just reeeaally near-sighted. As Bolie passes him he pops up and tells bolie good luck, too. Everyone in the neighborhood wishes him luck as he walks down the street and says they’ll be watching. Henry watches from an upstairs window ledge and waves to Bolie.

Bolie’s getting taped up for his big fight. Bolie’s manager lurks in the corner, smoking a cigar. After the trainer tapes Bolie up the manager walks over and blows a big puff of cigar smoke right in Bolie’s face. That’s just rude. Bolie tells him to put it out. The Smoking Man tells Bolie that since Bolie hired him for the night it’s a package deal. His cigar goes where he does so get used to it. Talk about your phallic symbols. Bolie says he doesn’t care and tells the Smoking Douche to put it out. He finally does and the Smoking Man calls Bolie a yapping old man. That the older they get, the louder they talk. And the more they want, the less chance of getting it. Why does everyone keep calling Bolie old? He doesn’t look that old to me. Maybe they mean in boxing years. Bolie asks himself how he ended up with this ass for the night. The jerk says that he’s a bargain because he’s an expert on has-beens. Bolie says he’s seen this dude’s boys. Basically punching bags who can stay in the ring to get knocked around long enough to earn their pay and then patched up for the next round. The Leech agrees and says that since Bolie has about had it then maybe he’ll sign him up in a month or two. He tries to sell Bolie on this being a good idea. That he should get in the stable why he has a chance. Why are they called stables? It seems very…demeaning. Bolie says he thought the smell of B.S. came with the cigar. Then to make it clear he tells The Leech (whose name is Thomas but I prefer Leech) that he stinks. There’s a knock on the door, letting Bolie know he’s got ten minutes. The Leech says Bolie will be ready and wanders off, probably to play with his cigar.

 

Bolie wants to know what to watch out for with his opponent. Bolie’s only seen the guy fight once and that was a few years ago. The Leech tells Bolie that he’s never seen Consiglio fight at all. Bolie calls b.s. on this, saying that The Leech has seen Consiglio fight at least six or seven times this year. Bolie figures out what’s going on. He grabs The Leech by his lapels and accuses him of betting on Consiglio. Wow. I’m thinking The Leech is too good of a name for him. I’ve decided to change his name to Double D. You can use your imagination on what the second ‘D’ stands for. I don’t know exactly what a boxing manager does but I would think checking out the competition would be at least one thing that they do. So there’s some shady stuff going on here.

 

Bolie threatens to lay D.D. out right then and there and D.D. says he’ll have Bolie up on charges for assault. The trainer is trying to break it up but not before Bolie lands a punch on the cement wall. Way to go. Somehow I don’t think that a broken hand will help you in your match much. While some sad harmonica plays the trainer chews Bolie out saying how’s he going in the ring with four busted knuckles. And, wouldn’t you know, a guy pops his head in right then and tells Bolie it’s time to get in the ring and tosses him his gloves. The trainer asks Bolie what he’s going to do. Bolie says there’s nothing to do except go on. Bolie thinks about Henry and that he’s given him two strikes on his magic. I get the second one, the broken knuckles, but what was the first? Bolie being ‘too old’ or the sleazy twenty buck manager? The trainer says, “Booze?” and I’m not sure if he’s asking Bolie if he wants booze or if he’s already had booze. I dunno. Of course Bolie says that there’s no such thing as magic. Great. You just killed a fairy. Happy now, Bolie? They put his robe on him and they head out.

There’s a shot of the eager crowd. People are cheering, landing punches on their hands. A lady is compulsively clutching the arm of her companion, rubbing their hands together in anticipation and shoveling popcorn in their faces. A woman also bizarrely has her hands up in front of her face like she’s blocking her face from…I have no idea. If she’s so freaked out by being there, why is she there? Another woman is hiding her face (again, why?) and a man is wringing the hell out of a newspaper. I’m going to take a wild guess and say he’s got a bit of money on the fight.

 

Bolie seems to be getting pummeled in the ring by Consiglio. For the fifties it’s quite brutal looking. Of course, that could just be me. In my opinion it is a brutal sport. No offense to any boxing fans out there. Bolie Jackson goes down and the scene suddenly flips from Bolie looking up at the ref to Henry at home. Henry is repeating Bolie’s name over and over.

As the ref is counting Bolie out it flips again to Henry muttering to himself with his eyes closed. Everything freezes for a minute while Bolie is still down and being counted out. The only movement is Henry. Doing his big tall wish.  Suddenly things start moving again but it’s not Bolie on the mat being counted out but Consiglio! Henry’s big tall wish must have worked. Bolie looks confused for a second but then they’re holding his arm up, declaring him the victor. Bolie grins happily and leaves the ring through the ropes.

Back in the dressing room Bolie is fully dressed and looking very confused again. The trainer comes in and Bolie says that they must have been wrong about his knuckles being broken. The trainer doesn’t seem to know what Bolie’s talking about. Bolie says that it sure felt broken but they tell him he beat Consiglio with it so it must not have been broken after all. Bolie says when Consiglio knocked him down but, again, Joe doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Bolie says he doesn’t even remember getting back up. Joe says they must have been watching two completely different fights because as far as he knows Bolie never went down. Bolie’s very confused and asks again if Joe’s sure he didn’t go down. Joe tells him to read about it in the papers and that he’s proud of Bolie. Then he says good night and leaves.

Bolie still looks bewildered after Joe leaves. On his way back home everyone is congratulating him and telling him he was great. Bolie’s very happy. Once inside the apartment building he goes up to the roof where Henry is feeding some bunnies. Bolie asks Henry if he looked ok and Henry says that Bolie looked like a champ, like a real tiger. Henry says that old boy must have hit him so hard it knocked all of the hurt right out of him because he feels great. But he thinks he must have been punchy because he didn’t remember some of it. Bolie tells Henry that he remembers laying there looking up at the ref and the lights but then says it must have been a dream or something. Henry walks sadly over to his bunnies and Bolie wants to know what’s wrong. Bolie insists that he never was off his feet and never went down. Henry just stands there looking sad and shaking his head a little. Bolie grabs Henry and asks if he was on his back and on his way out?

Henry nods his head, still looking sad. Bolie says nobody remembers it but nobody else does. Well, Henry does. Bolie says (again) that he was on his back and being counted out. Henry says that he made his big wish then. That he wished that Bolie had never been knocked out. He closed his eyes and wished real hard for it. A big tall wish. Henry tells Bolie that it was magic and that Bolie needed it then. While Henry is talking about the magic, Bolie calls him a crazy kid and that there’s no such thing as magic. He tells Henry that he’s too old to believe in ‘nutsy’ ideas like magic and fairy tales. Because eight yeas old is way too old to have an imagination, I guess. Henry tells Bolie that if he wishes hard enough and believes hard enough that it will happen. Bolie believes that someone has to knock those ideas out and it’s time for Henry to hit the sidewalk of life. Metaphorically, fortunately.

Bolie tells Henry that he’s been wishing all of his life and he doesn’t have anything to show for it but a face full of scars and a head that aches from all of the hurt and the memories that go with it. Bolie asks Henry if he’s trying to tell him that Henry ‘magicked’ him out of a knockout and back on his feet. When Henry nods yes, Bolie calls him a ‘little kook’ and how did he get mixed up with a crazy little boy that still believes in magic. Dude! He’s a little boy! I’d say maybe eight or so, ten at the very most but I think that’s stretching it. Why don’t you kick a puppy, too, while you’re at it, Bolie?

Henry pretty much just keeps telling Bolie that if Bolie doesn’t believe then the magic won’t work. Bolie says that it was all him and that he had that fight in is pocket from the start. Yeaah, when was that, exactly? When you stupidly broke your hand on a wall? When the other boxer was pulverizing your face? Bolie says that it was all him. Slugging and punching and winning. Winning!

I kind of get why he’d want to believe it was all him but, speaking for myself, I’d take magic anywhere I could find it and tell the little boy thank you. Bolie tells Henry again that there isn’t any magic but god he wishes there was. Well, if you wish it that badly you can’t believe the kid for two seconds instead of crushing him?

They go back and forth with “You’ve gotta believe”, “I can’t believe” for a while. Dude, just take your win and be happy. Damn. The light from the streetlamp fades into the light from the arena. Consiglio is still on the mat and everything is still frozen. After a quick shot of the popcorn eater everything goes back to normal time and now it’s Bolie on the mat. Guess you should have believed Henry, Bolie.

His team helps him up and out of the ring. As he’s walking back home from the match the whole neighborhood is looking at him like he just killed all of their puppies. The guy who was formerly wearing the newspaper tells Bolie that he should have “stood in bed” and asks why he didn’t use his right hand. If you’re such an expert why don’t you do it Newspaper Man? I also have to ask. Was “stood in bed” a perfectly acceptable way of saying “stayed in bed” at one time or is that a Serling-only phrase? Because it sounds weird and he uses it a couple of other times.

Anyways, Bolie goes into the building and knocks on Frances’ door. Frances looks kind of sad when she sees how beat up Bolie looks. Have I mentioned how pretty this woman is? Because if you didn’t notice from the pictures above, she is. Very.

Frances tells Bolie that Henry is in bed but Bolie asks to see him anyways. She tells him that Henry’s probably waiting for him. On his way to Henry’s room Frances tells Bolie she’s sorry he lost.

Bolie tells Henry that he threw a punch before he should have and hit a wall. He went into the ring with half of his artillery gone. Henry tells Bolie that he still looked like a tiger and that he’s still really proud of him. Bolie gives Henry a kiss on the head and goes to leave but Henry says his name. Bolie tells him that he’ll take Henry to a hockey game or something tomorrow. Henry says ok but calls Bolie back again.

Henry says he’s not going to make any more wishes. he’s too old for magic, right? Bolie says that’s right. Way to go Bolie. But he does say that maybe there are wishes and magic but that maybe not enough people believe in them. Then he says goodnight and leaves the room.

SERLING:
Mr. Bolie Jackson, 183 pounds. Who left a second chance lying in a heap on a rosin-spattered canvas at St. Nick’s Arena. Mr. Bolie Jackson, who shares the most common ailment of all men the strange and perverse disinclination to believe in a miracle. The kind of miracle to come from the mind of a little boy. Perhaps only to be found in the Twilight Zone.


This is the first of a few boxing episodes on the Twilight Zone. Perhaps he drew on his own knowledge of how the sport worked and the people were. To me it’s a bit schmaltzy but not too bad.


Join us again next week for a great episode: A Nice Place to Visit

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Execution

Execution

 

Professor Manion – Russell Johnson
Joe Caswell – Albert Salmi
Paul Johnson – Than Wyenn
Old Man – George Mitchell
Minister – Jon Lormer
Faye Roop – Judge
Bartender – Richard Carlan

 

Trigger Warning (highlight to see) : A cowboy lynching and a strangling

We pan down to see some manly cowboy men riding down to a tree. They have a guy on a horse and he has a rope around his neck. I’m guessing things aren’t going too well for him. I guess it’s true that bad guys wear black because he is dressed all in black from head to toe. As Serling is talking Mr. Joe Caswell looks a bit amused at the proceedings.

SERLING:
Commonplace if somewhat grim, unsocial event known as a necktie party. The guest of dishonour – a cowboy named Joe Caswell. Just a moment away from a rope, a short dance several feet off the ground and then the dark eternity of all evil men. Mr. Joe Caswell who, when the good lord passed out a conscience, a heart of feeling for fellow men, must have been out for a beer and missed out. Mr. Joe Caswell in the last quiet moment of a violent life.

The minister comes down to read Mr. Caswell his last rites but Joe says to forget it. He’s not interested in his mortal soul at that moment but his mortal neck. Joe yells to a man still seated on his horse that it will be his pleasure to see it stretched a bit. Joe wants to get it over with quickly. The Judge offers to let him say his last words as is his right. His last words are pretty much “The kid I put a hole in had more mouth than brains and he’d call him out again.”

The older gentleman interjects that Caswell shot his son in the back, not exactly fair play. He also mentions that he’d like Joe’s execution to take a while. He wants to see him kick and suffer. Joe promises not to let him down and then asks again if they can get it over with already.The judge calls Caswell an evil man and a disease and it will be a public service to hang him. Then tells the other two helpers (deputies perhaps?) to get on with it.

They give the horse a smack on the butt and the deed is done. However, as Joe is hanging his shadow slowly disappears from the ground and when it shows the noose again, it’s empty. The witnesses are stunned.

Caswell slowly awakens to find that he’s been teleported to Gilligan’s Island! Well, not really, but it is The Professor from Gilligan’s Island and since he seems to be some sort of scientist here I’m just going to keep calling him The Professor.

The Professor tells Caswell not to be afraid, he’ll explain what has happened in a moment. Caswell, very hoarsely (which is a nice touch), asks where he is. The Professor tells him he’s a long way from home. The Professor tells Caswell that he’s in New York City, at least eighty years from when Caswell originally was. Caswell, naturally, wants to know how he got there so The Professor shows him his Time Travel Machine. Which looks something like this:

The Professor reassures Joe that he wouldn’t understand the principles behind how it works. The Professor tells Joe that he doesn’t really care who he was but he has a most distinguished future ahead of him. I’m guessing The Professor plans on exhibiting his real, live cowboy along with his Time Travel Machine. Maybe I’m being a little cynical (blame YouTube and Photoshop) but unless The Professor could actually produce more then I would think that he built a shiny, diamond-shaped box and hired a guy who acts like a cowboy.

Anyways, carrying on, The Professor tells Joe that he’s the first person in the history of the world and The Professor will teach him all about the future (well, present, I guess) and wants Carswell to tell him all about his world of the past. Joe kind of passes out again  and rubs his neck. The Professor takes this opportunity to check Joe’s neck (all the while Joe making owie faces) and sees the rope burn.From what I can tell the rope burn is up too high to give an instant neck snap that would give an instantaneous death. It looks placed just high enough to give Joe the kind of death the murdered boy’s father wanted. It’s actually a good make-up job and shows an attention to detail. In most movies, tv, etc. they put the rope burn straight across which I don’t think would happen if that person were hanging. I may be wrong but in my opinion it’s at least trying to be authentic.

Professor Manion’s Recording:
At 8:15 the subject appeared desperately tired so I put him to bed. After two hours I’ve discovered the following. His name is Joseph Caswell. He tells me he was a trail boss on a cattle ranch in the territory of Montana. His last moment of recollection was November 14, 1880. He says he was riding herd when he suddenly blacked out. He awoke to find himself on the cot of my laboratory. He felt no sensations and only in the last few moments did he seem to have any grasp of what has occurred.

The Professor turns off his recorder and sits brooding to himself for a bit. He looks a bit perturbed so he lights a smoke and goes back to recording.

Professor Manion’s Recording:
There’s one disturbing point. There are the marks of a rop etched deeply into his neck. He has no explanation for this. I have one other observation, hardly scientific, but I don’t like his looks. I don’t like the eyes, the face or the expression. I get a feeling of disquiet. I…I get the feeling that I’ve taken a 19th century primitive and placed him in a 20th century jungle. And heaven help whoever gets in his way.

The recording ends as The Professor hears the door open and Joe enters the room. Caswell wanders through the lab, checking things out as he goes. Finally he makes his way to The Professor. He stares at The Professor’s cigarette until The Professor offers him one. The Professor lights it with a lighter which startles Joe for a minute then says this, “Fire right out of the air”. Ok, I think that’s taking it a tad too far. It might be an unusual device for Joe to see but they did have matches. I kind of doubt he’d go all caveman on seeing a Zippo.

Joe’s already tired of hanging out at the lab and wants to see the new world he’s landed in. He wants to see the buildings and carriages without horses. The Professor opens the curtains, the dangerous kind with the dangly ropes, and Joe sees the present for the first time. Joe gets a little freaked out by all the cars and neon and noise. You should see it now buddy. Although it kind of makes me chuckle that The Professor’s laboratory is on what looks like the 6th floor. Usually they’re in basements or castes and whatnot.

The Professor says that some things don’t change, however, like the concept of right and wrong. Joe says he knows about right and wrong. A Sheriff in Dodge City tried to beat it into him with a wet rope. Ouch. Although I notice he says he knows about them but doesn’t say he knows the difference. Nitpicky or do you think it’s a purposeful writing decision?

While Caswell is still holding his neck The Professor wants to know if Joe knows about justice. Joe asks why should he? The Professor says that justice came at the end of a rope for Caswell, didn’t it? The Professor asks Caswell if he got to him just in time, before his neck snapped. Probably 6 or 8 feet above the ground. Caswell rightly points out that “when you’re dangling at the end of a rope it doesn’t really matter whether it’s 8 feet or a hundred”. Same drop, same ending. The Professor wants to know if Caswell killed someone. Caswell says, yeah, a whole bunch. He stopped counting after twenty.

After this confession he lets Caswell walk right up to him and then tells Caswell that he’ll have to send him back. I see The Professor living a long and healthy life. Not. Caswell wants to know what he means by back. The Professor answers back to where Caswell came from, to that exact moment if he can. Caswell says he already died and went to hell and now he’s back. The Professor wants to know what about the twenty men he killed? They died with no discomfort at all? Caswell just shrugs him off. Something tells me that philosophical argument is not Joe’s strong suit.

He says that The Professor can talk comfortably about justice when he’s in a nice warm room with a full belly and just a few yards from a soft bed. Caswell says they don’t mean much when another man’s bread or jacket is what keeps you alive. As much as I hate to admit it, he does have a slight point. However, did he try asking them to share? Or try working for a bit of money? His clothes don’t look too rough and the fact that he back shot someone doesn’t speak too strongly for his character. Any kind of back attack is a bit cowardly unless it’s an absolute necessity. Again, though, he makes another slightly good point when he suggests The Professor hop in his time machine and go back to where he came from. He might see things a bit differently.

Caswell freaks out and starts tussling with The Professor, knocking him over the desk. The Professor tries to get to something in his drawer but Caswell beans him in the head with a lamp. Then he takes the gun out of the drawer that The Professor was trying to reach for. The recorder starts playing, repeating the last part of what The Professor had recorded and it freaks Caswell out.

Caswell runs out onto the streey and somehow stumbles into the exact same neon jungle from ‘The Four of Us Are Dying’ (first picture). As Caswell pushes his way through the crowd I even see the same club advertising a ‘water show’. And I still want to know what it means. Wet t-shirt contest?

He looks a bit discombobulated and runs out into the street (don’t they all?) He runs into a telephone booth. Weirdly, the telephone is ringing. Looks like the lady who just left stiffed them for a quarter for the call. He fumbles it off the hook and drops it, freaking out at the voice coming out of the phone. The doors have shut, though, and he crashes through the glass trying to get out.

He then pulls out a kerchief to wipe at a scratch from the glass. He crashes into a bar from the street, bumping into a couple of city slickers. The jukebox scares him so he attacks it. The bartender just watches while Caswell goes a few rounds with the jukebox. He even stands there watching when Caswell takes a chair to it. Then he just makes a “Why I oughta!” face. Caswell stumbles to the bar, holding his ears and complaining about all the noise. The bartender tells Caswell that if he doesn’t pay for it then he’ll have to himself. Well, I’m sure the perfectly nice man who just smashed your jukebox will be happy to pay for it.

The bartender tells Caswell that he doesn’t want any trouble so if Caswell has any he’d better take it outside. In response, Caswell takes out his trouble and plops it on the counter. A gun, you guys, get it out of the gutter will ya! Caswell says he wants “one of those” and nods to the whiskey bottles. Even though the gun is on the counter and Caswell isn’t holding it, the bartender obliges him and pours him the bottle instead of calling the police. Caswell wants to  know why the thing won’t shut up and wants to know where the music comes from. The bartender tells him it’s just a jukebox and asks where Caswell has been, a star? Caswell says he just needs some sleep. The horseless carriages are also making him a bit disoriented. The bartender suggests to Caswell that he go home and have a sleep. He even gives him a couple of bottles of whiskey to leave with. Very obliging of the bartender. Caswell doesn’t look, though, he’s staring at a box on the wall. A TV. Caswell thinks it’s a window and the bartender chuckles and offers to giver him a demonstration. The bartender turns it on to show him.

And there just happens to be a cowboy show on! What are the odds? The cowboy on the screen is also walking straight at the camera on the screen and talking to the camera which is weird because that’s a big no-no in television and movies unless they’re intentionally breaking the fourth wall. Caswell thinks the tiny little tv man is talking to him, challenging him to a showdown. Caswell accepts and shoots the tiny tv man. The bartender makes another “Why I oughta!” face and tells him, “You’ll have to pay for that!” I’m sure it will work just as well this time as it did with the jukebox. Caswell looks befuddled (again) and runs out when the bartender starts yelling for the police. So the bartender has a tv in the bar but no phone? By all rights Mr. Joe Caswell shouldn’t even know what the police are. He runs back out into the urban jungle, dodging cars.

Finally he takes a shot at a cab. I honestly can’t tell if he’s hit the driver or if the driver just ducked. As a general clamor arises, he takes a tumble into some dirt. By now he’s looking sweaty and very, very tired. He eventually makes his way back to The Professor’s laboratory. He begs The Professor for help. I guess he doesn’t grasp the idea that he killed the dude so it may not be the best time to ask for help. As he’s begging for help a light is suddenly switched on. In the doorway stands a man with a gun. Caswell puts his hands up (what happened to his gun?) and the intruder says he thought the place was empty. He tells the “cowboy” to take it easy. Really, though, he doesn’t look like a cowboy exactly. His clothes aren’t that peculiar, really. Caswell asks what the intruder wants. The intruder says he wants whatever’s around for the taking.

Mr. Intruder sees the body of The Professor and thinks that Caswell got there before him and saved him the trouble of killing The Professor. He talks to himself a bit, rummaging through the desk. He asks Caswelll if he’s looked for a safe and Caswell just stares at him. Mr. Intruder leans a bit closer to ask again and Caswell tries to grab the gun. They fight a bit and at first Caswell is holding his own but then Mr. Intruder gets the upper hand even though Caswell is supposed to be a roughand-tumble cowboy who’s a bit bigger than Mr. Intruder. Of course, it didn’t sound as though he fought fair so maybe he is at a disadvantage. Mr. Intruder pushes him toward a window and almost knocks Caswell through. Mr. intruder grabs the dangerously dangling blind cords and strangles Caswell to death, delivering the justice that was delayed a bit but couldn’t escape. Mr. Intruder starts ransacking the office, looking for money or…something. What exactly does he expect to find of value in a Professor’s laboratory? Test tubes? He sees the big flashing lights on the wall and, just like most people, can’t resist fiddling with a few of them. The wall thing lights up and he stops fiddling. The large machine catches his eye and he steps inside.

As it starts to glow he bangs on the walls, wanting out.

Back In The Old West:
The shadow of the rope is still in silhouette on the ground but now it’s filled in with the shadow of a man. The men of the necktie party rush over to cut him down but they soon realize  that the man on the end of the end of the rope is not Joe Caswell. They don’t know who the man is and are baffled by his clothing. The deputies take off and the other three are wondering if they hung an innocent man. They hope not.

SERLING:
This is November, 1880. The aftermath of a necktie party. The victim’s name, Paul Johnson. A minor league criminal and the taker of another human life. No comment on his death, save this: Justice can span years Retribution is not subject to a calendar. Tonight’s case in point in the Twilight Zone.


Karma’s a bitch and the story drips with irony. Not really one of the best since most of the people don’t act like normal people would in those situations. If you were The Professor would you tell a murderer to his face that you’re sending him back to be hung? Or would you trry to trick him into the box? Also, wouldn’t the bartender call the police (on the telephone, not just yelling for them) instead of bribing the crazy man with more alcohol to get him to leave?


Join us again next week for another Twilight Zone Tuesday episode: The Big Tall Wish (prepare yourself, the snark is coming).

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Long Live Walter Jameson

Long Live Walter Jameson

Professor Walter Jameson/Tom Bowen/Major Hugh Skelton – Kevin McCarthy
Professor Sam Kittridge – Edgar Stahli
Susanna Kittridge – Dodie Heath
Laurette Bowen – Estelle Winwood

Trigger Warnings (highlight to see) : Suicidal thoughts, almost completes tries it


Continue reading “Twilight Zone Tuesday – Long Live Walter Jameson”

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

I know this is generally a highly rated episode and usually makes a lot of ‘Top Ten Twilight Zone Episodes’ lists. Truthfully though? While I can’t say it’s one of the worst, it’s definitely not one of my favorites.

Possible Trigger Warnings: Prejudice, mob mentality, an innocent bystander getting shot


WARNING: Heavy snark incoming!


Steve Brand – Claude Akins
Les Goodman – Barry Atwater
Charlie Farnsworth – Jack Weston
Don Martin – Burt Metcalf
Pete Van Horn – Ben Erway
Tommy – Jan Handzlik


Serling:
Maple Street, U.S.A. Late summer. A tree-lined little world of front porch gliders, barbecues, the laughter of children, and the bell of an ice cream vendor. At the sound of a roar and the flash of a light it will be precisely 6::43 P.M. on Maple Street.

The camera pans down to a lovely summer’s day on, you guessed it, Maple Street. There’s an ice cream man, dads washing their cars, kids with balls and bats, real television fifties Americana. As Mr. Serling narrates we do indeed see the flash of light and whirring noise that he’s speaking of. They think it might be a meteor but aren’t sure because they didn’t hear a crash. A nicely dressed housewife comes out to ask Steve (her husband, I presume) what it was. Steve tells her it was a meteor and she thinks it came much too close for her liking. Well, I guess the next meteor will just have to ask her permission before it comes through her neighborhood. Steve goes back to washing his car and his friend goes back to playing with his hose.

Serling:
This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple Street, in the last calm and reflective moment before the monsters came.

We get a fade out and then an action packed scene of a guy changing his light bulb. He changes it and pulls the string but it still doesn’t work (why you’d need the light on in the daylight is anybody’s guess). Inside a woman is trying to use the phone but the phone appears to be out as well. We also see a guy fiddlling with an electric tool that doesn’t seem to be working.

Steve’s wife comes out to tell him that the power’s off and the stove isn’t working. The neighbors say their phone is out and another woman says their radio isn’t working. The man fiddling with his tool says he’s going to cut across to see if the power is on over on Floral Street. We also get an extreme close-up of his hammer. Steve says it doesn’t make sense for the power and phones to be out all at once. I swear, these people are acting like they’ve never experienced a power outage before.

One of the stander arounders suggests an electrical storm but a guy in a really ugly shirt shoots that down, pointing out that the sky is blue and clear. Ugly Shirt suggests going down to the police station but then says that they’d probably think he was crazy. As normal people would if you reported a power outage to the police instead of, I dunno, the power company?

Steve points out that it’s not just a power failure because if it was then the portable radio would still work. I know a landline phone will still work if the power is out. I’m not sure about back then. Steve says that he’ll run downtown and check things out. But oh no! His car won’t start. Something sinister is going on here. Steve said it was working fine and it’s filled up with gas. Ugly Shirt (Charlie) suggests going downtown and Steve says they’ll go together. Tall Skinny Guy looks after them suspiciously. A random kid calls out to Mr. Brand (Steve) that he’d better not go. “They” don’t want him to. Steve asks who and the kid points skyward and says “Them”. Who? God? And thus he spake and said “Thou Shalt not walk downtown”.

Steve wants to know who the kid means by “them”. The kid says whatever was in the flashy lighty thingy. I may be paraphrasing a bit. The kid says “They” don’t want them to leave the street. That’s why they turned everything off. Because a non-working stove will prevent them from leaving the area? And unless there’s a force-field they can just walk right out of there, you know, like they were about to before Buzz-Cut spoke up. Steve tells Sally to take Buzz-Cut home, he’s been reading too many comic books. Sally tells Tommy to come along. Steve tells him to go ahead and when they get back from town Tommy will see that everything’s ok. Steve says it was a meteor or something, not a space ship.

Steve also says that meteors cause sunspots that can wreak havoc with radio reception and all sorts of stuff. Tall Skinny guy agrees and tells Steve and Charlie to go ahead into town. Tommy begs them not to go because in his story no one could leave…except for the aliens sent ahead to mingle amongst us. Way to go kid. Tommy’s Mommy tells him not to talk like that. An elderly gentleman behind Tommy says what the heck are they standing here listening to? A kid hat read a story. I’m with you, dude. They are taking this kid way too seriously. But no, Steve wants to be sensible and listen to what the kid has to say about the aliens. The kid says that’s how they prepare things (the aliens). They will send down a mother, a father and two kids who all look like humans but they were really aliens. Everyone in the crowd is taking this way more seriously than normal people would. Even the older man. I’m very disappointed in him. Steve jokingly says that now all they need to do is do a neighborhood check and see who’s human and who’s not. Charlie says they need to do something other than stand around making lame jokes. Les is trying to start his car but it just keeps cranking. One of the women in crowd brilliantly asks if his car starts. Does it look like it started? Les gets out of the car and starts to walk back towards the crowd. Just to keep us all up to speed he says he doesn’t know what’s wrong, the cars won’t start and nothing is working. As he’s walking back the car starts on it’s own. Everyone is losing their mind over the car starting by itself, without him being near it. A remote car starter would blow their minds. Tall Skinny Guy says that Les never did come out to look at the nifty flashing lights. Um, maybe because he was inside and didn’t hear or see it? Just a thought. Charlie (he of the ugly shirt) says that Les and his whole family were always oddballs. Tall Skinny Guy wants to know why Les didn’t come out to look. Charlie proposes they go ask him.

By them I guess he means literally everybody because they all go. Steve says, “Hey! Let’s not be a mob!” Real subtle. We also get a close-up of a bunch of feet and shoes. Because a mob only means business when you can see it’s shoes. Or a gang…because when you’re a Jet you’re a Jet all the way…uh, sorry, got off track there for a minute. Anyways, back at Les, he’s still puzzling over the car issue. As they’re watching, the car sputters out by itself. Les is still saying he doesn’t understand what’s going on. They repeat (again) the list of stuff that’s not working and ask Les to tell them about it. Why would his car start and not theirs? They all start crowding him and asking what gives. He gets nervous and tells them to get back a bit. He agrees the car starting on it’s own is weird but it doesn’t make him a criminal (or an alien).

Steve steps forward and Les asks him what’s going on. Steve replies that they’re on a monster kick. That a family amongst them might not be who they think they are. May I step in and remind you that the ADULTS are thinking this because of a few weird lights and a 12 year old kid who thinks it might be invaders from space? Ok, just so we all know.

Steve says maybe they’re monsters from space, you know different from US. You know, the fifth column that’s from the vast beyond. I have no freaking clue what that even means. a little Binging brought me to a Wikipedia article about the Fifth Column and it seems to fit:

“A fifth column is any group of people who undermine a larger group from within, usually in favor of an enemy group or nation. The activities of a fifth column can be overt or clandestine. Forces gathered in secret can mobilize openly to assist an external attack. This term is also extended to organized actions by military personnel. Clandestine fifth column activities can involve acts of sabotage, disinformation, or espionage executed within defense lines by secret sympathizers with an external force.” – Wikipedia

Steve asks Les if he knows anybody that fits that description here on Maple Street. I get the feeling that Steve isn’t totally taking it seriously but if so then why is he even asking Les about it? Les wants to know if this is a practical joke or something. On cue, the car starts up again. Seems like something is screwing with Les big time. They all look at him suspiciously again and he gets annoyed (and a little nervous looking) and says they’ve lived right here for five years. “We aren’t any different from you! Any different at all!” Again, subtle. He says the whole thing is just weird. A little woman with brown hair wants to know why, if he’s so normal, does he – Steve tries to cut her off, to keep things from going any further but Charlie wants to hear what she has to say. Miss Brown Hair says that she stays up late and sometimes when she comes out on the porch late at night she sees Les on his own porch, staring at the sky “like he’s waiting for something”. Ok, first of all, Les is suspicious because he’s outside staring up at the night sky very late at night. She herself just said that she’s up very late and also goes out onto her porch at night. To me a guy doing a little stargazing on his own porch is far less creepy than the woman who is also out late staring at HIM.

Les retorts that he’s guilty of insomnia, nothing more. He starts to walk toward them and they all back away like he’s got three arms. They continue to back away and he calls them frightened little rabbits and says they’re sick. I agree. I’ve got your back Les. He also tells them that they’re starting something that’s even more frightening (which, I will concede is a great and accurate line). The director must know it’s a great line because we fade out after that.

When we come back a lady is lighting a candle. Guess the power’s still out. It appears to be Les’ wife. She takes her husband a nice, cold glass of milk. Wait. The power’s out so it’s probably warm milk. In the summer. Ick. Everyone is still outside, stalking the Les and his family. Next door, Charlie is perched on a step-ladder, the better to watch Les with. Charlie’s wife brings her husband a sweater. It must get a little chilly, Les-watching. Charlie has a beer. MUCH less suspicious than a glass of milk. His wife said it doesn’t feel right, watching them like that. She tells her husband that they’ve been friends ever since the Goodmans moved in. Very good friends. Charlie scoffs at that. Any guy who watches the night sky at night is MUCH weirder than the guy perching on a step-ladder staring at his neighbor. Charlie says a little weirdness (like stargazing) is fine under normal circumstances but when the entire street is down to using candles, why! It’s like being back in the dark ages! Methinks Charlie is a bit of a drama queen.

Steve starts to walk toward Les’ house and Les says they don’t want trouble but if anyone steps foot on his porch that’s what they’ll get. Les says (again) that he has insomnia so he goes for walk, looks at the stars. His wife chimes in and says that’s exactly what he does. she says what’s going on is some kind of madness. Steve agrees that it is some kind of madness. Charlie yells out that Steve better “watch who he sings with” until it’s all sorted out as he’s not above suspicion himself. Steve comes back with that none of them are above suspicion it seems, from the ages 8 and up.

Miss Brown Hair (the one who is also up at night, watching Les) says what are they supposed to do? Stand outside all night? You can do whatever the hell you want lady. Free will is a great thing. Charlie replies that that’s exactly what they’re going to do until the ‘guilty party’ tips their hand. Personally, I’d tell Charlie he can sit on his little spy perch all night for all I care because I’m going to bed. Maybe I’m just not good mob material. Steve’s pretty much with me. He tells Charlie he can go inside and shut up instead of self-appointing himself the hanging judge. One thing strikes me as weird. There seems to be twenty houses on the street and about ten to fifteen people total.

Charlie says that Steve would love that, wouldn’t he? Maybe they’d better keep an eye on Steve, too. The rest of the sheeple start to look at Steve suspiciously now. Tall Skinny Guy (who, we just now find out, is named Don) tells Steve that Steve’s wife has been telling some of the strange things he does. She looks shocked and a bit hurt. Of course, Charlie the Perfect wants to know what. Steve says go ahead. Let’s pick out every weird thing everyone does and set up a kangaroo court. Maybe Charlie would like to also set up a firing squad, too, eh? Steve asks Don how about it? Don is a little taken aback.Don says there’s no reason to get upset. Oh, no. I never get upset when people accuse me of being a space creature. Sorry, the sarcasm is starting to overload.

Anyways, Don tells Steve that Myra has talked about how Steve spends quite a few hours in the basement working on a…gasp! Radio!And since none of them have ever seen the radio then it must be suspicious! Maybe Steve just doesn’t invite any of you nosy asses into his basement. Charlie pushes his way through and wants to know what kind of radio it is that Steve has. I have to point out that Charlie looks like a complete asshat. The kind of guy who starts crap but never will finish it and then passes it off on others. Charlie wants to know who Steve talks to on his radio. Steve says he’s surprised that Charlie hasn’t figured it out, he talks to monsters, duh.

Myra breaks in and tells Steve to stop. She tells them it’s just a ham radio set and that a lot of people have them. She even offers to show it to them. Steve says no, they’re not showing anyone anything. Let ’em get a search warrant. Charlie starts to say Stule eve can’t afford to – but Steve cuts him off saying “don’t tell me what I can and can’t afford.’ And to stop telling him who and who’s not dangerous. Steve turns on the rest of the crowd and says they’re all in it, too. That they’re so eager to point a finger at someone, anyone else. But if they keep acting like that then they’ll end up eating each other alive.

Everyone looks slightly ashamed of themselves. Then they hear footsteps approaching. Even though there were only about ten people on the street before, now there’s about twenty. They all watch the figure approach. Then someone screams, “It’s the monster!” I’m guessing it’s the guy who left earlier. Don comes running up with a gun. Steve grabs it from him and asks what the hell he’s doing. Charlie grabs it from Steve telling him that Steve will get them all killed waiting for whatever is in the dark to get close. Way to go, dumbass. The first rule of owning a gun is to NEVER assume a gun is unloaded. The second rule is ALWAYS know what you’re shooting at.

We get a close up of the “creature’s” jeans, a hammer is hanging from a loop. So it is the guy from earlier. Since Charlie looks like a wuss and Steve is twice his size and muscle mass it does make me wonder why Steve doesn’t grab it back. And he should have. Because Charlie completes his jackassery and shoots the poor old man. They all run over to see that it’s Pete. The Brown Haired lady says “You killed him, Charlie.” Charlie says he didn’t know who it was. Exactly! You don’t shoot unless you damn well know what and who you are shooting at. It doesn’t matter that you didn’t know. You are now a murderer. Charlie’s big excuse is that Pete came out of the darkness so how was he supposed to know it was Pete? So, a non-threatening figure walking up a dark street is just cause to shoot him? You could have called to ask, or, hey, how about this? Wait until he gets closer! He pleads with Steve, saying, “Steve? You know why I shot him, right? I thought he was a monster or something.” Steve backs away from him. Since Steve was the one telling them not to be idiots and shoot I don’t think he’s going to help you, Charlie. He says he was just trying to protect his home. From what? The guy strolling through his own neighborhood?

Immediately after this the lights go on in Charlie’s house. Despite their idiocy having just taken a life Don and Brown Haired Mouse Woman want to know why? Now they’re saying that maybe Charlie killed poor Pete because Pete knew who the real monster was. Oh, sweet Cthulhu. Really?! Les even joins in (I’m very disappointed in you Les). Charlie says he doesn’t know why his lights came on, that maybe somebody’s pulling a gag. Steve shakes him a bit and says that the “gag” just left someone lying dead in the street.

Charlie shakes loose and they all chase him, grabbing a few rocks as they go. I guess torches and pitchforks are hard to find in the suburbs. One of the rocks hits Charlie’s porch light and cuts poor Charlie’s head (boo freaking hoo). Charlie starts screaming that he’s not the monster but he knows who it is. The two main sheeple, Miss Brown Mouse and Don (who looks way too creepily excited) want to know who. Charlie points out the kid, Tommy. Tommy’s Mommy grabs him and says it’s not true. The kid looks terrified and Mrs. Brown Mouse starts screaming “Grab your torches and pitchforks! It’s the kid! He knew what was going to happen!” And, of course, how could he know unless he was the “monster”? I guess the body in the street, which, I might add is still there, didn’t slow down their feeding frenzy any. Steve yells at them to stop it (because that’s worked so well so far) and of course they don’t listen and start chasing the kid down the street like they’re going to tear him apart with their bare hands. Lights are coming on in all of the houses now and instead of being normal, rational people (although I think we passed rational about fifteen minutes ago) and thinking “Hey, maybe it’s just that the power was off and no one’s a space monster!” they all start accusing each other. People start yelling and shouting and grabbing weapons. Guns, rocks and even the hammer from poor Pete’s pants. It shows shots but it’s all a jumble so I’m not sure if anyone else got shot or what. People are basically running in circles on the road, instead of, oh, I dunno, their houses?

The camera starts to pull back for a wider shot of the street, then the town. A man’s voice asks someone else if they understand the procedure now. Just turn off their lights, phones and lawnmowers and then sit back and watch the ‘pattern’ of chaos. The second person watching asks if the pattern is always the same. The first man replies that it always is. They pick out whom they find most dangerous and go after that person, not realizing it is they themselves that are the true enemy. Then just sit back and watch.

It finally shows the two men talking. They look human but I’m guessing they’re spacemen and we’re their ant-farm. the Mustached Man asks if Maple Street is unique. The other man says certainly not. They’ll go from one to another, letting them destroy each other one at a time. They pop back into their ship to take off, presumably to another ‘Maple Street’.

Serling:
The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosions and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes and prejudices to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill and suspicion can destroy and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all it’s own. For the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.


This has been a long one so thank you for bearing with me. Now, from my snark you might be under the impression that I disagree with the underlying moral of the story. i don’t. I think Rod Serling’s summation at the end is perfectly said and drives home the point with deadly sharpness. It also hits two of Serling’s pressure points: Mob Mentality and Prejudice. The execution, however, is what I find a bit lacking. I do get partly why he chose the script he did. Things like that can start over the most petty of incidents and then before you know it, it’s grown into a monster that cannot be controlled nor stopped. An overwhelming tide of prejudice and hatred that can overwhelm empathy, rationality and reason. I think, though, he did a good enough job within the episode itself that the end bit with the ‘aliens’ (or whatever they are) is a bit too much. It edges it into the territory of ridiculous and it walks a very fine line as it is.Personally I think a line from Black Sabbath says it perfectly:

“If you listen to fools – the mob rules”
– Black Sabbath “The Mob Rules”


Thank you for bearing with this week’s rather long episode (and the somewhat excessive snark) and please join me again next week for the next episode of the Twilight Zone – A World of Difference.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Mirror Image

Mirror Image

Millicent Barnes – Vera Miles
Paul Grinstead – Martin Milner
Ticket Agent – Joseph Hamilton
Washroom Attendant – Naomi Stevens

We’re at a Bus Depot and there’s a raging thunderstorm outside. Inside the Bus Depot there’s a woman sweeping the floors and a young lady sitting on a bench with a hat and raincoat on, her suitcase on the floor beside her. The bus must be late. She’s checking her watch and looking at the clock on the wall. She walks to the older man behind the counter. She asks very politely about the bus to Cortland. she says it’s an hour overdue and is wondering when it might be in. The man, not even looking up from his newspaper, says he’s not sure. It’s raining and the roads are slick. Also, there might be a bridge or two out. Must be one hell of a rainstorm. She asks again if he can give an estimate at least. He says “it’ll get here when it gets here.” He also claims he told her that once already. She doesn’t understand what he’s talking about since that’s the first time she’s asked.

She just wants a civil answer and he says she’s getting one but needn’t expect a civil answer every ten minutes. I guess he has a time limit on his politeness. He tells her that she asked an hour ago, a half hour ago and just now. My god man! When will you find the time in your busy newspaper reading day to answer a question?

She insists that this is the first time she’s been up there to ask and starts to suggest that perhaps he gets his eyes checked. She stops when she sees a suitcase just like hers in the baggage check area. she’s surprised and looks but her bag is still right where it was sitting. He catches her staring at the other suitcase and wants to know what the matter is. She looks very confused but tells him that nothing is the matter.

Serling:
Millicent Barnes, age 25, young woman waiting for a bus on a rainy November night. Not a very imaginative type is Miss Barnes, not given to undue anxiety or fears or, for that matter, even the most temporal flights of fancy. Like most young career women, she has a generic classification as a Quote – “Girl with a head on her shoulders” – End quote. All of which is mentioned now because in just a moment the head on Miss Barnes’ shoulders will be put to the test. Circumstances will test her sense of reality and a chain of nightmares will ut her sanity on a block. Millicent Barnes, who in one minute will wonder if she’s going mad.

During Serling’s voice-over Millicent is staring at her suitcase. Which, to me, actually looks a little more beat up than the one she saw in the baggage area. She approaches the desk and the clerk (rather snottily) asks if she wants to run through the time again. She says no, but says it strikes her as odd that the suitcase looks just like hers, right down to the broken handle. He’s looking at her like she’s crazy and wants to know if she’s playing some kind of game. Again she doesn’t understand. He tells her that it’s her bag and that she’d checked it herself. She tells him that he must be mistaken and goes to point at her bag. It’s no longer on the floor.

He tells her to go sit down on the bench. That she must be sleepwalking or hungover or something. He tells her to go sit down and “breathe through your nose”. Was that like a cure for hysteria or something at one time? The Twilight Zone has an odd obsession with telling people to “calm down and breathe through their noses”.

He’s in a red hot rush to get back to his magazine (must be a Playboy) and tells her that when the bus gets there she’ll hear the motor, see the people disembark and she’ll know the bus is there. She starts to tell him that the suitcase isn’t hers. Hers was sitting on the floor and she hadn’t checked it yet. He just stares at her so she stops and goes to sit back down (presumably to breathe through her nose). She looks back at the bag but catches the old guy giving her the evil eye so she stops.

After getting bored with breathing through her nose she goes into the Ladies Room. The cleaning lady gives her a peculiar look. Millicent stares at herself for a moment before rinsing her hands off. The cleaning lady wants to know if she’s ok. Millicent (a little snippy herself) says she’s fine. And doesn’t she look all right? The cleaning lady says Millicent looks fine but when she was in there before…I think we can all see where this is going.

Millicent says she wasn’t in there before. The cleaning woman says that Millicent was just there a few moments ago. Millicent insists that she’s never, ever been in there. Then she kind of flips out on the poor woman who was just trying to be nice. Millicent says the only thing wrong is “you people” need some sleep or something. As she’s giving her harangue she’s opening the door and sees the waiting room reflected in the mirror. In the mirror she sees herself sitting on the bench in the waiting room (let’s hope she’s still breathing through her nose, lord knows what shenanigans may ensue if she breathes through her mouth).

Millicent slams the door and the cleaning woman offers to get her a cool cloth, she’s sure Miss Barnes is ill. She goes to wet a cloth. It’s kind of gross because it looks like the same one she was just wiping down the counters with. Millicent refuses the cloth (smart move) and says she’ll be all right. Now she thinks that she herself must be tired. She whips open the door and the Millicent on the bench is gone but her suitcase is back on the floor, it now has a tag on it.

She keeps looking at the grouchy clerk and is approaching him to ask him something. On the way she sees a couple on a bench. A woman and a man. the man’s snoozing using his wife’s ample bust for pillows. Millicent asks the woman if she saw anyone sitting on Millicent’s bench. The lady replies no, but she wasn’t really looking. They want to know if everything’s ok. She says yes, she thought it might be someone she knew. She apologizes and walks away and the gentleman goes back to snoozing on the booby pillow.

She starts wondering if she’s delusional so she wonders if she’s sick. She checks for a fever. Nope, no fever. A gentleman approaches her and hands her a pocketbook that she dropped. They have a chat about the bus being late and we get the fascinating details of why he’s taking the bus. Apparently vehicles are useless when it rains. His flight was cancelled and he had to take a cab to the bus station. The cab skidded and hit a tree so he walked to the bus depot from there. Seriously, were cars that freaking terrible in 1959 or did people just never drive in the rain?

She’s zoning out a bit and he asks if she’s ill. Because a woman must be ill to not be fascinated with his story. She says she’s fine but doesn’t really know what she’s feeling. He wants to know if there’s anything he can do. Millicent tells him that all sorts of peculiar things have been happening to her all night. She tells him she’s been seeing things and he wants to know what sorts of things. She doesn’t really want to say because she’s afraid he’ll run away, call the police or an ambulance.

He introduces himself as Paul Grinstead and offers her his help, if he can assist her. She introduces herself and tells him about the job she left and is on her way to a new one in Buffalo. She gives him a rundown of all the weird things happening. When she tells him about the bag she freaks out momentarily because it’s not right there. Helpful Paul points it out just around the corner of the bench. She tells him about seeing herself on the bench and kind of trails off. Paul tells her it must be delusions. She agrees but says she’s not sick and doesn’t have a fever. Millicent also wants to know why the woman and clerk insist that she’s been there before.

She asks him what’s wrong with her. How the he’ll is he supposed to know? He’s known you for literally a minute (I checked). She swears she’s not done sort of kook and has never had mind problems before. He agrees way too quickly. He thinks there has to be an explanation. Maybe someone there resembles her? Maybe someone’s playing a joke on her? That’s always a first suggestion in the Twilight Zone. With as elaborate as some of these things are that would be one big ass practical joke.

She thinks these suggestions are too fantastic and even if it were true where is the woman? The bus rolls in, saving Paul from having to answer. The clerk announces the bus and Millicent gets up to leave. Paul offers to carry her bag for her. What a nice man. Yeah. Stick around. They go outside to get on the bus. She gets her ticket taken but then sees something that freaks her out and she rushes back into the bus station. Paul follows her.

The camera shows us a smug looking Fake Millicent looking out of the bus window.

Apparently Millicent ran back into the bus depot and passed right out because now she’s laying on the bench unconscious. The very nice cleaning lady brings a damp cloth for Millicent’s head (hopefully not the same one she was wiping the sinks with). The bus driver pops his head in and says they’ve got to go. Paul says they’ll get the next one. The cleaning lady goes to leave and tells Paul that Millicent needs some looking after and taps her head, implying Millicent is crazy. What better person to do that than a guy she just met, right?

Millicent wakes up and Paul asks if she’s feeling any better. Weirdly, he doesn’t ask what she freaked out about. I’m impressed that her hair hasn’t moved one inch out of place this whole time. She says that she’s been thinking (while she was unconscious?) and trying to remember something she heard or read. She starts talking about different planes of existence and parallel worlds. That each of us has a counterpart and sometimes through a freak of nature the planes overlap and the parallel world person gets to our world. But to stay they need to replace the original person. Move them out. Paul says that it’s too ‘metaphysical’ for him.

I see a couple holes in this theory. I’m skipping over it’s plausibility because we are in the Twilight Zone after all. In her theory the planes overlap at least briefly enough to touch. Then Fake Millicent either gets stuck here willingly or unwillingly. For Fake Millicent to stay wouldn’t Original Millicent have to die? Or take Fake Millicent’s place on the other side?

Anyways, Paul isn’t buying it and says again that there must be a rational explanation. She goes on a bit about her theory but saying pretty much the same things she’s been saying. And I have to admit she does look a bit crazy here. Paul stands up and says, “Hey! I just remembered! I have a friend nearby!” He says he’ll call his friend and his magically appearing friend will drive them both to Syracuse! How about that! Are you sure you want your friend to drive, Paul? I mean it is raining and all. Anyways, I smell a rat and it smells like a Paul.

Paul asks Millicent if he should call his friend but she’s lost in her thoughts (or staring blankly, it’s a bit hard to tell). Paul wanders over to the clerk. Unasked the clerk gives his opinion. he immediately says her parallel world theory is crazy and that she has a “leak in her attic”. Oh, go back to your porn old man.

Paul calls her a poor, poor kid and thinks she needs medical help. He wants to use the phone to call the police to get her some ‘help’. The clerk is just glad to get rid of her because she gives him the creeps.

Paul goes back to Millicent and asks if she wants to get a breath of air. Uh-oh, this can’t be good. As soon as they step outside a police car pulls up. Millicent tries to get away but they bundle her into the car and give Paul a Man-Nod. Don’t worry, Millicent dear, the menfolk are here to take care of you. The clerk asks if they got her and Paul says yes. Now that the pesky female is gone the clerk is much friendlier. He tells Paul he can take a nap there until the morning bus comes.

Paul makes himself a comfy spot on the bench but wants a drink of water first. As he lifts his head he notices that his suitcase is now missing. Someone jets out the door and Paul chases him. Which is a little stupid. The guy he’s chasing is very obviously not carrying a suitcase. As the camera pulls out we see that Paul is chasing…himself! And if the gif gods are generous today I will try to put a gif of the Other Paul running and grinning because it’s freaking hilarious. Gee Paul, I hope nobody comes along and throws you to the cops on the word of a total stranger.

And let’s go back to that for a second before Serling has his final say. Ok, so Paul knows this woman for an hour or two. Yes, she’s acting a little weird (and she’s far too trusting). Is she threatening bodily harm to him or herself? No? Then neither he nor the cops have the right to lock her up. By that reasoning I should be locked up for my dinosaur/dragon theory. Ok, take it away Rod.

Serling:
Obscure metaphysical explanation to cover a phenomenon. Reasons dredged out of the shadows to explain away that which cannot be explained. Call it parallel planes or just insanity. Whatever it is, you find it in the Twilight Zone.

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Elegy

Elegy

Season One – Episode 20 Elegy

Serling:
The time is the day after tomorrow; the place- A far corner of the universe; The cast of characters – 3 men lost amongst the stars 3 men sharing the common urgency of all men lost – they’re looking for home. And in a moment, they’ll find home. Not a home that is a place to be seen but a strange, unexplainable experience to be felt.

 

We get more rocket shots and the guys sitting around a table doing important, rocket scienc-y stuff. They figure out they’re going through atmosphere and hope “this is it”. What ‘it’ they’re hoping it is has yet to be explained. They get on their landing love seat together for the landing. It doesn’t seem much safer than the chairs they were sitting in, there’s no straps or anything.

They land and check the gauges. The air quality is remarkably similar to Earth even though they’re 655 million miles away from Earth. Pete goes to pop on out but the captain stops him, saying the instruments could be wrong. Pee doesn’t care because they’re low on fuel and not going anywhere anyways. The Captain agrees with him. Uh, you may not be able to go anywhere but I’d still be hesitant to go to a horrible death if the instruments were wrong. Pete crosses his fingers for luck and they head out. Pete pokes his head out and asks again how far they are from Earth. The Captain answers again and then we get to see what Pete sees. It looks like they’re on Earth.

Pete thinks thy’re back on Earth because it looks like Earth. There’s a farm and a dog. Pete tries calling the dog but it doesn’t move. And I can’t stop giggling at their spacesuits. They’re like coveralls with weird band thingies around the arms, legs and neck. And bright silver moon boots. Pete says it’s a farm, ergo, it must be Earth. Apparently Pete’s not the shiniest of light bulbs. Pete looks at a tractor and asks what it is. Dark Haired Space Man says that it’s a tractor. He tells Pete that they were in use on Earth before the Total War. So, if Pete doesn’t know what a tractor is how on Earth (pardon the pun) does he know that this is what Earth looks like.

They see a gentleman dressed like a farmer and go over to introduce themselves. The Captain is Webber and the dark haired guy is Kurt. The farmer seems to be frozen in place (despite the fact that he’s swaying a bit). I can’t knock him too badly though, it’s hard to stand perfectly still. The little old farmer man scares the crap out of our brave, intrepid astronauts and they haul ass out of there.

After they’re done running like the big heroes they are they find a bridge. As they’re walking over Pete spots a guy fishing from the bank. Pete hops down and asks how the fish are biting. He gets much the same response from the fisherman that he got from the farmer. Pete shakes the fisherman and accidentally tips him over.

Pete hears a band start up in the distance and starts freaking out that somebody must be there! He hears a band! I’m shaking my head over the fact that they actually expect to find people there. They run toward the noise and find a band (who, again, haven’t stopped moving before the camera was on them) with the music being piped in from somewhere. They go into a house where they see a frozen crowd and a frozen Mayor accepting a win.

Kurt suggests that it could be an illusion and Webber chimes in with someone could be making them see the sights and sounds of home that they want to see. Then Webber says no, that doesn’t fit because the sights they are seeing are 200 years before their time. Then they throw around a couple of more theories including a time warp. They figure out that since the people are real (or at least feel real) then someone real must be there. That’s…a big leap in logic but ok. They decide to separate and have a look around. Ah, the start of many a good horror movie. Or Scooby Doo episode.

Webber wanders through a club and checks out a frozen high stakes poker game. Kurt wanders through a hotel called The Royal Crest. Now, if it were me it’d probably have some NSFW poses in there but that’s just me. Also for some reason I just noticed Kurt is the only thing with shiny cuffs on his wrists. Weird. He knocks on a door and then opens it. He quickly turns his head away quickly like there is something sexy going on. But to my dismay it’s just a romantic dinner and two people dancing. I will say that using real people instead of mannequins was a stroke of genius (or cheapness). They are freaking creepy. Pete fares a little better. He wanders into a beauty pageant. After creepily eyeballing all of the women in their bathing suits he starts freaking out and yelling at the audience and the ‘contestants’. Which (sorry but I have to point this out) the women are swaying like crazy. But, again, I give them props for even staying somewhat still as they’re all on heels. As Pete runs out, one of the audience members turns to watch, giving an uber-creepy smile.

They regroup and go walking down the sidewalk. Kurt chats a bit about how everything is the way it used to be. Pete can’t believe that he likes it and Kurt responds that he would if it were real. Pete says it’s a nice place to visit but he wouldn’t want to stay. Webber says tough because for now it’s home. They walk up the sidewalk of a very nice house thinking it’s going to be theirs.There’s a figure on the porch but they pay it no mind, assuming it’s just another frozen peoplesicle. Pete mockingly asks the gentleman on the rocker if he minds that they look around.

He surprises them and says, “Not at all”. They all look at him in googly eyed surprise. While they’re speechless in surprise he introduces himself as Mr. Jeremy Wickwire. He tells them there’s nothing to be afraid of and Pete makes the brilliant deduction, “You’re real!”

Wickwire agrees that he’s real and invites them inside. He asks them if they like the house and says it was originally built for a Mr. Peterson but at the last minute Mr. Peterson decided he wanted to be a knight so he’s in the medieval section, slaying a dragon. They’re surprised that there are other sections. Wickwire says that there are Roman, Egyptian and Wild Western areas but the fifties section is the most popular. Ok. I think I’d go for riding a dragon but that’s just me.

Anywho, he says this is the most popular because it represents the height of creature comforts and before peace became impossible on Earth. Hmm, I think I hear a little Serling sneaking in there. Also, this was before video games so the height of creature comforts is a little presumptuous.

Webber tells Wickwire that they’re from Earth on a geological mission. Webber tells him that they ran into a meteor storm that knocked out their electronic space stuff and they’ve been lost for 6 months. They landed there, they have no gas so they’re staying there. Wickwire says he understands now that they’re not from the Glades. They don’t get what he means now. Wickwire wants to know if they ever had that Atomic War on Earth. Kurt says that yes, they did in 1985. Wow, the writer wasn’t too hopeful for humanity there was he? Most of the Earth’s surface was destroyed and it’s taken them 200 years to get back to where they are now. So, 200 years after atomic war we’ve mastered space travel but not love seats?

The crew wants some answers about the asteroid they’re on and Wickwire says he’ll answer all of their questions but why not eat a bite of lunch first? Pete wants to know exactly where they are. Wickwire says, “Why, you’re in a cemetery! Didn’t you know?” As they looked a bit stunned Wickwire chuckles to himself and goes off to make lunch.

Wickwire brings back a tray with some glasses and proposes a toast, to peace. Everlasting, eternal peace. I don’t know about you guys but that’s a bit of a creepy toast. Ever the helpful one, Kurt takes the glasses and passes them around. They want to know exactly what Wickwire meant when he said it’s a cemetery. Wickwire says it’s exactly that. A cemetery. Before he answers any questions, Wickwire wants some information from them. He asks them what their dearest wish would be. Where they would rather be, right now? Webber says they’d like to be on the ship, heading home. Pete and Kurt agree. Wickwire wants to know what the date was when they left. Webber replies that it was September of 2185.

Wickwire tells them that at first he thought they were the men from Happy Glades. They want to know what that is and he replies that it’s the best mortuary on Earth. Or at least used to be. The manager of Happy Glades came up with the plan to offer this particular service to those who could afford it. The service being to recreate the situations under which the dearly departed would be happiest. Again, I would go for riding a dragon or something cool like that. The rest of the ‘people’ there are imitations to fill out the crowd. Pete asks if Wickwire expects them to believe that. Wickwire honestly never thought of that. Webber says he buys it but why a million miles from Earth. Why didn’t they do it on Earth, in a piece of desert or something? Webber would like to know why. Wickwire says that since Happy Glades promised Everlasting Peace (hmmm, why does that sound familiar?) and that would be quite impossible on Earth.

Petewants to know what Wickwire has to do with it. Wickwire says that he is the caretaker. Pete wants to know when Happy Glades was created and Wickwire replies that it was started in 1973. So now they’re wondering how old he is. Wickwire tells them he’s something like a machine. When people are there he turns on but as soon as they’re gone he’ll go back off again. He  says he must have been off for about 200 years. For some reason this ticks Pete off and he starts charging toward Wickwire. Kurt holds him back though.

Webber tells Wickwire that they’re staying right there. Wickwire replies that he knows. Webber, Pete and Kurt are looking a little dizzy. Pete wants to know what he meant by ‘after they’re gone’ he’ll go back to sleep again. Wickwire tells them it was a figure of speech. Pete freaks out, saying that he told them they shouldn’t trust Wickwire. Which, I’ll point out, he never did. They start stumbling around and dropping. Kurt wants to know why, that they meant him no harm. Wickwire says he knows that and he’s really, really sorry. Webber begs Wickwire for the antidote. Wickwire says that there is no cure, the ‘Eternifying Fluid’ is already going to work. He promises them that it won’t be painful. Kurt wants to know why, why them? Wickwire says that “Because you are here and you are men and while there are men, there can be no peace.”

I get the (heavy-handed) point they’re trying to make but dude, it’s three guys on a deserted asteroid. Men who will grow old and die without procreating. So I really don’t think the murders were necessary. And yeah, I consider them murders since it was unprovoked and the ‘Eternifying’ solution technically kills them.

Our next shot is Wickwire dusting the spaceship and the men inside, frozen in their accustomed places. So, now I’m curious. Did they tell Wickwire where they usually sit or did he just place them randomly? And just happen to place them correctly?

 

Serling:
Kirby, Webber and Meyers, 3 men lost. They shared a common wish, a simple one, really – They wanted to be aboard their ship, headed for home. And fate, a laughing fate, a practical jokester with a smile that stretched across the stars saw to it that they got their wish with just one reservation – the wish came true, but only in the Twilight Zone.


Not one of the best. Mostly because the ‘moral’ makes no sense. Three guys, no women around. Wickwire could have just let them live out their lives. I also wondered why there was food there at all? Of course, it never does show Wickwire serving them actual food, just the Eternifying liquid.


Thanks for joining us and come again next week for another episode: Mirror Image (it’s a good one).

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Fever

The Fever

The Fever Season One – Episode 17

Franklin Gibbs – Everett Sloane
Flora Gibbs – Vivi Janiss
Narrator – Rod Serling

There’s enough neon signs to let us know that yes, indeed, we are in Las Vegas. Let’s see, a roulette wheel, dice, cigarette girl, yup, it is a casino. Two suits from the casino approach a couple whom they call Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs. First Suit asks if they’re enjoying themselves and their room. First Suit says that it’s not every day they have ‘celebrated contest winners’. Second Suit chimes in with “no, just every other day” The Mrs. seems excited to be there but her husband (who looks quite a bit older than her) looks less than thrilled. Second Suit is the photographer for the casino and wants to get a picture for the Gibbs’ hometown newspaper. First Suit says he’ll get the picture off to the Elgin Bugle right away. he tells the Gibbs to enjoy themselves and remember they have unlimited credit. Mr. Gibbs still looks grouchy and First Suit walks away.

Serling:
Mr. and Mrs. Gibbs. 3 Days and 2 nights, all expenses paid at a Las Vegas hotel, won by Mrs. Gibbs’ knack with a phrase. Unbeknownst to either Mr. or Mrs. Gibbs is the fact that there’s a prize in that package neither expected nor bargained for. In just a moment one of them will succumb to an illness worse than any virus can produce. A most inoperative, deadly, life-shattering affliction known as “The Fever”.

Mrs. Gibbs is extremely excited to be there. “There’s such a flavor to the place!” Her words, not mine. Mr. Gibbs basically tells her to cram her flavor, he hates it there. He tells her she knows how he feels about gambling. Flora says it’s different there but Franklin disagrees. Gambling is gambling and it’s an immoral den of iniquity. I’m paraphrasing a bit. He tells Flora that it’s her vacation, she won it. But he’s going to do his damndest to make sure she doesn’t enjoy it.

Flora tells him to try and enjoy it if he can. A lady wins the hundred grand jackpot and they bring it to her a nice big bowl of cash. Ok, I don’t know casino history but did they really do that? It seems a little unsafe to me. Flora eyeballs the Super Jackpot machine. Bad idea Flora. It just paid out. Then a different machine catches her eye. She has the temerity to put a nickel in the machine and Franklin freaks out, snatching her arm away. He says she might as well throw them away. Dude, chill. It’s a freaking nickel. Then he reams her out because she was an idiot and won a contest for the three days and nights that he’s wasting by being there all because she’s silly enough to want to have fun. It seems he was only good with it because it didn’t cost them anything but now that she’s spending actual money, a whole nickel! Well! He just won’t stand for that! Flora honey, cut your losses now.

He’s chewing her out in front of everyone like the douche chugger he is. She tries to calm him down by promising not to play anymore. Then she points out that the nickel is already in it so he ‘lets’ her pull the arm. Damn, it seems like your arm would get tired pulling those things. Which is probably why they switched to buttons on the electronic ones. Don’t want the gamblers getting tired and walking away. It doesn’t win and she jokes that she’s unlucky. Franklin decides he’s had enough of all of this debauchery and leaves to go back to their room.

On the way a drunk guy grabs Franklin, shoves a dollar in his hand and totters off. They’re definitely bigger than a quarter. Franklin gets tempted by a nearby slot machine so he gives it a try with encouraging looks from Flora. He yanks the arm and wins some coins. Franklin says that’s the difference between his intelligence and all the other crazy fools there. They’re going to take their loot and go home with it. Because they’re Baboons but the Gibbs are not. He decides to go off to have a shave before dinner. The drunk guy comes back and feeds another dollar into the machine Franklin just left, seemingly proving his point. But, since we know we’re in the Twilight Zone, things are going to get shaky for the Gibbs.

A freaky voice starts calling Franklin’s name. Ah, the siren call of the slot machines. Although it’s definitely not a nice voice. It’s harsh and rather annoying. In the hotel room Flora is fast asleep and Franklin is eyeballing the stack of dollars. He gets up all sneaky and grabs the stack. Flora turns the lights on and wants to know what Franklin is doing. Franklin says he wants to go get rid of the money. It’s tainted, immoral money and he wants to get rid of it. Whatever Franklin. First you’re a total douche canoe to your wife, in front of everyone, because she wanted to try a nickel machine. Now you’re making excuses to go lose $15 – $20 dollars. I’m thinking it’s Franklin that gets The Fever.

Flora follows him down and says it’s awfully late. Franklin ignores her. He promptly loses the dollars to the machine. He gets some money from the window, already sweating like a baboon. My apologies to the simians. I’d rather hang out with a monkey than Franklin. And I hate those poop-throwing little things. Flora tries to gently pull him away and he bites her head off asking her to kindly shut her mouth. Because he hates shrews that give him miserable luck. he says the slot machines are “inhuman” for letting you win a little and then taking it back. Well, yes, Franklin, machines are generally inhuman. And they don’t make you play. You’ve got legs, you can walk away and the machine won’t follow you.

Five hours later he’s still there. Flora tries to pull him away again but he tells her to leave him alone. I’m telling you Flora, cut your losses. The guys at the cage have a little conversation about him saying “when they get hooked, they get really hooked.” There’s a montage of Franklin using the machine and getting more money out to feed the machine. It’s the next morning and Flora tries to pull him away, again.

There’s more montage of him so we have no idea how much longer it has been. It appears to at least be a day or two. He puts his last dollar in but the machine’s arm jams. He yanks on the arm for a while and then just straight up attacks it. He wants his damn dollar back. They drag him off and says that he’s going to need a doctor. Two casino people prop it back up and hang an ‘Out of Order’ sign on it.

Franklin is upstairs in bed, wide awake and tortured by the machine calling his name. He blames the machine for breaking down so it didn’t have to pay out. He says it’s not a machine but an entity with a will of it’s own. He keeps babbling about that and his last silver dollar. He keeps hearing it calling him. “Franklin!”

He goes to leave the hotel room but “Aaahhh!” The evil slot machine is there! Guess I was wrong, it did grow legs and follow him. He slams the door and runs to the other side of the room. The Evil Machine follows him in and Franklin starts freaking out. Flora tells him there’s nothing there. Franklin backs away from it and falls. The doctor, police officer and cop have a little moralizing over the body. The Evil Slot Machine spits out Franklin’s last silver dollar at him.

Serling:
Mr. Franklin Gibbs, visitor to Las Vegas, who lost his money, his reason and finally, his life to an inanimate metal machine. Variously described as a one-armed bandit, a slot machine, or in Mr. Franklin Gibbs’ words – a monster with a will all it’s own, for our purposes we’ll stick with the latter definition because we’re in the Twilight Zone.


I really, really hate this episode. Franklin’s an ass and the constant “Franklin!” is really annoying. Not much to really say about it.


Please join us again for next week’s episode: The Last Flight (which is much, much better).

Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Hitch-Hiker

The Hitch-Hiker

Nan Adams – Inger Stevens
The Hitch-Hiker – Leonard Strong
Sailor – Adam Williams
Mechanic – Lew Gallo
Counterman – Russ Bender
Gas Station Man (a.k.a. Mean Old Bastard) – George Mitchell

Continue reading “Twilight Zone Tuesday – The Hitch-Hiker”

Twilight Zone Tuesday – I Shot An Arrow Into The Air

I Shot An Arrow Into The Air

Colonel Bob Donlin – Edward Binns
Corey – Dewey Martin
Pierson – Ted Otis

Trigger Warnings (highlight to see): Images of dead bodies (in the show and in this post), someone getting shot and a murder with a rock (offscreen) 

Continue reading “Twilight Zone Tuesday – I Shot An Arrow Into The Air”

Twilight Zone Tuesday – Third from the Sun

Third from the Sun

William Sturka – Fritz Weaving
Eve Sturka – Lori March
Jody Sturka – Denise Alexander
Jerry Riden – Joe Maross
Ann Riden – Jeanne Evans
Carling – Edward Andrews
Narrator – Rod Serling

Continue reading “Twilight Zone Tuesday – Third from the Sun”