Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 09-11-2021, 03:28 AM   #71 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
bob_32_116's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: 32S 116E
Posts: 312
Default

Which is the episode where two spacemen on an alien planet find a race of tiny creatures with their own fully developed civilisation, and they come to revere one of the men as a god, and construct a full-sized statue of him?
bob_32_116 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-11-2021, 07:23 AM   #72 (permalink)
Call me Mustard
 
rubber soul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Pepperland
Posts: 1,616
Default

The Little People. That one is wicked.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pet_Sounds View Post
But looking for quality interaction on MB is like trying to stay hydrated by drinking salt water.
rubber soul is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2021, 07:29 PM   #73 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,062
Default


Okay then, time to get going again.

Before we do, a few overall comments.

From season two onwards, Serling no longer just narrates the introduction, but appears on screen, either as part of the episode or just standing off-centre, as it were. I'll be explaining how he enters each episode as we go. Closing narration is still just a voiceover though.

Whereas season one suffered from occasional changes in opening titles, season two is more cohesive and together, however I feel the "new" titles give the impression of being rushed, as if Serling has to speak against a clock. He's talking about "a wondrous land whose boundaries are that of imagination" and then suddenly he seems to almost gasp out "There's a signpost up ahead! Your next stop, The Twilight Zone!" It just seems, well, wrong to me, but there it is. We saw some of these titles, as I say, on a few of the season one episodes but now they're here to stay.

In selecting candidates for the "And Isn't That...?" section I've tried to ensure that, while not every actor or actress is well known enough that everyone would know him or her, I chose people whose contribution to TV and film would remind people who they are, even if I don't know the show or film in question, or the person. So for instance, someone might say "Oh! That guy from Gilligan's Island" or "Right! I remember her from Leave it to Beaver" or whatever. In general, if the person is not, or was not, an actor I've tended to shy away from them, with some notable exceptions.

I've also drawn the border at the 1950s (occasionally mentioning work before then if relevant) as overall (no offence meant to any octogenarians or nonagenarians here of course) the people reading this are unlikely to remember or recognise work from before then. Because they were mostly the only shows around at the time, a huge percentage of these actors worked on western or cowboy shows, but many of these won't be known to our generation, and anyway I can't note every single appearance of every actor on every screen, so if I've missed something important about someone let me know. I'll obviously also highlight any genre links that can be pointed to.

I've changed a few things to my format since season one, and added others. You'll see these as we go along, but the main change is I've removed the "Iconic?" section as I really don't think it works for most episodes. I've replaced it with "Possible Inspiration For" which I think speaks for itself.

I think that's more or less it. Sorry for the wait, but
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-15-2021, 07:48 PM   #74 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,062
Default

Note: I'm still working on these, and a ton of other stuff as well, so don't expect the rush of episodes that constituted season one. In general, if I get one a week posted I'll consider it an achievement.

"You're in the desert now, you idiot! You're gonna need water!"

Title: “King Nine Will Not Return”
Original transmission date: September 30 1960
Written by: Rod Serling
Directed by: Buzz Kulik
Starring: Bob Cummings as Captain James Embry
Gene Lyons as Psychiatrist
Paul Lambert as Doctor
Jenna McMahon as Nurse

Setting: Earth
Timeframe: Present (at the time)
Theme(s): Dislocation, loneliness, time travel, death, responsibility
Parodied? Not to my knowledge, no
Rating: A

Serling’s opening monologue

This is Africa, 1943. War spits out its violence overhead, and the sandy graveyard swallows it up. Her name is King Nine, B-25, medium bomber, Twelfth Air Force. On a hot, still morning, she took off from Tunisia to bomb the southern tip of Italy. An errant piece of flak tore a hole in the wing tank and, like a wounded bird, this is where she landed, not to return on this day, or any other day.

Captain Embry, officer in command of a USAF B-25 Bomber which has crashed in the desert wakes to find himself alone in the wreckage. He has no idea where his crew are, and can’t remember bailing out (there’s no sign of a parachute), so if he didn’t then how come he’s alive? And where is the rest of his crew? He searches the hulk of the plane but there is no sign of them. Then he thinks he sees one of them in the cockpit as he investigates a dropped canteen outside, which seems to be belong to another of them, but the crewman vanishes and he realises it was just his imagination.

But it’s not his imagination that he’s still alone in the unforgiving heat, with no supplies and little water, and no idea of how he got there, or more importantly, how he’s going to get out of here. Embry begins to entertain the notion that he may not even be here, may be dying out in the desert and just hallucinating all of this. Then he comes across a grave marker for one of the crew, and a moment later jet fighters streak across the sky. He’s never seen such aircraft before. And yet… he knows what they are. He can name them. He shouldn’t even know what a jet is - in 1943 even the Nazis were only experimenting with them, and the US would not have had any jet aircraft, but he can recall what these planes are.

His mind begins to snap under the strain, and he talks to an invisible crew, telling them that they have to get the plane back in the air. He even tries to physically lift it himself. Breaking down entirely, he wakes up in a hospital bed, where the doctors are talking about him, saying that he was supposed to have captained the bomber, but King 9 had another captain, and now it has somehow mysteriously reappeared in the desert after seventeen years. It’s in the newspapers, and they reckon the story must have sparked off old memories, perhaps guilt at not having gone on that fateful flight in which all of the crew were lost, and driven Embry into some kind of psychosis. They assure him that he couldn’t possibly have gone back to the desert, and yet, when his clothes are brought in by the nurse, sand is found in his boots.


Serling’s closing monologue

Enigma buried in the sand, a question mark with broken wings that lies in silent grace as a marker in a desert shrine. Odd how the real consorts with the shadows, how the present fuses with the past. How does it happen? The question is on file in the silent desert, and the answer? The answer is waiting for us - in the Twilight Zone.

The Resolution

It’s a good one really. It’s not made clear as the episode goes on if Embry is actually in the desert, dead or dreaming, and even at the end we’re not sure. Using the newspaper report as a catalyst for his “return” is clever, what psychiatrists and criminologists today would call a trigger event.

The Moral

I don’t see one, maybe guilt can do terrible things to a person?

Serling's Appearance

Here, for the first time (other than the jokey one in the final episode of the previous season) we see Serling in person, as he appears in the sand just to the right of the crashed bomber.

Themes

Madness is once again centre stage, or at least, the possibility of madness. How else to explain it when you’re standing outside your crashed bomber in the desert, alone and with no idea how you survived? As the pressure mounts on Embry his mind cracks, and we’re led to believe this is what wakes him up in his hospital bed. But what about the boots? War is another theme, as this is one of only a few so far episodes set in or against the backdrop of war, and that old chestnut, loneliness, comes back to haunt us. One of the worst things man can go through is an extended period of being alone, with nobody to talk to and nothing to do, no way out, which is why solitary confinement is seen as such a harsh punishment. Mystery is a staple of the show, and there’s certainly a mystery to be unravelled here, though like most Twilight Zone episodes, there’s no simple solution at the end.

Another theme played very strongly on here is that of responsibility and duty of care. Several times Embry shouts out to his crew that he is responsible for them, that as captain he is supposed to take care of them. It’s almost like a frantic father worrying about losing his children. Quite touching really, given the usual hard-man attitude espoused by airmen and how they’re usually portrayed. Makes Embry’s character more approachably human and fallible, and someone we can identify with.

And isn’t that…?



Robert Cummings (1910 - 1990)

Apart from perhaps having one of the most unfortunate names in showbusiness, it seems he was one of the great “also-rans” of Hollywood. He starred opposite Betty Grable in her last movie and was also in Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, and yet he always seemed to be, according to himself, second choice for movie roles. He was tapped for Bewitched (which surely would have made his name) but didn’t get it, though he did later guest in one episode, and though he had his own eponymous show on TV in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and got to officiate at the opening of Disneyland alongside Ronald Reagan, and had two stars on Hollywood Boulevard, to say nothing of gaining no less than five Primetime Emmy nominations and winning one, he doesn’t seem to have liked making movies. He often said to his wife that he wished there was some other way he could make a living.

Mildly interestingly, given the theme and setting of this episode, Cummings starred in two movies with desert in the title and two to do with flying, as well as one with king in the title. Yeah, I know: big deal, but you see, I notice these incidences of serendipity. Oh, and he was also in The Flying Nun… okay, okay, I’m going, I’m going! One more thing: he actually was a pilot. Yes I know where the door is, thank you very much!

Gene Lyons (1921 - 1974)

Like most actors of this era, he played in lots of western/cop TV shows, but our interest in him would lie with his role in Star Trek’s “A Taste of Armageddon”, and I personally remember Ironside, the wheelchair-bound detective (very much ahead of its time) on which he was a regular.





Paul Lambert (1922 - 1997)

Remembered for the original Planet of the Apes movie as well as Spartacus (alongside Kirk Douglas) and (often uncredited) roles in Apocalypse Now, Death Wish II, American Graffiti and All the President’s Men.

Questions, and sometimes, Answers

The radio on the B-25 crackles, but though Embry talks into it, giving his details, nobody answers. Is this because the frequency is no longer used or recognised, or because this is a dream/vision and he’s not really using the radio at all?

How is it that the plane has suddenly appeared in the desert after all this time? There’s no evidence around it of its having been, for instance, covered by sand dunes that have blown away to reveal it, indeed the ground all around it is flat and even.

Those clever little touches

The plane is called King 9, shortened to K9. K-9 - canine? And like a faithful dog, it appears it’s been waiting for its master all this time in the hot desert sand.

Parallels

I find it a little disappointing how similar this episode is, in its basic essence, to the season one episode “The Last Flight”: a pilot from the past (in that case, World War I) comes into the future (the show’s present) and has no idea how they got there. There are, of course, major differences between the two stories but I would have preferred something more original to kick off the second season. I also mark very clear lines back to the pilot episode: we have almost a one-man story here, with two other characters only showing up at the very end and fulfilling pretty minor roles (and one nurse with one line), he has no idea what’s going on and faces going mad. He even nods back to “Where is Everybody?” by considering that he might be imagining all of what’s happening.

It also closely parallels the ending of the pilot episode, where both men are completely alone in a world which turns out to be one of their own imagination (though the ending of this one does cast doubt on that), both looking for other people but only encountering what you could term as ghosts, or maybe impressions of living beings. Embry sees mirages and visions, whereas the guy in the first episode of season one sees what appear to be models, when he sees anyone at all, otherwise it’s half-glimpsed suggestions of people - a movie theatre without a projectionist, a cigar left behind seemingly in a hurry, music that seems to be a band but there’s nobody there.

Finally, there are loose parallels too to “I Shot an Arrow Into the Air”, as the setting is the desert and there is only one person left to try to navigate it; also the idea that it is somewhere (or when) else is used here, though in the other episode it was assumed to be an alien asteroid. Here, it’s assumed to be 1943 when in fact it’s 1960. A canteen of water - vital kit of course for desert survival - also features in both episodes, as do graves.

Sussed?

A new section, in which I’ll discuss how predictable, or not, the story was, and if I guessed what it was about after, say, the first five minutes.

In this case, no, not at all. I had no idea what was going on.

The WTF Factor

And another, in which I’ll assign each episode a rating of 1 to 10, based on how much of a twist (and an unpredictable one) there is in it.

Factor here is 9

Personal Notes

There are several firsts as the new season opens. The famous theme is used for the first time, as well as Rod Serling’s actually appearing in each episode instead of just doing the voiceover, though only (at least here) at the start. It’s also the first time I’ve seen an episode of the show where the vast bulk of the dialogue is silent, which is to say, takes place inside Embry’s head as he’s thinking, sort of talking to himself. The only actual spoken dialogue are a few outbursts from him when he’s trying to find his crew, and then the scenes in the hospital. It’s quite clever because in a way, Cummings as Embry fulfils the role of Serling in creating a kind of running narrative.

I find myself wondering at the title. Given that there is mystery and an element of fantasy here, could Serling be making an oblique reference towards the third and final part of Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings? Also, there is a nod back to Dickens here surely, when Embry, finally losing it, sinks to his knees and grasps handfuls of sand, which turn out to be the sheets of his bed in the hospital, almost exactly as Ebenezer Scrooge claws at the soil of his own grave and then wakes up in his own bed. And again, when the doctor tells Embry he’ll be all right now; isn’t this the same feeling Scrooge has when he realises he is not after all dead?
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-16-2021, 06:00 AM   #75 (permalink)
Call me Mustard
 
rubber soul's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2017
Location: Pepperland
Posts: 1,616
Default

Note: Will do my own quickie reviews for every five episodes Troll does (It is his journal after all ). Will say that seasons two and three are the peak of the TZ reign. So many great episodes in those two seasons.
__________________
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pet_Sounds View Post
But looking for quality interaction on MB is like trying to stay hydrated by drinking salt water.
rubber soul is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-22-2021, 06:31 AM   #76 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,062
Default

“No matter what you wish for, you must be prepared for the consequences”

Title: “The Man in the Bottle”
Original transmission date: October 7 1960
Written by: Rod Serling
Directed by: Don Medford
Starring: Luther Adler
Vivi Janiss
Joseph Ruskin
Olan Soule
Lisa Colm


Setting: Earth
Timeframe: Present (at the time)
Theme(s): Desperation, greed, wish fulfilment, magic, redemption
Parodied? Multiple times
Rating: A -

Serling’s opening monologue

"Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, gentle and infinitely patient people whose lives have been a hope chest with a rusty lock and a lost set of keys. But in just a moment that hope chest will be opened and an improbable phantom will try to bedeck the drabness of these two people's failure laden lives with the gold and precious stones of fulfillment. Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, standing on the outskirts and about to enter the Twilight Zone."



The last refuge of the truly desperate: the pawnbroker. The problem is, you can be the people’s friend, or you can be a businessman, but you can’t be both, not and still make a living. Mr. Arthur Castle is, however, the former, or tries to be, so that when a woman comes in offering a clearly worthless glass bottle for pawn and looking for a dollar, her situation affects him so that he gives in, knowing himself to be a fool. But he’d rather be a kind fool. So he pays the money and wonders what he’s going to do with an old bottle nobody would pay a cent for, never mind a dollar? But sometimes, kindness is its own reward.

And sometimes, not.

As his wife gently berates him for being so soft, Arthur knocks the bottle off the counter and the top pops out. And that’s not all that pops out. A thin stream of smoke slowly issues from the neck of the carboy, resolving into a man, who tells them he’s a (say it with me) genie, and can grant them four wishes. Rather foolishly - and obviously wanting to test the veracity of the man’s claims - Arthur wastes his first wish on a trivial matter: the replacing of glass in a broken display case. But when he sees the glass repair before his eyes, suddenly neither he nor his wife are quite so sceptical any more.

His wife, however, is scared of the genie, believing him evil, or else worrying that her husband is selling his soul, but Arthur rather predictably asks for a million dollars, which he gets. Suddenly his wife is no longer worried, as the money rains literally down from the sky. Rather nicely, the Castles don’t misspend their money, but use it to help their struggling friends and neighbours, however the big bad taxman steps in, and the IRS tell them they owe virtually all the money to the government. Oh, don’t get me started on the government!

Now the truth starts to hit home, as it does in any story with genies - there’s a sting in the tail. All wishes come with real-world consequences which must be faced, and if you’re the wisher you must think extremely carefully and box clever not to be outfoxed by the simple circumstances that will attend your wish. Also, as his frustration grows, Arthur becomes more irritable, less tolerant of his wife, snappy and agitated as he tries to think of a sure-fire wish that won’t come back to bite him and make him wish (sorry) he hadn’t asked for it.

His greed is now infecting his wife, who finally succumbs when he decides he wants the genie to make him “the ruler of a powerful country” and puts what caveats he can think of upon the wish, and of course you can see where this is going. When he realises he has been turned into Hitler, he remembers that he has one last wish, and as ever, uses it to undo his last wish, returning to the honest, but broke, pawnbroker he was in the first place. Suddenly his life doesn’t look so bad.


Serling’s closing monologue


A word to the wise, now, to the garbage collectors of the world, to the curio seekers, to the antique buffs, to everyone who would try to coax out a miracle from unlikely places. Check that bottle you're taking back for a two-cent deposit. The genie you save might be your own. Case in point, Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Castle, fresh from the briefest of trips into The Twilight Zone.

The Resolution

When it comes to genies, we all know how it’s going to end, and when Arthur makes his penultimate wish, it’s way too obvious what’s going to happen. For 1960 yeah, maybe, but to us worldly-wise and jaded viewers of “what-if” stories, nah. Poor.

The Moral

As with just about every genie tale, the moral is twofold: careful what you wish for, and be happy with what you have.

Themes

Desperation plays a close role in the lives of the Castles, as they struggle to meet their commitments, pay the bills and keep afloat. It’s like a dark shadow just glimpsed over the shoulder, waiting, reaching, stretching to drag them both down into the abyss. Magic has to be an element, as there’s a genie and wishes involved, and of course where there’s a genie there’s greed, and nobody ever wishes for world peace or love to all men. I’m sure I wouldn’t do that myself. When it comes to wishes, we’re all selfish and insular.

Oops!

Ah, does Serling not know his history? Hitler died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and yet here his general gives him poison to take.

And isn’t that…?



Luther Adler (1903 - 1984)

A lot of these older actors have, by the time 1960 rolls around, already played major roles in film and later TV, but as most of these will be unknown even to my generation (Naked City, The Untouchables, 77 Sunset Strip etc) I’m going to see if from here on in I can pull out some interesting nuggets of whimsical information about their career, such as in the last episode, where Robert Cummings had roles in films whose themes or titles had to do with deserts or aircraft.

So here, while Adler played in the above shows and also Mission: Impossible and Hawaii Five-0, and appeared in many movies, none of them are big names we would know. However he did star in The Magic Face and Cast a Giant Shadow, each of which could indirectly refer back to genii, but the most interesting is a movie he did in 1975, which was titled The Man in the Glass Booth, which is only one word and indeed three letters removed from the title of this episode. Weird, huh? He also has that kind of face that made me think I definitely knew him, but I realise now I don't. Possibly also interesting, given how he ended up in the story, that both his first and surname seem German… Oh, and I read further too that he played Hitler in two movies, one of which was that one The Magic Face. Spooky! And he was Jewish!


Vivi Janiss (1911 - 1988)

And the coincidences just keep coming! Or should I say, Cumming, as believe it or not, she was married to (drum roll please) Robert Cummings, who we met in the previous episode! No, really. And not only that, in an episode of private eye/comedy series The Rockford Files in 1977, she played a pawnshop owner! You couldn’t make this stuff up! Seems we met her in the season one episode “The Fever”, but I don’t think I noted her as really, beyond the links to the previous episode and this, her film and TV life doesn’t really mark her out.



Jack Ruskin (1924 - 2013)

Some Star Trek credits here: Ruskin played in four of the franchises, the original series as Galt in “The Gamesters of Triskelion”, Deep Space 9 as the Klingon Tumek in “The House of Quark” and “Looking for Par’mach in All the Wrong Places” and as a Cardassian in “Improbable Cause”, Voyager as a Vulcan Master in “Gravity” and in Enterprise in the episode “Broken Bow”. He was also in the movie Star Trek Insurrection. Apart from that rather impressive roll call, he was in the classic movie Robin and the 7 Hoods, the cult TV series Get Smart, as well as both The Six Million Dollar Man and its spinoff, The Bionic Woman and the movies Prizzi’s Honor and Indecent Proposal.

One thing that really strikes me as I do these bios is the fact that someone who may play the smallest, most insignificant part in an episode could have the brightest and most famous career, or at least be a well-travelled actor. So it is with this guy, whose total contribution to the episode is about two minutes, if that. He plays the IRS man (oh boo yourself!) but his resume is impressive.

Olan Soule (1909 - 1994)

With a staggering 7,000 radio commercials and ads under his belt, 60 movies and credits in over 200 TV shows, Soule is probably best known for being the voice of Batman in various animated series, a role which gave him fifteen years of employment, from 1968 - 1983. He also appeared in shows such as Mission: Impossible, Bonanza, The Six Million Dollar Man, Fantasy Island, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century, The Addams Family, Little House on the Prairie, Dallas and Bewitched, and was in movies like North by Northwest, Days of Wine and Roses, The Cincinatti Kid and The Towering Inferno, as well as two classic cult sci-fi movies, This Island Earth and The Day the Earth Stood Still (uncredited in both).

Questions, and sometimes, Answers

Obviously it’s done for dramatic effect, but why does Arthur have to be Hitler in the bunker at the end? If the genie had been kinder, he could have put him into the dictator’s body during the height of his power. Yes, it would have been abominable to have inhabited that twisted consciousness, but at least he could have “enjoyed” being Hitler for a few years. And do we assume his wife has taken on the persona of Eva Braun? Overly vindictive, I feel.

As only his last wish was undone (though he said he wished everything was back as it was) are we to assume that all the money he gave away remains? Did his taxes go to the IRS? And is it even possible that the tax on a million dollars could be almost a million dollars? What is that: like 98% tax? Surely that’s not right, especially in the 1960s?

Why four wishes? For story purposes, sure, but general myth and story tradition holds that a genie grants three wishes, not four. Special bargain, one time only, never to be repeated, act now before it’s too late?

The Times they are a Changin’


Or not, actually. People are still desperate for money and as you’ll see from such shows as Pawn Stars and Hardcore Pawn, the humble pawnbroker still does a roaring trade. When the bank laughs at you and the credit union kicks you out, your last option before throwing your lot in with the unscrupulous loan sharks or payday loan companies (same thing really) is to head down to that famous sign and see what the man in the shop can do for you.

Sussed?

I’d have to say yes. It’s hard to come up with a new twist on the old genie story. After all, it goes right back to the 1001 Nights/Arabian Nights (and maybe further), and always takes the same tack: the wisher ends up realising he has been tricked, or not read the small print closely enough, and his last wish undoes everything and sets all back to how it was. Once Arthur made his third wish it was painfully obvious what was going to happen. Had it been his fourth, that might have been better.

The WTF Factor

Low, 4 at best. Hardly even deserves that. Very very predictable.

Personal Notes

There is at least some change to the standard genie story, with the creature this time emerging as the bottle opens, not when it’s polished - kind of hard to imagine why Arthur might have bothered polishing an old bottle, which is probably why it was changed - and then at the end the smashed bottle reconstitutes itself, waiting for the next victim.

And is there really any need for his narration in the bunker? “Oh no! I’m Hitler!” Is there seriously anyone in the world who doesn’t know that face? Completely and absolutely superfluous and, I feel, a major insult to the viewer’s intelligence. It did however set up a nice parody decades later when Futurama came on air and used stories from The Scary Door as introductions to some of the episodes.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2021, 05:10 AM   #77 (permalink)
Music Addict
 
bob_32_116's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2016
Location: 32S 116E
Posts: 312
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trollheart View Post
[I]
Why four wishes? For story purposes, sure, but general myth and story tradition holds that a genie grants three wishes, not four. Special bargain, one time only, never to be repeated, act now before it’s too late?
Some writers of "genie" stores have the person, upon being told that they have three wishes, make their first wish "metawish" that they be granted a hundred wishes, or a million, or an unlimited number. It's hard to see how the genie could back out of that, since a metawish is still a wish.

Or you have the case of the guy who, on rubbing the lamp, sees the genie emerge and hears him say "Greetings, master! In return for releasing me from my prison, I shall grant you one wish, any wish you like."

"Hang on" says the man. "In every story I have ever heard, the genie grants the person three wishes. What happened to the other two?"

"Well, you do get three, but let me explain... you did originally get three wishes, but you don't remember the first two, because your second wish was to undo the first one and make everything like it was before, so no one except me knows that you have already used up the first two. This is actually your third wish."

The man looks sceptical about this, but there is not much he can do about it, and having just one wish is a lot better than none... so he thinks long and hard about what to wish for, and finally says:

"I know what I want. I've never had much luck with members of the opposite sex. I want to be absolutely irresistible to women!"

"Abracadabra!" cries the genie, and there is an explosion of light and thunder. "Done!" he says. "And my work is done too, and so I leave you." Just before flying off in into the distance, he softly intones "Funny. That was your first wish too."
bob_32_116 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2021, 02:18 PM   #78 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,062
Default

Like it, like it!
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 09-23-2021, 02:21 PM   #79 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,062
Default

Then there's the old one. Genie appears, offers man one wish. Man thinks about it and then says "All right, I have it. Build me a bridge to take me to Heaven so I can meet God."

Genie looks at him with pity. "That is impossible. Try again."

Man thinks again, hard. Then he nods. "Okay then, what about this? I want to understand women. I want to know what they mean when you ask them what's wrong and they say "nothing". The cold, angry silences. The lost temper. How they remember important dates you forget, and how they can bring up something you said in the heat of an argument years ago and use it against you. I want to know what goes on inside their heads, what they think about, how they feel."

Genie sighs.
"How high did you want that bridge again?"
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 10-10-2021, 11:04 AM   #80 (permalink)
Born to be mild
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: 404 Not Found
Posts: 24,062
Default

“Anyone ever tell you what you look like? You look like a man trying to catch the subway at five o’clock: you always look like someone’s trying to squeeze you through a door.”

Title: “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room”
Original transmission date: October 14 1960
Written by: Rod Serling
Directed by: Douglas Heyes
Starring: Joe Mantell as Jackie "John" Rhoades
William D. Gordon as George


Setting: Earth
Timeframe: Present (at the time)
Theme(s): desperation, second chances, violence, crime, redemption
Parodied? Not to my knowledge, no
Rating: A

Serling's opening monologue

This is Mr. Jackie Rhoades, age thirty-four, and where some men leave a mark of their lives as a record of their fragmentary existence on Earth, this man leaves a blot, a dirty, discolored blemish to document a cheap and undistinguished sojourn amongst his betters. What you're about to watch in this room is a strange mortal combat between a man and himself, for in just a moment, Mr. Jackie Rhoades, whose life has been given over to fighting adversaries, will find his most formidable opponent in a cheap hotel room that is in reality the outskirts of The Twilight Zone.

Nervous is right. When we first meet him, Jackie Rhoades is biting his fingernails, waiting for a phone call which then comes. It appears to be someone above him, a boss or something, and when Jackie asks what the caller, whose name is George, wants, what his plan is, Jackie falls over himself trying to reassure this George that he is not trying to “cop out”. I’m going to take a wild stab in the dark and say this is a criminal who’s been told to wait in a hotel room for instructions on where and when to pull a job. Jackie is very concerned about the heat outside, and the length of time he’s been left waiting, but his impatience and frustration has been interpreted by “George” as a reluctance to carry out the plan, whatever it is. Jackie tries to assure him this is not so.

George hangs up, and the nervous man gets even more nervous; the appearance in person of George does not calm him down, in fact if anything it makes him more ill-at-ease. He talks about how he’s one job short of being put away, and asks George if there is something easier he can do? Not this time though. George assures him it will be no shakedown, no delivery to a fence, no: this time he wants him to step up to the big leagues. He’s going to kill a troublesome old bar owner who won’t pay up the protection money. He hands Jackie a gun, but the smalltime crook recoils from it, saying he has beaten people up before (but always, he says, from behind - “I ain’t got no guts!”) but has never killed anyone. Doesn’t know if he can do it.

But George is not interested. He’s using Jackie as his hitman precisely because he has never done this before. He’s on the cops’ radar for nickel and dime stuff, but nothing big, so he won’t be suspected when it goes down. When George leaves, warning Jackie that if he doesn’t do the job he’ll be killed himself, Jackie has a conversation with himself in the mirror.

Until the mirror reflection of him comes to life.

Uh-huh.

There it is, another, harder, tougher, less compromising and certainly less nervous version of himself, berating him from beyond the glass. The reflection tells him it is part of him, an older, long-forgotten part, an aspect of his being that could have made it big, but when the time came to take a fork in the road, Jackie went the way of the smalltime hoodlum, and now he has a chance to finally correct that. Thinking - unsurprisingly - that he is going mad, Jackie tries to first talk to and then avoid his reflection, but it’s in every mirror he looks in.

As he can’t avoid it, he starts talking to his reflection (well, continues talking to it, but properly now) as it tells him about all the bad choices he has made in his life, how he could have been a good man, a good husband, stayed out of jail, made something of himself. His reflection it seems is that, for want of another word, good part of him that Jackie suppressed and never let out, that he ignored and resisted, and now he’s going to get killed, and with his death the reflection will die too. He wants to take over, live Jackie’s life properly, the way it should have been lived - a good life, a happy life, a successful life free of crime and guns and the Georges of this world.

Thinking he has worked out the trick, Jackie pushes the dresser on which the mirror is standing away, but there’s nothing behind it. Desperately, he spins the mirror on its hinge and suddenly….

When George returns to berate Jackie for not killing the old man, it’s a new Jackie he finds. He’s beaten up, kicked out and the new Jackie tells the old - now imprisoned in the mirror and wondering what will become of him - that a whole new chapter of his life has been opened. He leaves the four dollar room, never to return.

Serling's closing monologue

Exit Mr. John Rhoades, formerly a reflection in a mirror, a fragment of someone else's conscience, a wishful thinker made out of glass, but now made out of flesh, and on his way to join the company of men. Mr. John Rhoades, with one foot through the door and one foot out of the Twilight Zone.

The Resolution

Very predictable, and clumsily handled, I feel. The story has been leading up to the mirror Jackie taking over, and that’s exactly what happens. Bah.

The Moral

Make a change with the man in the mirror?

Serling's Appearance

It’s interesting to see that while, in the last two episodes, Serling's entrance was rather mundane - walking in the desert or into the pawn shop - the kind of thing where if you didn’t know who he was you might just assume he was an extra, in this one the perspective skews. We see a top-down view of the room with Jackie lying on the bed, and Serling superimposed over it, standing, so that it seems like he floats above the room. Maybe it’s meant to convey his godlike presence as the agent of fate or whatever, but it’s odd. Later we also see Jackie in top-down mode, but this time without the narrator.

Themes

Madness, as Jackie thinks he’s gone insane, talking to his own reflection. Also desperation; he knows he has nothing to look forward to, and fears what will happen both if he kills the old man on George’s instructions and if he does not. Second chances as he is given the opportunity to live a life he could have had, had he made better choices. Crime, a recurrent motif in the show, is here too, and I guess you could also add in magic or even doppelgangers, with redemption finally taking centre stage.

And isn't that...?

Joe Mantell (1915 - 2010)

Best known for being the speaker of the final line in the classic 1974 Jack Nicholson movie Chinatown - “Forget it, Jake: it’s Chinatown!” Mantell also had a role in Hitchcock’s The Birds, albeit a small one, and, well, that’s kind of it really. Again I thought I knew him but I don’t.

Questions, and sometimes, Answers

Is it not a little silly how easily George - whom we’re led to understand is a big time crime boss, a kingpin, allows George to defy him and doesn’t even retaliate? Sure, the biggest bullies are usually the biggest cowards, but why doesn’t he shoot him, or get some of his guys to do so later on? But he just folds, and runs off. As if.

Iconic?

Not at all.

Those clever little touches

There’s a good line in dialogue, kind of stolen later by Police Squad! When he’s talking to his reflection Jackie says “nobody tells me what to do!” A moment later the phone rings and it’s George, and with all his pent-up anger suddenly deflated out of him, he mumbles “sure George, I’m doing what you told me to do.”

Sussed?

No, not really. I was thinking along other lines. When Jackie’s mirror image started berating him I thought this might be where he found the guts he said he hadn’t got to do the job, and that it might in fact have given him confidence and made him a tougher criminal. Guess that would have been a poor message to put out though.

The WTF Factor

Another low one, maybe a 4 again.

Personal Notes

This and the first episode have been masterclasses in one-person acting. It’s got to be hard, acting a scene in which there is nobody else, so much more so when it’s a whole episode, but both actors pull it off very well.

Great. Now I read that the whole reason for there being only two actors in total was to save costs! That’s my bubble burst then. Oh well, it doesn’t invalidate the powerful solo performance of Joe Mantell.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2021 Advameg, Inc.