The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 2 Episode 20 – Static

Ed Lindsay is an old man living in a rooming house that features a communal living space where the residents gather to watch tv at night.  When we meet them, Ed is playing checkers with the “Professor” who is also paying more attention to the tv western than to his game.  This enrages Ed who goes off on a tirade on the stupidity and unhealthiness of the tv content.  His fellow boarders barely respond to his invective and remain glued to the tube.  Finally, in disgust, Ed heads down to the basement to reclaim his antique console-sized radio and with the help of a neighborhood boy carries it upstairs to his apartment.

Once powered up Ed attempts to tune in some kind of acceptable programming.  After rejecting the local rock and roll stations he finds that the rest of the dial is just static.  But just as it seems he will be defeated he bangs the top of the radio with his hand and he hears the sound of his favorite Tommy Dorsey song coming over the radio.  Ed is delighted to hear his old music and afterwards the radio plays others of his favorite radio shows from more than twenty years ago.  Ed calls to the neighbors to share his discovery.  But when the Professor and a female resident named Vinnie come to his room to hear what he’s excited about there is nothing but static.

The pattern repeats itself where Ed hears some old time show but when anyone else enters the room the broadcast is gone.  When the Professor recommends that Ed call the radio station to find out how to improve reception the operator informs Ed that the radio station, he named went out of business ten years ago.  Ed isn’t disturbed by this revelation but the other tenants assume that Ed is imagining hearing things that aren’t there.

The next day Ed returns to his room to find that his radio is gone.  He confronts his neighbors and Vinnie admits that she gave the radio away to the junk dealer.  Ed goes off in a rage down to the junk dealer’s store and pays the man to take back his radio.  When he returns Vinnie shows up at his apartment and gives the back story to what is going on.

When She and Ed were twenty years younger, they were engaged to be married but Ed’s mother was ill so they postponed it and events conspired so that they never married and became bitter ex-lovers who lived next to each other in disappointment and regret.  And she further notes that every year on the anniversary of their engagement Ed waxes nostalgic for his earlier life.  For instance, the Tommy Dorsey song he keeps hearing was actually the song that Ed and Vinnie had considered their own.  Ed rejects this explanation and forcefully sticks to his story that he was hearing the programs he said he heard on the radio.  And he tells Vinnie to leave his room.

Once alone, Ed tunes in the radio and he hears Tommy Dorsey again and is so excited he calls out to Vinnie to come back and hear it.  She walks through the door and this time she’s a young woman again and she’s still in love with Ed.  And Ed is much younger too.  And now they will relive their lives the way they should have, together and in love.

Dean Jagger plays Ed and he puts all the right amount of cranky old man and someone mourning for the good old days when things were great.  The rest of the cast do well enough and the story moves along without slowing down enough to annoy me.  The plot is simple wish fulfillment around a magic talisman, in this case the radio that has a direct link back to the old world that Ed longs for.  This type of story is done quite often on the Twilight Zone.  I won’t claim that this version is particularly special but it seems to work and I like it enough to give it a B.