The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 35 – The Mighty Casey

This episode is a pure comedy.  The Hoboken Zephyrs are supposedly a very bad NL baseball team residing solidly in the standings cellar.  Their Manager, McGarry (played by Jack Warden) is informed by the General Manager, Beasley that he is going to be out of work if the team doesn’t improve ASAP.  Along comes a young left-handed pitcher named Casey and his “mentor” Dr. Stillman.  After displaying unhittable stuff McGarry wants to hire him on the spot.  When he asks Dr. Stillman for Casey’s age, Stillman tells him that he’s three weeks old.  He further explains that Casey is a robot that Stillman built.

But McGarry is completely unconcerned with the details of his star prospect’s ancestry and the team goes on an extended winning streak which brings them to the very brink of pennant contention.  But fate steps in.  Casey gets beaned and for the sake of safety he is brought to the hospital for a checkup.  The league doctor says that Casey seems fine but upon trying to take his pulse he discovers that Casey has no heart.  Dr. Stillman confirms this and elaborates that Casey is a robot.  The league doctor reports back to the National League that Casey isn’t human and the League official reads the pertinent baseball regulation.  “The game is to be played with nine men.”  It is reinforced that if Casey hasn’t got a heart then he can’t be on the team.  McGarry objects, but Beasley hasn’t got a heart and he owns forty percent of the team.”  But the official is adamant; no heart, no play.  Dr. Stillman intercedes and says that if Casey needs a heart in order to qualify then he’ll install one.   Everyone is satisfied and the modification is made.  At the next game, Casey shows up with his new heart.  He is smiling and happy as compared to his former robotic blank stare.  Dr. Stillman is pleased with the more human aspect of his creation and everyone is jubilant.

Casey is shelled inning after inning.  After the game McGarry questions him about why he was so awful.  His answer was that his new heart meant that he had empathy for the opposing hitters and didn’t want to be responsible for their lack of success.  So, he let them win.  Dr. Stillman comes over to McGarry and tells him he thinks Casey should change careers to social work and gives McGarry a copy of Casey’s blue print as a memento.  Looking at it McGarry has an idea and he goes running across the outfield to catch Stillman and suggest an idea for using his robots in baseball.  It ends with a voice over by Serling talking about a certain East Coast team that moved to California and suddenly had a pitching staff that was basically unbeatable (meaning the actual Dodgers who were the team the Zephyrs were a stand in for).

This is a hokey joke.  When Rod Serling made a later series called the Night Gallery he would have a couple of longer stories and then a short vignette, usually of a comic nature.  This story in a slightly more condensed form would have been perfect for that kind of treatment.

But as you know I prefer the more light-hearted approach to sf&f.  I especially liked the line about the GM not having a heart.  And the Dodgers were the team my family (well most of them) followed until they left New York the year I was born.  For sentimental and aesthetic reasons, I’ll give this a B but I can understand if the more serious readers disagree.  To each his own.

16FEB2019 – OCF Update

This has been a pretty eventful week compared to the preceding few.  William Barr was approved as the new Attorney General.  The President has declared a National Emergency on the southern border and expressed his intention to use that declaration to build a wall on the border.  The useless Congress has produced a bloated awful budget document.  The President continues to chip away at the Obama legacy such as the “disparate impact” criterion by which even good legislation is made worse.  Amazon has reneged on their decision to put a headquarters in New York City, much to the sorrow of Mayor De Blasio and Governor Cuomo (they really need the tax dollars) but much to the delight of that dingbat Ocasio-Cortez.  Even the Chicago Police Department couldn’t acquiesce in Jussie Smollett’s lies about being attacked by MAGA quoting noose brandishing hooligans and seem to have identified the alleged attackers as a Nigerian actor on the show Empire and his brother.  Another four or five Democrats have declared their 2020 Presidential race aspirations.  One of them, Elizabeth Warren was mocked mercilessly by Howie Carr in the Boston Herald because of her ongoing exposure as a lying hypocrite who used her fake native American ethnicity as a ticket to the Harvard Law School faculty and thereby fame, fortune and a senate seat.

I have some more winter photos and I’m embarking on a project in astrophotography.  And because this is Orion’s Cold Fire my first subject will be in the constellation of Orion and I’ll use the Orion 10010 Atlas Pro AZ/EQ-G Computerized GoTo Telescope Mount to track with.  I’m very excited but full of trepidation over the time needed to master the equipment side of it.

On the review side I’ll continue to plow through the Twilight Zone and I’m a third of the way through the latest Galaxy’s Edge volume (Retribution) and will review it when completed.

Now I’m off to my grandson’s basketball game.  Have a nice Saturday everybody.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 34 – The After Hours

I’ll go through this episode but really one word suffices to explain my review, mannequins.

The lovely Anne Francis plays a young woman named Marsha White.  She is in a large department store looking to purchase a gold thimble for her mother.  An obliging elevator operator brings her express to the ninth floor.  But when she gets off the elevator, the whole floor is deserted, dark and empty of merchandise.  Looking confusedly for an explanation she is startled to see and hear a woman.  A very elegantly dressed woman asks her if she needs service and Marsha tells her what she wants to buy.  The woman produces the gold thimble and Marsha pays her.  Then the woman looks at her strangely and asks her if she’s happy.  They get into a little spat about the inappropriateness of the question and Marsha is headed back downstairs with her purchase.  But studying the thimble she realizes it is damaged and she gets off at the third floor to visit the Complaint Department.

There she is told to return it to the Housewares Department for an exchange or a refund.  However, when she states that she bought it on the ninth floor she is met with the news that the store has no ninth floor.  While arguing with the staff about this, Marsha thinks she sees the impertinent sales lady on the floor and rushes to her but when she gets closer, she realizes that she is looking at a mannequin, one that is dressed exactly like the sales lady and in fact has the same face as her.  Marsha faints and is taken care of by the store staff.  Somehow when the store closes, Marsha finds herself locked in.  She starts hearing the mannequins talking to her and when she retreats into the elevator it brings her to the ninth floor.  There she is greeted by the sales lady and finally by all the mannequins now animated and acting as if they know her well.  Incidentally the elevator operator turns out to be a mannequin too.

Obviously, Marsha is very upset by this turn of events but the sales lady calms her down and convinces her to try to remember the details of her recent past.  Finally, Marsha remembers that she herself is a mannequin and was on the one-month vacation that mannequins get to take and go out into the world and be human.  It seems she is a day late and the sales lady has been delayed a day on her turn because of it.  She apologizes to the sales lady, tells the elevator operator that she had a good time and assumes a mannequin pose and in the next scene she’s just a mannequin on the store display.  One of the sales managers (the very recognizable character actor James Millholin) who had been dealing with Marsha’s complaints is startled when he sees the resemblance to the recent patron who was so upset by the other mannequin but nothing comes of his astonishment.  Finally, Serling makes some final comments about the story.

Mannequins.  I’ll put up with a lot in a sci fi or fantasy story.  And I am second to no man in my admiration of the acting and other attributes possessed by the lovely and charming Miss Anne Francis but I will not submit to mannequin tales.  That is too much.  F.

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 33 – Mr. Bevis

For those who’ve been reading the last few of these reviews you will have noticed that I prefer humorous and upbeat Twilight Zone episodes.  So of course Rod Serling comes back with an episode so goofily silly and so ridiculously upbeat that he makes me eat my words.

Orson Bean plays the part of James B. W. Bevis.  He’s a man-child who enjoys zither music, model ships, dogs, sliding down bannisters and playing football with the neighborhood kids.   Unfortunately, he’s not as good at getting to work on time, paying his bills, owning a reasonable automobile or maintaining bureaucratic decorum.

His idiosyncratic lifestyle leads him to lose his job, car and apartment all in the same morning.  While drowning his sorrow at the local watering hole he chances to notice in the bar mirror, a man seated in a chair behind him.  When the man speaks to him he turns and realizes the man isn’t there.  Or rather he’s visible only in the mirror.  This is how he meets his guardian angel.

The angel, named J. Hardy Hempstead, explains that he has been the guardian angel to the Bemis family for hundreds of years and he has been responsible for saving James from the consequences of many of his careless and clumsy actions for many years.  Furthermore, he is about to reverse the unfortunate results of the present day and restore his life to prosperity.  In order to affect this change, he will alter Bevis in various ways to avoid the behaviors that have caused his problems.

Hempstead dresses Bevis in a suit, puts him three weeks ahead on his rent, gives him a sports car and when they arrive at work his bizarre desk decorations are gone and his boss is praising him for his efficient and diligent work habits and providing him with a ten dollar raise.  But when Bevis tells Hempstead that he wants to celebrate his success by going home and playing ball with the kids on the street he is told that they won’t play with him anymore.  Bevis is not that guy anymore.

It’s too much for Bevis.  He insists that Hempstead returns things to the way they were previously.  Immediately he gets fired again and he heads out the door uplifted to have gotten his priorities straightened out again.  As he reaches the street his car is restored to working order, so he knows that Hempstead is still looking out for him.  In fact, a fire hydrant that he is parked next to magically moves over a spot just as a cop is going to write him a ticket.

Let’s just say that there is such thing as too much of a good thing.  I do prefer the sunnier side of the street and all that but this is a bit much.  I’d give it a C but Orson Bean is on our side of the aisle (he was Breitbart’s father-in-law) so I’ll give it a B-.