The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 5 Episode 12 – Ninety Years Without Slumbering

Ed Wynn is Sam Forstmann, an old man living with his granddaughter and her husband, Marnie and Doug Kirk.  Sam has a grandfather’s clock that he tends to compulsively.  He was given the clock by his father on the day he was born and Sam believes if the clock ever stops his heart will stop too and he’ll die.

Doug is upset that Sam is worrying Marnie with all his fretting about the clock.  Marnie is expecting a child and Doug wants Sam to see a psychiatrist to determine if Sam is lucid.  When Sam goes to the psychiatrist, he tells the old man that the delusion about the clock is unhealthy and he should get rid of the clock.

Sam gives the clock to their next-door neighbor Carol, and is happy for the first couple of weeks as he gets to go over every other day to wind it.  But one day he finds that the neighbors have gone out of town for the week and Sam panics.  In the middle of the night he tries to break into the house to wind the clock but the police see him breaking a window and escort him home.

Now reconciled to his own death as the clock winds down he takes to his bed.  Suddenly his spirit, looking like a ghost of himself arrives and tells him his time to die has arrived.  But inexplicably Sam tells his spirit that he doesn’t believe that clock can determine his life and death and the spirit becomes dispirited and fades away.

Now Marnie shows up at his bedside expecting the worst but Sam rebounds and tells her he’s fine and the important thing is her child.  He takes her downstairs to have some hot chocolate and sounds like a new man determined to embrace life.

Ed Wynn was a comedian of the earlier part of the twentieth century.  He did an earlier episode of the Twilight Zone (actually the second episode shown) called “One for the Angels” that was a gentle but entertaining teleplay.  This episode is equally gentle but I would say it’s a little thin.  Not to say bad but not too substantial.  It’s based completely on that old song that ends, “the clock stopped never to go again when the old man died.”  Let’s call it a B-.

 

The Twilight Zone – Complete Series Review – Season 1 Episode 2 – One for the Angels

A sidewalk pitchman (the guy with the foldable suitcase/table full of cheap junk) named Lou Bookman (Ed Wynn) is visited by Death.  Not wanting to die he negotiates a delay until he can “Make a Pitch for the Angels.”  Death agrees to this but once the agreement is made Bookman gloats that he’ll stop making pitches forever.  But the consequences involve the death in his place of a small child that Bookman knows.  The little girl is struck by a truck and will die at midnight when Bookman was scheduled to die.  Bookman awaits Death and delays him by distracting him with his most persuasive sales pitch and succeeds in saving the girl’s life.  And of course, that pitch was the “One for the Angels.”  And at that point Mr. Bookman is ready for his journey with Death who really isn’t a bad guy.

Wynn was a comic actor of the vaudeville era.  My only other memory of him was a small part in the original Mary Poppins movie from the 1960s.  The whole teleplay is highly sentimental and affected but it works.  It’s a gentle fantasy that tugs at the heartstrings and appeals to our sympathy for the little guy who also happens to be a nice guy.  For myself, being a rank sentimentalist, it appeals to my childhood view of how the world should be.  So, it feels comfortably familiar.  In other words, it’s nostalgic escapism and sometimes that’s exactly what I want.  You have to decide for yourself if this type of story is acceptable entertainment for you.