At last, the first season has an episode I can applaud. Escape Clause is the story of Walter Bedeker a hypochondriac in a high rise who says that it’s unfair that he can only live such a very short span. Along comes Cadwallader a portly fellow who says he can provide Walter with virtual immortality and indestructability in exchange for his insignificant soul. After just a little bit of haggling the bargain is struck and Cadwallader even throws in an escape clause just in case the day ever comes when Walter tires of life and wants an easy way out.
Mr. Bedeker strides forward into his new life by hurling himself in front of every subway train and bus he can find. He makes a few thousand dollars of liability insurance but finds himself bored to tears. After drinking a glass of poison in front of his horrified wife, the jaded Methuselah informs his better half that he’s going to the roof and jump the whole fourteen stories just to see how it feels. When she follows him to the roof and tries to block his way, she accidentally falls over the edge to her death.
Walter calls the police and claims he murdered his wife in order to try out the electric chair. But the trial ends with him sentenced to life in prison without parole (damn Democrats). Faced with the endless boredom of a perpetual prison sentence he agrees to the escape clause and Mr. Cadwallader gives him an immediate heart attack exit.
Now that’s my idea of a Twilight Zone. Walter is a cranky egomaniac and Cadwallader is a friendly if oily ambassador for hell. It’s an obvious match made in heaven? There aren’t any big stars but it’s filled with character actors that you’ll recognize from any number of shows and series of the time. The most notable for me is Joe Flynn playing one of the insurance agents paying off on his accident cases. Flynn played Captain Binghamton (Old Leadbottom) on the McHale’s Navy sit-com opposite star Ernest Borgnine as Lieutenant Commander Quinton McHale.
Finally a Twilight Zone that deserves a solid B+.