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A Passage for Trumpet Season 1 Episode 32

"Joey Crown, musician with an odd, intense face..."

Jack Klugman was even better in this episode than he was in A Game of Pool. His facial expressions, his body language, the nuances in his voice as he delivered his poetically prophetic lines about the sheer loneliness of his hopeless life...that's the stuff of stellar acting. To me the episode isn't about the story, it's crux is a broken man, Joey Crown. Joey pours his dreams into a paper cup and drowns them in cheap booze.

"Because I'm sad. Because I'm nothing, and because I'll live and die in a crummy one-roomer with dirty walls and cracked pipes, and... I'll never even have a girl. I'll never be anybody. Because half of me is this horn. I can't even talk to people, because this horn, that's half my language. But when I'm drunk... oh when I'm drunk, boy... I don't see the dirty walls or the cracked pipes. I don't know the clock's going or the hours are going by. 'Cause then I'm Gabriel. Oh, I'm Gabriel with the golden horn. And when I put it to my lips, it comes out jeweled. It comes out a symphony. It comes out the smell of fresh flowers in summer. It comes out beauty... beauty. When I'm drunk, only when I'm drunk."

Good Heavens...that's a beautifully depressing passage written by Rod Sterling. A more truistic monologue was never penned and never delivered with such pathetic ferocity.





The Monsters are Due on Maple Street, Season 1, Episode 22, 1960

SPOILERS, YOU NAUGHTY ZEBRAS!

On afternoon in a generic American suburb, a strange object passes over Maple Street. Suddenly, all of the power goes out, radios cease working, and cars won't start. Discombobulated, the neighbors cluster in the streets where a boy named Tommy (Jan Handzlik) explains that these events match what he's read in books about alien invasions. Steve (Claude Akins) urges his neighbors to remain calm, but loudmouth Charlie (Jack Weston) whips the group into a paranoid frenzy, and they won't be satisfied until they locate the one among them who isn't what they seem . . .

This is a classic episode and for a very good reason. It shows off some of the greatest strengths of the show overall, namely the intelligent use of a confined set, great performances, and a message with broad applications.

A lot of episodes of the show take place in anonymous suburbs, and this is probably one of the best. Maple street is all manicured lawns, men in buttoned down shirts, and housewives in dresses. Everyone is well-groomed and the picture of middle-class America. But slowly the familiarity that the neighbors have with each other turns sour. One woman talks about seeing a man looking up at the sky at night (why she is awake at this hour, too, is never really addressed). Another neighbor is suddenly suspicious of the presence of a HAM radio. The friendly knowledge they have about one another is suddenly weaponized. There's a great transition as the time shifts from day to night, and the street becomes a lot more ominous.

Akins makes for a great lead, a man watching the people around him devolve and realizing that he has no power to stop it. Weston, as the Hawaiian shirt wearing loudmouth, hits just the right notes as a man who is all bravado and bluster until the winds turn slightly against him. I also really loved the use of the secondary characters. While they do speak up in the "mob mentality" moments, for the most part they stand--eerily stationary--in the background, usually so that we only see them from the back. In moments like this, we see the neighbors as more of a herd of dangerous animals, waiting to strike.

I will also just reflect that in the wake of the Ahmed Arbery verdict, the sequence in which Charlie kills a man in the street with a shotgun, only to then protest that he thought the dead man was a monster, took me by surprise and made me feel some intense emotions. Especially coupled with the final monologue from Serling: There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices...to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill...and suspicion can destroy...and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own—for the children and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to the Twilight Zone.

A great episode, and still sadly prescient.




Glad you liked the episode and I like what you said about
WARNING: spoilers below
how some fragments of reality seep into Norma's dream, like some characters moving up north and Norma eventually painting a waterfall.
I didn't think about the connection between those details beforehand, but it definitely makes sense.
Good point about
WARNING: spoilers below
the parallels between Norma's dream and her reality. It makes the twist seem more necessary now that I think about it.

Here's a fun question for anyone who's watched "The Midnight Sun:"
WARNING: spoilers below
Would you rather die of being too hot or being too cold? I'd rather freeze, personally. Unless I'm at the beach or a resort, I hate being very hot and sweaty.



Here's a fun question for anyone who's watched "The Midnight Sun:"
WARNING: spoilers below
Would you rather die of being too hot or being too cold? I'd rather freeze, personally. Unless I'm at the beach or a resort, I hate being very hot and sweaty.
WARNING: spoilers below
If you were to ask me that question several years ago, I'd probably choose hot weather, but after going to West Virginia several years ago during the summer, I'd choose cold weather by a mile. With cold weather, it's easy to avoid getting cold as long as you dress appropriately. With hot weather up to 100 degrees or more, even if you're wearing a T-shirt and shorts, for example, you're still going to feel the heat.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
Here's a fun question for anyone who's watched "The Midnight Sun:"
WARNING: spoilers below
Would you rather die of being too hot or being too cold? I'd rather freeze, personally. Unless I'm at the beach or a resort, I hate being very hot and sweaty.
WARNING: "Fun question!" spoilers below
This may have some influences on where one lives. I'm in Michigan and as I've gotten older I TOTALLY get why us old farts head south for the winter. I hate being cold. That whole turtle-effect of shoulders hunching up or your body trembling from the cold, it's a more prominent physical discomfort when you're cold than just sprawling hot and moaning your displeasure as you attempt to fan yourself.
So if given a choice, I'll sweat than shiver.
__________________
What to do if you find yourself stuck with no hope of rescue:
Consider yourself lucky that life has been good to you so far. Alternatively, if life hasn't been good to you so far, which given your present circumstances seems more likely, consider yourself lucky that it won't be troubling you much longer.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?




Season 1 Episode 11: And When the Sky Was Opened (1959 Series)

Did someone mention SPOILERS?

This employs one of my favorite writing devices, one I like to call the "Memento Theory," which happens in many shows I watch. Where we got thrown into the mix, and then it backpedals to fill in the "what da [email protected]?" sensation before bringing us back and moving forward.
Like so many actors utilized in this series, Rod Taylor draws us in as the slightly manic and trying not to let it show, fellow astronaut visiting his friend in the hospital after returning from a space flight. Played by Jim Hutton.
Something is wrong, something is messed up, and he's come to possibly the only person who may understand and not look at him like he's nuts. It wasn't just the two of them that there were three of them, and why doesn't he remember that?
In an attempt to explain deeper via flashback, we see the two of them in a bar where the third astronaut is voicing his fears as if he doesn't belong and eventual disappearance that only Taylor's character notices.

Rod Serling uses as a continued visual device a front page regarding three, then two, and finally, one astronaut returning. And that remaining astronaut is now sh#ting himself as the realization hits him.
The economical story writing that omits the whys and the hows increase the intrigue quite beautifully.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?



Season 1: Episode 5: Walking Distance

A SPOILER Alert, here, in the Twilight Zone

A Written Essay in Response to when someone asks, "Why can't I go back home?" from a little-known self-help book entitled "The Twilight Zone."

Gig Young is a depressed Ad Man plagued by nostalgia; he discovers that his hometown is within walking distance when his car takes a sh#t on him.
A gift, perhaps? Perhaps, but not the one initially wished for.

Once again, the hows and whys are far less important than the message itself that Young's character must comprehend before returning to the present, a little wiser, with a noticeable limp as a reminder of the lesson learned.

Not as mind-blowing as other episodes prove to be but with a proper lesson to walk away with regarding both the weight and its blinding effect to experience one's present and thereby one's future when one spends an unnecessary amount of time looking at one's past.



Think you used enough dynamite there, Butch?
WARNING!! SPOILERS THEREIN






Season 1 Episode 22: The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street

Alien: Understand the procedure now? Just stop a few of their machines and radios and telephones and lawnmowers. Throw them into darkness for a few hours, and then sit back and watch the pattern.
Alien: And this pattern is always the same?
Alien: With few variations. They pick the most dangerous enemy they can find, and it's themselves. All we need do is sit back and watch.
Alien: Then I take it this place, this Maple Street is not unique.
Alien: By no means. Their world is full of Maple Streets.

(So sad because it is SO true.)

I would imagine this little tale of warning regarding Mob Mentality may have some inspiration in the Commie Scare extremes of McCarthyism a couple of years prior and its fallout of innocent lives ruined.
Claude Atkins and Jack Weston play the protagonist entities of Calm Reasoning and Impulsive Panic when something passes over their neighborhood, and rumor beget fear begets a shotgun blast.

The pacing is ideal as the suspicions grow to a manic frenzy that, no matter how ardently Calm Reason intervenes, Impulsive Panic is gonna pull the trigger, and mistrust, regardless of familiarity, will corrupt.

Another parable from the Good Folks For a Less Bullsh#t Tomorrow here, in the Twilight Zone





A Nice Place to Visit, Season 1, Episode 28, 1960

SPOILERS, MY LITTLE HENS

Bank robber Rocky Valentine (Larry Blyden) has just completed a burglary that probably left at least one person dead when he is chased down by the cops and ends up with a bullet in his skull. But that's not the end for Valentine, who wakes up and is greeted by a white-suited man named Mr. Pip (Sebastian Cabot). Mr. Pip tells Valentine that he's a "guide", and takes Valentine to a hotel suite where anything he wants seems to appear. It seems like a pretty good deal at first . . .

This was an enjoyable little episode, one that I don't think I've seen before.

Blyden is good as the incredibly self-centered Valentine, a man who is so happy to believe that he has somehow earned this afterlife reward that it takes him a very, very long time to grasp what is actually happening. Cabot is also fun as the unflappable Mr. Pip, a man whose little gestures and facial expressions do a nice bit of foreshadowing as to the real nature of Valentine's new life.

I also enjoyed the humor of watching just how long it takes Valentine to realize what's up. In one sequence, Valentine takes offense at a passing police officer being taller than he is, so with a wave of his hand, Mr. Pip recasts the officer as someone barely 4 feet tall, who Valentine can then push around. There's also the humor of Valentine growing irritable at the things he's dreamed of for so long---reacting with frustration to the flirtations of a woman he conjured up just weeks before.

The only thing that really dings this episode is the incredibly obvious nature of what is happening. Only Valentine is oblivious to the reality of the situation. And while he is an odious enough character---admitting with a shrug to killing a dog that barked at him--waiting for him to catch on makes up the entirety of the episode and I'll admit to getting a little impatient. It also kind of raises the question of what is next for his character. Does he keep getting what he wants? Is he heading for some other torment?

Overall a solid episode.




The ending also just feels . . . mean.
This is definitely a thing with TZ and Serling. Another example that comes to mind is the guy that wins the "who can stay silent the longest" contest. There are other examples that are escaping me right now.

This often results in some of the more memorable endings, but when you binge a bunch (or all of them) in a short period, you're left thinking "Dang, Serling was a cruel SOB".



Anyways, the deadline to join this HoF has officially passed. It's a shame I couldn't get Captain Terror to join, but oh well. Maybe next time.

The deadline to finish this still stands at January 21, 2022 (that date is also printed in the second post in this thread), which gives you one week to review two episodes.





Last Stop Willoughby, Season 1, Episode 30, 1960

SPOILERS, BABY CRAYFISH!

Gart Williams (James Daly) works at an advertising agency where he is routinely overwhelmed and fed up, especially with the badgering criticism from his boss (Howard Smith). Getting nothing but scorn from his wife (Patricia Donahue), Williams retreats to a town called Willoughby--a place existing in the distant past and possibly only in his mind--an idyllic place where the pace of life is slow and Williams believes he can be himself.

I enjoyed this episode, in which a person finds themselves overwhelmed by the relentless need to perform in a competitive space. As Williams tells his wife, some people just aren't built for competition. Instead of finding the hustle and bustle of city life and work as an executive exciting, Williams is stressed and depressed and on the verge of a nervous breakdown.

It's interesting thinking about this episode in comparison to Walking Distance. Williams wants to not only be out of the place of his current life, he also wants to be out of the time. I was surprised to find myself having mixed feelings about the idea that the ideal place to be is, you know, a time and place where women can't vote. It also goes without saying that everyone in Willoughby is white and . . . hmm. There's a quote that I thought of here, and it's "When someone talks about the good old days, ask 'who were they good for?".

To be clear, I empathized very strongly with Williams, and the part where he's taking two phone calls and also someone is yelling at him made me think of the moments in my own job where multiple people are trying to talk to me in person at the same time while I'm trying to teach students virtually using a headset. So I felt him when it came to his emotional state and the feeling of needing to escape, I just ended up not loving his idea of the perfect escape. In contrast to the message of Walking Distance, here the idealized past IS considered an appropriate, reasonable outlet for feelings of dissatisfaction. When his boss told him to "dream it" when talking about a new show, I kind of hoped that Williams would take his vision and find a way to bring it into his work.

And finally, I had mixed feelings about Williams dying by suicide being seen as something of a happy ending. "It comes with sunlight and serenity." A man being driven to take his own life because of the stress of his environment is a tragedy, and I don't love that in the universe of the episode, it was his only outlet. Daly does a great job of showing a man who is at the point of despair. And I suppose you could argue that Williams does not willingly kill himself--he jumps from the train in a moment of delusion.

I liked the performances and the exploration of what it means to be living a life whose pace and demands are overwhelming. I had a bit of trouble with the construct of Willoughby itself and its relationship to the main character. (This is also the seventh episode in a row of this HoF where the main character is a man and women are either basically non-existent or are mainly there to browbeat the male lead. I might be getting Repetitive Protagonist Fatigue!).




This is definitely a thing with TZ and Serling. Another example that comes to mind is the guy that wins the "who can stay silent the longest" contest. There are other examples that are escaping me right now.

This often results in some of the more memorable endings, but when you binge a bunch (or all of them) in a short period, you're left thinking "Dang, Serling was a cruel SOB".
I think that sometimes they came up with ironic twists and just couldn't help themselves.

There are plenty of episodes that have bleak or even cruel endings that I don't mind as much ("And When the Sky Was Opened" being a great example), because of the time and care they take with the emotional arc of the main character. But sometimes a character just feels like a puppet being pulled along to a "gotcha!" moment, and those don't sit well with me.



Puttering along through season 1, I notice that no one nominated "Nightmare as a Child", which is one of my favorites and just narrowly missed out being my nomination. My sister is also a fan of the show, with "Nightmare as a Child" and "Monsters are Due on Maple Street" being two of her favorites.



Puttering along through season 1, I notice that no one nominated "Nightmare as a Child", which is one of my favorites and just narrowly missed out being my nomination.
oooh that's a good one. You're right, if asked to name a favorite it probably wouldn't occur to me. But every time I'm confronted with it I remember how much I love it.



Puttering along through season 1, I notice that no one nominated "Nightmare as a Child", which is one of my favorites and just narrowly missed out being my nomination. My sister is also a fan of the show, with "Nightmare as a Child" and "Monsters are Due on Maple Street" being two of her favorites.
I don't remember it that well, but I'll be sure to revisit it.



oooh that's a good one. You're right, if asked to name a favorite it probably wouldn't occur to me. But every time I'm confronted with it I remember how much I love it.
I'm also a big fan of murder mysteries, so having that dynamic in it really boosts it for me.



Season 1 Episode 32: A Passage for Trumpet

(SPOILER WARNING)

This was a good, wholesome episode. As someone who's suffered from depression in the past, I found a few of the insights of this episode rather relatable, specifically how easy it is to forget the positive things in your life if you focus too much on the negative aspects of it. The world is full of beauty. You just need to look up and listen to discover this. Joey's character arc could've easily been predictable had another director or writer been in charge of this episode, but here, the episode avoided that and went in a few interesting directions I wasn't expecting. While I don't have any issues with it, I'm not sure what to make of the reveal that Joey was alive all along and that the people he saw in the middle act were dead. It's an interesting concept, but I'm not sure how to connect it to Joey's arc or whether the absence of the twist would've hindered the message in any way. Perhaps, it would've been more thematically appropriate in a different episode. I'm curious to hear other interpretations of it. Aside from my puzzlement over the twist, I quite enjoyed this episode and found it to be a nice mood-lifter.
I don't really have an interpretation other than Rod Sterling when writing this went for the tried & true near-death-expierence change of reality, which suits TZ so well. I can image Sterling thinking to himself, 'it would be a unique twist if the people who can't see or hear Joey do so not because Joey is dead, as that's been done before, but they do so because they're the dead ones.'



I don't really have an interpretation other than Rod Sterling when writing this went for the tried & true near-death-expierence change of reality, which suits TZ so well. I can image Sterling thinking to himself, 'it would be a unique twist if the people who can't see or hear Joey do so not because Joey is dead, as that's been done before, but they do so because they're the dead ones.'
Its definitely a creative scene and, to a degree, I kind of admire its appearance in that episode. I just haven't been able to connect it with the main characters' arc or discern a correlation between the two. Perhaps, it would've fit another episode better. Who knows.