Colonel Dittman leads his son Archie Jr. and lawyer Jeffrey Pierce into his trophy room. Sadly, he is not a bowler, so the trophies are the heads of animals that he has killed. He points out his servant Tom who he says is an Ibo, son of a tribal chief. But he’s OK because he was highly educated in England. So now he is a servant.
“Quite a specimen, isn’t he,” the Colonel says proudly. He tells the Pierce not to be misled by the Oxford accent and tailored clothes. He has never really left the jungle, still carries amulets, and believes in black magic. “A pagan savage, like all of his breed.” Thank God MSNBC was not alive to see this.
The Colonel tells Pierce that hunting is his life, there is no game he hasn’t stalked and killed. Pierce finally brings Archie Jr. into conversation mentioning that he just graduated from college. The Colonel says it is Jr’s. one achievement in life other than swilling copious amounts of brandy. He is clearly disappointed by his son and steers the conversation back to his trophies.
Pierce asks Archie Jr. if he hunts and his father mocks him as being a “dish of jellied consomme”, also a waste of space, lacking character and guts; a “pallid hand-wringer” who the colonel fears will take his inheritance and give it to one of his causes: “Senegalese Unwed Mothers, Pickaninny’s Free Lunch Program or the Women’s Liberation Movement.”
This episode originally aired on January 7, 1971 — six days before the debut of All in the Family. The template is similar, though. The Colonel is Archie Bunker and Archie Jr. is Mike Stivic with better hair (but unlikely to marry a busty blonde).
The Colonel taunts Archie Jr. about the trust fund he is due to receive. He wants to add a codicil that his son must kill an animal within 15 days or the trust will be dissolved. The Colonel even mocks Archie Jr’s. passive reaction to this threat.
If Archie Jr. does not come through, the Colonel will take his $2 million and purposely squander it on risky investments. Archie finally lashes out and asks his father if it is really so inconceivable that he could kill something. The Colonel says it is inconceivable that he “sired such a mewling, sniveling, self-indulgent milksop.” This guy is priceless!
Archie mans up and points a rifle at the Colonel, but Tom intercedes, taking the rifle. The Colonel tells Tom to see Archie Jr. to bed and leave a light on as “he’s probably afraid of the dark, too.” Zing!
Archie Jr. admits his father is a 20th century man, probably closer to the norm than himself. He will try to shoot a deer tomorrow.
That night the Colonel finds Tom in the trophy room praying. Despite Serling’s best liberal intentions, he turns Tom into the amulet-wearing believer in pagan gods that the bigoted Colonel accused him of being.
The next day in the woods, Archie Jr. and the Colonel spot a deer. Archie Jr. raises the rifle and lines up the shot. But he hesitates. The Colonel swats the rifle and the shot goes awry enabling the deer to escape.
As Pierce is leaving, Tom says the Colonel has been punished for making Archie Jr. fire at the deer. Last night Tom prayed to his gods that “the hunter should know what it is like to be the victim.”
The Colonel was so over-the-top nasty that he was pretty fun to watch. Serling did not give him a worthy adversary, though. Archie Jr. is supposed to be a much more passive, sensitive soul than his old man. Unfortunately, Serling attempts to achieve this by giving him nothing to do. He has very few lines despite being present in nearly every scene. When he does let loose, it is in an effeminate, high-pitched screech.
And the peace button is a nice touch.
- Twilight Zone Legacy: None.
- Ironically, Archie Jr. (Barry Brown) shot himself at age 27.
- Tom went on to play Boomer in Battlestar Gallactica.