Twilight Zone – Examination Day (11/01/85)

tzexamination1Normally I don’t write about the 10-minute segments as they are filler between two longer-form segments.  In this case it is filler for only one longer-form segment, so I feel duty-bound to post (i.e. it is a chance to quickly burn off one day’s posting requirement).

Dickie Jordan is blowing out the twelve candles on his unappetizing gray birthday cake.  He foolishly squanders his birthday wish hoping that he scores well on the government examination.

His parents tell him not to worry about it.  Dickie informs them that everyone at at school has been talking about it and saying it was easy.  Besides, he gets good marks in school.

For his birthday, Dickie is thrilled to have received an Omni-Coder which seems to be a combination TV and Telephone.  C’mon, what is this, the year 3000?

Dickie goes to the testing facility.  His parents soon get a call — Dickie’s scores have exceeded the government standard. According to to law, he will be killed!  I hope they saved the receipt for that Omni-Coder.

tzexamination2I loves me a good twist, and I hates me some big government, but this is just crap.  Nothing here makes any sense.  It is a complete fabrication to set up the utterly predictable surprise ending.

The government kills anyone with an IQ over a given figure.  OK, I accept that as a premise.  But:

  1. Eleven year old kids never wonder what happened to all the bright twelve year olds they knew?  At least Logan’s Run came up with a cover story.
  2. Why does this society bother to even have schools?
  3. Are all parents as emotionless as these two at the prospect that their kid will likely be killed?  They cringe a couple of times, but their emotions are suppressed just to enable the twist.
  4. Dickie says everyone at school thought the test was easy.  So is the government killing off 99% of the population?  That matte painting above looks pretty spacious, not exactly Soylent Cabrini-Green.
  5. Dickie says the other kids thought the test was easy.  If they are so smart, why were they back in school?  Dickie didn’t even get to go home.
  6. tzexamination3His parents seem reasonably intelligent.  Were they ever tested? [1]
  7. Dad asks if Dickie would like to watch some TV before bed.  It is good foreshadowing to have Dickie prefer to read.  But why do they have him reading a comic book?  OK, if he were reading A Brief History of Time, I guess I would have questioned why it was still in print.
  8. Word never leaks out about this test?  News of this test would spread faster than that bullshit Kobayashi Maru test.  Actually, the concepts are very similar because both scenarios require the viewers to absolutely suspend any understanding of human nature. [2]
  9. If society is a bunch of dimwits, WTF built that Omni-Coder?  Do they not do that testing in South Korea?
  10. The government wouldn’t have to do this because, as usual, the private sector is doing it better.

I get that they were going for a Harrison Bergeron thing here, but the deck was just too stacked.  Maybe I’m expecting too much from what is essentially a one-act joke.


  • If Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton had taken a test like this at 12, they would have both been safe.  Trump wouldn’t have known the answers, and Hillary would have lied to every question asked including name and date.
  • [1] In the short story by Henry Slesar, the parents are kind of dim, not knowing what makes grass green or how far away the sun is.
  • [2] It still bugs me that this scene was so utterly botched in an otherwise very entertaining movie (the reboot, not Wrath of Khaaaan).
  • Directed by Paul Lynch.
  • Available on YouTube.

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