Twilight Zone – Her Pilgrim Soul (12/13/85)

tzherpilgrimsoul09Note to self: Need to work on that macro that types “It was a fine episode, just not what I’m looking for from The Twilight Zone.” Maybe CTL-T-Z.

Scientists Kevin and Daniel are working on a holographic imaging system.  Suddenly, there is a 8 to 9 month old fetus hovering in the holographic field.  Unable to explain the miraculous scientific breakthrough, the two brainiacs decide to abort the fetus by rebooting the system.  This drastic step will take all day, or slightly less time than my old Windows Vista.  After they clock out for the day, a baby appears floating in the field.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch-style house, Kevin is in bed with his wife Carol.  She is complaining that he knows she wants children.  He says he is too busy at work, and she counter-productively launches into a nagging tirade that ain’t exactly gonna put anyone in the mood to make a baby.  He spends the night in the guest room.

tzherpilgrimsoul02When he gets to work the next morning, there is a homely little girl in the purple holographic field. Kevin programs a ball for her to play with.  When Daniel finally drags his ass into work, she says her name is Nola Granville, from Westchester, New York.

Kevin tells Daniel that Nola is aging at about 10 months per hour, or about 10 years per day.  That seems more like 20 years per day to me, but I ain’t no scientist.  Daniel has done some research and discovered there was a Granville family in Westchester.  They recall having a great-aunt named Nola who was kind of a black sheep in the family.  Nola, now 10 years old [1], tells Kevin she remembers a trip to the beach with her father in 1916

The next day, Nola appears to be about 20; now we’re talkin’!  Nola and Kevin do two things unlikely on TV: 1) they quote William Butler Yeats back and forth, and 2) they don’t pronounce it Yeetz.[2]  This is the first portrayal of Nola to not be cringe-inducingly awful.  In fact, Anne Twomey is pretty awesome in the role.  This is no small feat as she is translucent, purple-tinted, and her words are smothered by insipidly sweet music.

tzherpilgrimsoul17She and Kevin talk about their lives and before you know it, Kevin is moving out of his house and into the lab.  Kristoffer Tabori as Kevin is a completely different person when he is with Nola.  There is an ease and comfort that is missing in his scenes with Carol.  The deck is a stacked by having Carol be a little bit of a passive-aggressive shrew, but Tabori grounds it perfectly.

While Kevin is making time with Nola, Daniel continues investigating her.  He tracks down a relative in Westchester with maybe the worst hair-do ever seen on American television.  Her accent is also grating, but my God, that hair!  She tells him how Nola’s father threatened to disown her over dating a Jewish student.  Queue the insipid music, but this time there is an interesting difference.  The first five notes, which are repeated frequently, are right out of Star Wars.  I don’t know what it is called, but it is here.  Seems like I remember it from the end of Empire, but I’m Star Warred out.

Nola continues to age up to the point where she was pregnant.  She suddenly doubles over, screaming in pain.  She tells Kevin she lost the baby.  Thank God we are not treated to another floating fetus.  They go on talking and talking (and talking and talking) as she ages.  Turns out, she is there for a reason.  Blah, blah, blah.

Despite some great performances and a good concept, this is hard to recommend.  The mawkish music and Lifetime Movie vibe must have driven away many of the few remaining fans of the original series. C’mon, you started out great!  An unexplained fetus in the holographic field — something the original could never have gotten away with — and this is where you went with it?

CTL-T-Z:  It was a fine episode, just not what I’m looking for from The Twilight Zone.

Post-Post:

  • [1] Now played by Winnie from The Wonder Years who could have helped with the math.
  • [2] They do, however, irritate me by saying patronize with a short “a” and eye-ther instead of ee-ither.  I have literally never heard anyone in real life use those pronunciations.
  • Nominated for a Writer’s Guild Award.  No argument.
  • Skipped segment:  I of Newton, which turned me off with a cutesy title and 8 minute run-time.  Once again, African Americans are segregated into their own story. However, it was worth the time to see Sherman Helmsley play someone other than George Jefferson.

2 thoughts on “Twilight Zone – Her Pilgrim Soul (12/13/85)

    • Maybe I have a selective memory, but I don’t remember this level of mawkishness in the original series. Of course there was the occasional Kick the Can or Night of the Meek, but they gave a texture to the series. It seems this type of syrupy segment is much more frequent in the 1980s series.

      I’ve written posts on 24 segments so far, and I would say 9 of them lean in that direction. Some, like Ye Gods, are nearly unwatchable. However, others like A Message from Charity, are very good despite being kind of sappy.

      So saying it isn’t what I’m looking for doesn’t mean it is bad (and who am I to judge anyway?). I just think that style of sentimental episode is over-represented in a series with the TZ brand. I guess they can’t all be Night Crawlers. Thanks for stopping by.

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