Twilight Zone – Little Boy Lost / Wish Bank (10/18/85)

The first two segments of this episode feel like someone at the Department of TV decided to throw conservatives a bone and let them have this episode as equal time.[1]  Little Boy Lost can be taken as a parable about stay-at-home-Moms or, stretching only slightly, abortion; Wish Bank is about the soulless, confiscatory bureaucracy of government.

Little Boy Lost

tzlittleboylost01

Tortoise-shell glasses, turned-up collar, cheesy mustache, and later seen wearing a sweater draped over his shoulders. You’re better off without him.

Carol Shelton is late to the movies [2] with her fella Greg.  She has received a job offer to become a serious photographer, shooting “no more anorexic models, no more scotch ads.”  Which frankly is all that would have drawn me to the profession in the first place. She will now be traveling the world, ergo not in the kitchen much.

Greg is not thrilled at this news. He asks, “Did you ever stop to think about us, our future for a second?”  He doesn’t understand why they can’t just get married and have a couple of kids.  The dialogue here is a little muddled so it isn’t even clear at one point who is taking which side of the argument. Greg’s position is confirmed when he walks off.

tzlittleboylost04Carol’s first “serious” job for the international agency seems to be shooting a kid at the local zoo, although I guess she hasn’t started the new gig yet.  She spots the kid — who, probably not coincidentally, looks a lot like Billy Mumy [3] —  and correctly guesses his name is Kenny.  They take pictures all over the zoo, and even get someone to take a picture of the the two of them. At the end of the day, Carol offers to send copies to Kenny if he will give her his address.  He skateboards off into the magic hour.

Carol develops the negatives and feels a real connection to Kenny.  While she is working, the agency leaves her a message apologizing that the model for her shoot did not show up.  Carol begins to have regrets about putting her career over having babies.

tzlittleboylost10She goes to Greg’s apartment and tells him that she has to take this job, but she is clearly remorseful.  As they embrace, she sees Kenny down on the street looking up.  When she goes home, he is in her apartment.

He says, “You told him no!  Why did you tell him no!”  Carol offers to take him home, but he says he doesn’t have one. She asks how he knew where she lived, and like all the men in her life, he runs away.  In this case, however, he disappears around a corner and vanishes completely.

She later sees him from her window and chases him down.  Seeing that he has freckles as she did, Carol finally realizes who Kenny is.  They both tear up and Kenny asks why she “couldn’t choose me.”  Carol says she will someday, although I assume Kenny was based on a Carol/Greg coupling which now seems unlikely.  Kenny begins fading away like Barfly Bruce in Shatterday.  Before he disappears completely, he twists the knife by saying, “Goodbye, Mom.”  As maudlin music plays, the camera pulls back from her weeping against a non-willow tree, leaving her alone to wallow in her selfishness.

tzlittleboylost11There is a final scene that is also a little muddled.  Carol is on the phone. She promises to “get some great stuff, to tear their hearts out.”  But she is wearing a snappy 80’s business suit which makes you wonder if she is going to continue working in the city.  If she were going international, wouldn’t she be in jeans or camo or a beret?  From her luggage and the closing narration, though, it is clear she has opted to be the jet-setting childless international photographer.

The ending really plays up the sense of loss and wasted opportunity — i.e that Carol blew it.  I guess it would have been a cop-out for her to choose the motherhood route after this experience.  The closing narration and music make it clear her choice is to regarded as tragic.  Now take off them shoes and get back in the kitchen, baby!

Wish Bank

tzlittleboylost13Janice Hammond rubs a magic lamp at a yard sale so gets three wishes. She wishes for $10 million, to look 10 years younger, and for her ex-husband to have erectile dysfunction which I’m sure will be gratifying to enslaved people and starving kids all over the world.

Janice then finds out that she has to pay taxes on her wishes despite the government not having a damn thing to do with it.

Then she has to stand in a long line to get her papers validated.

Then the nasty clerk tells her she is missing a critical form.

Then the clerks all put on their Devo hats and go on break.

There is a reason this place is called the Department of Magical Venues (DMV).

Like many of the short segments, it is a one-joke piece.  But it is a pretty good joke, and like all good jokes, is based on truth.

Post-Post:

  • [1] Yeah, that balances the scales.  Actually, I don’t know if things had gotten so divisive then.  Sure Reagan was in office and hated by many, but I’m not sure pop culture had skewed entirely left yet.
  • [2] Beverly Hills Cop, if it makes a difference.  Watched this again a few weeks ago.  It holds up.
  • [3] Featured in three episodes of the 1960’s series, one episode of the 2000’s series, and the movie.  He was also behind Fish Heads.
  • Linking Fish Heads serendipitously led me to another awesome video from him — The Beatles’ A Day in the Life mashed up with the opening from Green Acres. Great stuff.
  • Classic TZ Legacy:  For shame, riffing on the name of a classic episode.  I look forward to The Mobsters are Due on Maple Street and Ear of the Beholder.
  • [UPDATE] There actually is an upcoming episode called Dead Woman’s Shoes.

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