Twilight Zone – One Life, Furnished in Early Poverty (12/06/85)

tzonelife02Once again, this segment is like being the best synchronized swimmer at the high-dive event.  Or maybe it’s nothing like that, but at 1 AM that’s as close as I’m going to get.  It is a fine story and Peter Riegert is very good in it despite being a little over-the-top in a few scenes.  It’s just not the Twilight Zone.  Sure, time travel is a standard TZ trope, but it is buried in such sentimentality here that it loses its edge.

Big-shot Hollywood screenwriter Gus Rosenthal is both awoken and awakened at 6:00 AM by a caller from New York who doesn’t grasp the whole time-zone thing.  He gave a lecture the previous night and his fee is apparently even higher than Hillary Clinton’s as he walked away with an actual human being.  Sadly the groupie is so poorly lit, poorly made-up, and poorly cast that he might have been underpaid.  After getting some bad news from back east, he decides to go back to his childhood home in Ohio.

He arrives the next night by cab, presumably from the airport.  Poking around the lawn of the abandoned house, he finds one of the toy soldiers he used to bury as a kid.  This snaps him back 30 years.  This would put him in 1955, but his snappy new suit and the music now coming from the house seem pretty 40s-ish.  Peeking in the window, he watches as his young self is punished for stealing a comic book.  His parents realize that a crime like that could lead to bigger things; like peeking into people’s windows.  He then gets the most listless spanking in history.

tzonelife06The next day, young Gus is running from some bullies and runs smack into Gus Prime (let’s call him just plain Gus).  His future self scares the other kids because he “looks like a G-Man.”  Gus later sees young Gus stealing toy soldiers in the drug store, but says nothing.  He the sees young Gus being roughed up by the bullies and chases them off.  He takes young Gus home and meets both their dads . . . or both their dad . . . or the dad of both of them.

The next day adult Gus stops by young Gus’s house and tosses a baseball with him.  Then they go look at comic books, get ice cream, and play with toy soldiers.  Later, adult Gus reads to young Gus from a sci-fi book while on the swings, and wrestles with him on the front lawn.  I take it back, this might be the creepiest TZ ever.

The Gusses’s father comes to grown-up Gus’s hotel room that night then we get the gooey scenes where they explain why they act as they do and they are able to talk as equals rather than father and son.  All in all, it does not equal Ray Kinsella throwing a couple of baseballs.

There is a revelation and it is not that Gus shouldn’t be wearing that same suit for a week.  Walking to young Gus’s house, Gus finds him sitting in a hole that he dug.  This one is big enough for a real soldier, but that also not the revelation nor is it even commented upon.  Gus suddenly remembers when he was a kid, he was also visited by himself.  He realizes he is the cause of most of his own problems, but ain’t that usually the case?  He shifts back to the present.  He must have only been gone a short time because his flashlight is still shining, he has no beard, and local dogs did not eat him.

Once again, an OK segment that is just not what I’m looking for.


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