Twilight Zone – Opening Day (11/29/85)

tzopeningday01In the first 2 minutes, this is shaping up to be way too melodramatic, with way too many insufferable 1980’s relics — big hair, upturned collars, MBA-speak, gigantic glasses, yuppies, Martin Kove.

Carl Wilkerson (Jeffrey Jones) has thrown a party for some reason.  Do you need a reason?  You do, right? Maybe that is part of my problem, but I digress.  When a big-glassesed yuppie pulls Carl aside for some MBA-talk, Joe Farrell (Kove) meets Carl’s wife Sally in the kitchen.  She is egging Joe on to kill Carl.  She describes him as “a machine — no heart, no passion, no nerves.”  To be honest he seemed like an OK guy in the 10 seconds we spent with him.

Sally and Joe go back out to the party and meet Carl.  Tomorrow is the titular Opening Day of duck season, Carl can’t wait to bag some ducks at his fancy club with the $100,000 dues, so they plan to meet at 4:30 the next morning.  There’s three things I don’t understand right in that sentence.

tzopeningday03At dawn, they paddle their canoe to a nice spot on the sound-stage and wait for the horn that announces it’s duck-murdering time.  Carl gets one on his first shot.  Before he can massacre the whole family, Joe whacks him on the head with a rifle butt.  Carl goes into the water and Joe holds his head under since that is easier to explain than a gunshot wound.

After the cops show up and and he describes what happened (leaving out the more murdery parts, of course), Joe goes back to Carl’s house.  He looks at a photo we saw earlier of Carl & Sally, only now it is of Joe & Sally.  Then Carl’s kids run in and recognize Joe as their father.  Sally comes in and sees him as Joe also.  She says he needs to get ready for the big party.  He tempts fate by wearing the same clothes that Carl had worn the previous night.  At the party, he sees Joe wearing his clothes, and disappear into the kitchen with Sally.

After the party, he confronts Sally about her affair with Joe and their plan to kill Carl.  He tells her that maybe he will come back from the hunting trip without Joe.  The next morning, they row back to the same sound-stage.  I know what they were going for even if I don’t really understand what happened.  As Joe-as-Carl is about to club Carl-as Joe on the noggin, he sees Carl’s wristwatch disappear from his wrist.  So he is turning back into Joe.  But he was already Joe; or at least looked like Joe.  So why not go on with the murder?  That’s the problem with body-switches, it screws up your perception.  Or maybe that’s the virtue.  See what I mean?

tzopeningday16Anyway, for no particular reason, justice is done.  But not early enough to save the duck.

With the exception of Jeffrey Jones, the performances only ranged from irritating to adequate.  And it was’t a big shocking or flashy twist, just a slice of life in the TZ.  But, sometimes that is enough.  I did appreciate some of the small throwaway bits like the lovely bogus bog at dawn (no, seriously), and the sassy daughter, and who knew duck hunting was such a big thing?

With Shadow Man and even the skipped segment, this was something of a comeback episode for TZ.


  • The Sheriff is played by Frank McRae.  What the hell ever happened to him — he was always great.
  • Swinging 80’s bachelor Joe drives a station wagon?  Was Miami Vice using all the cool cars?
  • Skipped Segment:  The Uncle Devil Show.  Nice little 8 minute segment, I’m just not going to get 500 words out of it.

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