Twilight Zone S4 – The Incredible World of Horace Ford (04/18/63)

Horace Ford is sitting at his drafting table where a mouse is running in circles.  I’m not sure if we’re supposed to see the little string, but I love it.  Phillip Pine walks in and Horace shoots him with a cap pistol. Horace is a toy designer and seems never to have grown up.  It’s one thing to toss out great ideas like Tom Hanks in Big; it is another to actually have put together budgets, put them into production and hire union thugs to make them.

Horace’s boss brings in his design for a new robot (pronounce robe-it in 1963).  It is just too expensive with the eyes lighting up and other features.  Horace is irate, pouting, screaming, throwing a tantrum.  Grow up, for God’s sake!  You’re making toys, not running for President!

At home, he stomps around like a big baby with interminable stories about when he was 10 years old.  He goes back to see his old childhood home on Randolph Street.  Clothes seem to be sold on the sidewalk, the Dept of Sanitation hoses down the street, “Wienees” are $.03 each.  He sees some bullies stealing melons and recognizes them as kids from his childhood.  One of the urchins actually follows Horace home and hands over a watch that Horace dropped to his wife.

tzhoraceford07He tells a friend at work about the kids he saw and about a Mickey Mouse watch he had 20 years earlier.  It’s close, but damn if they weren’t introduced exactly 20 years before this aired. At dinner that night, he tries to tell the same old stories to his wife and mother.  He goes on and on about his childhood and a friend who used to say “Shakespeare, sock in the ear,” then tweaks his wife’s ear.  She is horrified, but not as much as if he had tried the old “Titty Twister.”  His wife and mother are aghast at his childish shenanigans.

His wife tells him that it is impossible that he saw his old friends on Randolph street, but he bellows on and on about these goddamn kids.  Christ what a blowhard!  He runs out again to see his little pals on Randolph Street.  He sees exactly the same people and events that he saw on that street earlier.  Again that night, one of the kids brings a a watch to Horace’s wife.

tzhoraceford09Horace gets fired for neglecting his job.  His mother reacts by yelling at him about her needs.  At least his wife tells her to beat it.  Jesus Christ, he just won’t stop his infantile whining about having to go to work to support his wife and mother while his little friends are playing.

He goes back to Randolph Street. He sees the same water truck and hot dog vendor.  His little friends are still stealing melons off the cart.  He follows the boys, but unlike the other people on Randolph Street, they don’t seem to see him.  Then he transforms into his 10 year old self, and there is something about a birthday party.  Little Horace seems like a bit of a dandy as he is wearing a tie (not even the same one he was wearing as an adult), and suddenly has long blonde hair while his friends are dressed in ragged t-shirts and sweatshirts.  So his “pals” kick his ass.

The kid brings back his watch again, but this time it is a Mickey Mouse watch.  His wife goes to Randolph Street to find him.  When she gets there, it is a vacant city street. She finds 10-year old Horace in an alley.  She looks away, and he becomes overgrown baby Horace again.  She tells him that we all block out bad memories and just remember the good times.

Really, they couldn’t find one kid with black hair to cast?

This is easily the worst episode of season 4, and a low-point of the series.  Not only has the past-is-better thing been done to death on TZ, Pat Hingle’s performance is just unbearable. The sole redeeming bit of the episode is that as Horace and his wife walk away, one of the kids is straddling a street lamp watching them.  It makes no sense in the context of the episode, but it is a fun visual.

Post-Post:

  • This turd just won’t flush.  It aired in 1955 as part of Studio One, in 1960 as part of Encounter, in 1963 as part of The Twilight Zone and in 1969 as Cudesan Svet Horasa.  For the viewers’ sake, I can only hope that Art Carney, Alan Young or Pavle Bogatincevic was not as awful as Pat Hingle.
  • Nan Martin (Laura) is almost Zelig-like in how she shows up in small but memorable roles.  She was Freddy Krueger’s mother, the owner of Drew Carey’s store, Tom Hanks’ almost-mother-in-law in Cast Away, Deanna Troi’s almost-mother-in-law in Star Trek TNG, and the hot nurse’s evil doppelganger in Shallow Hal.  To be fair, she was pretty great here.
  • Vaughn Taylor (Judson) was in 5 episodes of TZ — no credited actor had more.  Sadly he had none in season 2 and doubled up in season 3, so did not act for the cycle.  He was just in Tales of Tomorrow yesterday.
  • Pat Hingle (Horace) was Commissioner Gordon in the 1980’s Batman movies.
  • Written by Reginald Rose, author of the revered 12 Angry Men where Henry Fonda convinces 11 other jurors to allow a murderer to go free to terrorize his neighborhood and those who testified against him.

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