Twilight Zone – The Curious Case of Edgar Witherspoon (09/24/88)

The curious case I got was a curious case of deja vu back to the Patterns episode of Night Visions.  In that post, I had a paragraph stating how each step of the plot was evident from the start:

Of course Martin’s OCD tics are going to be the glue that keeps the world together.  Of course Critchley is going to be skeptical.  Of course Martin is going to be found to be telling the truth.  And of course Critchley will inherit the burden that he was skeptical of.

Change the names, and this is exactly the same story.  That is not necessarily a bad thing.  I guess it is a broad enough trope, like time-travel, that no one can claim to own it.  And I am a sucker for this particular trope, so case dismissed.  I give it a Trumpian pardon — maybe not deserved, but who’s going to stop me?

I deleted about 500 words above that just seemed superfluous; although beautifully composed.  Harry Morgan played Edgar Witherspoon perfectly.  As a young man — or at least as young as Harry Morgan ever was — he was a bit of a stiff.  The laughs he got back then seemed to be from hamming it up or due to funny words coming out of his Dragnet facade.  In this episode, he seems to have arrived at peak coot-hood.  He is a fun old guy, believably sincere with his krazee ideas.  Unfortunately — and I’m going to use that word a lot — the psychiatrist seems to be in a different episode, and the rest of the cast are just non-entities.[1]

Unfortunately # 2:  This is the first episode of the 3rd season (although the 4th episode on the DVD?) and the first appearance of Robin Ward as the announcer.  I was often critical of Charles Aidman’s avuncular voice undermining many episodes, so a change was welcome.  I’m not sure this is an improvement, though.  From one outing, he strikes me as if he is trying to emulate both Aidman and Rod Serling.  I hear shades of them both in his delivery.

Unfortunately # 3:  The score, as is frequently the case, is just entirely inappropriate.  Harry Morgan was fine being eccentric, but I would rather have had the score show a little more seriousness.  These scores too often cheapen the stakes with musical flourishes and little pixie dust sounds.  The psychiatrist’s performance was grimly at odds with the rest of the episode, but maybe he was closest to getting it right.  The island of Tuatau was destroyed by a tidal wave for cryin’ out loud!  Do you have no feelings atoll — heyooooo! [1]

And yet, for all the belly-aching, I really enjoyed it.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] This is not so funny after the events of Barbuda.  Or before.
  • Yikes, what a dreadful pedigree:  The psychiatrist was on an episode of Ray Bradbury Theater, his secretary was also in a RBT, Edgar’s niece was in the dreadful Poltergeist remake, and the new announcer was in a Hitchhiker.

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