Monthly Archives: October 2011
When Peter Falk died, I wrote a quick “RIP” post to note the passing of a beloved and memorable actor. I also said that I would soon review his one Twilight Zone, “The Mirror.” Well, the occasion of its 50th anniversary seems an apt time to do that.
Quick recap: The story centers around a Fidel Castro-like character named Ramos Clemente. Having deposed his country’s previous rulers, he’s all set to enjoy the fruits of power – only to discover, by means of a special looking glass, that he’s surrounded by friends who are only too willing to depose him to gain his vaunted position at the top.
Despite Falk’s presence, “The Mirror” tends to get so-so reviews. Even fans who like it put it in the middle of the pack. True, there’s much to like, such as Falk’s muscular performance and Serling’s legendary ability to turn a phrase. But it’s stagey, with the action taking place in one room. Plus, as Serling expert Tony Albarella has noted, it’s hardly plausible that Clemente’s allies would turn on him that quickly (though he notes that Serling’s original script calls for a month-long timeframe, which would make more sense.) It lacks the subtlety of some of Serling’s earlier episodes. Read the rest of this entry
There’s a certain irony in the title of the Hugh Jackman film “Real Steel.” After all, the story was first staged decades ago as a Twilight Zone episode simply titled “Steel,” making the newer incarnation something of a counterfeit.
That’s not to say the Jackman film is bad. I haven’t seen it, so I’ll reserve judgment. But whether it merits a thumbs up or a thumbs down, it’s worth remembering what made the Richard Matheson original so memorable.
Start, as nearly all good stories do, with an intriguing premise: In the near future, boxing between humans is outlawed. It’s limited to robots — or, as Serling specifies in his intro, to androids — “definition: ‘an automaton resembling a human being’.”
Steel Kelly (Lee Marvin, star of the Zone episode “The Grave“) is a manager who is traveling to a bout with an outdated model — a B2, in a world where the B7 is the latest model. He believes fervently in “Battlin’ Maxo,” but his partner, Pole (played by Joe Mantell, star of the Zone episode “Nervous Man in a Four Dollar Room”), is just as convinced they’re wasting their time. Why keep trying to hold an old android together with shoestring repairs?
Sure enough, Maxo breaks down minutes before the fight. Pole is ready to throw in the towel, but Steel refuses to forfeit even a modest purse. He insists on taking Maxo’s place in the ring. With a little make-up and the right expression, maybe no one will know the difference. (If you haven’t seen this episode, feel free to bail — spoilers ahead.)