Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Twilight Zone - One For The Angels

Streets.  Summer.  The Present.
A man on the sidewalk named Lew Bookman.  Age sixty-ish.  Occupation:  Pitchman.
Lew Bookman, a fixture of the summer, another minor component to a hot July.
A nondescript, commonplace little man who's life is a treadmill built out of sidewalks.
In just a moment, Lew Bookman will have to concern himself with survival,
because as of three o'clock this hot July afternoon, he'll be stalked by Mr. Death.

This is one of those episodes that has completely ingrained itself in my memory.  I've lost count of how many times I've seen it and I can only imagine how many more.

Lew and the children 

Starring Ed Wynn (Uncle Albert in Mary Poppins!) as Lew Bookman and Murray Hamilton (Larry Vaughn, Mayor of Amity Island in Jaws!!) as Mr Death.  Lew is a pitchman who loves (and is loved) by the children in his neighborhood.  On hot July afternoon, Death appears to him and informs him that he will be "departing" that night at midnight and he needs to put his final business in order.  Lew, strikes a bargain with Death that he can have an extension on life until he makes a big pitch.  "One for the Angels" as he says.  Death agrees, only to find that Lew is trying to trick death and essentially grant himself all the time he wants, by swearing off pitching.
Death, not one to be trifled with, makes arraignments for another soul to accompany him that night.

Mr. Death!!!

This is essentially another retelling of W. Sommerset Maugham's The Appointment in Samarra, which in turn is a retelling of an old Babylonian myth.  The story tells of a servant of a merchant who bumps into death at the market in town.  Death makes a threatening gesture (or beckons to him depending on what version you hear) toward him.  The servant races back to his master and begs him to lend him a horse (or car...or get the picture) and he races off to Samarra (or whatever town) to escape his fate.  The Merchant goes to town and finds Death.  He asks "Why did you frighten my servant?"  and Death replies "I did not mean to.  I was very surprised to see him here....see I have an appointment with him in Samarra (your town here....) tonight!"

Try to outsmart death and look what happens.  Nothing good.  I mean, jeez, look at what happens to all those poor bastards in the Final Destination movies!  That's The Appointment kicked up to eleven!

Discussing the finer points of Lew's "Departure"

This is one of those episodes that I see every single year when Syfy runs their Twilight Zone Marathons (usually 4th of July....but sometimes they do it on other holidays).  Never fails...when I turn on the TV....BANG....this episode never fails to appear.  I like the fact that it ends on an up's a nice contrast to the many disturbing episodes that would keep me up long into the night in my childhood.

A pitch so big that the sky opened for the Angels.

Lewis J. Bookman.  Age:  sixty-ish.  Occupation:  Pitchman.
Formerly, a fixture of the summer.
Formerly, a rather minor component to a hot July.
But throughout his life, a man beloved by the children
and therefore a most important man.
Couldn't happen, you say?
Well, we're not in most places;
but it DID The Twilight Zone.

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