Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 1 Episode 28 (A Nice Place to Visit)

Henry Francis 'Rocky' Valentine is not a good person by any stretch of the imagination.  The episode begins with him running away from a robbery.  He’s caught and shot by the police.  That’s not the end of his story, though.  He’s greeted by Mr. Pip, who informs the former thief that he’s dead.  Pip is to be his guide to the afterlife.

Valentine doesn’t believe it.  He demands Pip’s wallet.  Pip informs Valentine that he hasn’t carried a wallet, but does offer up several thousand dollars in cash.  He then shows Valentine to his new living quarters, which are really nice.  Valentine asks for a beautiful woman.  He gets his wish.  Valentine is shown to a casino where he can’t lose.  Any number he bets on in roulette comes up.  The slot machines will always pay him the jackpot.  He’s confused, as he’d always assumed he wouldn’t end up in heaven.  Pip assures Valentine that there’s been no mistake.

When Valentine asks to see some of his old friends, Pip informs him that it’s not possible.  All of this is entirely for Valentine’s benefit.  In fact, Pip and Valentine are the only two real people there.  Everything else is for effect.  Pip does take Valentine to the Hall of Records, if only to reinforce what a rotten person Valentine was in life.

At any rate, Valentine spends the next month enjoying the afterlife.  When he talks to Pip about the constant winning, Pip offers to let him lose one in a while.  Valentine says that it’s not the same.  Knowing that the fix is in takes the thrill out of it.  Valentine would rather go to “the other place” than spend one more day getting everything he wants.  Pip points out that he never said that this was Heaven.  Valentine is in the other place.

For some reason, this episode seems to make it into the marathons.  I’ve always thought it was one of the weaker episodes.  You probably could cut a few of the scenes out and end up with a more effective episode.  It spends a lot of time showing Valentine getting everything he wants.  I felt the episode could have done without some of it.

It also spends a lot of time establishing that Valentine isn’t a nice person.   Again, much of it is unnecessary.  Valentine calls women broads, which is understandable.  It goes to establishing what kind of person he is.  When Pip takes Valentine to the Hall of Records, it comes off as being for show.  The set was certainly nice to look at, but all Pip does is read off a few of Valentine’s presumably many crimes.

Twilight Zone episodes have never been heavy in the detail.  They’re easy to follow, yet often pack a punch.  This one was kind of thin.   There was way too much setup for too little payoff.  It’s not a horrible episode.  It’s good for at least one viewing.  However, I’m not sure how many people will be watching it repeatedly.

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