Thursday, February 20, 2020

The Twilight Zone (1959) -- Season 2 Episode 10 (A Most Unusual Camera)

The Twilight Zone was never too heavy on the science.  For that reason, I would consider it more fantasy.  Take A Most Unusual Camera.  A husband-and-wife pair of crooks comes across a camera that seems much like any other instant camera.  You press a button and out comes a photograph.  It’s never explained where the camera came from or how it works, but it does work.

Chester notes that there’s no place to load film.  But what the heck?  It’s the only thing of note in an otherwise worthless haul.  It doesn’t take long for them to realize that the camera takes in image from five minutes into the future.  Chester thinks of all the good it could do humanity.

When Paula’s brother, Woodward, turns on a horse race, Chester hatches a brilliant plan:  Take the camera to the race track.  They can photograph the results and bet on the winners.  So, of course they come back with a bag full of cash.  (I guess we’re left to assume that they paid taxes, although it’s unclear why they let Woodward tag along, since he escaped from prison.)

It’s understandable that we would never get an origin story on the camera.  That’s not the focus of the story.  Instead, Serling chooses to focus on the fact that greed always catches up with us.  Even if the IRS doesn’t notice, someone else will.  The hotel’s waiter, Pierre, follows them into the room with the intent of helping himself to their winnings.

My main issue is that the story seemed a bit rushed.  Chester and Woodward get into a fight and fall out a window, which is understandable.  What gets me as strange is that Paula and Pierre meet a similar fate.  The only reasoning seems to be that a different death would be harder to explain.

Normally, I’d lament that the story didn’t get a longer run time.  This time it did.  There was a movie called Time Lapse, which seems to folly the basic plot pretty closely and was done pretty well, if I recall.  The moral of the story is the same, though.  If you find a camera like this, play it safe.   Don’t get greedy.

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