Thursday, December 9, 2010

TZ Promo: "The Trouble with Templeton" (12/09/1960)

“The Trouble With Templeton”
Season Two, Episode 9 (#45 overall)
Cayuga Production # 173-3649

Tonight’s episode, first aired on this date exactly fifty years ago, features a man in a morose state of nostalgia who somehow finds himself transported to his coveted past. No, his name isn’t Martin Sloan.

“The Trouble with Templeton” is a competent production, but in all honesty, I’ve never felt particularly warm toward it. Perhaps my “meh” feeling stems from the fact that, on a thematic level, nothing happens here that we haven’t already seen in previous episodes, most notably season one’s “Walking Distance”… and on every level, this episode is inferior to that gentle masterpiece. Like I said, it’s competent enough on its own, but there’s really nothing transcendent going on here.

Oh, except for one thing. There’s a jaw-droppingly beautiful shot late in the episode: Templeton has sought out his dead wife in a speakeasy, where he hopes for a sweet reunion with his lost love. He’s met instead with a raucous barrage of loud Dixieland jazz and general obnoxious behavior. He objects, gets himself slapped across the face, and flees. The ghosts of his past abruptly drop their drunken merriment act as they watch him go. The music stops, everyone stands still, and the lights go down… except for a single spotlight, which the beautiful Pippa Scott steps into, an incalculable longing in her eyes.

I guess that’s an interesting point, one that perhaps elevates the episode a bit. Templeton aches for the dead past, but it appears that dead past aches even more for him. A sobering thought.

“The Trouble with Templeton” is written by E. Jack Neuman, so at least it’s not Serling pilfering himself this time around (he’ll do enough of that as the series progresses). Buzz Kulik directs. Brian Ahern and the aforementioned Pippa Scott star.

Interesting cast note: the snooty theater director is played by a young Sydney Pollack, who would go on to a rather impressive directing career (he won an Academy Award for 1982’s Out of Africa). Pollack continued to act periodically as well, turning in memorable performances in Tootsie (which he also directed) and Eyes Wide Shut, among many others. He passed away in 2008. Here, he’s an arrogant ass… which is exactly what he’s supposed to be.

I would be remiss if I failed to mention the lovely score by Jeff Alexander. It's comprised mostly of fairly generic Dixieland-style jazz, but sprinkled throughout are some very lovely cues. One in particular, "Cerebellum," will reappear in season four's "Death Ship" and season five's "Probe 7 - Over and Out." It's a beautiful little piece of music.

Next week: A band of thieves gets their grubby mitts on a camera that takes pictures of the future. Intriguing concept, right? Don't get your hopes up. Say cheese and tune in.


Anonymous said...

I just saw this episode last night while working through my collection of the series and that shot just knocked me cold. I get your points but this one pulled at my heartstrings (bleh, what a phrase) I guess on the strength of the lead performance

Craig Beam said...

Well, after suffering through the next episode ("A Most Unusual Camera"), my view of this episode is quite a bit better. :)