Thursday, January 20, 2011

TZ Promo: “The Whole Truth” (1/20/1961)

“The Whole Truth”
Season Two, Episode 14 (#50 overall)
Cayuga Production # 173-3666

Fifty years ago tonight, The Twilight Zone reached something of a milestone: the series aired its 50th episode. In all fairness, it wasn’t that impressive: TV series frequently made it to the 50 mark back then, since networks were much slower to cancel new shows. I’m sure the episode wasn’t touted as anything special… which, unfortunately, is fitting. “The Whole Truth” is not a shining jewel in the TZ crown; in fact, I’d rate it in the bottom 10 of the entire 156-episode run, alongside such hideous specimens as “Mr. Bevis,” “A Most Unusual Camera,” and “Mr. Dingle, the Strong.” Yeah, it’s that bad. Plus it’s one of those unfortunate videotaped episodes. Crappy script AND crappy production value? This one didn’t stand a snowball’s chance in hell.

It’s another of Serling’s ill-advised attempts at comedy, which almost invariably stink to high heaven. There are exceptions, of course: “Night of the Meek” and “Will the Real Martian Please Stand Up?” are both delightfully fun, and make me smile every time I see them. “The Whole truth,” sadly, just plain sucks. Viewing it is tantamount to larceny: you end up robbed of 25 minutes that you’ll never get back.

Jack Carson stars as Harvey Hunnicut, a low-end used-car salesman who wouldn’t know truth if it bit him on the ass. He comes into possession of a cursed car that makes him --- the de facto owner --- tell the truth. Used car salesman forced to tell the truth? Hilarity ensues. Oh wait, no it doesn’t. It’s tedious, poorly-written and not even the faintest bit interesting. By the end, when Hunnicut manages to unload the car on a prominent political figure (and free himself of the truth-telling curse)… well, to quote Robert Mitchum in Cape Fear: “Man, I just don’t give a damn.” And neither will you, suffering viewer. I hate to say skip it, since every Twilight Zone fan should see every single episode at least once, but… well, view with caution. And really low expectations. Get it over with, and move on. Next week's episode is better, I promise.

James Shelton directs. Now, before we go after him with torches and pitchforks, I should note that he'll go on to direct season three's "It's A Good Life," an absolute classic in every right. I guess we can forgive him for this awkward, ugly misstep. Betcha ten bucks he left it off his resume.

Next week: A simple woman, alone in a remote cabin. Something lands on the roof. It ain't Santa.

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