Thursday, October 20, 2011

TZ Promo: "The Mirror" (10/20/1961)

Season 3, Episode 6 (#71 overall)
Cayuga Production # 4819

Two weeks ago, I rhapsodized about the joys of discovering new favorite TZ episodes, formerly ignored gems that I find myself loving now that I’m revisiting them. Tonight we celebrate the 50th anniversary of an episode that, despite viewing it through more mature eyes... well, I just can’t bring myself to give a shit about.

That overwhelming sense of ennui you feel.... I feel it too, General.

Written by Rod Serling and directed by Don Medford, “The Mirror” concerns Ramos Clemente, a peasant in an unnamed Central American country who leads a rebellion against the incumbent dictatorship and seizes power. In addition to the new spoils of leadership, Clemente inherits a magic mirror that reveals the faces of those plotting to kill him. Predictably, he goes batshit crazy with paranoia and starts killing everyone around him. Spoiler alert: he finally sees his own reflection and kills himself.

Peter Falk has his Orpheus moment.

Aside from the thin plot and predictable outcome, there’s something absolutely malevolent going on here. The final line, uttered by a priest, seems to imply that there’s some important lesson to learn here, something along the lines of “your worst enemy is always yourself.” So if this supernatural mirror’s purpose is to impart that nugget of wisdom, then why the hell do so many innocent people have to die in the process? In the throes of all-consuming fear, Clemente is having citizens executed ‘round the clock. If he is indeed evil (and we have no reason to think he was, prior to taking power), then why doesn't the mirror simply show him his own reflection at the outset? This is one seriously evil mirror, or one seriously misguided writer (yes, Rod, I’m talking to you); either way, “The Mirror” leaves a seriously bad taste in my mouth. Season one’s “Time Enough at Last” also gave me serious pause, but at least that episode had some good qualities (set design, etc). This so-called effort has nothing of value to offer.

The normally-loveable Peter Falk plays Clemente like a third-rate Fidel Castro cartoon caricature. It’s not pleasant to watch… not that a great performance would’ve saved this dreck. Season 3 will unfortunately have several low points… this is the first of them.

Next week: Just in time for Halloween, a genuinely scary episode featuring… Roscoe P. Coltrane?????

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