Season 5, Episode 16 (136 overall)
Originally aired 1/17/1964
Cayuga Production # 2612
I recently turned 44, which isn’t terribly old in the grand scheme of things, but I’m experiencing some fairly significant hair loss. It really bugs me to see older men --- like really old --- sporting full heads of hair. They’ll probably be dead within a few short years; meanwhile, I've still got a few decades left, during which I’ll continue to lose hair. It doesn’t seem fair, dammit. Old men don’t need hair in their twilight years; in fact, it’s kinda strange to see an old man who isn’t balding. They’d probably prefer to live longer and have less hair, given the choice, and I’d happily trade a few of my years for a thick, lustrous head of hair. Sounds like an equitable trade to me.
Fifty years ago tonight, a man inexplicably gained the ability to make such impossible trades. “The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” is exactly what it sounds like: the titular Salvadore Ross uses his newfound supernatural bartering talents to better himself.
“The Four Of Us Are Dying,” which also ends with Don Gordon getting shot by an old man. But that ending was organic and jibed with the events that preceded it; I guess we can argue that cosmic justice is indeed served here by Sal getting blown away, but at what cost? A good man (Mr. Maitland) is now a soulless shell of a man (and will almost certainly go to prison for murder), and the innocent Leah just lost the man she loves and her father in one shot (har har). If this is cosmic justice, it’s hugely skewed.
There's particularly effective bit at the top of act two. The elderly Sal enters an elevator, which is operated by a young man. When he gets off, he's young again... and the bellhop is now an old man, holding a big fat check in his hands.
The episode is stock-scored, mostly with non-TZ cues from the CBS Music Library; however, we do hear a few bits of Fred Steiner’s scores for “King Nine Will Not Return” (“Sand”) and “The Passersby” (“Morning,” which was also used in last week’s “The Long Morrow”).
“The Four of Us Are Dying.” He also appeared on The Outer Limits twice (“The Invisibles” and “Second Chance”).
“A World of Difference,” then again in season four’s “In His Image”). Like Don Gordon, she popped up on The Outer Limits twice (“Specimen: Unknown” and “Keeper of the Purple Twilight”). If you can’t tell, I have something of a crush on her. She passed away last August. Rest in peace, you beautiful thing you.
“Time Enough at Last,” season three’s “Still Valley” and “I Sing the Body Electric,” and season four’s “The Incredible World of Horace Ford”). He also did two episodes of The Outer Limits (“The Guests” and “Expanding Human”).
“The Chaser” in season one and “The Fugitive” in season three. He’ll also be back later this season for “Mr. Garrity and the Graves.” Interestingly, the unnamed hospital nurse is played by Kathleen O'Malley… his daughter!
“The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross” is quite good, better than many season five offerings, and it shines despite its unsatisfying conclusion. If we could just take a page from Sal’s book and trade its ending for a different one….
“The Eye of the Beholder,” but without the pig people. It’s better than it sounds.