Serling quite often visited the past with stories he wrote for his earlier popular TV series, 'The Twilight Zone'. Sometimes those stories had an optimistic ending, like the one titled "Walking Distance", and sometimes they ended on a somber note, like "A Stop at Willoughby". One time, one of his characters even tried to short cut his way to success by going back in time to take advantage of things he knew were going to happen in the future. That one was "Of Late I Think of Cliffordville".
The recurring thread in all those stories, as well as 'Riley's Bar', is how one can get so caught up with the way things used to be, that there's no sense of appreciation for the way things are right now. I think that probably happens with all of us to some degree. I caught many of the Twilight Zone shows when they originally ran as a kid, so I have some perspective in that regard. If one could only turn back the clock.
What could have been a morose story actually turned out to be fairly positive one for old Randy, who if you think about it, wasn't really all that old at forty eight. It took some help from a supportive secretary (Diane Baker) to convince him (and his boss) that the best to come might still be achievable if he'd learn to live in the present. I'd like to think he found a new lease on life as he celebrated his 'first' twenty five years with the company.
As for the second story, "The Last Laurel", one might keep handy a few grains of salt to sprinkle on the tale of Marius Davis (Jack Cassidy). The petty and jealous cripple is convinced his wife is cheating on him with his personal physician, and sets out to seek his revenge upon refining his skills at astral projection. If one takes any comfort in the concept at all, the story falls apart when Marius winds up killing himself because he found himself in the 'wrong' room when he set out to murder Doctor Armstrong (Robert E. Brooks). The irony isn't lost on the viewer, but if projecting one's spirit outside the physical body is even remotely possible, it's not too much of a stretch to think that a little darkness wouldn't matter one way or the other.