Don and Pat Carter are on their honeymoon when their car breaks down in the small town of Ridgeview, Ohio. They have a few hours to spare while their car is being repaired and spend time in the diner. There they find a fortune-telling machine, a game where you can ask a question and for a penny will spit out an innocuous answer. When the machine apparently begins to predict events - Don's promotion at work, a near accident on the street outside - a superstitious Don becomes infatuated with the device threatening his marriage and his future with Pat. Written by
I borrowed Season 2 of the Twilight Zone from my mother-in-law about a week ago (my brother's wife's mother. Is that my mother-in-law? Stepmother-in-law?), and this was the first episode that I watched, just because I was surprised to see that William Shatner was starring in it. He looks absolutely nothing like the William Shatner that we now know and love (seriously, nothing at all. If it wasn't for his voice it would be hard to believe it's the same guy), and the second thing that struck me was that there was nothing at all strange or paranormal taking place in the episode from beginning to end, which is something that I haven't come to expect from a Twilight Zone episode.
Shatner stars as Don Carter, and one day he and his wife Pat go into a cafe that has a little penny machine on the table that tells your future. Casually, he puts in a few pennies and asks a few yes or no questions, and is absolutely astonished by the generic answers that he gets. Why is he so stunned by the answers? Never once does the machine give anything but a generic response, and never once does it give either a yes answer or a no answer to one of Don's yes or no questions.
All he ever gets are things like "What do you think?" and "It has already been taken care of," and "Your chances are good." Don is blown away. I would hate to see this guy reading some fortune cookies or his horoscope, he might lose his mind! The black and white lighting, as usual, is one of the best elements of the episode, and the music does a fine job of lending a tone of otherworldly presence in a show whose most otherworldly thing is the incredible gullibility of the main characters. Even though the episode is ultimately disappointing in its lack of content, it's still another interesting look at that Back to the Future set at Universal Studios and the early career of one of science fiction's most recognizable stars.
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