|Index||7 reviews in total|
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Beautifully told, with a poignant conclusion, "A Message from Charity"
has a unique story, perfectly suited for the Twilight Zone, concerning
a sweet Puritan girl, circa 1700, "connecting" with an intelligent
teenage 16 year old in 1985 somehow when both are suffering from
illness deriving from tainted water known to exist in that particular
area of Massachusetts, a fever which seems to be a sort of psychic
catalyst allowing the two to see through each other's eyes, feeling the
same sensations, sensing the same thoughts even when they are not
speaking. Kerry Noonan (the strawberry blond who becomes a Jason
Voorhies victim, blood splattered all over her cabin in "Friday the
13th Part IV: Jason Lives") and Robert Duncan McNeill (Tom Paris of
"Star Trek Voyager") are Charity and Peter respectively, the two who,
through their marvelous, miraculous link, fall in love with each other
even though they have over 285 years separating them. It's a tender,
blossoming romance as the two introduce (especially Peter who informs
her of plenty advancements of man spanning the century or so she would
never be able to experience if not for their special *sight*) to each
other what occurs around them, a sharing of experiences that creates a
relationship unlike any man could imagine. Imagine Charity seeing the
clouds from the point of view of an airplane, or Peter seeing the land
before mankind's overpopulated occupancy removes the beauty that once
existed. Charity gets to read books through Peter's eyes that would not
be written for quite some time, this second sight allowing her to.
When, however, Charity informs a friend of certain details such as
man's walking on the moon, automobiles, and television, Peter realizes
that this could lead to a Salem witch trial (while the water is tainted
in other areas of the Puritan villages, only Charity's seems to be
drinkable, as well as, her survival of the fever only encourages such
superstitions). Will Charity suffer the same fate as others falsely
accused of witchcraft? Can Peter determine, through the history books
at his disposal in his school's library, if she is spared such a fate?
James Cromwell (Babe) has a small role as Charity's father, Obediah,
worried for his daughter (he lost her mother who died giving birth to
Charity), as the Salem witch trial offers a possibly horrible fate for
the girl. A certain detail about Squire Jonas Hacker (Gerald Hiken) may
just rescue her thanks to Peter's digging. The final scene, where
Charity informs Peter of a special surprise located at a certain place
off the beaten path, tugs on the heart-strings and is positively
romantic. The two leads are just delightful; the fact that their love,
while incredible due to the mileage of time that comes between them,
transcends the impossible thanks to the Twilight Zone. I consider the
ending bittersweet as Peter has to accept and come to terms with a
decision by Charity, but what they share is truly special. 8/10
"Examination Day" is set in a distant future where a bright kid (David Mendenhall) is celebrating his twelfth birthday while his parents look worried about the next day's required IQ exam. The kid is at ease, quite confident, just knowing the test will be a piece of cake. Instead of looking relieved about how calm and sure he is, the parents (Christopher Allport and Elizabeth Norment) appear less than enthusiastic. Why? Shocking ending open-ended leaving us looking at a future quite bleak, when intellect appears threatening to *the government*. Sets and matte work of the future-city not too shabby considering the tale is ten minutes tops. 6/10
This a good episode of The New Twilight Zone that actually includes interesting ideas and clever stories (I note both of them are based on short stories). "Examination Day" is set in the future, year unknown but at a point where they have cake candles that light themselves, huge TV-looking "phones" that double as numerous other entertaining machines and distributed only to those of a certain age...and the Examination Day, a point where 12-year-olds must undergo a government-required IQ test. The kid is this story, Dickie Jordan (David Mendenhall) is just celebrating his own 12th birthday and is a smart kid, so is calm, even eager to take the test that he has seen friends pass easily and knows he will excel at based on his school grades. His parents (Christopher Allport and Elizabeth Norment), on the other hand, say he shouldn't have used his birthday wish on getting a good score, and while their reason includes that they believe he's capable and he should have no need to worry, it's pretty obvious they are worried. I won't give anything away in the ending, but I will say this - there's a point where we get a glimpse of what's to come as far ass why the test is such a heavy subject: that evening (or another?) his parents ask Dickie whether he'd prefer to watch TV all night. By today's standards, we'd be pleased he'd say he'd rather read and not just because there's nothing worth watching...but why would his family ask this? The flavor of what's encouraged and discouraged in the future reminded me a bit of the atmosphere from Harrison Bergenon (which I hear hasn't received a great adaptation to the screen). I only wish they could've provided an opening and closing narration to make this theme as powerful as The Obsolete Man was. I found it to be better than the short story it was based on. I haven't read the one that "A Message from Charity" was based on, but would like to since it was interesting - a 16-year-ld boy, Peter (Robert Duncan McNeill) is suffering a fever from unclean water, that has always been common in his Massachusetts hometown...but he is able to see through the eyes of a young Puritan woman suffering the same type of fever, Charity Payne, (Kerry Noonann) who also finds herself able to experience what goes on around him. They both recover, especially since it's common for that to happen in 1985, but the connection doesn't go away. Charity is curious about the sights and sounds she records of 1985 and they each enjoy each other's company, especially Peter, who has promoted grades in school enough to always have felt isolated from other students, even at the college he's been staying in one place at. Things take an unexpected turn, though, when Charity reveals some of these experiences to a friend who take her claims that the 13 colonies will breach from England as a sign of bewitchment, added to the fact that she was spared death from the fever (not so common in 1700). The two try to learn a way to save her. The ending is sad but has an interesting final moment that makes it touching. Both segments of this episode include a lot of pain but both times, through a lesson/warning that sounds like something Rod Sterling would've cooked up and entertainment, make cheerful watching as reminders that friendship, love, and wisdom do a great deal. Probably 3/4 of this has no theme, but somehow I think it all would have been approved by Sterling's crew.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Remember these two stories fondly and in the first, set in the not too distant future, we see a young boy preparing for examination day, the state i.q test. The boy is slightly puzzled as to his parents anxiety as some of his friends have already done it already and eventually goes off to do the test. Upon arriving he is given an injection and is curious as to why. The examiner smiles and tells him that it is just to make sure he tells the truth. The boy then asks, puzzled again, why wouldn't he? It is later and the parents are sitting waiting worriedly by the screen when a message appears and declares that the state are sorry, but their son's i.q level has exceeded the national quotient and ask politely would they like a private burial. A corker of a concluding scene! A Message From Charity was a heart warming story about a fluke mental connection between a girl from the past and a guy from the present. Which pans out into a weird story of witchcraft accusations in the past and delving into the history pages in the present. A nice story with a heartwarming conclusion.
EXAMINATION DAY is a short and snappy effort based on a story by
popular short story writer Henry Slesar. A kid is studying hard for his
exams and his parents are really worried about the outcome, although
not for the reason you might expect. The execution and acting in this
story is poor, but the whole thing hinges on a top class ending which
manages to be as crushing as the anti-drug film REQUIEM FOR A DREAM.
A MESSAGE FROM CHARITY is one of the best segments I've yet seen of THE NEW TWILIGHT ZONE. I saw it in two parts, and the extended running time made for a fuller, more satisfying production. It's a straightforward time travel-type storyline in which a young geeky guy from the 1980s finds himself with a psychic connection to a Puritan girl living her life centuries in the past.
Things go swimmingly for a while, but then others find out about the girl's powers and she ends up being accused of witchcraft. The plotting makes great sense actually and the story is fine, with enough of budget to do the historical scenes justice. I also liked the various twists and turns in the narrative. The acting could have been better, but for the most part this is refreshingly decent.
This one and "Her Pilgrim Soul" are two of my favorite episodes in this new version of Twilight Zone. As I mentioned in my comment on the new series, there's something lacking in this new series. Maybe they emphasize too much the lesson that has to be learned. It's a little bit more mawkish and sentimental than Serling's version. However, this episode can be considered as quite sentimental too. I think the appeal is that no matter what they do, the lovers can never unite. I remember I wasn't surprised by the Korean movie "Il Mare" (later remade into "The Lake House". I think it's because I saw this episode first so it ruined the impact of the later film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Examination Day": Around the two-minute mark, I was reminded of the
Star Trek meme that starts with "Kirk, Spock, McCoy, and Ensign Ricky
are beaming down to the planet." In this case, Ensign Ricky is an
overly enthusiastic 12-year-old who thinks his upcoming
government-mandated IQ exam is the best thing since sliced bread. The
plot had potential, but director Paul Lynch blew it by revealing his
hand too early.
"A Message from Charity" is a tender story about two young people who share a friendship (and perhaps more) despite a time gap of nearly 300 years. The main characters are likable, the acting is good, and the New England Puritan speech (or a believable approximation) is a nice touch. It was also a treat to see Robert Duncan McNeill and James Cromwell before they made it big. Definitely the main attraction in this episode, "A Message from Charity" is worth every minute of its longish running time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This episode six of "The New Twilight Zone" from the 1985-86 CBS season
featured two segments "Examination Day" and "A Message from Charity". I
will give my take on both.
The first and very quick and straight to the point segment "Examination Day" is a tale set in the modern and futuristic world in which the government controls and rules with an iron fist on people's lives. A young boy Dickie Jordan who just turns 12 makes a wish on his birthday to get a good score on the national government test that all kids take. His parents seem worried and uneasy that he made a wish for that they feel Dickie will do fine and has no need to worry because the boy is to smart. However it turns out to be a fatal end as the boy is to smart for the government! So smart that he meets his final end as his parents receive word about his burial plans. Quick and short episode that has a somber and tragic end.
Second "A Message from Charity" features a story of communicating between different time periods. With a modern day teenage boy in Massachusetts who all of a sudden makes contact with an old fashioned girl from Puritan, New England. Little by little the world is experienced thru each others own eyes. An okay story that's touching and shows a special bonding of friendship while contrasting history between modern and old New England.
Overall an okay episode, but still many others during season one were better.
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