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Thursday, December 22, 2005

1.09 --- Little Boy Lost

Directed by : Tommy Lee Wallace
Written by : Lynn Barker
Starring : Season Hubley, Nicolas Surovy, Scott Grimes
First aired : 18th of October, 1985.

Photographer Carol Shelton (Season Hubley) finally gets her big break and a chance to work on a lengthy abroad assigment. Her longtime boyfriend Greg (Nicolas Surovy) greets this news with mixed feelings, hoping that Carol will reject this opportunity and stay home and raise a family with him. Carol informs him that she has two days (until friday) to make her decision, and that she will think about it.

A bit later, Carol is at the zoo, waiting for her scheduled model to appear so she can start her shoot. Soon, a little boy with a skateboard (Scott Grimes) approaches her, saying the agency sent him, prompting Carol to guess his name. Carol gambles on "Kenny", which to her astonishment turns out right. They proceed with their work, having fun while taking photos around the animal cages and dens, but as soon as the shoot is done Kenny runs away and disappears into the crowd. Back home, developing her pictures, Carol is phoned from the agency, which apologises for not sending her a model today. She just assumes that Kenny was some random kid looking for good time, and shrugs the whole thing off.

Come friday, Carol visits Greg and informs him of her decision - she is taking the job. Greg is crushed, but he understands, and they hug goodbye. During the embrace, Carol stares through the window...and sees Kenny on the street. Back in her apartment, she is scared to death when she turns on the light and sees Kenny in the mirror. She tries to talk to him, asking him where does he live and how did he find her, but he just tells her she doesn't understand, lamenting her decision to go abroad. He then again runs away, and disappears in a dead end of the building hallway.

Next morning, Carol is still under the impression of last night's events, but she is amazed to see Kenny down on the street from her apartment window, crossing the road and running to the park. In a total frenzy, she runs downstairs and catches up with him, only to realize who he really is - the image of her unborn child who she would have if she stayed home with Greg. Crying, Carol explains to Kenny that there will be time for him too, but Kenny says that the child she will later have won't be him. He fades away, his last words being "goodbye, mom", and leaves Carol sobbing alone.

***

Little Boy Lost, second colour TZ episode directed by Tommy Lee Wallace, is a gentle, warm story cautiously championing woman's rights and ambition. Lynn Barker's script is keen to show that a new, modern, independent woman is still every bit the old-fashioned mother and housewife, but that the choice - and not an easy one at that - is all hers, and that there are consequences to bear. Somehow, I happen to believe that if this episode was made in the '60s, Carol's character would give up the abroad job and stay at home, a fact which only increases its value. As it was shown in previous episodes, the new Twilight Zone was not afraid of taking liberal, open stances in many aspects.

Season Hubley is a good pick for the ambitious, yet emotional photographer, playing her role with just right dose of emotions, without coming off too sappy or whiney. It should be noted that the "little boy lost", Scott Grimes as Kenny, grew up to be a solid actor on his own, recently appearing in HBO's magnificent miniseries Band of Brothers as sgt. Donald Malarkey, and is now a standard member of the long-running TV hospital show ER, playing dr. Archie Morris.

And, just in case someone wonders, the movie which Carol and Greg are about to see at the beginning of the episode is Beverly Hills Cop.

Comments on "1.09 --- Little Boy Lost"

 

Anonymous John said ... (4:46 PM) : 

I liked this episode, even though it was a real "tear-jerker". I agree that shown in a different era, the ending would have been watered-down and much less effective.

Overall, not my favorite, but a very good New TZ.

 

Anonymous Sarcasticus said ... (4:55 PM) : 

I've always thought this episode was a thinly-veiled reference to abortion. Consider if they had changed the story slightly to Carol finding out she's pregnant and trying to decide whether or not to go through with the pregnancy when she meets up with Kenny. Inevitably, she would go through with the procedure and only afterwards would she tragically learn from the fading-into-oblivion Kenny just who he was. It would also make the line about how she could always have another boy, "but he won't be me" all the more devastating. Granted, this somewhat different story no doubt would have caused a firestorm of controversy, but regardless of your feelings toward abortion I felt they could have really gone for the jugular with this episode but stopped short.

 

Blogger Rish Outfield said ... (1:15 AM) : 

What I liked best about this segment was the final shot, with the empty pictures, and the closing narration (for once not being superfluous) explaining that she was given a brief glimpse at a future she might have had, if she had made a different decision.

I didn't much care for the story, and then was surprised that she chose the career after all, something I really didn't see coming.

I also made the abortion connection as I was watching it (tonight, not in '85), and I have to wonder if that was the writer's intent with the "it won't be me" line, or if I'm just interpreting it that way.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:20 PM) : 

Thanks for the alternate perspective. I found the episode to be rather condemning of the protagonist, implying that she will never be happy or "complete" as a person if her life does not include motherhood. Odd, as the general tone of the series was indeed very liberal. I enjoyed hearing another reaction to the episode with that in mind. Thanks for posting.

 

Blogger Kris-SFSU said ... (7:50 AM) : 

I still remember this episode from the 1980's. It really relates to my life now. I am the father of an adorable 12-year-old girl. If I had decided to pursue a successful 20-year military career when I was 18, my daughter would never have been born. Though I kind of regret not pursuing that career, my daughter makes it all worthwhile. What a touching episode.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (3:51 PM) : 

Honestly, I thought the theme of this episode was unnecessarily harsh. Yes, modern women have to make compromises between their careers and their families, but it's not really fair to frame Carol as "giving up" her future offspring for the sake of a job, just for not having this particular kid.

For heaven's sake, by this episode's own logic, Kenny could just as easily have been swapped for a different child if Carol and her husband impulsively decided to go out for a late-night movie on the evening he would have been conceived. She'll be a mother in her own good time, and love whatever child happens to be born to her; there's no sense setting it up as a senseless tragedy that she's waiting for the right time and the right partner.

 

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