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Saturday, December 24, 2005

1.14 --- Examination Day

Directed by : Paul Lynch
Written by : Philip DeGuere (story by Henry Slesar)
Starring : David Mendenhall, Christopher Allport, Elizabeth Norment
First aired : 1st of November, 1985.

In the far future, goverment has obliged all children to pass a mandatory IQ test once they reach the age of 12. Richard "Dickie" Jordan Jr. (David Mendenhall, Over the Top) has just turned twelve himself, and is more than ready to take the challenge. His parents, though, are less than enthousiastic - they are avoiding his questions about it, and trying to ease his thoughts by giving him his dream present two years too early, and feeding him with birthday cake. Still, Dickie, a rather bright child, is overly eager to prove them he'll ace the test, so he keeps on talking about it, much to distress of his mother (Elizabeth Norment).

The examination day finally comes, and Dickie is taken to the testing facility, where he registers and takes his place in the waiting room. Once his name is called up, Dickie's father (Christopher Allport) informs him that he can't wait for him there, and that he will pick him up after they are phoned the results. He leaves, and Dickie enters the examination chamber, beginning the testing procedure.

Hours later, the Jordans are sitting at home, anxiously awaiting the phone call which will inform them of Dickie's results. The phone finally rings, and an indifferent female voice tells them exactly what they feared - Dickie completed the test...but is deemed too intelligent by the goverment, and is therefore killed.

***

A wonderfully morbid look into the future, Examination Day, based on a short story by Henry Slesar and the first of several new TZ episodes directed by Paul Lynch (Prom Night), comes desperately close to perfection, but fails at two hurdles. First, at one point, Dickie's mother remarks that "he's not like other children", already making the viewer suspicious. Then, prior to the exam, Dickie is given truth serum in order to give honest answers. While perfectly logical for the story development, this bit of script is best left off the screen, as it ruins the otherwise memorable twist ending even further.

But those are all minor flaws in an otherwise very, very amusing episode. With its running time being mere ten minutes, Examination Day is brief, but deadly...and Mendenhall is quite possibly the sweetest child in television history.

TZ Trivia : Henry Slesar's stories inspired two classic TZ episodes as well - The Old Man in the Cave (8th of November, 1963.) and The Self-Improvement of Salvadore Ross (17th of January, 1964.).

***

Oh, and...merry christmas to all of you who celebrate it on 25th of December.

Comments on "1.14 --- Examination Day"

 

Anonymous chogokinman said ... (3:12 AM) : 

Voici un excellent épisode digne des anciens. Un épisode comme je les aime, noir, désespéré et avec un final tranchant.
Ma note : 4/5

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (12:39 PM) : 

This was a great episode! it was the first one I've seen. Very memorable. I did not guess the actual ending though I came pretty close. I thought that if he scored too high the government would take him away and turn him into a drone soldier.

 

Anonymous fateplan said ... (10:54 AM) : 

this is the most awesome blog ever. thanks for putting it up. i'm thinking of buying season one now just to show "Examination Day" to my students

 

Anonymous James Evans said ... (9:35 PM) : 

One of my favorites, this is a story I will never forget. Mainly because I had read the story in my english class a year prior to it becoming an episode of the Twilight Zone. David Mendenhall was excellent in his portrayal of Dickie Jordan.

 

Anonymous Eric said ... (4:36 PM) : 

This is an amazing story, but I think that the director might have opened the kimono a little too early. I first saw this episode at the age of ten, and the twist ending sent chills down my spine. Watching it twenty years later I have a hard time believing that a lot of first-time adult viewers wouldn't have guessed the ending pretty quickly. That being said, the acting and effects are great, and the plot is both original and thought-provoking.

 

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