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Monday, January 02, 2006

1.25 --- Opening Day

Directed by : John Milius
Written by : Gerrit Graham & Chris Hubbell
Starring : Martin Kove, Jeffrey Jones, Elan Oberon
First aired : 29th of November, 1985.

Sally (Elan Oberon) is married with a succesful businessman named Carl (Jeffrey Jones, Amadeus, The Devil's Advocate), but for a long time already she's having an affair with her golf instructor and Carl's good friend Joe (Martin Kove, The Karate Kid). Sally and Joe plot to have Carl killed on the opening day of the duck hunting season, and they finally agree on it during a party held at Sally & Carl's.

The next morning, Joe and Carl head off to hunt, and when the horn sounds to signal the opening of the new hunting season, Joe bludgeons Carl with his rifle and lets him drown. He comes back to Sally, but is amazed to find out that all of a sudden, the tables have turned - he is transported one day back and is standing in Carl's shoes, with Sally calling him her husband and all photos in the house which originally had Carl in them swapping the presumably dead Carl for Joe ! His day passes identically like Carl's last day, right to the point when he sees Carl, now the golf instructor, at his party talking about the duck hunt.

Realizing he's gonna get the same treatment, Joe confronts Sally about her affair, but she is adamant there is nothing between her and Carl. At the hunting spot, Joe is ready to pounce on Carl when the horn signals, convinced that Carl will try to kill him, but loses his footing and falls into the pond, drowning. A visibly upset Carl drives to Sally and informs her Joe is dead, to which Sally remarks, "at least it wasn't you"...and the roles are switched yet again.

***

Directed by Hollywood's premium right wing nutter John Milius (Conan the Barbarian, The Wind and the Lion), Opening Day is a downright confusing episode with the ending left wide open for interpretation. Is the circle broken now that Joe is dead, or will Carl go through it again ? I'm not sure, and I'm not sure if anyone who saw it is, quite frankly. We could disband this as "twilight zone just being twilight zone" I guess, but better TZ episodes at least tend to dish out some rationale behind its motives. Not so here.

While all three leads are good in their performances and the direction is expectedly competent, there are two things which bothered me enough for me to go Zicree on this episode. First, the "duck pond" set is godawful. Second, any police officer who pulls out a bludgeoned corpse from the water, (Joe dealt Carl a couple of real good hits to the head) and swallows the "he fell back and drowned" story from the ONLY person to be with him at the time, should be not only relieved of his duty but also lined up and shot.

The main plot idea is definitely a sound one, and it was already exploited with great success in the classic TZ episode Judgement Night (4th of December, 1959.). But unlike Judgement Night, Opening Day goes nowhere with its basic premise, making it ultimately a lesser TZ entry.

Trivia : look fast for Milius himself cameoing as a man attending the party during the opening credits - he briefly fondles Elan Oberon as she passes by en route to the kitchen.

Comments on "1.25 --- Opening Day"

 

Anonymous MrRSerling said ... (6:05 AM) : 

Do you mean 'Sally and Joe plot to have Cal killed' in the first paragraph of this review?

 

Blogger Mairosu said ... (6:31 AM) : 

Haha...you're completely right. Sorry, sometimes I lose myself with plain-sounding anglic names. Joe, Carl, Steve, Mike...

 

Anonymous MrRSerling said ... (7:02 AM) : 

Glad to help! Keep up the great work. I'm thoroughly enjoying this Blog.

 

Anonymous Rob G. said ... (12:55 AM) : 

Your description is oddly reminiscent of the same complaints about original TZ episode "Come Wander With Me": that it's apparently a time-loop story, but it's rather confusing and disjointed.

 

Anonymous Anonymous said ... (11:03 AM) : 

hallo, sorry but i'don't speak english... I'd want to know the soundtrack of this episode..(during the opening) thank you

 

Blogger Tim said ... (5:13 AM) : 

This is kind of a problematic episode which doesn't quite gel together plotwise. I did like the contrast in the protagonist's perception of the party between the two versions of it, and the score for some reason went from overpoweringly bad in the first part to weirdly appropriate in the second part.

There is sort of an implied rape in the bit just before Joe, transformed into a businessman, goes to bed the evening before the hunting trip, which adds a really unpleasant aspect to the entire episode.

 

Blogger Gogzilla said ... (5:46 PM) : 

Just watched this episode & totally agree. The ending was left open without even a chance of trying to interpret it in any way. My brother watched it with me, but missed the entire beginning. At the end, he asked me what happened at the beginning. I explained it & he looked confused. I said don't worry, I don't get it either.

 

Blogger Matthew Maloney said ... (4:55 PM) : 

This episode is deeply confusing. There's a lot of issues here. First the acting by the actor who plays Joe is so bad you never get the feeling he is surprised or curious about how he ends up in Carl's position. Especially the scene where the kids run in and he has a nonchalant reaction. Wtf?! The second issue is the smoke that comes out from all the doors, the lighting in the scenes, and the music which makes everything seem like a dream. I was really confused, was Joe dreaming all this and was that the reason he was acting so nonchalant about everything? But then the ending made clear he wasn't and then they switch again. This is a poorly written, poorly acted, f*d up episode. Big fan of John Milius but he should be embarrassed about this.

 

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