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Sunday, January 08, 2006

1.30 --- Night of the Meek

Directed by : Martha Coolidge
Written by : Rockne S. O'Bannon (original teleplay by Rod Serling)
Starring : Richard Mulligan, William Atherton
First aired : 20th of December, 1985.

It's Christmas eve, and Henry Corwin (Richard Mulligan), an alcoholic part-timing as a storefront santa, is pretty depressed with the fact that the kids from poorer families can't get what they wish. When he returns to his working place drunk, he causes a scene and is fired by his boss, mr. Dundee (William Atherton, Ghost Busters, Die Hard).

Back at his apartment in the projects, Corwin takes out the trash, but discovers his trash bag is full of presents ! Delighted with his discovery, he organizes a big Christmas party for the whole neighbourhood, giving presents to everyone attending. Going back home from work, Dundee notices the festivities and decides to investigate. After spotting Corwin handing out all the goodies, he accuses him of thievery and calls the police.

Two policemen arrive soon, and while they find it hard to believe Corwin took all those things by himself, they just have to take him in as he can't produce any evidence he bought it all. But before they do, a bunch of sales receipts fall out of the bag - all coming from Dundee's store. Hours after, Corwin finds Dundee sitting alone in front of his building, still in disbelief. Corwin comforts him, saying they both know the goods did not come from his store, and then presents him with an unique fur coat for his wife, and a baseball carrying autographs of the '61. Yankees for him. Dundee is amazed, however, he can't believe Corwin doesn't want anything for himself. Corwin answers his only wish would be to do this ever year for Christmas - a wish that is granted to him once he returns upstairs, and realizes he is now the real Santa Claus.


Second classic TZ episode to be remade for the new series, Night of the Meek takes much less liberties at revising the script than Dead Woman's Shoes did. One significant change though is the character of Dundee - in the original story by Rod Serling, Dundee is just a classic scrooge. Here, writer Rockne S. O'Bannon presents him as an utterly vile, soulless, despicable Reagan-era yuppie, and gives him a racist slant as well.

That said, this is a faithful, well-executed remake, with Mulligan and Atherton both contributing fine performances. I do realize many people probably favour Art Carney over Mulligan, but it should be noted that Mulligan's performance is no worse than Carney's, if not even equal.

Comments on "1.30 --- Night of the Meek"


Anonymous John said ... (8:17 AM) : 

I have liked Richard Mulligan since the days of "Soap", and he is great in this New TZ episode.

You are right, some may still prefer the original Art Carney episode, but to me Art Carney will always be 'Norton' from "The Honeymooners".

Richard Mulligan does a great job with this role, and made it one of the better New TZs.

I agree that the new Dundee was just evil! The original was just a harmless old fuddy-duddy.


Anonymous chogokinman said ... (8:21 AM) : 

Cet épisode est comme le dit Mairosu le remake d'un classique.
Malheureusement, il ne supporte pas la comparaison avec l'original.
Là ou le rôle du père Noel alcoolique était touchant, ici la tentative échoue.
De plus, les effets spéciaux n'apportent rien à l'histoire.

Ma note : 4 (le scénario d'origine est très bon quand même)


Anonymous drumboy said ... (11:25 AM) : 

I hated this remake. The tone of the original was uplifting and light; this one is shallow and hard. The theme of the original was the magical nature of Christmas and its effect on people; this time, it's how wonderful presents are. The performances by Mulligan and Atherton are one-dimensional and bland. I far preferred the Les Nessman-like behaviour of the original Dundee and the far more believable Art Carney as Santa (he portrayed the character so well you might think he was an alcoholic). The episode is long, boring and stupid, and I have nothing but bad words for it. 1/10.


Blogger jgiles20 said ... (8:24 PM) : 

I enjoyed this remake and the performances, although I also really enjoy the original with Art Carney. This one was darker and the characters weren't very nice, like Dundee, but of course, when you have William Atherton playing the role, he almost has to be an arrogant jerk, doesn't he?


Anonymous Adrock said ... (11:00 PM) : 

I agree that Atherton's character is a significant impediment to enjoying this episode. A soulless villain is not necessarily the best addition to a heartwarming Xmas fable.

That said, it's not like Atherton produced the series or wrote the episode. The part almost seems to have been written with him in mind, and he played it as well as he usually did in the '80s. It's not his fault that he was in the episode... and, at least, unlike in his other '80s appearances, at least he has a nice redemptive arc at the end!


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