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Saturday, January 21, 2006

1.42 --- Welcome to Winfield

Reviewer's note : yes, the guidewriters got it wrong yet again - this one is 1.42, and The Quarantine is 1.43. You're welcome.


Directed by : Bruce Bilson
Written by : Les Enloe
Starring : Jonathan Caliri, Gerrit Graham
First aired : 7th of February, 1986.

Matt (Jonathan Caliri), a young man in hospital who is inevitably nearing death, suddenly awakens from coma and begs his girlfriend to "save him". She immediately shuttles him away from the hospital room, seconds before Griffin St. George (Gerrit Graham, Demon Seed, Used Cars), an agent of death, catches up with them.

Matt eventually winds up in an old, uncharted hamlet of Winfield, which apparently never advanced past the wild west era. Soon, St. George arrives as well, and is astounded to see such a backward community. When Weldon, the town drunk, accidentally flaps out that he's turning 150 soon and that there is a young "pup" seeking shelter in town, St. George starts suspecting foul play.

The townspeople, led by their major, are willing to protect Matt, so they lie to St. George, telling him they never saw the boy. On his way out, St. George spots Weldon and decides to pick him up with his shiny white Mercedes, driving him out of town to a nearby lake. There, Weldon spills the beans - people of Winfield struck a deal with the previous agent of death, a Chinaman named Chin.

St. George drives back to Winfield, where he finds Matt, ready to surrender. However, it's not all that easy - he would have to take the whole of Winfield along, as their number is long overdue. The people of Winfield are willing to strike a deal with St. George, suggesting he takes themall in exchange for the boy. Matt can't accept this, saying it's unfair all those folks die for him. Caught in a whirlwind of self-sacrifice, St. George finally relents : after consulting with Chin through the phone, he leaves both Matt and the Winfielders be, and goes away.


Welcome to Winfield offers a somewhat unique spin on the whole "death harvests souls" concept. Here, the whole dyin' business is presented as a pyramidal scheme, with Death himself being the head honcho, letting his minions do the dirty work. And in the best 80s fashion, the agent of death is a snazzy-dressed arrogant dude, pretty well played by Gerrit Graham (who previously scripted Children's Zoo, Opening Day and Still Life in collaboration with Chris Hubbell).

The vibrant country soundtrack, composed by long-time Jerry Garcia friend and colleague Merl Saunders, provides a good backdrop for this episode, and the supporting cast - with names such as Elisha Cook Jr., Alan Fudge and Henry Gibson, all experienced veterans of both small and silver screen, involved - does a pretty good job, but still, this is pretty "ordinary" stuff. By no means bad, it's just nothing spectacular, that's all.

Comments on "1.42 --- Welcome to Winfield"


Anonymous chogokinman said ... (11:58 PM) : 

Voilà un épisode spécial dans la TZ. Il est très drôle, emmené par un Gerrit Graham (also Dr.Pancow in Parker Lewis)parfaitement dans le rôle et le tout tient parfaitement la route : excellent

Ma note : 4/5


Anonymous NYer said ... (10:38 PM) : 

I thought that this was one of the best episodes of the 1980's series - even more surprising as it is a humorous episode - and neither the new nor old Twilight Zone was exactly noted for humor. The role of Death's agent could not have been better cast and played - Gerrit Graham is superlative!

Another very enjoyable aspect of this episode is seeing both Henry Gibson and Elisha Cook in the same production: their past work could not have been more different, with Cook having played, among many other roles, Wilmer the Gunsel in "The Maltese Falcon" and Henry Gibson having been a regular on Martin And Rowan's Laugh-In. I don't think that I had ever seen Gibson in anything other than a Laugh-In sketch, but watching this episode, he strikes me as a very talented, likable, and even endearing comic actor. I am going to make an effort to seek out more of his work.


Anonymous Adrock said ... (8:04 AM) : 

Alan Brennert harshed on this story in his preface to the TZ book -- the one collecting all the short stories adapted for the revived series. His preface was mostly very defensive of the series, but this one he listed as a turkey.

I don't think it's bad, really -- great cast, at least if you ignore the two soap-opera rejects playing the young couple. But it's just very uneven, an over-the-top comedy with a nonsensical ending. Anything a story ends with people standing around a street arguing for 5 minutes, you're looking at a writer who doesn't know how to end his story...


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (10:46 AM) : 

I defend this story solely on my ability to successfully fap to it within the first four minutes.


Blogger MrSinatra said ... (4:14 AM) : 

A great cast, squandered. Dopey story. And that wood wheel wouldn't last 2 seconds on there, let alone the maunuvers he was pulling. Barely a bronze rod!


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