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Tuesday, June 27, 2006

2.14 --- The Junction

Directed by : Bill Duke
Written by : Virginia Aldridge
Starring : William Allen Young, Chris Mulkey
First aired : 21st of February, 1987.

John Parker (William Allen Young, Jagged Edge, Lock Up), a coal miner working at the local mine, is about to have his rough day become even rougher. After spending a night on the sofa and perilously approaching divorce thanks to his adulterous fling, at work he is sent way deep into the mine in an old junction to prospect for reported coal reserves.

John arrives to the junction along with a couple of coworkers, but soon they realize they took a wrong turn somewhere on the way, and decide to split, two of them going back to phone surface. As John and Charlie, the remaining two, start checking about, the ceiling suddenly collapses and seals John off deep into the junction.

Screaming for help, John is delighted to hear someone's answering his calls - but that someone is on his side of the rocks ! Searching the area, he finds another miner (Chris Mulkey, starring in many, many B-movies) with his leg broken, lying under a wooden girder. As he removes the girder and immobilizes the man, he slowly starts realizing that he comes from another era - Ray, that being his name, is amazed to see modern helmet lights, lighters, wrist watches and such things. Two men strike conversation, and Ray states he was born in 1877, and that the year right now is 1912 - for him at least.

Out there on the surface, the local reverend is reminded by an old lady that there is a letter for Melissa Parker, John's wife, which was supposed to be delivered yesterday. The letter, it seems, has been sealed in the church's vaults since 1912., and noone knows what's in it. The reverend agrees to deliver it, and leaves the church. About that time the alarm bells in the mine ring, and the community faces the terrible truth - there has been an accident down below.

Meanwhile, John and Ray are running out of air, and are using their last breath to strike casual conversation. John laments to Ray about his extramarital affair which might have ruined his life, but Ray consoles him, saying that there is always light at the end of the tunnel (heh, heh). On the surface, Melissa gets the letter, opens it and reads - it is a letter from Ray, urging her not to send her husband to the mine on 16th of September, 1987 ! She rushes to the mine foreman, certain she can save her husband, as the letter has the exact coordinates of his whereabouts.

Back in the mine, John is relieved to hear the noise of picks and shovels, and soon light appears from above and men drag Ray out, leaving him behind. Ray is saved, however he can't stop raving about the man who saved him, despite everyone saying he was the only man missing. His wife doesn't believe him either, but Ray convinces her by showing her a photo of John's wife, and devises a way to help him - all he needs is a pen and some paper.

20th century again, and John is saved from the pit - it's all good. His redemption is complete when Melissa embraces him again, in no small measure influenced by Ray's letter, who closed his plea by saying how John is a good man and deserves a second chance.


Time travels and The Twilight Zone - will I ever learn to accept it ? At times they are good, at times they are awful, but this time it's plain average. The Junction, oddly enough directed by Bill Duke who you might remember as Mac from Predator, is a story good enough to pass time, but brings nothing new, or exciting. The opening was promising enough, and after John gets sealed off I hoped for a The Thing-esque claustrophobic setup with some shocks and thrills. I got a routine "future meets past" story instead, so yeah.

While Young is reasonably charismatic as John Parker, Mulkey is somewhat limper in his turn as the old miner from the turn of the century. Two of them never strike any significant chemistry, and Mulkey's lines - especially the end plea to his wife - come off awfully contrived and hokey ("Honey, this man's from the future !"...sure). But this is more of a scriptwriter's fault, really, and as it won't either lower or raise its overall grade, let's just leave it standing like that.

Trivia : Karen Landry, who cameos as Ray's wife, is actually married in real life to Chris Mulkey.

Comments on "2.14 --- The Junction"


Blogger Rosi said ... (4:26 PM) : 

You're right, I hate those "happy ending" sappy stories. They are not "the Zone" really. Twilight Zone is more The Toys of Caliban and The Road Less Traveled than this little "time travel" cute thing. It is a cute story, but not "The Zone"


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (8:47 PM) : 

I disagree about the sentiment against sentimental stories.

Some of the more sentimental stories from original TW are cherished, such as "Night of the Meek", "One for the Angels", "A Passage for Trumpet", "A Hundred Yards over the Rim", "Nick of Time", "The Trouble with Templeton", "Trade-ins", "Ninety Years wtihotu Slumbering", "Dust", "The Changing of the Guard", "I Sing the Body Electric," and "The Bewitchin' Pool".

And that's not including the more horrific episodes which had happy endings nonetheless.


Blogger Mairosu said ... (3:47 PM) : 

I thought that "I Sing the Body Electric" is universally reviled within fan ranks. You're the first one to speak fondly of it, that I know at least.


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