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Tuesday, July 04, 2006

2.18 --- Time and Teresa Golowitz

Directed by : Shelley Levinson
Written by : Alan Brennert (story by Parke Godwin)
Starring : Paul Sand, Gene Barry, Grant Heslow, Gina Gershon, Kristi Lynes
First aired : 10th of July, 1987.

Broadway composer Bluestone (Paul Sand, The Hot Rock, The Main Event) has a slight problem - namely, he's freshly deceased without even realizing it. This unfortunate turn of events is explained to him by an elderly fellow who calls himself Prince (Gene Barry, Forty Guns, War of the Worlds), who makes him an interesting offer. Bluestone is certain to go to what they call "topside", but if he would agree to spend some time at the "lower decks" - where they reportedly love his music - he can travel back (or forth) in time and relive any event which he might fancy. Bluestone realizes that this "prince" is actually an emissary from the devil, but nevertheless agrees, and chooses to be back in 1948. at a senior party, as the only thing he really misses is having a go at the class beauty Mary Ellen Cosgrove.

Before he knows it, he's back in '48., and he's again Binky Blaustein (Grant Heslow, True Lies, The Scorpion King), a nerdy piano player. He enters the party at Mary Ellen's place, but is dismayed with the fact Mary Ellen looks nothing like he remembers - he finds her more of a child, not a lust object. He strikes conversation with an old friend Laura (rather young Gina Gershon), who he soon finds out to be partially possesed by the Prince in order to help him out.

As Blaustein complains to Laura/Prince how this is not at all what he expected, he spots a solitary looking girl stumbling around the room, looking for company. He recalls her name - Teresa Golowitz (Broadway actress Kristi Lynes) - but doesn't remember whatever happened to her. Laura tells him that she comitted suicide this very night, out of pure depression as she was extremely unpopular within her peers. Blaustein is gravely distressed with this fact, so he approaches Teresa and starts chatting with her, only to be dragged to a piano by the local jock, Mary Ellen's boyfriend.

Blaustein starts playing a Broadway tune, and out of the blue Teresa joins in, singing it with much passion and gusto. As she finishes, Blaustein remarks it was wonderful, only for Laura to counter that it was meant to be her requiem - her swansong. Teresa leaves the party, but Blaustein catches up with her and tries to convince her to meet the next day so they can rehearse together. Teresa is not really sold on all this and leaves, and all what is left for Binky is to endulge into what he originally came here for.

He enters Mary Ellen's room and sees her quarreling with her jock boyfriend, who is trying to convince her to have sex. She rebuffs him with help of Blaustein, who really cannot bring himself to approach her intimately - she's just too young and innocent. Dismayed, he leaves the party, only to find Teresa still there. She reconsidered his decision and decides to do meet him tomorrow and work together. Blaustein is elated, but has to leave - his time in the past is up.

Back to the present, and Blaustein/Bluestone regains his consciousness while holding a handsigned record by Teresa Golowitz, now one of the world's most famous singers. He quickly realises what was this all about - Prince coaxed him into this, feeling that this world would be a much poorer place without her singing talents. Bluestone is now ready to depart this Earth, but there's a catch. Topside people are not so hot on altering history, so Bluestone must spend a couple of years "laying low" in the lower decks before the dust settles. Initially, Bluestone is less than happy, knowing this was another part of Prince's plan, yet he accepts his destiny in the end - the lower decks, according to the Prince, look somewhat like Queens, and that can't be all that bad...

***

Time travel AND deal with the devil in one Twilight Zone episode might be pushing its luck, but man, does this episode work. Easily one of the most succesful TZ contraptions when it comes to time-bending, Time and Teresa Golowitz is a wonderful piece which hits all the right spots. From Gene Barry's subtle turn as the harvester of souls to Kristi Lynes' singing, there is really little here not to enjoy. I'm not familiar with the hebrew tradition of fantastic stories, but this has to be one of the best jewish fairytales I've ever seen or heard of (which is, well, not many evidently).

On a sidenote, the actress who plays Mary Ellen, Heather Haase, previously appeared as the lead female in The Shadow Man. And, I have to say, with Alan Brennert doing the teleplay for this, I somehow expected Prince to say that the lower decks looked more like Newark or Atlantic City.

Oddly enough, the original story by Parke Godwin first appeared in Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone Magazine back in 1982.

TZ Trivia : Wallace Langham, who plays Binky's friend Nelson, returned to the Zone in the UPN episode Mr. Motivation. He costarred there with another 80s Zone alumnus, Christopher McDonald from Aqua Vita.

Comments on "2.18 --- Time and Teresa Golowitz"

 

Blogger Janet Lingel Aldrich said ... (1:30 PM) : 

I read the original story in TZ Magazine (I'm still weeping over the fact that I had them all and lost them in a move; there were some AWESOME short stories in there) and I'm glad to see they made an ep out of this. All right, TPTB, we need DVDs!

 

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