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Friday, February 23, 2007

3.14 --- The Trunk

Directed by : Steve DiMarco
Written by : Jeremy Bertrand Finch & Paul Chitlik
Starring : Bud Cort, Lisa Schrage
First aired : 24th of December, 1988.

Willy Gardner (Bud Cort, Brewster McCloud, Harold & Maude) is a quiet, solitary manager of a rundown hotel. He leads an uneventful life, with a stray cat for his only friend, and a gang of local thugs constantly making fun of him. Among the hoodlums is a girl named Candy (Lisa Schrage, Prom Night II), who takes great pleasure in teasing him.

One day, while doing the hotel round, Willy stumbles upon an empty room, with only an antique trunk in it. The trunk turns out to be empty, prompting Willy to wish out loud how he would be rich if he only had a quarter for every piece of lost luggage he finds. Out of curiosity, he opens the trunk again, and lo and behold - it's full of quarters (or nickels, I forgot what he asked for) !

Realizing he is now in sole possesion of a rather exquisite little gimmick, Willy throws a party for everyone, hoping it would improve his social standing. He certainly catches Candy's attention, who offers herself as his girlfriend, but he sees through this fa├žade and recognizes her real, money-hungry intentions. Slightly discouraged by this turn of events, Willy returns to the party and gives all his stuff away to the guests, wishing only for a real, flesh and blood someone who would accept him and love him as he is.

Not everyone is ready to leave him, though. Soon after the party's finished, Willy is ambushed by the three thugs who want to "get their cut" of whatever big money he's hoarding. He manages to distract them enough to run away, locking himself into the magic trunk. The goons find nothing and bolt, but suddenly, the trunk stays locked - leaving him inside.

Fast forward to another place, another time. A young woman is talking to her mother on the phone, lamenting the lack of a real man who would love her and take care for her. As she hangs up, she decides to check out her latest acquisition - an old trunk. Swinging it open, she's amazed to see Willy jump out of it - and it seems like love at first sight, too.

***

Whaddayaknow, an original episode. After a bunch of rehashes, we're treated to this neat little piece by the now-familiar duo Jeremy Bertrand Finch - Paul Chitlik, previously of Aqua Vita and The Hunters. The script is more reminiscent of the old series, which almost always had some sense of cosmic justice getting its due - this time, the good guy gets the girl, if not exactly in the most usual manner.

Two things make this episode above average. First, the presence of Bud Cort, an accomplished actor, who is just perfect as the bookish Willy. Second, Steve DiMarco's direction is pretty good, and he adds some extra flair to the story by cranking up the pace in a few scenes, along with some neat tracking shots. DiMarco went on to direct many episodes of many different TV shows, but this was to be his only TZ entry. For shame.

Comments on "3.14 --- The Trunk"

 

Anonymous John said ... (5:13 PM) : 

For some reason, this is an episode I recall very well. As usual, you were dead-on in your critique! Keep up the good work!

 

Blogger Matthew Maloney said ... (3:18 PM) : 

I had to laugh at how much of the people he invited to his party were such over the top deadbeats willing to take literally everything in the room.

I thought there was a good concept here that could have been made more of. Surely any person with the trunk would have used it to wish for millions of dollars. Perhaps the story could have developed into a cautionary tale of greed or something.

 

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