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Monday, March 19, 2007

3.15 --- Appointment on Route 17

Directed by : René Bonnière
Written by : Haskell Barkin
Starring : Paul Le Mat, Marianna Pascal
First aired : Saturday, 31st of December

Tom Bennett (Paul Le Mat, American Graffiti) is a shark-like businessman, known for devouring competition and general ruthlessness. However, his personality seems to have changed after a heart transplant operation - he seems more mellow, and his tastes suddenly veer more towards the blue collar. After taking a beach walk with a female colleague, Tom spots a lonely girl (Marianna Pascal) who he thinks knows from somewhere.

The next day, Tom instinctively drives away to have lunch at a place he's never been to before, where the girl from the beach is one of the waitresses. He seems to be attracted to her, but he can't quite pin why. Mary Jo - that being her name - is a tough customer though, refusing all of his advances. Later, Tom learns she recenly went through a heartbreaking spell, as her boyfriend died in a car accident. Tom asks her for his name, and finds out it's "Jamie Adler".

As coincidence might have it, that is the same Jamie Adler whose heart now beats in Tom's body, and thinks suddenly make more sense. Encouraged by this, Tom opts to go for it one more, final time and try to win Mary Jo over. He talks to her, and opens up completely, saying that he wasn't such a nice guy before, but that he was given one more chance and that he is willing to wait for her, as he feels she is an integral part of his future. Upon hearing his plea, Mary Jo relents and leaves Jamie behind in her memories, saying he told her he would always be with her. Tom smiles, knowing only too well what that means.

***

It started off somewhat alright, but it turned out in a disaster in no time - this is the only proper way I can describe Appointment on Route 17, the title probably referring to the highway where Jamie bought it. This episode is odd due to its unusual climax ; Tom never fesses up to Mary Jo her boyfriend's heart is in him, he resorts to playing silly riddles and acting stupid. Why, I can't quite understand. Neither did the rest, I believe. I could of course say I was taken by surprise with the fact Tom never owes up, but in this case this is not a positive. Not to mention the solution is telegraphed midway through the episode (anyone who felt genuinely surprised upon hearing Jamie's heart is in Tom now should stop watching any television or cinema).

Hammy acting doesn't help this episode either. Le Mat is going in and out of what I suppose should be a Texas accent, Pascal is even worse in her dialectical yo-yoing, and she also throws some overacting in for good measure. Director René Bonnière (previously of The Curious Case of Edgar Witherspoon) acquits himself alright, though the same can't be said for writer Haskell Barkin, whose previous Zone scripts - Act Break, Tooth & Consequences - were miles better, and funnier to boot.

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