episode #23, segment 1: Shadowplay

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episode #23, segment 1: Shadowplay

Post  BoG on Sat Apr 24, 2010 10:54 pm

#23a: SHADOWPLAY written by James Crocker based on Charles Beaumont's original
Directed by Paul Lynch
This was one of the REMAKES; the original episode on the old show starred Dennis Weaver as a man sentenced to die by electric chair by a jury. In this one, actor Peter Coyote takes over the role, sentenced to death by hanging.
If you get the feeling you've been through all this before - maybe you have (if you've seen the older version, for example) - deja vu? The central character claims to have been through this many times before. The jury's decision, the verdict, the last day in his prison cell, his lawyer & the prosecutor debating on what is happening, the visit from the priest and the final walk to the hangman's noose - this is all, according to the condemned man, the same dream he is having, over & over.
The dream replays with the same characters, though the faces change; a face which had been a prison guard (William Smith) may end up as the prosecutor in the next version of the dream. This new version of the episode also adds in hints of the main character's problems in the 'real' world, with his sister & father, who both show up as characters in this so-called dream. When the condemned man drops through the trap door during his hanging, the dream ends and begins again in the courtroom.
This episode has the same entertainment value as the original. It challenges our perception of reality, offering up arguments which sort of make sense - since, as the saying goes, perception IS reality. If you gaze at the episode as an acceptable recreation of reality, then the condemned man's claims seem bogus; if you look at it with the awareness of the old episode, then this reality does seem dreamlike.
When some of the characters talk amongst themselves, wondering if the claims of the condemned man could be true, they, at one point, realize there are gaps in their memories. They even begin to rationalize how their existence seems too convenient, too pat. Haven't we all experienced similar feelings - that our memory isn't very complete, that where we are at this point in our life seems a bit unreal? It's not necessarily extreme situations which brings such feelings to the forefront; the situations could be just as mundane. Are you really where you are right now, at home, reading this sentence? Or are you... somewhere in a Twilight Zone? BoG's Score: 8 / 10
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