episode #122 - Steel

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episode #122 - Steel

Post  BoG on Sat Mar 15, 2014 11:22 pm

Air Date: 10/04/63  Arrow  written by Richard Matheson, based on his short story  Arrow   Directed by Don Weis

This posits a near future in which human boxers have been replaced with androids; according to the backstory, boxing as the sport we know had been abolished in 1968, due to the violence. Instead, fight managers cart around human-looking robots. The story focuses on two such down-on-their-luck managers, Steel (Lee Marvin) and his tech man (Joe Mantell). They are out of money and pin their hopes on the latest upcoming bout, which will earn them $500. The bad news for them is that their fighter, a B2 model, is outmoded and in need of repairs - current models are labeled B7. Even worse, their fighter completely breaks down just before the scheduled fight. In a desperate, last-ditch effort, Steel, a former heavyweight boxer, decides to take his fighter's place, since no one knows what their model looks like. He will pretend to be the B2 model, even though he is flesh-and-blood and is no match for an android fighter.

There is something pedestrian about this episode - it holds no surprises and is rather predictable. I remember that I was a bit confused by the title when I first watched this many years ago - I thought Steel would refer to the android; but, in a bit of irony, it refers to the human fighter, played by Lee Marvin. For some reason, however, Steel doesn't reflect any nobility or engender sympathy for his supposedly brave decision to get pummeled by an android. He comes across as just a poor loser, in need of a few bucks to take a trip back to home base.  Mantell, though correct in most of his points, is very annoying with his constant complaints. He serves to underscore how hopeless and pathetic a position the managers are in, but it's tiresome. The whole premise seems faulty - would there really be an audience for watching two robots slug it out, except as a novelty?  It is interesting to see Lee Marvin in this role, just before he became a huge film star. He was in a previous TZ episode a couple of years before, The Grave.  BoG's Score: 6.5 out of 10

TZ Trivia: remade as a big-budget film, Real Steel, in 2011, starring Hugh Jackman.
Buzzfeed wasn't too impressed with the episode, ranking it 21st worst of the series.
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