Director: Frank De Palma
Writer: Michael Kube-McDowell
Cast: Bill Macy, Robert Riesel, Samantha Harper, Geneva Simmons, Lainie Miller, Patsy Whitecotton, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Ken Lauber
Air Date: 10/6/1985
Unsatisfied with conventional life insurance policies, workaholic Ben Martin (Bill Macy) agrees to be implanted with a lifebomb—a security mechanism capable of averting death under any circumstances. Despite initially approving of the device, Ben soon develops a less than enthusiastic perception of his newfound invincibility.
It should be noted that “Lifebomb” fails to conclude on a powerful note, thereby undermining the profound thesis upon which it operates. That being said, a strong emphasis on character development compensates for the absence of a satisfactory twist ending.
An overburdened CEO desperate to balance work responsibilities with a deteriorating home life, Ben Martin avoids becoming a cartoonish stereotype given the convincing manner of emotional depth that Bill Macy brought to the role. Especially effective are the arguments between Ben and his wife Lianne (Samantha Harper), which elicit sympathy for the perspectives of both characters: on one hand, Ben appears genuinely conflicted over his inability to amalgamate two incompatible lifestyles while Lianne, in contrast, makes a compelling emotional case for why her husband should honor familial and job commitments in that order.
Dated special effects are occasionally present, the most cringe-inducing example of which occurs when Ben’s lifebomb deploys for the first time.
At its core, “Lifebomb” is a commentary on the potential drawbacks of transhumanist philosophy put into practice; specifically, Ben realizes only too late that eternal life cannot be considered worthwhile as long as physical suffering, personal loss, and mental stress resulting from an arduous work routine continue to plague the human condition. Though too succinct to allow for a thoroughly engaging discussion on the topic of immortality, this episode should nonetheless be commended for raising the harrowing suggestion that, regardless of whether scientific advancements ever permit mankind to circumvent biological limitations, a plethora of problems inherent to both individual genetic makeup and society at large would likely prevent one from enjoying any additional time with which he or she could hypothetically be afforded.
“Lifebomb” employs a science fiction premise on which to explore themes of a thought-provoking nature. Tales from the Darkside fans may therefore wish to view this episode, ‘80s cheese notwithstanding.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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