Director: Robert Parrish
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Rod Serling, Ed Wynn, Murray Hamilton, Dana Dillaway, Jay Overholts, and Merritt Bohn
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 10/9/1959
Production Code: 173-3608
Returning home after a long day, Lou Bookman (Ed Wynn)—a kindly old street vendor whose time will soon expire—is visited by Mr. Death (Murray Hamilton), a personified version of the Grim Reaper. Explaining his desire to make the perfect sales pitch, Lou requests a life extension from his new acquaintance. Though initially willing to grant Lou—now forestalling the inevitable—the extra time that he desires, Mr. Death decides to make “other arrangements” as a consequence of Lou’s deception.
An emotionally stirring episode, “One for the Angels” combines a poignant morality lesson with a supernatural twist. Fans of The Twilight Zone should therefore enjoy this episode, which, on a side note, contains a cameo appearance of a classic science fiction icon (i.e. Robby the Robot).
By portraying Lou as a quirky, hopelessly naive salesman, Ed Wynn (known for playing the Toymaker in Disney’s Babes in Toyland) complements the tongue-in-cheek subject matter of Rod Serling’s narrative. Worth praising in particular are Wynn’s interactions with the neighborhood children, which will simultaneously amuse and tug the heartstrings of sensitive viewers.
Though involved in a morbid profession, the businesslike manner of Mr. Death prevents him from conveying his intentions in a frightful, ominous, or maniacal fashion—an aspect that further accentuates the child-friendly tone of this episode.
When the main character finally makes his sales pitch “for the angels,” the audience will likely feel disappointed, if not thoroughly underwhelmed, by Lou’s delivery.
Highlighting self-sacrifice as a means of redemption, “One for the Angels” should be commended for offering a wholesome, positive message in conjunction with an oft-employed trope (i.e. coming to terms with mortality).
“One for the Angels” is a touching, cleverly written episode of The Twilight Zone. The satirical undertones of many sequences (e.g. Lou’s original encounter with Mr. Death) may, however, evoke criticism from those of a mature and serious mindset.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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