Director: Tony Leader
Writer: Charles Beaumont
Cast: Kevin McCarthy, Edgar Stehli, Estelle Winwood, and Dody Heath
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 3/18/1960
Production Code: 173-3621
Having apparently remained the same age for twelve years, Professor Walter Jameson (Kevin McCarthy)—a lecturer on Civil War history—is confronted by his future father-in-law, Sam Kittridge (Edgar Stehli). Walter admits that he had obtained immortality from an alchemist over two thousand years ago, but refuses to break off his engagement despite the misery endured from repeatedly losing those he loved.
It should be noted that the consequences of eternal life had already been covered in previous episodes of The Twilight Zone (e.g. “Escape Clause”). That being said, “Long Live Walter Jameson” should be commended for examining Charles Beaumont’s central thesis with the solemnity that it deserves.
A general lack of suspense or excitement prior to the climactic scene may, at times, try the patience of science fiction enthusiasts with a limited attention span. Nevertheless, a languid approach to pacing allows sufficient time to acquaint viewers with the extraordinary—along with the surprisingly mundane—experiences, revelations, and character traits unique to Walter Jameson. Notably, Walter’s recollection of obscure Civil War details will captivate the interest of audiences young and old; yet, on the other hand, a life spanning thousands of years has failed to grant Walter a body of knowledge greater than that of an average man—likely a result of the human inability to retain knowledge beyond a certain point, regardless of one’s age.
As opposed to the aforementioned “Escape Clause” from earlier in season one, “Long Live Walter Jameson” offers a serious exploration of immortality and the philosophical ramifications thereof. Specifically, Walter’s conversation with Sam indicates that perpetual existence would carry with it an amount of tedium, suffering, and personal loss that the human mind is ill equipped to process; therefore, as evidenced by Sam’s change of heart after speaking with Walter, Beaumont’s narrative suggests that fear of death should be considered an irrational, albeit entirely natural, response to the inevitable.
Though occasionally slow-moving, “Long Live Walter Jameson” contains a thought-provoking study on human attitudes concerning mortality. Fans of The Twilight Zone are thus advised to view this episode for its substantive discussion on the only certain outcome of life.
Overall Quality: 10/10
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