Director: John Rich
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Fred Clark, Jean Carson, Adam Williams, and Marcel Hillaire
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 12/16/1960
Production Code: 173-3606
Having robbed a curio shop, married crooks Chester and Paula Dietrich (Fred Clark and Jean Carson) encounter a camera that can produce pictures of the near future. Now joined by Paula’s dimwitted brother Woodward (Adam Williams), the Dietrichs attend a racetrack and snap photos of the scoreboard—a tactic that reveals the winning horse prior to each contest. A complication arises when Pierre (Marcel Hillaire)—a French waiter—attempts to blackmail Chester, Paula, and Woodward into handing over their betting money.
“A Most Unusual Camera” benefits from a clever twist on the temporal displacement trope. A silly turn of events prior to the climactic scene may, however, disappoint science fiction enthusiasts of a serious inclination.
The antics of Chester, Woodward, and Paula are made the central focus at all times, thereby distracting attention away from the camera itself—a plot device that serves only to motivate the characters to act on their selfish, natural impulses. Especially relevant, Woodward’s amusing inability to comprehend the simple, straightforward plans proposed by Chester—the “brains” of the operation—sets in motion a conflict through which to explore the human condition (it should nevertheless be noted that if Pierre’s role in said conflict had been excised, a smoother and more impactful resolution might have ensued).
Though played strictly for laughs, the final scene is marred by a string of groan-worthy contrivances.
Despite ending in a ridiculous manner, “A Most Unusual Camera” offers an insightful commentary that will appeal to fans of The Twilight Zone. Specifically, Rod Serling’s narrative rightfully indicates that greed, malice, and corruption can—at least in extreme cases (e.g. a contest over the will of a deceased relative)—erode familial bonds formed over the course of one’s life.
A cute episode, “A Most Unusual Camera” puts an entertaining spin on a somewhat ominous concept. Viewers of a lighthearted disposition will therefore enjoy the clean, quirky humor contained in this installment.
Overall Quality: 7/10
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