Director: Elliot Silverstein
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Joseph Schildkraut, Noah Keen, Alma Platt, Ted Marcuse, Edson Stroll, Terrence deMarney, Billy Vincent, Mary McMahon, and David Armstrong
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 4/20/1962
Production Code: 4831
While shopping for replacement bodies at the New Life Corporation, John and Marie Holt (Joseph Schildkraut and Alma Platt)—an elderly married couple—produce only enough funds for one transference procedure. In frequent pain as a result of his health problems, John decides to purchase a young body for himself alone—with an unexpected outcome.
“The Trade-Ins” is an emotionally stirring episode of The Twilight Zone. Especially heartwarming are John’s interactions with his wife Marie and a compassionate gambler named Faraday (Ted Marcuse), which offer rare glimpses into the good side of humanity.
Despite operating on a fantastic premise, this episode maintains an air of realism due to the poignant chemistry of Joseph Schildkraut—known to fans of The Twilight Zone for appearing in “Deaths-Head Revisited”—and Alma Platt, whom Rod Serling enthusiasts may recognize from a minor role in Night Gallery’s “Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay.” Worth noting in particular are the genuine loyalty, friendship, and compassion that both main characters appear to share with each other, allowing viewers to understand the “all or nothing” mentality that John and Marie adopt regarding the trade-in procedure.
This offering never explores the science fiction aspects of a personality transference operation, providing no explanation for how an artificial body could retain the uniqueness of a human being.
In spite of his noble decision to live out his remaining years with Marie at his side, John fails to consider an obvious compromise: upon receiving his new body, John could work for a period of several years, thereby eventually affording a second operation for Marie—the younger and healthier of the two.
“The Trade-Ins” should be commended for its thought-provoking dilemma. Specifically, this episode requires the viewer to consider what purpose, if any, immortality would serve if only one person in a family, relationship, or social group could experience it, potentially trading several years of companionship for an eternity of loneliness in doing so.
Combining bittersweet drama with a sci-fi twist, “The Trade-Ins” will appeal to those of a sensitive nature. This episode may, however, evoke criticism for its illogical story elements, which hamper the credibility of an already far-fetched narrative.
Overall Quality: 8/10
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