Director: Armand Mastroianni
Writer: Ellen Sandhaus
Cast: Albert Hague, Robert Romanus, Talia Balsalm, Leslie Chain, Irene Roseen, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Ken Lauber
Air Date: 3/8/1987
While working for a shoemaker named Anthony (Albert Hague), Rob (Robert Romanus)—a dreamer with high aspirations—discovers that he can experience the lives of other people by wearing their shoes. Against the warnings of his boss, Rob continues to wear the shoes of Anthony’s customers—with a ghastly outcome.
A fantasy-themed offering with a moral lesson, “The Social Climber” is a worthwhile entry of Tales from the Darkside. Viewers with a sense of justice may, however, take issue with this episode for its mean-spirited finale.
By teaching Rob to complement his ambition with a solid work ethic, the character of Anthony sets a worthy example for the audience. (It should be mentioned, however, that Anthony—despite presenting himself as a knowledgeable mentor—never explains what Rob must do in order to earn a pair of magic shoes, which would allow him to attain the success that he desires.)
Though elevated by the performances of Albert Hague, Robert Romanus, and Talia Balsalm, “The Social Climber” suffers from occasional weak acting. Leslie Chain, for example, deserves criticism for her portrayal of Laura Grant, who lacks the charisma of an accomplished actress.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
“The Social Climber” should also be noted for its cruel and random twist ending, which centers on the untimely death of Rob—a decent, if slightly impatient, young man with a bright future.
In spite of its lackluster execution, “The Social Climber” contains a laudable message on working hard to achieve success, respecting those with valuable insight, and appreciating the simple pleasures that life has to offer.
“The Social Climber” benefits from likable, albeit reasonably flawed, characters. Those of a sensitive nature may nevertheless wish to avoid this episode, which takes a dark and unexpected turn in the final scene.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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