Director: Bernard Girard
Writer: Rod Serling
Cast: Patrick O’Neal, Ruta Lee, and Walter Brooke
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 12/13/1963
Production Code: 2614
Feeling insecure in his marriage to an attractive young woman named Flora (Ruta Lee), Harmon Gordon (Patrick O’Neal) requests an experimental procedure from his brother Raymond (Walter Brooke). After being injected with a reverse-aging formula, Harmon resumes the appearance of a thirty-year-old man—with an ironic twist.
“A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain” deserves praise for its emotional acting and commendable life lessons. Viewers may nevertheless take issue with this episode, which suffers from predictable plot twists, cringe-worthy makeup effects, and underdeveloped sci-fi themes.
This offering benefits from the pathos of Harmon Gordon, who, in spite of his awful taste in women, will evoke pity from viewers of a sympathetic nature. Specifically heart-wrenching are the suicidal gestures of Harmon, whose unrequited love of Flora compels Dr. Gordon—an ethical but conflicted scientist—to take drastic measures in order to help his brother.
“A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain” may evoke criticism for its “cellular regeneration” plot device, which, even by the standards of The Twilight Zone, comes across as extremely far-fetched. (With a bit of medical jargon, however, Dr. Gordon might have strengthened the credibility of his youth formula.)
Also worth noting is the characterization of Flora, who behaves in an inconsistent manner throughout this episode. Despite initially treating her husband with cruel indifference, for example, Flora later appears deeply concerned over Harmon’s deteriorating health—an unlikely reaction from a gold-digger.
By highlighting the dysfunction of a mismatched couple, this episode rightly indicates that relationships, at least within a normal, healthy context, should consist of two individuals who make a reciprocal effort to love, respect, and provide for one another—much in contrast to the marriage of Harmon and Flora, wherein the latter character offers no attempt to meet the needs of her aging husband.
For its insightful commentary on human relationships, “A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain” may appeal to enthusiasts of The Twilight Zone. That being said, this offering is marred by uneven character development, weak sci-fi/fantasy aspects, and an unoriginal take on the Fountain of Youth trope.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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