Features and Columns · TV

Exploring The Twilight Zone #86: Kick The Can

By  · Published on October 17th, 2011

With the entire original run of The Twilight Zone available to watch instantly, we’re partnering with Twitch Film to cover all of the show’s 156 episodes. Are you brave enough to watch them all with us?

The Twilight Zone (Episode #86): “Kick The Can” (airdate 2/9/61)

The Plot: An old man living in a rest home thinks playing a kid game will keep him young.

The Goods: While there are a ton of meaningful, challenging episodes of The Twilight Zone, this one is definitely not one of them. It’s a chore of an episode that’s silly beyond reason and more than a little preachy. The ultimate lesson is a nice enough one – that youth should be striven for by finding the magic in the world.

This story was made before Viagra was invented, but the lesson is still a good one.

Unfortunately, that’s about the only good thing about the episode. It’s light weight stuff that’s 22 minutes of padding. Charles (Ernest Truex) is withering away in a retirement home, facing the end of his days surrounded by the tired and wrinkly. He looks on with longing as a few neighborhood kids play tag with an empty tin can (an element that makes me want to watch this entry with someone in the iPod generation), and he gets it in his head that playing games is the key to staying young.

That’s about it.

The rest is an exercise in repetition where the writing reminds us 7 or 28 times that everyone gets old and that wanting to have fun means you’re going senile. Everything is so exaggerated that none of it really matters. Charles wants to get his friend to believe along with him, but since the man is made of nothing but mustard and time, the message doesn’t get through.

The saving grace is the ending which reveals that the story isn’t about Charles at all – but about that friend. It’s a sadder story about not believing in magic, but it takes the far-too long road to get there.

What do you think?

The Trivia: Were you aware that children used to play outside? It’s true!

On the Next Episode: Inexplicably, this was one of the episodes remade in Twilight Zone: The Movie.

Catch-Up: Episodes covered by Twitch / Episodes covered by FSR

We’re running through all 156 of the original Twilight Zone episodes over the next several weeks, and we won’t be doing it alone! Our friends at Twitch will be entering the Zone as well on alternating weeks. So definitely tune in over at Twitch and feel free to also follow along on our Twitter accounts @twitchfilm and @rejectnation.

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