I did not like this episode at all. It was stupid, weird, dumb…especially to the eyes of a person in 2018 but honestly, even though values were different back then, I’m not sure how this episode didn’t leave a few 1960s people scratching their heads either.
OK. So here goes. And SPOILER ALERT because I can’t complain about it unless I lay it all out there.
J. Pat O’Malley plays Ben, an elderly man who spends a suspiciously large amount of time playing with the neighborhood children. That’s weird but OK, initially it’s like…fine, it was the 1960s and adults were more “adultier.” Maybe adults were more trustworthy or maybe child abuse claims were swept under the rug more back in those days I don’t know, but it was a common staple of old black and white television shows to see old people just hanging out and having fun with little kids that just lived near them that they were not related to whatsoever and the impression wasn’t that these adults were pervs or anything but rather were just nice old people who were nice to kids.
SIDENOTE: Please don’t let your kids hang out with random neighborhood adults. Honestly, don’t trust people you know or are related to either. You know what? Just keep your kid next to you at all times.
Back to the review. Ben has a special power -he can turn into any living thing. He plays a space game with the kids where the kids pretend to be space travelers and he turns himself into a scary martian.
The old man’s best friend is eight year old Jenny and surely this sentence is creepy even by 1960s standards. Oddly enough, Jenny’s aunt/guardian, played by Nancy Kulp of Miss Hathaway from “The Beverly Hillbillies” fame is portrayed as the villain, yelling at the little girl to stay away from the old man and yelling at the old man to stay away from the girl. She’s portrayed as an evil battle-axe trying to keep two friends apart but you know, 2018 me is like, “The aunt is the voice of reason! If that kid was my niece I’d tell that old bastard to stay away from the kid too!”
Moving on, there are a couple of mysterious dudes chasing after Ben. He ditches them by turning into a mouse (which makes me think Michael Jackson might have been inspired here with his song about Ben the rat).
Blah, blah, blah – the ending. The dudes are Ben’s subjects. Ben is the king of a faraway planet. He didn’t want to be the king anymore so he ran. The subjects like him and want to bring him back.
Ben and Jenny pull the old switcheroo – they both turn into Jenny and so, the subjects must take both Jennies to the planet if they want the King. I couldn’t help but think that it will be hard for the aunt to lose her niece, but I guess the writers felt she had to be punished for the crime of thinking that her eight year old niece shouldn’t be spending all her free time with a sixty something year old man. Go figure.
The twist? Rod Serling, as he was known to do, pops out of the woodwork holding a picture of a little boy. Turns out that Ben was a little boy all along and…I guess…what…we’re supposed to think it’s ok that Ben and Jenny run away together? I mean, you really need to suspend disbelief because Jenny is eight whereas we were told earlier that Ben is over 1,000 years old so I mean, come on, even if he’s a boy he’s like an adult in a boy’s body, unless boys live for a thousand years on that planet before they become adults and ugh…I just went cross eyed.
It’s weird. It’s creepy. It’s insane. I have no idea if the writers intended this, maybe they were just lazy and wrote themselves out of a corner but I mean, yeah, there’s just no circumstance in which it’s cool for this kid to be running away with aliens…especially one that’s over 1,000, who has taken the form of an old human man.
I don’t know. There were a lot of episodes and they all can’t be winners I suppose. This one was a big time stinkburger.