The Twilight Zone 1.6 – A Message from Charity

No, I didn’t show my darling, sensitive son the Zone adaptation of “Examination Day” the week he started the gifted program at school. Geez, what kind of monster do you think I am? *grin

But we did watch the other segment in the Zone‘s sixth hour. “A Message from Charity” was one of the few segments from this season that I saw. I was a freshman in high school in 1985. I went to a few football games that season and sometimes started spending the weekends with friends that year and wasn’t often home to see this show. And I fell in love with it. I haven’t seen a frame of it since, but I remembered it quite clearly. Alan Brennert’s script was so moving that when I ran across the writer on Usenet in 1994 or so, I dropped him a line to tell him how much I loved it.

The story concerns two teens separated by 285 years: Charity in 1700 and Peter in 1985, played by Kerry Noonan and by future Star Trek: Voyager castmember Robert Duncan McNeill. They’re supported by James Cromwell and Gerald Hiken, who was always playing a villain in the eighties. Charity and Peter get linked telepathically after they each suffer a high fever. He shows her the wonderful technology of the future and she talks a little too freely about what she’s seen to friends who are obsessed with witchcraft.

The witch angle may suggest that this doesn’t do anything too surprising, but the kids’ resolution to the problem is very novel and the acting is absolutely first-class. Kerry Noonan, who retired from acting a few years after this and went on to become one of the country’s most respected folklorists, is absolutely magical as Charity, and McNeill is incredibly sympathetic as the bookish kid whose only friend died a couple of hundred years ago. It’s a great love story between two characters who never share any screen time, and if the segment’s epilogue doesn’t make you smile, your heart must be two sizes too small. Our son enjoyed it, but he also really bristled at Hiken’s evil squire character.

Also, no, it’s not just you. Like MacGyver, it would appear that the master tapes for this program were stored next to an electromagnet or something. I don’t know what it is about mid-eighties American TV, but these DVDs don’t look any better than a thirty-three year-old VHS copy would look.

Today’s feature was a gift from Marie’s brother Karl and we really appreciate it! If you would like to support this blog, you can buy us a DVD of a movie that we’d like to watch one day. We’ll be happy to give you a shout-out and link to the site of your choice when we write about it. Here’s our wishlist!

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4 Comments

Filed under twilight zone

4 responses to “The Twilight Zone 1.6 – A Message from Charity

  1. Donald G

    My guess as to the appearance of the video: around 1985, the television studios transitioned from shooting and editing on film to shooting on film and transferring the footage to videotape for editing with a reduction in video quality that’s very noticeable with modern equipment.

    • I’d read something about that in relation to one of the later Star Trek series, but that was ten years later. That stinks that it was happening in 1985. Maybe there will be a Blu-ray upgrade one day.

  2. Probably my favorite segment of the 1985 TZ reboot (I was a Senior in HS when it aired). Agree with your assessment based on memory; I really need to revisit it.

  3. Pingback: The Twilight Zone 1.18 – Gramma / Personal Demons / Cold Reading | Fire Breathing Dimetrodon Time

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