Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Twilight Zone - Ring-a-Ding Girl



I hadn’t realized that Ring-a-Ding Girl was quite so discussed, highly considered, and admired highly until visits to the IMDb Twilight Zone message board gave a platform for it. Its logic could be questioned and debated. How can Bunny Blake be in two places at once? Serling’s narration at the end tells us that she took a trip through the Twilight Zone and that gave her the chance to do just that. Whatever the case it certainly is peculiar. Her presence in her hometown and on the plane, somehow afforded the luxury to persuade many not to show up at the picnic, the storm itself a deterrent and catalyst, and Bunny assured that she made a difference, walking into the rain as if relieved; Ring-a-Ding Girl offers quite an extraordinary series of events that are equally perplexing and arresting. The ring, purchased after the town donated a dollar per person, working as a summons to Bunny, cluing her to assisting in saving lives through the advertised performance she’d never be available for, is quite a device in the plot. Her weakened responses to each future message, faces requesting her help, telling us that something beyond simple explanation was occurring. Something so extraordinary Bunny’s relatives and townsfolk couldn’t possibly fathom. Somehow she knew, though. Each future message related to Bunny that she’s in town for a purpose. She sees to that purpose, and her walk into the rain with that expression of gratitude before leaving speaks volumes. 

The great shows with several seasons worth of episodes often contain within them gems not yet cut from the rock because it just take a while (sometimes decades perhaps!) to get to them. There are those episodes that continue to have their spot in the shining glow of exposure and then the lesser valued ones that peek from the back of the line, get noticed, and eventually garner a bit of attention. Through the visit to the message board where lots of TZ fans congregate, I see that Ring-a-Ding Girl was no longer ignored. 


I wrote a user comment for it just this January, the 10th after enough talk about it during the 2016/2017 Marathon on SYFY New Years garnered my attention.

Underrated episode of the Twilight Zone, I think, has a rather fascinating presence: popular Hollywood actress, Bunny Blake (Maggie McNamara), "returns to her hometown" to see family and friends while future events emerge in the gem of a ring to her. Receiving that ring while in her Hollywood home from her sister (Mary Munday), with money pitched in my members of the town to buy it, Bunny Blake yearns to return to see them. In the ring's gem she sees her sister's face talking to her. Much to her sister's surprise, there's Bunny in her living room, just slipping right in unannounced. During the day she sees the local television station personality (a high school crush who would have married her), high school janitor (she wants him to give her access to the school to do a little performance for the town locals), a pilot to a plane she's riding, and her friend from Hollywood riding in the plane next to her. Bunny spends a majority of her time trying to convince others not to go to an annual picnic as a thunderstorm brews outside…why is she so persistent in this? While I think the twist at the end might not get over anybody—it's so built on foreshadowing that it never really comes off with much subtlety—I think the whole story is quite eerie. A "what if?" scenario only the Twilight Zone could produce offering something quite extraordinary: time spent with someone not actually there, as if given a chance to be at two places at once so she can save others from certain death, and the opportunity for this person to see those she cares for before a tragic fate. Each stare into the ring serves as a nudge towards Bunny setting out to hug her sister a little tighter, work her charm on those she grew up with so they might think against the picnic, the faint spells that weaken her, and the ultimate realization that her time is growing short. Her saying goodbye, walking into the rain, and the phone call to sis about the crash; this episode builds towards a spooky inevitability. Some might find flaws in how Bunny could arrive, be able to touch others, show up on the television screen so she could promote a special performance in the school, take a trip in a car, etc. I like to think that there was something fantastic about the ring that gave her such ability to do so. This is Twilight Zone after all. Some good performances, especially by McNamara, glamorous in her furs and winning personality, the planet everyone around her orbits, and Munday as the sister pleasantly surprised of this very special visit that was so unexpected. Maybe in amongst such a vast catalogue of classic episodes does Ring-a-Ding Girl get lost, but I do think it is a real sleeper ready for discovery.











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Bw5

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