Saturday, January 27, 2018

The Twilight Zone - The Mighty Casey



**½ / ****

I hadn’t seen The Mighty Casey until Syfy showed it during the New Years Day marathon in the early afternoon when I came home from work (yeah, had to work that morning, ugh.) I was laughing at the exchange between manager of the last place Hoboken Zephyrs, Jack Warden’s McGarry and the general manager (Alan Dexter), regarding their terrible baseball team (30 games behind the first place team!). They just tear into each other, passing remarks about the need for talent and their inabilities to produce a team of any merit whatsoever. Then Dr. Stillman (Abraham Sofaer) arrives like an angel from heaven with a player that could be considered a gift from the baseball gods, Casey (Robert Sorrells), a pitcher with a hell of a firm handshake and wicked curveball to go with his fierce fastball. While I highly doubt one pitcher can lift a team out of the doldrums and towards first place, Casey’s pitching does seem to be a shot in the arm if anything. Dr. Stillman tells McGarry that Casey is a robot and the two decide to keep this secret from the commissioner and other teams in their league…until the league doc discovers Casey isn’t *quite human* while checking his pulse after the pitcher gets clunked on the head with a baseball by accident during a game! To persuade the commissioner not to penalize the Zephyrs, Stillman convinces him he can get Casey a *heart* so that he will be considered *human* and be given permission to play. That has repercussions when Casey, equipped with a heart, can’t just strike out the New York Giants because he doesn’t want to “hurt their careers”! So Casey considers Stillman’s feelings that he might prefer social work as opposed to pitching! After giving up 14 runs in the first inning, Casey’s run is over and McGarry must consider other arrangements….


Serling speaks of an arena (Wrigley Field in LA) that had since become an abandoned reminder of baseball past, and the end he mentions how McGarry got an idea from Stillman to build his own team on the West Coast and win plenty of pennants. It is all coming up McGarry, it seems, thanks to his own team of robots! How he gets that past the commissioner is a whole other story that goes unanswered…

I thought Warden was a real delight as the beleaguered manager, stuck with a subpar team and general manager balking at his managerial style. Then Casey comes along to help him prolong his career until a heart surgery is needed which once again puts McGarry right back where he started. The loveable losers is not the label McGarry desires for the team he’s managing!


In saying all that, The Mighty Casey isn’t an extraordinary episode of The Twilight Zone. Like all seasons during the show’s five year run, there are iconic, middling so-so, and not-so-good episodes. I think The Mighty Casey is an okay passage of time that has its moments even if nothing of particular substance lingers on the mind after it is over. It is more or less a comedy, light and forgettable. The second Warden episode (he wasn’t actually the first to play that character, replacing the deceased Paul Douglas after his scenes were shot by Serling), and it again features a robot changing his life for the better. While I think The Lonely is far superior, Warden’s sarcastic manager, with his bevy of zingers towards his team and how much they stink, amused me to no end. I would say to those who haven’t seen this just not to expect anything remarkable, because The Mighty Casey isn’t built as such. Not every episode of The Twilight Zone is Walking Distance or The After Hours. The occasional average episode comes and goes even on the very best of series, particularly when there are over 150 episodes. If you are a Warden fan, this will be fun, though. Warden and his trusty towel, gnashing his teeth and contending with the effects of being burdened with a bad team, go through quite the roller coaster of a baseball season. Thankfully Stillman offered Casey’s blueprints to McGarry, planting the seed of creating a team of his own.

Sorrells has that innocent babyface and childlike quality and Sofaer, his creator, is just so honest always. And Warden needing both of them to resurrect his fledgling team, in dire straits...

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