Twilight Zone Marathon: “The New Exhibit”

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Welcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! Today’s and next Saturday’s episodes will be a little different. They’re from Season 4, which at the time was stretched out to hour-long episodes. Be aware that this may mean a longer blog than usual. That being said, today’s episode plays up the creepiness of wax figures. But these aren’t just any ordinary figures. These are wax representations of famous murderers. Let’s look at “The New Exhibit.”

There are many wax figures at Ferguson’s Wax Museum, but curator Martin is obsessed with Murderer’s Row. Here, wax figures of Albert W. Hicks, William Burke and William Hare, Jack the Ripper and Henry Landru reside carrying their signature weapons. But when Martin’s boss decides to close the museum for profit, he asks to keep the figures in his home, which doesn’t please Emma, his wife. Unfortunately, his “friends” seem to have minds of their own and set about killing people under Martin’s nose. But is this really the case, or is Martin’s obsession with them getting out of hand?

Aside from the basic premise, I didn’t know much about this episode going in, which made it more interesting to see it unfold. With the longer running time, it could have easily felt too slow or not paced out well. Luckily, I found the pacing to be just right.

There are really only four characters to talk about, so I’ll start with Emma and her brother, Dave. Both serve to act as the concerned characters, with Emma concerned about Martin, his figures and paying the bills, and Dave mostly concerned about his sister. For a wife character, I did enjoy Emma even if acting concerned and worried was her main trait. I didn’t care much for Dave as he’s a bit of a loudmouth and goes so far to suggest that Emma destroy the air conditioner, which keeps the figures intact. Still, both characters did a serviceable job.

Then there’s Martin’s former boss and friend, Mr. Ferguson. He also doesn’t get much to do, but I liked him regardless. He’s friendly and you get the sense of old age on him when he talks about retiring. It’s sometimes weird to think about an employee being friends with their boss, but in their discussions of having spent 30 years at the museum, you get a feeling of respect between the two.

Finally, we have Martin himself. I’ll just come out and say it: He’s a bit cuckoo. His obsession isn’t just with the art of the figures, but also with defending their identities as murdering monsters (though part of that is having worked on museum tours). He talks to them like they’re his friends and, almost humorously, actually scolds them when someone winds up dead. It was a well-acted performance, because he does generally worry when he discovers a body and fears his “friends” may be alive. It’s the type of role where you’re not sure if he’s really all there, which becomes harder to pinpoint as the episode goes on.

I enjoyed the plot overall, and like I said, the pacing was pretty solid despite being an hour-long episode. I’ve always enjoyed wax figures, so I didn’t really find them scary, but the fact that they resembled murderers was a great idea. The only problem I have is with the ending. It felt a bit unclear as to what ultimately happens to Martin. It still had some solid elements, though, and I think it was a decent ending regardless if it felt muddy.

Overall, for such a long episode, “The New Exhibit” is pretty good. While the ending was a little unclear to me, it’s preceded by an interesting premise and strange main character. If wax figures happen to freak you out, then you’re sure to get your fill here. I would urge people who enjoy stories of obsession and possible madness to give this one a try as well.

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