Welcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! We’ve come to the second of the two hour-long episodes I’ve decided to look at from Season 4. Today’s episode explores the idea of selling your soul to get what you want. And, as many people know, there is always a price attached. What will it be here? This is “Printer’s Devil.”
Douglas Winter is at the end of his rope trying to save his failing newspaper business. Bills and debts have stacked up and he wishes there was a way to fix everything. It’s not until he meets a strange man named Mr. Smith that things start to turn around. But he eventually claims to be the devil and wants Doug’s soul. Could this man really be the devil, and if so what will become of Doug’s soul and business?
I have to admit, I found myself enjoying this episode even more than “The New Exhibit.” A lot of that was because of the subject matter, which interested me since I took journalism in college. But another reason was for the great acting from the main characters. The ending was also clever if a bit ambiguous. And, once again, the pacing was well done considering the long length.
The main characters here are Doug, Mr. Smith and Doug’s secretary/sorta girlfriend Jackie. Starting with Jackie, I thought she was an alright character. She’s a bit of a nag, but she stands by her man and wants to see him succeed. She even laments that Mr. Smith and the paper’s newfound fame has changed him for the worse. The only time I found her irritating was near the end when she has to invoke being scared. It came off shrill to me.
Doug was well-acted and really came across in how desperate and worn down he was in the beginning. He does become more self-assured and confident as he gains success, but oddly enough I couldn’t really see how he’d changed from Jackie’s perspective. He was a bit grumpy and snappish, so maybe it was referring to that. Regardless, he has a bigger role to play in the ending that solidified the character to me. This being Twilight Zone, the ending could’ve gone many ways for his type of character, but it ultimately worked out.
Finally, we have the supposed devil, Mr. Smith. This guy was perfectly acted, being charismatic and a bit creepy at the appropriate times. The chemistry between him and Doug kept me fully invested in the episode because of how well done it was. He’s just an average-looking guy, but Mr. Smith had that confidence about him that draws you into the character and his actions. He had an appropriate role in the ending as well that wasn’t too overdone and felt right for the character.
As I said before, the pacing in this episode was great. Not once did I feel bored or impatient for things to happen. Everything fell into place and there was a good build-up to the ending. The tone was also consistent. The ending was part action, part cleverness and was enjoyable, though it had an ambiguity to it that kinda made me wish for more. Then again, I suppose that’s the mark of a good ending to a good episode.
I really have few complaints about this one. The idea of a possible devil mixed with the use of journalism is something I never thought I’d see, but it worked really well. Overall, I think “Printer’s Devil” is an episode everyone can enjoy. I’m not sure how well Season 4 did in terms of classics, but I feel this one deserves a recommendation.