Twilight Zone Marathon: “A Most Unusual Camera”

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Welcome back to my Twilight Zone Marathon! Today’s episode kinda reminds me of an old Goosebumps book, “Say Cheese and Die!” It poses a simple question: What would you do with a camera that can predict the future? Let’s find out just that in “A Most Unusual Camera.”

Chester and Paula Diedrich are two burglers who have just robbed a curio store. Among a bunch of junk they stolen is an antique camera. They soon discover that the pictures taken with it show future events. With Paula’s brother and ex-con Woodward, they try to exploit the camera for their benefit. Will these crooks live a life of ease, or could they be setting themselves up for a fall?

As you may have noticed by now, I can’t stand unlikable characters in this show, and once again this episode is no exception. However, like the previous episode, I enjoyed the ending for its good, karmic punch. It’s just a shame I keep running into these, although a lot of the problem is my own perceptions of characters. In regards to that, the plot is once again simplistic, focusing on their goals of becoming rich.

Speaking of characters, let’s take a look at them. Ex-con Woodward comes into the story once they’ve discovered the camera’s secret and serves as the third wheel. He’s a completely stereotypical moron who’s always one step behind them. He honestly contributes nothing of use to the story aside from the fears associated with him being an ex-con.

Chester and Paula have few personality differences between them, though Chester is a bit grumpy and is basically the leader. As husband and wife, there’s no real warmth or love to their relationship, just a lot of bickering. It felt like there was little chemistry between them, and I was more than happy to see theirs and Woodward’s ultimate fates.

The main plot mostly involves them using the camera for betting and winning on horse races, though it’s soon discovered that the camera can only take 10 pictures per person. This eventually leads up to the ending and twist. I found the twist both karmic and a bit jarring, mostly because another party comes into the mix and their purpose for doing so comes out only after a second appearance on-screen. I wish more creative uses could’ve been found with the camera, Much like with the stopwatch in “A Kind of Stopwatch”, it just felt like a wasted opportunity.

Overall, “A Most Unusual Camera” was a bit disappointing, even if I did enjoy the ending. The characters aren’t very interesting and the plot doesn’t pick up till the karmic yet kinda bizarre ending. I don’t think I can fully recommend this one, even as a karma story. There have just been better, more interesting choices from the Twilight Zone.

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