Welcome back to my “Tales from the Darkside” Marathon! What would you do if you knew you were going to die? Most people, if given the opportunity, would gladly find any option to avoid it entirely if possible. Today’s tale involves one such case and the cost behind it. This is “A Choice of Dreams.”
Jake Corelli is a mobster who learns that he has terminal cancer. Jake is soon visited by a doctor claiming he can potentially keep his brain alive forever. Not only will the procedure allow him to escape death, but he’ll also get to enjoy any dreams he wants. The only problem is it will cost 10 million dollars. But after some deliberation, Jake decides to give the procedure a try. Will Jake truly get to live forever, or will it turn out to be not at all what he had in mind?
This episode was okay both in plot and execution, but the main thing it has going for it is a strong performance from its lead actor, Abe Vigoda. For the most part, this is mobster story with a dash of sci-fi thrown in for good measure. You see how Jake treats the doctor who delivers the news of his cancer and his strange friendship with his bodyguard, Angelo. These scenes are done pretty well, but I felt like the writing overall could have been a bit sharper. I was surprised that the brain procedure and talk about dreams didn’t seem to get as much focus either. It’s mainly pushed into the episode’s second half, especially at the end. I guess I was just expecting less mobster scenes and more sci-fi, but it didn’t bother me too much.
As I said, the standout of this episode is Abe Vigoda. Even in this stereotypical mob boss role, his acting is superb and elevates what feels like an average script. The only complaint I have about his performance is a moment at the very end, which sounded off and pretty silly. The other actors here do a good enough job, especially the dream doctor, but Abe clearly shines here. Jake is the kind of character that you shouldn’t feel sympathy for, but there was the occasional moment where Abe’s performance made me question that.
The big twist was one of the better executed parts of this episode. It basically acts as karmic retribution for Jake and felt like an appropriate end to his story. I only wish there had been more to the dream doctor’s character, because I felt like him being mysterious was actually a bit of a detriment to the story. I can think of a few ways to make his character fit the twist a lot better, but even with that gripe, it still worked with the rest of the episode.
So, to wrap up, “A Choice of Dreams” biggest strength is Abe Vigoda as Jake. The plot is interesting but a tad shallow, the writing is pretty average, and the twist ending was earned. I’m not sure I can fully recommend giving it a watch based around one actor’s performance, but of the more average episodes I’ve covered, this one at least has that going for it.