Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tales from the Darkside: A Choice of Dreams

In "A Choice of Dreams," Abe Vigoda plays Jake Corelli, a mob boss told he's dying. How much we're supposed to dislike him is revealed when the doctor says he's glad to have told this news to the gangster's face. Facing death, Corelli receives an offer from a scientist he can't refuse: for $10 million, he can have his brain kept alive in a permanent dream state and enjoy nothing but sweet bliss.

Maybe it's because he's played by Abe Vigoda (an American institution; after all, he crossed the Delaware with Washington), but I actually kind felt sorry for Corelli and felt impacted by his fate in the end. It probably helps that in the confines of this short episode we don't see him do the things we usually see mobsters do in movies (murder, racketeering, etc.), but his grief and fear about his impending death seem genuine.

The twist at the end indicates this story is perfect for the short format of television. Once it's revealed, it's hard to imagine being able to take the concept anywhere else given what happens to Corelli and what we learn about the scientist's true scheme (although bilking his clients out of the money and giving them the opposite of what he promised is the kind of dishonest behavior these just desserts tales usually punish).

The final sequence, in the dark laboratory with futuristic equipment, feels suitably alien and other-worldly, which is fitting. The closing image of the row of brains in jars, all of them still alive and enduring an eternity of unending nightmares, is one of the best the series conjured.

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