Thursday, April 25, 2019

REVIEW: 'The Twilight Zone' - Raff Hanks Hopes to Get a Kid Elected as President in 'The Wunderkind'

CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone - Episode 1.05 "The Wunderkind"

A down-on-his-luck campaign manager is determined to get a kid elected as the President of the United States.

In 2018, there were 495 scripted shows airing amongst the linear channels and streaming services. The way people are consuming content now is so different than it used to be. It happens according to one's own schedule. As such, there is less necessity to provide ample coverage of each specific episode in any given season from a show. Moreover, it is simply impossible to watch everything. As such, this site is making the move to shorter episodic reviews in order to cover as many shows as possible. With all of that being said, here are my thoughts on the next episode of CBS All Access' The Twilight Zone.

"The Wunderkind" was written by Andrew Guest and directed by Richard Shepard

This episode articulates just how corrosive power can become when it goes unchecked. There is the firm belief that the systems in place are enough to stop corruption like this from happening. And yet, all it really takes to upend the norms is one person inspired to do something no one else has done before. It's a novel idea and one that lots of people can get swept up into quickly. It's crazy to think of an actual kid becoming President given the rules lined out in the constitution. But campaign manager Raff Hanks believes in Oliver Foley and his ability to connect with people. It doesn't matter that he is 11-years-old and doesn't understand many of the profound issues facing the country. He is running on a specific agenda to get everyone in America video games. He sees the value in sticking to his campaign promises no matter what. Plus, there's the understanding that frustration with the overall system is enough to fuel the desire to burn it all to the ground. There's the fundamental belief that all politicians are corrupt simply because there has been so much evidence to prove that from anyone who actually goes to Washington, D.C. It's easy to lose faith in the system and the belief that anything can change. This hour is taping into some powerful and topical feelings and emotions. Of course, it's a little too blatant as a political satire for the times we are currently living in. It's easy to see the correlation between a kid who believes being president gives him unlimited power and the inability to be questioned no matter what with the current administration. It's horrifying. But it also builds to the point where Raff is too late to do anything to combat this corrosive nature. He sees the value in presenting a candidate like this. He views it as his opportunity to get back in the game after a devastating loss. If he isn't working for a successful campaign, then he's drowning his sorrows at the local bar. Those are the only two options in his life. He is either descending into self-pity or he's being a desperate opportunist eager to exploit the emotions of the world. He has no problem using a dog with cancer in order to convince the electorate to vote for Oliver. In fact, it's horrifying to see just how effective that tactic can be despite how Oliver implodes on an actual debate stage. Once in the office though, Raff sees the danger of what he has just done. There are some officials who respect the office no matter who sits there and is making the decisions. Then, there are those who don't want to disagree with Oliver. They see him as a bratty kid who suddenly has more power than anyone else in the world. They fear what he is capable of doing and so they don't do anything. Those impulses were there from the very beginning with his refusal to see a doctor. Raff saw an opportunity and took it to benefit himself. He was being very selfish throughout all of this. He was blinded by the promises Oliver made as well. He didn't want to see what was actually going on until he was playing golf with Oliver and got shot by the secret service agents. Of course, the show was teasing that moment from the very beginning. Any regular viewer of The Twilight Zone should be expecting some big twist in any given episode. It's not surprising that having a kid president goes terribly awry. It's just more disastrous than Raff ever could have calculated. So, he's not good at predicting the future and the morality of individuals even though he is still successful in giving them the power they have always wanted. It's a simple story that has some fine execution and solid performances without really offering that heavy moment where it all lands on the audience in a meaningful and significant way.