The night before Donald Draper pitched his ad campaign for Kodak's new slide projector, "The Wheel," Don must have watched the fifth episode of the first season of The Twilight Zone entitled "Walking Distance." The episode's theme revolves around nostalgia which Donald Draper defines as "the pain from an old wound." The main character gives himself an old wound (which he didn't have before being overcome by nostalgia) by harassing his younger self until that younger self falls off the carousel. "The Carousel" is what Don Draper decides to rename Kodak's "Wheel." The story is about a man time traveling back to his youth and Don Draper describes "The Carousel" as not being a spaceship but a time machine. He obviously plagiarized his entire pitch from "Walking Distance"!
The main character, Martin Sloan, has become weary of the world at age thirty-six. It's probably because he looks like he's forty-six! I mean, Gig Young, the actor playing him, was definitely forty-six. Which is sort of hilarious coming on the heels of the previous episode about an elderly actress (in her forties elderly! You know, Women Elderly) who still looked terrific but, being forty-one, was slated to forever play mothers for the rest of her career. Why couldn't she play a 31 year old woman going through a mid-life crisis? At least she still looked the age as opposed to Gig Young who definitely did not look thirty-six. Although didn't thirty-six year old men just look older in the mid-20th century? When did men stop looking like men? It was the hippies, wasn't it? When I picture a man in my head, I think of somebody like Don Draper or Fred Flintstone or, as it happens, Gig Young. I mean, I wouldn't have pictured him before learning who he was because of this episode. But now I do! He's totally what I think a man looks like. Maybe military service does something to the DNA or bone structure of the male body to make them appear more manly? Or maybe just doing manly things gives them an air of manliness that most modern men just don't project?
Anyway, this super old thirty-six year old has become tired of adulting. Not that he'd ever use the term "adulting"! The only people who use that term are most definitely not men. Or women. Did I unironically use the term just now? Who can tell? I'm not a fucking adult! I can't tell when I'm being serious or cynical or earnest because I've never had to cower in a foxhole wondering if my movie screen was about to suddenly go black while the world moved on without me in vibrant technicolor. I'm just a lazy Generation X fuck that has had everything handed to him on a middle class silver-coated platter. I don't fucking know how to actually feel anything. Our entirely lives have just been a terrifying Cold War joke where the Post-Cold War punchline never came. How the fuck were we ever supposed to feel anything when we were shown The Day After as children?! Sure, generations now have to worry about Climate Change but at least that's a long, slow decent into the Mad Max era. We had to deal with the psychological trauma of the end of everything in an actual blink of an eye while those fucking Boomers and the Greatest Generation really taught us about cynicism by casually living in that terrifying world that they fucking created! And how did they deal so nonchalantly with that shit? Probably because they once lost all feelings by having to cower in a foxhole wondering if their movie screen was about to suddenly go black while the world moved on without them!
Whoa. Man. Maybe I am an adult.
So Martin Sloan walks back through time and winds up talking to Richie Cunningham who is all, "You're not Marty Sloan! I know Marty Sloan and you're not him! Don't touch me! I'm so terrified I'm going to leave my marbles in the street!" And then Martin Sloan sees his younger self carving his name on a bandstand like he did when he was eleven. After that, he goes to his old house and talks to his mother and father who think he's a mad man. Then he runs into a kid with a hot rod and the kid is all, "It's a 1934! It just came out last year!" And that's when Marty McSloan is all, "Holy fucking shit! I've traveled through time!" I'm glad The Twilight Zone doesn't want us to think all of the main characters are geniuses. Or even of mediocre intelligence. I mean, what a fucking dum-dum!
Later, after Martin Sloan scares the shit out of his younger self so that his younger self falls off of the carousel and catches his leg underneath the ride (causing Martin Sloan to suddenly have a limp), he tells his younger self, "I didn't want to scare you! I didn't want to be creepy! I just wanted to tell you that you should appreciate being young! That's what all young people need to hear or else they won't enjoy it! They need to hear it from me, a lost old man! Enjoy your youth! I mean, I can see you were enjoying it until I came along. But I really want you to understand that you must enjoy it! Stop enjoying it so much and listen to me! You have to enjoy it! OH GOD, YOU JUST HAVE TO!"
After that, Marty's father comes along and is all, "Hey, dude. Get the fuck out of here. You're ruining your childhood. You had your time. Now maybe go enjoy being an adult. Get a drink. Fuck some broads. Gamble. But, shit dude, stop looking backwards, you maniac." And Marty is all, "Hey yeah! Maybe when I get back to my present, I'll remember to enjoy carousels and cotton candy and climbing trees!" And his dad takes a big hit off five cigarettes while he scratches at the VD eating away at his crotch and he says, "Yeah, yeah. Go enjoy that stuff, you nerd."
Marty returns to the present feeling better than he's felt in a long time. He really learned a lesson by his inadvertent trip to the past! And that lesson was to not wish to be young again but to make the best out of every day you have. Sure, it's the opposite lesson that Miss Trenton learned last episode. But maybe there are different lessons to be learned by men and women? I don't know! All I do know is that this episode did not make me feel wistful or nostalgic in exactly the opposite way the scene from Season One, Episode Thirteen of Mad Men, "The Wheel," did make me feel.