Monday, August 18, 2014
Cult-TV Theme Watch: The Merry Go-Round
A merry-go-round or carousel is an amusement park attraction or ride that consists of a circular platform on which rest seats (traditionally in the shape of horses or other animals) that go up and down as they spin.
The merry-go-round is a set-piece that has made frequent appearances throughout cult-television history.
Perhaps the most memorable of such carousels appears in the first season Twilight Zone (1959 – 1964) episode “Walking Distance.” There, an overworked business-man, Martin Sloan (Gig Young) travels back in time to the home town of his youth. There he hopes to enjoy one more summer, but near the merry-go-round he sees his younger self and feels compelled to tell him a message about growing up, and enjoying life while you can. He chases down his younger self a merry-go-round, a symbol for a life that spins around and around, but goes nowhere.
A merry-go-round also featured prominently in the Ghost Story/Circle of Fear (1972) episode titled “At the Cradle Foot.” Here, a man (James Franciscus) is plagued by dreams that his daughter will be shot and killed on a merry-go-round. He goes out in search of that playground in an attempt to avert his child’s grim fate.
A Get Smart episode called “The Wax Max” (1965 – 1970) set at an amusement park finds Max (Don Adams) and 99 (Barbara Feldon) being attacked by enemy agents (one dressed as Dracula..). A shoot-out occurs on a merry-go-round.
In an episode of The Prisoner (1967 – 1968), Number Six recounts a story to several children in the Village. It involves him hunting down and being hunted himself by a woman -- Sonia (Justine Lord) – who is “death.” Part of the “game” takes place at an amusement park which happens to feature a carousel or merry-go-round.
A carousel also appears briefly on an island in the Bermuda triangle in “The Funhouse,” an episode of the short-lived The Fantastic Journey (1977).
And, an episode of Thundarr the Barbarian (1980 – 1982) features a post-apocalyptic carousel as a setting in “Stalker from the Stars."