Review of AMAZING STORIES Season 1: Episode 14 – No Day At The Beach

By Cory Robinson

The episode this week is another World War II plot, but this time we get it in black and white plus we are also treated with a young Charlie Sheen AND that guy who stole the bike in Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

 

 The episode starts off with a bunch 18 year olds on their way to Normandy to fight the Germans the day before they are supposed to land on the beach.  Obviously the whole battalion is nervous, so to loosen nerves they decide to pick on the weakest guy in the battalion named Arnold (Larry Spinak) who only wants to be liked by the battalion so he ends up taking whatever punishment they give him.  After a long day of being laughed at by the battalion and also being forced to pick up playing cards off of the floor, he ends up talking to Casey (Charlie Sheen) who is basically the only person on the boat who will give Arnold the time of day.

Arnold talks to Casey about wishing he wasn’t scared so he could be brave enough to fight in the war unlike anyone else in the battalion.  Casey responds that everyone in the battalion is scared to death about fighting, mostly because they have families back home and that Arnold shouldn’t think that he is the only one frightened going into battle.  Arnold then tells Casey that he wishes that he could prove to his battalion that he is a real soldier and only wants to be their friend while helping them in battle.  Shortly later, some of the soldiers start handing out chocolate bars before going to bed but deliberately snub Arnold from having one.  When Arnold asks for one, the soldiers respond by picking him and throwing him around the room while telling him that with a name like Arnold probably means that his parents never had high hopes for him.

Tomorrow eventually comes with the battalion landing in Normandy but things go sour very fast with their squad leader dying in battle right away with the team being trapped in the middle of the battlefield.  Will Arnold man up and save the day or will he let his teammates who treat him like crap die during the Normandy Invasion?  You’ll just have to watch the episode to find out.  You can watch the episode here at the NBC Site: http://www.nbc.com/amazing-stories/video/no-day-at-the-beach/2909105

This was a really interesting episode for Amazing Stories to do with the whole episode being in black and white but it felt more like a short indie film that took many inspirations from Stanley Kubrick’s Paths of Glory but focused a lot of the episode on the journey to Normandy rather the battle itself.  The episode has a lot of amazing visuals done by director Lesli Linka Glatter (best known for directing Now and Then) with a very dialogue heavy script by Mick Garris that makes the combination of the two work really well off one another.  Obviously, this episode doesn’t have the pizazz or the ending that the previous World War II episode The Mission had but the episode gets it’s point across all the same and tells the story it wants to tell with the horrors of war and what soldiers had to do to survive.  The only problems I had with the episode was that the actor who played Arnold didn’t do a very good job and just came across as too whiny while feeling very awkward the whole time.  I know he was supposed to play more of an awkward kid but he came across more of a stereotype than anything else.  Some of the other actors came across this way as well including actor Ralph Seymour who plays the same little kid from Brooklyn character in everything that he is in and it just gets annoying after the first 30 times.

Overall this was an enjoyable episode but it gets depressing towards the end as you can guess that something bad is going to happened to soldiers invading the beaches at Normandy but since most of the episodes involve the paranormal, the ending really drives the point home about what it really takes to be a soldier and how you should always count on your fellow man instead of putting them down as a way to relieve fear or stress.  The ending monologue by Sheen is by far the best part of the episode and really drives home the moral of the story while sticking it to all the soldiers that bullied Arnold.   Even though this episode has some spots that drag and some of the acting can be over the top, it’s an enjoyable episode that at least deserves a watch once, especially with something that showed off Charlie Sheen’s acting talents before he got heavy into drugs.

X-Aminer rating: 8/10

Come back soon as I take a look at One for the Road where Amazing Stories decides to make their own BBC-style episode.

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