By Cory Robinson
It’s the year 1934 during the dead of winter and South Bronx bar owner Tony Maroni (Al Ruscio) is having a hard time keeping his bar open during the great depression especially with all of his local bar patrons begging for drinks while refusing to pay their bar tabs. Business is starting to get worse and worse while trying to find a way to pay of his bills and even paying his bartender Joe (Joe Pantoliano). While talking to a frequent customer named Francis, (James Cromwell) Joe overhears a story about a woman who took a life insurance policy on her husband due to the fact that he had a run in with the mob and she found out that there was a hit on him. Rather than tell him, she took out a policy and reaped the benefits when he was murdered. Joe gets an idea to put a life insurance policy out on a local drunkard named Mike Malloy (played by Douglas Seale right after he was done playing Santa in Santa 85) who seems he is on death’s door at any moment. Joe gets his boss to play along with the idea as well as Francis since he is an undertaker and can probably help out, but they enlist another patron named Dan (Geoffrey Lewis) who is having a hard time paying his bills while making his family happy.
The next day Dan comes in with the policy papers and gets Mike drunk enough to sign the papers thus making all four guys beneficiaries to money when Mike dies. It’s easier said than done unfortunately when no matter how much they give Mike to drink, he still stays alive. It starts getting to the point that Mike starts drinking everything in the bar but he still won’t succumb to alcohol poisoning. Tony comes up with a way to speed up the process by lacing kerosene in Mike’s drinks but it just makes him beg for more free drinks. The lads then get an idea to wait until he passes out and take him outside in the blistering cold with his clothes unbuttoned until he eventually freezes to death. The celebration is short lived when Mike comes in from the cold asking for more free drinks and it becomes apparent to the viewer but not to the four accomplices that something is afoul with Mike to the point that he may possibly be not a mortal person. (or perhaps he’s Santa?)
While trying to avoid giving spoilers I encourage you to watch the episode on the NBC Site here: http://www.nbc.com/amazing-stories/video/one-for-the-road/2909106
This was a really fun episode to watch due to the fact it was an episode that dealt with dark comedy without being too morbid but without it being too light at the same time. All of the actors work great here especially since every one of them are accomplish performers in their own right. They all deliver their monologues and one-liners with the right timing to get the laughs without going too overboard unlike some other episodes in the series. The direction by Thomas Carter (Save the Last Dance and Coach Carter) proves that he is good doing not only dark comedies but even dramedies as well. Of course the ending adds a nice paranormal kick while having a dark, humorous ending that while tying everything up, leaves a couple questions to the audience that should have answers but we will be left in the dark.
Overall this was an enjoyable episode that works well mostly because of the acting, it’s also of note that the episode was based on a true story that had somewhat of a similar ending although the episode here has a nice paranormal twist. I would say that this is one of the most enjoyable episodes of the series even though this is one that doesn’t get talked about a lot which is a shame as it should be up there with the top ten best episodes.
X-aminer rating: 9/10
Come back next week as I look at Mark Hamill as a teenager in: Gather ye Acorns.