Review of Amazing Stories Season 1, Episode 16 – Gather Ye Acorns


By Cory Robinson

 

After taking a few weeks off watching The Last Jedi trailer over and over, it’s time to look at another Amazing Stories episode that ironically enough has Mark Hamill as a bearded hermit so at least you have something to watch until Star Wars Episode 8 hits theaters.

In this episode, Hamill stars as a young man named Jonathan Quick who wants to take it easy on life after graduating high school in the 1930s while his parents on the other hand want him to go to school to become a doctor but Jonathan wants to spend his hard-earned money on a 1932 Auburn automobile.  You see, ever since Jonathan was a lad he was visited by an ancient tree troll (played by David Rappaport) who went by “Mother Nature’s Only Son” who has told Jonathan to follow his heart and do whatever that he wants to do and that he will be richer than any doctor or lawyer because “this world needs more dreamers.”  Jonathan takes this advice to heart and never throws away any of his collectibles including: his toys, comics, sports memorabilia, novelty jars, and many more items.

Throughout the years, his parents become more and more restless that Jonathan refuses to go to college to become a doctor and instead sits and home while collecting things that he likes.  During a heated argument with his father, Jonathan gets kicked out of the house for defying his father’s wishes and sticking to his motto to stay young at heart while never getting a job to truly be happy.  While driving off in his 1932 Auburn, the tree troll visits Jonathan again to reassure him that he is doing the right thing and that the world does indeed need more dreamers than doctors.

Things go sour for Jonathan as the plot fast-forwards to the late 1950s as he is living in the middle of the Nevada desert in a run-down shack that he is squatting in until he is forced out by a new group of land developers.  Things have not been kind to him as he is now a mangy hobo who can’t even hold a job down as a circus performer.  Before his shack is torn down, the tree troll visits him again to say that he ultimately doing the right thing but Jonathan responds in anger by throwing his collectibles at the troll stating that everything he loves is junk and memories of a life he has screwed up.  The tree troll tries to reason with Jonathan that he will be alright in the end but Jonathan believes that the troll is lying and that he should have listened to his father earlier in life but it is too late now to try to fix his broken life.

Fast-forward to the mid 1980s and Jonathan is now a frail old man who is in even worse shape than he was before.  His life is so much in shambles that he lives in his broken down Auburn with all of his toys and collectibles but with no job, no friends, or no family to call his own.  After trying to beg an attendant for free gas, he finally contemplates suicide by wanting to drive his car off of the Hoover Dam but before he drives off, a woman spots an old Native American Toby mug in the back of his car.  Jonathan contemplates giving the mug to the woman but she implies on buying it from him and writes him a check for $10,000 dollars.  Jonathan his mortified by this and decides to drive his car to a comic book store to which the owner (played by Forrest Whittaker, so at least you get somewhat of a Star Wars crossover here) buys a Marvel Comics #1 and an Action Comics #1  along with some old Mickey Mouse toys for over $200,000 dollars to which surprises a now elated Jonathan.

The episode ends with Jonathan selling the rest of his collectibles at an auction house which certifies him now as a millionaire with him sitting next to the tree troll who once told him that all of his treasures would make him rich in the end.  Jonathan begins to thank the troll for his advice and offers him a drink but his conversation is confused by a woman who mistakenly thinks that Jonathan is offering her an invitation to which she accepts.

This was a very charming episode especially to a nerd like myself even though the moral of the story is very confusing.  Obviously part of it has to do with keeping a part of your childhood always in you but it also seems to say that don’t let your childhood overcome you as it could lead you to ruin.  Also the tree troll’s message was very heavy-handed as even though Jonathan did become rich beyond his wildest dreams in the end, about 95 percent of his life was lived in misery so it really doesn’t help in the end that much.  Mark Hamill was very enjoyable in all the different ages as Jonathan but I will say that him as a teenager was kind of creepy to watch at times but overall he did a fantastic job.  David Rappaport did a good enough job as “Mother Nature’s Only Son” but the direction to the character made it seem more goofy than it needed to be with him dancing around on the ceiling every time he had another one of his quips.  The direction was done by Norman Reynolds who was the production designer on classics such as: Raiders of the Lost Ark, Empire Strikes Back, and Return of the Jedi so he does a well enough job here but sometimes the acting can get too corny and over the top and the transitions seem to move to fast as if a lot of the original scenes got cut out of the intended version.  The story was done by Steven Spielberg in another “stick to your childhood” stories that are getting kind of old by this time but being a collector myself I do have a soft spot for this episode as it does have some good quotes in it.

X-aminer rating: 9/10

This is where I would make a joke about the end of the episode seguing into Mark Hamill’s Pop Culture Quest show, but the man himself has already beaten me to the punch:

You can watch the episode here on the NBC Site: http://www.nbc.com/amazing-stories/video/gather-ye-acorns/2909107

Come back in a few days as I stop pounding sand and start looking at the next episode which is directed by Joe Dante himself entitled “BOO!”

About comics xaminer