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Old 19th July 2011, 03:17 PM
Bibliomike Bibliomike is offline
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Viewed solely on its own merits, I think "The Fever" is a fairly strong episode. Viewed today, however, knowing what we know about gambling as an addiction and not just a moral choice (although certainly not less than that), it feels unjustifiably preachy and mean-spirited toward Mr. Gibbs. No, he is not a likeable character; no, he cannot acknowledge or even see the difference between putting a nickel in a nickel machine and full-blown losing your live savings in Vegas; but, as Serling's opening narration indicates (heck, as even the title indicates), gambling addiction, like any other addiction, is an illness, and should be understood and treated as such. I am especially surprised Serling painted Mr. Gibbs so unsympathetically when the episode was, he states, inspired by his own brush with the addictive nature of gambling.

Though it's not quite the same thing, the image of a man endlessly feeding coins into a machine resonates with William Shatner's performance in "Nick of Time." If we view the latter episdoe as an analogy for addiction (especially gambling addiction), then I think we can see that Serling was capable of handling the issue in a far more sensitive and nuanced manner.

All that being said... like you, I do love the image of the slot machine spitting back out that last silver dollar in triumph. I am not sure Mr. Gibbs, for all his puritanical moralizing, deserved such a fate; but it is a classic Twilight Zone moment!
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