Sick-making, across the board.
Enter the 1985 horror/sci-fi anthology series, The Twilight Zone. I heartily admit from the start that it doesn't deserve the name; it has so little to do with the Rod Serling original in either tone or execution that any name would have done, and that, overall, it doesn't rise above the level of watchable.. I'm sure the producers were, as producers have done in the past, capitalising on the credibility of the original franchise. Normally it would scratch at my soul with daemonic fervor, but for a few very charming episodes. A Message From Charity is one of those, and is the most charming of all.
Based on a short story by pulp magazine writer William M. Lee, it is a unique combination of the classic time travel and mental telepathy themes Set in both colonial America and "modern" times (1985 seems like 1885 at this point), the story centers around a lovely colonial teen girl named Charity Paine (she was preteen in the story), and a handsome, but bookish, teen named Peter Wood. In their respective eras, each is seriously ill from a common source; a bacterial infection from the local water. During this illness, each is somehow connected to the other telepathically through the ages; what others mistake for delerium is actually what each is seeing in the other time in a fever state. When the illness subsides, they discover each other, and they begin to converse. It's love at first sight.
Peter Shares his modern world with Charity, and they bond over innocently sensual experiences. He eats ice cream, and she tastes it; he drinks a little wine with his father at dinner, and she gets tipsy, leading her father to believe her to be ill again. They see each other in mirrored surfaces (he through a bedroom mirror, and her on the surface of a pool at the edge of a brook), and a sweet first love emerges. The downside of this sharing quickly becomes a danger to Charity, as the future things she recounts to a female friend brings her into the reach of a witch trial...both Peter and Charity will have to think fast to get out of the grip of the magistrate, wot?
Kerry Noonan as Charity and Duncan McNeill as Peter were both brilliant. Noonan was amazingly demure and strong in equal measure, and McNeill played the earnest and open young fellow with a likeable energy. James Cromwell, a character actor in a number of major films (L.A. Confidential springs to mind), was very good as well, atop a small, yet charismatic cast. Kerry Noonan is an instructor at a university these days, after what seems to have been a small acting career. This is the sort of story that blesses even a short career; she was the perfect choice for this part.
I was really impressed with the concise and clean progression of the story. It has really become one of my oft-watched TV episodes, those that I put on when bored and in need of a pleasant time-passer. I highly recommend it for a lazy Sunday afternoon, especially if it is raining, and cold enough to sit under a light quilt in a well-favoured chair.
It will warm you up, of that I am certain.