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They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar

They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s BarNight Gallery season 1

In They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar, a has-been salesman (William Windom) wants desperately to return to the past.

They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar is an excellent story. It also serves as a contrast between how The Twilight Zone would have treated the story, and how Night Gallery did it.

They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar deals with Randy Lane (William Windom), sales director for a plastics company. It’s his 25th anniversary with the company, and nobody remembers – except his secretary, Lynn Alcott (Diane Baker). He’s been a widower for 18 years, and he’s asking himself: has his life mattered?

Not to his boss, H.E. Pritkin (John Randolph) — all he sees is the latest quarter’s sales figures, and he’s not impressed. Definitely not to Harvey Doane (Bert Convy), who’s after Randy’s job. And makes no effort to hide it. On top of everything, they’re tearing down Tim Riley’s bar.

Memories

That bar serves as a reminder of when his life when joyful. When his wife was alive, when his home was a happy place. Now, it’s an empty, hollow reminder of the emptiness of his life.

Diane Baker and William Windom in the Night Gallery episode, They're Tearing Down Tim Riley's Bar

Randy’s blind to the affection that his secretary has for him … And that’s the one thing that he has going for him. After he’s fired (for being arrested while drunk and disorderly, having broken into the bar), she stands up for him. She tells off Doane, justifiably calling him a jackal. She goes into Pritkin’s office, and reminds him of what Randy’s done for his firm. The audience sees, via flashback, what while his wife was dying in a hospital, he was … out selling plastics.

Reality

The Twilight Zone would have had Randy take a magical journey into the past, reuniting with his wife and friends from 18 years before. Here, Randy does that — in a moment of imagination. Then reality rears it’s head. The bar is destroyed. But as Randy goes down the street, he hears people singing “for he’s a jolly good fellow”. The same song he’d heard in his dream a moment before.

And it’s his boss, and secretary, and friends from the office. They’re celebrating his 25 years with the company. The boss takes the opportunity to do what he should have done years ago. He thanks Randy for his many years of service. And looks forward to 25 more years.

It’s a much more reality-based “happily ever after” ending than The Twilight Zone would have provided. And, it’s frankly more enjoyable.

In conclusion, They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar is a very enjoyable episode. The acting is first rate. The audience truly cares for, and about, Randy. Thanks in to small part to the acting of William Windom and Diane Baker. It’s highly recommended.

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