This Guy Is Full of Green Light: Bryant Burnette's Review of "Golden Years" Episode 5

This is the FIFTH PART of an article by Bryant Burnette summarizing the Golden Years television show.  As Bryant pointed out in the first post, we should not confuse the television series with the 3 hour hashed movie.

This was originally posted at Burnette's blog,\

Episode 5 (airdate 08/08/1991)

This was the final episode that King scripted personally, for those of you who may be interested in such things; you may also be interested to know that another Stephen (Stephen Tolkin) directed it. Then again, you may not.

As the episode opens, Ohio State Troopers have found the stolen police cruiser, and are coordinating their plan of attack with Jude Andrews (who is still at Falco Plains). This scene goes on for what feels like ten minutes, and if you as a viewer do not figure out that the car is empty about nine minutes and forty-five second before the State Troopers do, then you, sir (or madam, as the case may be), are an idiot. Jude Andrews is not an idiot, so I'm not sure what his excuse is for not immediately realizing that Terry and her lambs would hardly be sitting in a stolen police cruiser in the middle of a field, waiting to be found. Let's not blame Jude; let's -- again -- blame Stephen King, whose writing has not been tip-top in these episodes.

Finally, though, somebody has at least half a good idea: Gina and Terry get on a bus (which conveniently stops in the middle of nowhere) to head for Chicago, and Harlan splits apart from them to hitch-hike his way there. Going to Chicago isn't a good idea, of course; it's bound to be only a matter of time before Andrews figures out that Harland Gina's lone daughter might need to be observed, but since it took King five episodes to figure that out, it took all of the characters the same length of time.

But boy, they all seem to have figured out at once that looking into the Williamses personal life is in order. Crewes has Moreland bring him Harlan's file; he shreds it, then browbeats Moreland into hacking into the government's Central Records computer to delete the digital version. Andrews has been thinking after the cockup with the State Troopers, and is trying real hard to figure out his next move; he eventually comes up with "Moreland!" and then we're off to the races. He calls one of his goons, Burton (played by the same actor who played Doakes on Dexter decades later), and tells him to get into Central Records and get Williams's file. Unfortunately, Moreland is a few steps ahead of him.

Now, let's pause for a moment and give King some credit where it is due. Doing so requires going on a tangent, so here goes: there is a scene in the 1994 film Clear and Present Danger that involves two opposing characters trying to simultaneously gain access to files on a computer. I remember that when the movie came out, this scene in particular was hailed for being a new type of on-screen suspense, and I also remember thinking, "Hey, Golden Years did that three years ago!" Granted, the novel Clear and Present Danger came out in 1989, so maybe King was cribbing from Clancy; given how voracious a reader he is, it seems likely that he would have read the Clancy novel.

Either way, considering how relatively obscure computers were in pop culture circa 1991, you've got to admire King for placing a scene like this in this series. It seems laughably dated now, but it didn't seem that way at the time, and regardless of whether Clancy beat him to the punch, King deserves credit for being as forward-thinking as he was here.

Speaking of being forward-thinking, Terry apparently isn't; she's only now, in episode five, gotten around to explaining to Gina that what's happening to Harlan is the result of a scientific experiment into regeneration. Really? This has been going on for days and days, and Gina is just now finding out that it's all about regeneration? That strains credulity a bit.

So does the scene in which Toddhunter is preparing to conduct a new experiment of some sort, only to realize that he needs some patch cable to finish hooking his system up. We get not one, but TWO scenes in which Toddhunter tries to get his cables in order. What the fuck?!? Is he settig up a surround-sound system, or working on a government experiment? Both of these scenes are played for laughs, but elicit none; no intentional ones, at least.

The episode ends with a scene in which Harlan, having successfully gotten a ride from a long-haul trucker, falls asleep in the truck's cab while the trucker natters on. Harlan's eyes begin glowing green; the trucker doesn't notice, because he's busy freaking out over how the truck's electrical systems are going haywire, Close Encounters-style. He pulls the truck over, and then, suddenly, the sun rises; time has apparently gone haywire, too, almost certainly as a result of something harlan is unconsciously doing. Everyone else on the road pulls over and gets out of their cars, understandably freaked out. The truck driver finally notices Harlan; "This guy is full of green light!", he hollers at everyone around him.

Sure enough, he is.

The green light, by the way, cannot help but make me think of The Tommyknockers. It's probably coincidental; but then again, The Shop did show up at the end of that novel...

This is a decent episode, certainly better than the previous one. There are some bad scenes, and the plot by King is really rather poor. However, the final scene ends things on an intriguing note; it's a big right-hand turn, and an effective one. Most of the acting continues to be good, too. I was especially impressed here by R.D. Call, who does a good job of making Andrews a compelling figure even when King is saddling him with out-of-character moments of stupidity. I'd say much the same for Felicity Huffman, too.


  1. Hmm it seems like your blog ate my first comment (it was extremely long) so I guess I'll just sum it up what I had written and say, I'm thoroughly enjoying
    your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog blogger but I'm still new to everything. Do you have any tips for novice blog writers? I'd definitely appreciate it.
    Also visit my homepage - easy and quick ways to make money