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Tuesday, March 22, 2022

The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey 1-3: In Flowers for Algernon Territory



I figured I'd catch up with the first three episodes of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey on Apple TV+, and I'm very glad I did.  I mean, how you can you go wrong with a Walter Mosley novel (which I haven't read), adapted to the screen by him too, and starring Samuel L. Jackson in the title role?  You can't.

So, how good is this series, which tells the story of Ptolemy Grey, suffering from progressing dementia, given an antidote (science fictional, we don't really have that at present) which allows him to recover all of his memories, but not permanently?  Well, the high watermark of that kind of story is of course Daniel Keyes' 1959 "Flowers for Algernon," which I read as a kid shortly after it was published and still think is one of the best things I've ever read.  And, based on these first three of six episodes of The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey -- I wish there were more -- I'd say it's certainly in same ballpark as "Flowers for Algernon".

In addition to the emotionally wrenching story of getting one's mind back only to lose it, The Last Days of Ptolemy Grey is also a murder mystery.  One of Ptolemy's main motives is find out who killed his nephew, the clues to whom being buried in his mind.  And there's also remembering what happened to the love of his life, a new romantic possibility, and other puzzles for Ptolemy.  

In addition to Jackson, there's fine acting all around, including Dominique Fishback as Robyn (who takes care of Ptolemy after his nephew is killed) and Walter Goggins as the scientist who administers the magic potion.  There's so much going on here it's a good bet that the concluding three episodes will be as packed with memorable scenes as the first three.

I'll be reviewing each of them after I see them.  See you back here with my review of episode #4 after I see it this Friday.





I introduce Daniel Keyes at the 2000 Nebula convention in NYC

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