Ray Bradbury Theater – Boys! Raise Giant Mushrooms in Your Cellar! (S3E12)

rbtmushrooms01Ray actually participates in the beginning of this episode.  Looking around his writing room, which is destined to be on an episode of Hoarders, he pulls out a bound copy of the Johnson Smith catalog from his childhood.  Amazingly, unlike Ray, the company is still a going concern — in business, celebrating its 100th birthday this year.

The episode opens with a jaunty tune.  Young Tom is leafing through the catalog full of X-Ray specs, magic tricks, whoopee cushions and inexplicably is taken with the ad for growing giant mushrooms in your basement.  Unlike the x-ray specs, I can guarantee this ain’t gonna get you any closer to seeing your classmates’ underwear.

Maybe he is just a — ahem — budding horticulturist because in the next scene, he is enthusiastically mowing the lawn with an old push mower over grass that clearly does not need cutting.  He stops at his dad’s feet as dad holds up 2 tickets to the ball game.

rbtmushrooms07Their neighbor, a plain middle-aged woman who Bradbury cruelly named Mrs. Goodbody is pumping clouds of DDT onto her plants.  Out of the blue, she starts complaining about invaders from outer space.  Tom’s attention is elsewhere as he sees the mailman coming to his house.  Sure enough, the mushrooms have landed.

The box promises “Giant Abyssinian/Amazon Mushrooms!”  There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as Abyssinian mushrooms, and if they were real, what exactly does a mushroom from Ethiopia have to do with the Amazon?  And if your life is so dull that mushrooms deserve an exclamation point, for the love of God, get the whoopee cushion next time.

Tom plants his mushrooms and proudly shows them to his parents even though they are tiny and shriveled — fungal shrinkage.

rbtmushrooms02The next day, Tom’s father Hugh is carpooling to work with their neighbor Roger.  After Hugh turns off a radio broadcast about a meteor shower, Rog says he feels like things are going to hell, he is having panic attacks, shivering at night.  He can feel the dust falling on him and the weather changing second by second.  “Something awful is is going to happen to all of us,” he warns.  Luckily this stretch of road is largely abutment-free.

When they get to work, Roger just walks off and does not return home.  That night, Tom brings up a tray of mushrooms which seems to unnerve his mother.  Hugh suspects something crazy might be happening when he sees that Roger’s son is also growing mushrooms.

Roger calls Hugh and tells him to warn the neighborhood not to accept any special delivery packages from New Orleans.  Hugh starts to worry about the world being taken over with out a shot being fired, because what fun would that be.

After eating the mushrooms on a sandwich, he gets seems to get with the program and can’t wait to feed mushrooms to his wife.

A nice little episode as long as you don’t burden it with expectations.  It really is Invasion of the Body Snatchers-lite.  But that’s OK.  For what it was attempting, I think they succeeded.


  • Yet another first time director.
  • Abyssinia, Henry was the M*A*S*H episode where Henry Blake was killed.  Also, it always bugged me that there isn’t an asterisk after the H.  Don’t they represent the missing letters in the acronym?  Are they just there to separate the letters?
  • There have always been Miss Goodbodys and Nurse Goodbodys in popular culture. Where are all the Mr. Goodbodys?  They must have fathers.  And why do they tend to gravitate to the medical or secretarial fields?  Has there ever been a Senator Goodbody?
  • Charles Martin Smith directed the first episode of Buffy.  How could having that on your resume not launch a huge directing career?

Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Father and Son (S2E36)

Set in London seven years before The Hands of Mr. Ottermole.   1912 slacker Sam Saunders is in his father’s pawnshop hitting him up for money.  His father tells him that at 35 it is time he stood on his own two feet, and he will not give him any more money.

Sam is not much of a negotiator, saying to his father, “Are you afraid if you give it to me there won’t be enough left for you to get drunk on?”

At the saloon, Mae has just finished pounding out a tune on the piano when Sam starts hitting on her.  When Sam finds out she is going off on a holiday, he says, “I ought to have my head examined, wanting you, knowing what you are,” basically calling her a whore.  This guy could really benefit from the Dale Carnegie course; and in 1912, he could take it from Carnegie personally.

ahpfatherson12aShe laughs off his proposal saying he is gutless and never has any money.  He says he’ll come back when he has plenty of money.  She says to ask her again when he has the money.

What a whore.

Sam overhears his father talking to an old friend.  The friend is dodging the police who wrongly suspect him in a murder, and there is a 50 quid bounty on him.  Sam goes to the police and rats out his father for harboring a criminal, leading to an awkward meeting at the police station.

However, the friend has disappeared after getting a warning from Mae, who was disgusted by Sam’s weaselly maneuver.  He does get the reward, however.

On the way out of the police station, he falls down the steps.  This episode is just unbelievably lame — he doesn’t even die, he just hurts his knee.

I give it 1 out of 3 pawnshop balls.


  • AHP Deathwatch: No survivors.
  • Edmund Gwenn played Santa Claus in Miracle on 34nd Street.

Night Gallery – A Fear of Spiders (S2E4)

ngafearofspiders06Introducing the segment in the gallery, Serling cites “a word we coined just for the occasion — arachnidphobia . . . a special distaste for those crawly little beasties with the multi-legged hairy bodies.  In other words, a fear of spiders.”  That’s swell Rod, but we already have the suspiciously similar word arachnophobia meaning the same thing.

The ascotted Justus Walters is typing away on the world’s gayest typewriter.  He reads back his words:

We like the curtains tossed back with a rose,

The sole bonne femme in the room.

So the rose was the only woman in the room?  Maybe I was right about that typewriter.

His neighbor Elizabeth calls and he chews her out for disturbing his work.  Not taking a hint, she then knocks on her door and he rudely shouts at her to go away.  When she doesn’t, he opens the door and really has a hissy fit.

Hearing his faucet dripping, he goes to the kitchen and sees a small spider in the sink. He practically yells eek and jumps up on the counter.   He washes the itsy bitsy spider down the drain.  A few minutes later he sees a much larger spider.  That also gets a sink flush.

The building super comes in the work on the thermostat and Walters complains about the spiders.  The super says, “Any guy who makes a living writing about pishy-poshy food and interior decorating . . . ”  Well the rest doesn’t even matter.  For some reason, they are really stacking the dick here for no good reason story-wise that I can see.

After the super leaves, Walters hears a squeaking.  Peeking in his bedroom, he sees a spider the size of a dog.  Now he really needs someone and goes to Elizabeth’s door. After a couple of brandies, he asks for Elizabeth to escort him back to his apartment in case the big bad spider is still there.

ngafearofspiders11He gallantly allows Elizabeth to enter first to see if the coast is clear.  He then asks her to check the bedroom.  The room seems to be relatively giant spider free, so Walters goes in.  Elizabeth then closes the door and locks him in.

She repeats his insults back to him as he begins crying to be let out.  We hear the squeaking again and know that the giant spider is is bearing down on him.

There is not a lot of story here, but I enjoyed the dialogue and the way Walters’ insults were played back to him in the end.  There is also a good sense of suspense and dread with the giant spider.

It was just a bizarre choice to inject a Nightmare on Elm Street 2 level of gayness into the episode for no reason.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

I give it 6 out of 8 legs.


  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  Patrick O’Neal (A Short Drink from a Certain Fountain).
  • Directed by Gomez Addams.
  • Originally assigned to Steven Spielberg to direct.
  • Elizabeth played Pancho Barnes in The Right Stuff.  Read the book, see the movie.
  • Skipped Segment #1:  Junior — Very short sketch with Wally Cox (TZ’s From Ages with Love).
  • Skipped Segment #2:  Marmalade Wine — A longer piece with very stark sets which might have been shocking 40 years ago.
  • Skipped Segment #3:  The Academy — Pat Boone scouts out a military school for his bad seed son.



Tales from the Crypt – My Brother’s Keeper (S2E17)

tftcbrotherskeeper11Frank is driving his brother Eddie in their Ferrari — driving it like a Volkswagen according to Eddie. Eddie jams his his foot on top of Frank’s, sending them speeding until Frank agrees to see a doctor about their condition.  They pull up at a bar and get out revealing the are conjoined twins.  So unless they move to Europe, Frank will continue doing the driving.

They artfully hop up on the bar stools in unison as though they have done this many times.  Eddie starts crudely hitting on babes and Frank whips out Man’s Hope by Andre Malraux.  There is a cute girl next to him who happens to be reading Malraux’s Man’s Fate; what are the odds. Well, about a billion to one, so Frank should have been tipped off that something was up.  But then, so should I and I fell for it.

tftcbrotherskeeper24The episode is helped immensely by the presence of Timothy Stack as Frank.  His brother Eddie is well-played by Jonathan Stark.  Marie, the reader at the bar, is the very cute Jessica Harper who demonstrates that bug-eyes can be pretty damn cute.

On the dance floor, Marie tries to twirl between the brothers and is nearly clothes-lined by their connective tissue.  She runs away in horror, but later calls to apologize.

They end up end in bed, chastely lying side-by-side; while Eddie is being ridden by a dominatrix.  Marie can’t stand it, and heads for the bathroom.  The dominatrix joins her and it turns out they are in cahoots.

Frank actually has feeling for Frank and tells him it was all a set-up to get him to sign a release for a risky operation that could separate the twins.  Eddie is not pleased by this and kills Marie with a cleaver.  Eddie happily calls the police to confess knowing they can’t put just one conjoined twin in jail.  Things don’t work out exactly how he expects, though.

tftcbrotherskeeper47There are several small gags that make this a great episode.  I suspect Stack and Stark, both comedy writers, came up with some of these — the bar-stools, the dance floor, the peephole, the bedroom reveal, the fight, just great imaginative stuff.

Combine with a nice twist at the end and I rate this one the Dionne Quintuplets.


  • Malraux’s novels about the Spanish Civil War and the Chinese Revolution seem a strange choice for the books they are reading at the bar.
  • At the end, Frank is reading A Separate Peace by John Knowles; OK, that one I get.
  • So I guess the titles are the important part of the Malraux books.  It doesn’t quite work, though, because Fate and Hope don’t tie neatly enough into the characters. Still, I appreciate the effort.  Bravo.

Outer Limits – Resurrection (S2E2)

olresurrection34Why hire Heather Graham, then make her up as a plain, emotionless robot?  Hollywood has learned nothing since 1996, now burying Elizabeth Banks under make-up for The Hunger Games.  Homely girls need acting jobs, too.  Why not give them the jobs that required cakes of make-up or bags over the head?  Everyone wins.

Alicia (Heather Graham) and Martin are working in a lab developing a large gelatinous blob.  There is a power surge and the blob goes into labor pooping out a human being.  Congratulations, it’s a man!  The adult man, covered in viscous goo is flailing about and scratches Martin’s face.  Alicia removes his face-plate revealing him to be a robot.

Well, thank the Old Testament God they did not use the cliche and name the human Adam.  The forbidden apple didn’t fall far from the tree, though — they named him Cain.  After mankind’s first murderer.

Alicia begins home-schooling Cain.  He is curled up by the fire as she teaches him about emotions.  She says, “Hate is intense hostility or dislike.  It is a manifestation of one’s insecurities.  It is rooted in a perceived threat to one’s status or power.”

Cain concludes, “Then I suppose the price of hating others is loving one’s self less.”

olresurrection35Amazing — he is the only human on earth and he is already poisoned with PC group-think.  He literally is a cult of one.

Cain then rhapsodizes about love and plants a kiss on Heather, although where he learned that behavior is a mystery.  She explains that she is a robot and does not feel such emotions.  This is a shame since her maker — Innobotics — was also responsible for the sex-bot Valerie 23.  Innobotics must be Outer Limit’s version of Cyberdyne Systems.

The robot security force has discovered cans and deduced that there is a human still alive somewhere who must be exterminated for not recycling.

Faced with the prospect of having to read Dante’s Inferno, Cain gets cabin fever and runs away.  He finds a marker commemorating the death of humans on July 27, 1997. The marker is dated August 8, 0001 AH (presumably After Humans).  C’mon it took you 12 days to bury them in the middle of summer?  They must have gotten pretty ripe.

olresurrection52Cain returns to the cabin where Alicia explains how humans died in a bio-chemical war. He is to be the John Connor of the story leading “the second coming of mankind.”

For creating a human, Martin is crucified in the public square outside the Innobotics building.  Luckily, inside the building there is literally a giant on/off switch that can disable all of the robots on earth.  You might think they would destroy or at least guard such a dangerous device.

Nick Mancuso is excellent as the robot Martin.  Neither he nor Heather Graham play their parts like Data or the earlier model Valerie (who, after all, would be several generations out of date).  Their performances consist mostly of a lack of emotion and speaking very flatly.  It doesn’t scream “robot”, but that works to the episode’s benefit.

It often reminded me of Planet of the Apes.  The Defense Minister, spoke of humans much like Dr. Zaius or General Ursa.  There were also classes of robots just as there were different species of monkeys.  And some were more equal than others.

Another good episode.  It’s just sad Heather Graham couldn’t download some fashion tips from Valerie 23.


  • Chris Brancato wrote the excellent Eve episode of The X-Files.
  • It is very distracting that the lead robot enforcer sounds just like Lt. Worf.
  • Hulu sucks.