Ray Bradbury Theater – The Veldt (S3E11)

rbtveldt02One of Bradbury’s most famous stories.  Like A Sound of Thunder, it is not in the 100 story collection I have.  I’m starting to think I was had.

We open in the futuristic home of George and Lydia (as their children call them).  Lydia wants George to take a look at the nursery — the nursery of the future basically being a holodeck, although the 3rd dimension seems to come and go.

They enter the nursery and George is wowed by the images that occupy the entire wall of the titular veldt including zebras, wildebeests, giraffes and lions.  Lydia gets a bad vibe from the room, but can’t put her finger on it.

When an on-screen lion begins walking their way, Lydia pulls George out of the room and locks the door.  Which seems pretty paranoid until they hear growls and footsteps through the door.

George later tries to reprogram the nursery to a less threatening scene, but is unable to.  Lydia believes the children have locked the device on its Africa setting.

The kids come home; and apparently kids dress like Luke and Leia in the future as well as a long time ago.

Lydia accuses the kids of damaging the nursery and spending 40 hours a week in Africa, but they insist they don’t even get the Africa Channel. Looking in the nursery, sure enough, it is showing a peaceful lake, and appears to be the Golf Channel.

rbtveldt10After consulting their child psych-iatrist pal, they shut down the nursery and all the other electronic helpers around the house.  The nursery screen is reduced to static. The kids accuse their parents of killing the animals.  Because do kids today even know what static is? Tint?  Horizontal?  Vertical?  I don’t mean TV settings, I just mean general vocabulary — they don’t seem too bright.

That night, George and Lydia hear their kids calling for help.  They rush into the nursery and are locked in.  A lion begins charging them.

Their shrink buddy comes to visit.  Seeing no one in the living room, he checks out the nursery.  The kids are having a tea party on the titular veldt as lions gaze on the portly psychiatrist.

rbtveldt13Just as with A Sound of Thunder, the producers briefly removed their heads from their ass and came up with a good episode.  It was good to see Linda Kelsey for the first time in many years, and her husband and the psychiatrist did good jobs as well.

The kids are both just terrible performers.  The daughter has no other credits on IMDb.  The son seems to work about once a year;  this was his first role, so maybe he got better.

The animal scenes are clearly cut in or green-screened, but the effect is very well done and does not take you out of the episode.  Whaddaya think, RBT is going to Africa to film?  Well they did go to Europe and New Zealand for much less effect.

Overall, one of the best RBT’s so far.  In fact, with the exception of The Haunting of the New, RBT has been on a mini-roll recently.  Next week is the last episode of the season. Hopefully the producers don’t forget everything they learned during the summer vacation.


  • Five of the the monitors in their living room appear to be showing other episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater — so maybe this is an allegory for Hell.  I can make out Punishment Without Crime, The Coffin, Gotcha and The Fruit at the Bottom of the Bowl.
  • Actually, I am heartened that I can’t place all of them — most of the episodes do not deserve any space in my brain.
  • Wow — there actually is a Golf Channel.  It is owned by NBC so they have experience with bad lies.  Heyyyyooooo!
  • Sometimes the nursery is clearly just a 2-D television.  Other times, like below, it achieves holodeck status.


Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The West Warlock Time Capsule (S2E35)

ahpwestwarlock02The episode opens at the Tiffany Studio of Creative Taxidermy.  Early that-guy Henry Jones hands over a giant ram’s head that he has stuffed and the customer tells him to put it on his bill.  If you have a tab running at a taxidermy shop, you’re already a suspect.

But this is Jones’ story, not that of the evil customer who then returns home where he has a young woman captive in a stony oubliette (just speculating here). Jones goes back into his workshop where is he is working on stuffing an enormous horse.  Tiffany is donating the horse, Napoleon, to the city at a celebration to be hosted by the mayor.  Napoleon had given kids rides at the city park, but now — and this is great! — the hollowed-out horse is to be used as a time capsule.  Current day items will be placed inside the horse, to be opened in one hundred years.  I like to think it will be opened like a piñata with kids literally beating a dead horse.

ahpwestwarlock03At lunch, he goes to his home above the shop.  His wife gives him the bad news that her brother Waldren is coming to visit.  When Waldren arrives, his sister does not recognize him.  OK, it’s been 25 years, but she was expecting him, so this is strange.

When Jones comes back upstairs, he is baffled by this strange man in his home with his wife.  He is positively stumped by the presence of this stranger . . . who had told them he was coming.

Waldren is a lazy ungrateful slob, plopping down in Jones’ favorite chair.  He hangs out for a week, complains about drafts, eats their food.  When Jones’ wife collapses in the kitchen from exhaustion, Waldren can’t be troubled to go see what the racket was.

Jones reaches his breaking point and types a going-way note from Waldren.  When Waldren comes downstairs to nag Jones to cook dinner, he hands Waldren a large syringe and a large glass bottle of formaldehyde.  Then he does a new stuffing job — stuffing a hammer into Waldren’s skull.

Iahpwestwarlock12 assume he handed those things to Waldren to occupy his hands during the attack.  But why did he hand him the glass bottle of formaldehyde? Upon attack, the bottle will surely break.  An alternative Hitchcockian ending could have had Jones passing out from inhaling the fumes, and being busted for the murder.  But I wouldn’t trade that for the ending used.

As the horse is being loaded onto a truck, one of the men comments that it is a lot heavier than he expected.  Hey, you don’t suppose . . .

At the commencement ceremony, the mayor tells Jones that he expects when this time capsule is opened in a hundred years, it will put the town in the national limelight.  Jones agrees.

Another great episode, from performances to story.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  No survivors.
  • The actor playing Waldren had almost as short a lifespan as his character, dying at 28.
  • I appreciate this creative use of taxidermy much more than in the tedious Tales from the Crypt episode.

Night Gallery – Since Aunt Ada Came to Stay (S2E3)

ngada03Aunt Ada is staying with Joanna and Craig.  She peers out the window as Joanna goes through the daily ritual of picking a green carnation and pinning it on Craig before he goes to work.

That afternoon, while transplanting some roses — he apparently has the standard college professor 2 minutes per week of office hours — he sees Ada suddenly disappear. He then sees her in the kitchen having tea with Joanna.

That night, Craig awakens and Joanna is not in bed.  He goes downstairs and finds Ada and Joanna having more tea.  He has some of the tea analyzed, and finds that it is seaweed.  But it is also known as “Witch’s Weed”.

Fortuitously, there is an expert in the occult on the staff, Dr. Porteus (Jonathan Harris). Just to drive home Craig’s frustration, it turns out he is a professor of “Logic and the Scientific Method.”  Porteus says the weed is used by old witches who have used up their present body to facilitate their transfer to a new young body with a big rack.  The weed must be administered in small amounts, say about a teacup-full, over three weeks.

ngada10Completely out of left field, Craig goes searching for Aunt Ada’s true whereabouts.  He discovers a grave with Ada’s name.  The cemetery caretaker is shocked that flowers have sprouted on the grave which had been barren previously.  This adds a completely superfluous level of nonsense to the segment.

He confronts Ada and she responds with a witch’s cackle as she splits into multiple bodies.  Suddenly Mr. Logic isn’t so sure of things, so he calls Porteus. Upstairs, Ada casts a spell giving Porteus a stroke.

Craig is sure Ada is going to transfer to his wife’s body 2 days later — even more frightening, his wife might end up with Aunt Ada’s body.  He substitute-teaches in a friend’s class, and drags Joanna along with him so he can keep an eye on her. Unfortunately, Ada casts a spell causing Joanna to sneak out of the class and return home during a brief 30 minutes when Craig has his back to the class.  Seriously, the Life Drawing class doesn’t see this much ass.

Craig is still droning on with his back to the class at ten minutes to midnight.  Now this is what I call night school.  I’m not sure I could have stayed awake through this lecture at high noon let alone almost midnight.  In fact, I’m getting drowsy watching it now.

ngada11He finally notices his wife is not in the classroom and is possibly facing death just as she is parking at the house.  Aunt Ada offers her yet another cup of tea.  Craig runs home through the rain.  When he confronts Ada, she spawns several other witch’s identical to her.  He takes Dr. Porteus’ advice and sets fire to his green carnation which is deadly to the witches.

But was he in time?  For the first time, Joanna forgets to pin a green carnation on his jacket as he goes off to work.  She even recoils as she sees the bush in the front yeard. This is a fine ending, but is is played so listlessly that it loses all impact.


  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  Jeanette Nolan (The Hunt, Jess-Belle), Charles Seel (The Hunt, He’s Alive), Jonathan Harris (The Silence, Twenty-Two), Alma Platt (The Trade-Ins).
  • Jeanette Nolan was last seen in The Housekeeper.
  • In the opening, Rod Serling takes a shot at the Master of Suspense calling himself “the undernourished Alfred Hitchcock.”  Yeah, well he lived 30 years longer than you, wiseguy.
  • The subject of the lecture is Aristotle’s Square of Opposition.
  • Director William Hales was fired for running overtime due to some fancy camerawork.  For displaying such creativity, he never worked on Night Gallery again.
  • Skipped Segment 1: With Apologies to Mr. Hyde — a short one-joke sketch with Adam West.
  • Skipped Segment 2: The Flip Side of Satan — A tedious one-man show with Arte Johnson playing yet another TV / movie DJ that no one on earth would ever actually listen to.  Upside: he is killed.

Swerve (2011)

swerve01Aussie #1 delivers a briefcase of money to Aussie #2.  The Aussies trade briefcases, cocaine for money.   When #1 realizes the drugs are fake, he spins the car around and heads for #2.  Had be bothered to lift a single bag, he would have seen the bomb hidden under the drugs and been able to chuck it out of the convertible.  However, he does not and dies in a huge explosion which not only destroys the car but completely stops its forward inertia — gee, almost like they blew up a stationary car.  But it is very well done and the movie is off to a great start.

A beautiful blonde tears out in her car and sees a man (Aussie #3) with car trouble on the side of the road.  She blows by him kicking up sand and grit into his face.  As beautiful women do.

Aussie #2, swerving to the wrong side of the road tries to avoid the oncoming Blondie and runs off the road executing a few rolls .  Aussie #3 — whose car is running again, I guess — stops to check on Blondie and Aussie #2.  For crying out loud, I hope these people get names soon.

Aussie #3 finds Aussie #2 is dead and has with him a briefcase full of money; fortunately for Aussie #3, not American dollars.

swerve09Aussie #3 alerts the police and foolishly hands over the cash.  The sheriff offers Aussie #3 a room at his house, drives him there, and his wife is the blonde.  I can tell at IMDb that she is Jina.  She calls her husband — the sheriff — Frank, so Aussie #2 must be Colin.

A Nazi-ish looking guy shows up on the scene and the bodies start stacking up as he looks for the missing cash.  Naturally, being a noir-ish story, there are twists, the cash moves around, backs are stabbed, people left for dead come back to life, and through it all there is a local battle of the marching bands that periodically takes over the streets in the small town.

swerve21It’s no Red Rock West, but it’s pretty good.


  • Sheriff Frank was the lead human in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
  • OK, it’s the name of the town, but worst hotel name ever:  Neverest Hotel.


Tales from the Crypt – Television Terror (S2E16)

tftctvterror01This is the point where I think I can safely say the IMDb ratings are a crock — this episode is rated 3rd best in the series.

What I imagine happened was that Morton Downey Jr. maybe had a kid that was a fan of the show and he offered his services to HBO during the 2 weeks in his career where he was a hot commodity.

HBO seized the opportunity, however only had a half-written script available for production — only 21 minutes long and no twist.  “What the hell,” they decided.  “This guy’s career is on fire!  His personality can carry the show!”

And here we are.

Morton Downey Jr. hosts a Ghosthunters-esque reality show.  He goes into a haunted house, some things happen, his production crew looks on with bug-eyes, he dies.  That’s really all there is to it.


  • I got nuthin’, they got nuthin’.