Tales from the Crypt – Abra Cadaver (S3E4)

tftcabracadaver03.client.1419385520.conflictIt might seem trivial, but minor kudos on the title.  Finally someone at TFTC learned how puns work — I’m looking at you, Lower Berth and Carrion Death.  The title would have been perfect if the episode had featured a magician, but it’s progress.

In a black & white flashback, the Fairbanks brothers are in the morgue.  Both are doctors, but Marty is the brains in the family.  Fortunately, Beau Bridges pulls off the brainiac role better here than in Sandkings.  He is helping his less-gifted party-boy brother Carl gain a little more experience.  Carl is clearly not serious about being a surgeon, devoting most of his time to maintaining that massive 1980’s mullet.

Carl blows off the first stiff as being too difficult, the second stiff as being too smelly, and the third stiff — well he is pretty interested in the third stiff, as am I.  It is a beautiful blonde naked on the gurney.

tftcabracadaver07As they are examining her, she suddenly jumps up and begins strangling Marty.  Other stiffs in the morgue also come to life.  Turns out they are friends just throwing a surprise party for Marty.  He surprises, them by having a heart attack.  What a scamp!

BTW, the naked girl is Carl’s girlfriend acting out the standard horror trope where a guy is perfectly OK with his nekkid girlfriend participating in a prank, and the girl seems OK with it also.

In the present day, Carl has become a successful surgeon while Marty has toiled away as a researcher.  This is due to paralysis of one hand resulting from the heart attack.

Marty slips Carl a drug that induces a heart attack, and leaves him completely paralyzed.  Marty wheels him into the morgue where Marty had his heart attack.  They put him in the freezer, hanging on a meat hook.  Luckily, he has lost the sense of feeling so it’s not so bad.

tftcabracadaver12The next day, we discover that Marty is teaching a class.  He shows the class how to take a saw to the skull and remove the top of his head.  Unable to speak or move, Carl is forced to endure this fully conscious.  Of course, it was all a ruse, payback.

These Fairbanks boys are just alike — this time Carl has a heart attack.

As Carl’s autopsy begins, he is conscious and screams silently to himself, “The sense of pain isn’t the first thing to go, it’s the LAAAAAST!”


  • Title Analysis:  See above.
  • This is Jim Birge’s only writing credit.

Outer Limits – Trial by Fire (S2E9)

oltrialbyfire41A little out of order here as Hulu has suddenly decided to put Season 2 behind the pay-wall.  The Canadian-release DVD set is on order — that is how much I hate Hulu.  You can’t have commercials and charge a fee — pick one.

Luckily, this episode is on YouTube.  Even more luckily, this is one of the few episodes of Outer Limits that I recall seeing, and it is one of the best episodes of any TV series that I have ever seen.

On the night of his inauguration, President Halsey and his wife are diverted from the standard parties with fat-cat executives, slimy lobbyists and sycophantic journalists.  His limo ducks into a building which has a bunker for just such a “situation.”

NORAD has detected an object entering the solar system at about half the speed of light heading toward Earth.  It is not known what the object is, but it will be here in 30 minutes.

oltrialbyfire49Halsey assumes command, but is clearly out of his element.  This doesn’t stop him from being smug and condescending to the limited crew on hand.  If they speak in technical terms, he snaps at them to “speak English.” If they speak in simple terms, he snaps, “don’t patronize me.”  Further confirming his dickishness, he says pat-ronize rather than pate-ronize.

On hand to help is scientist Janet Preston, who looks amazingly like Mary Ann from Gilligan’s Island.  She says it is not a comet because it is moving too fast.  The president, accurately portrayed with a politician’s arrogance says “I’d rather know what it is than what it isn’t.”

The president berates the staff for not knowing where the object will hit, but they explain that it doesn’t matter — this is pretty much lights-out for the world.

In the first of several intelligent twists, the object hits the moon rather than the Earth.  But then it is determined that the object was merely launched from a larger ship.  Was this a demonstration of power?  Hillary, er Mrs. Halsey, the insufferable new First Lady, gives her precisely $.02 worth, then the ideas and conjectures start flowing.  And there are real ideas.  Aside from Preston tritely commenting that “this is a damn testosterone festival,” this isn’t like anything you usually see on TV.

oltrialbyfire55There is constant reassessment of the threat as new information comes in.  There is the dilemma of whether to use nuclear weapons (naturally the president and his wife are horrified that we possess the weapons that might save us).  There are the reactions of the Russians and Chinese to both our weapons and to the alien threat to consider.

All the while, there is Hillary inserting herself into the planning, and the president who came into this situation as a dove, but is learning that sometimes force is necessary.

The pace is speedy, the cast is uniformly excellent.  There is a lot going on here, and it all works.

Ray Bradbury Theater – The Black Ferris (S4E4)

As in Wheel.  Ferris Wheel.  I have no explanation for the truncated title.

Ten year old Hank watches Mr. Cooger from the carnival get on the black Ferris Wheel.  As it spins backwards, Cooger’s laugh goes higher in pitch and we see a young boy get off of the ride wearing an identical suit in a petite size.

Hank follows the boy back to Mrs. Foley’s house where he has been taken in much like Willie in Hail and Farewell.  Apparently when Bradbury was young, you could adopt any kid who came to your door.

Hank recruits his friend Pete to come see this miracle.  Sure enough, they get to the closed carnival just in time to see Cooger again board the ride as a man and get off as a boy.  Fortuitously, Cooger’s clothes shrink down along with his body.

He once again runs to Mrs. Foley’s house where the boys think he is planning something against the old lady.  They tell her their concerns, including the miraculous Ferris Wheel, but she runs them off and threatens to tell their parents.

rbtblackferris05Hank goes home and is grounded.  He calls Pete and they agree to spy on the boy at Mrs. Foley’s house.  To be sure he doesn’t sneak out, his father bizarrely orders him to strip.

Pete shows up in the pouring rain at the Foley house.  Hank shows up a few minutes later.  He has outsmarted his father by sneaking out of the house and running across the neighborhood completely naked. This is really creepy and Pete is not nearly as mortified as he should be at his naked friend.

Turns out the boys were right.  Cooger Jr. steals Foley’s jewelry and high-tails it back to the carnival.  The boys — Hank now wearing Pete’s raincoat — pursue him back to the carnival.

Cooger Jr. is able to make it back to the Ferris Wheel where Igor begins the spin cycle to age him back to adulthood.  And not only does he turn back into a man, he also somehow acquires a fabulous hat and carnation in the transformation.

rbtblackferris13Hank is quite the kid and jumps Igor causing the wheel to spin out of control.  Cooger rapidly ages like Walter Donovan, or Walter Jameson. Or Barbara Walters, for that matter. When the Ferris Wheel comes to a stop, the bag of jewelry falls from his cold dead hand.

So Hank is quite the hero for figuring out this ruse.  I just hope he can live with the fact that he really executed Cooger for the robbery when he interfered with his attempt to age back to adulthood.  I have no problem with it, I just hope he is OK with it.


  • Something Naked This Way Comes.
  • A three-peat for Roger Tompkins who has directed the last 3 episodes.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Glass Eye (S3E1)

ahpglasseye06Rosemary Harris and William Shatner are boxing up the possessions of their cousin Julia who just died.  Julia died alone, never married, and Harris wonders if she ever dreamed of leaving the room and escaping her loneliness.

That opens the door for Shatner to tell her story.  It all begins with a glass eye.  Actually, it ends with a glass eye, but that is enough to launch his tale.

Julia (Jessica Tandy) was an aged, decrepit spinster, which in the fifties meant she was 30 and unmarried.  Her only social engagement is taking a local neighbor boy to the music hall.  The insufferable brat goes with her to a ventriloquist act where she is entranced by the ventriloquist Max Collodi.

She asks the brat twice if he thinks Collodi could be Italian.  I don’t know what that meant in the fifties.  She immediately buys another ticket to return alone to see the show again that night.  Now obsessed, she quits her job and begins following him to other theaters like the world’s first Deadhead.

ahpglasseye11Finally she gains the confidence to try to meet Collodi.  He resists her, saying that he never gives interviews.  She counters, like any good Match.com customer and sends him a photo that is 10 years old.  She wears him down to where he agrees to meet her.  Under certain conditions.

He will only promise her 5 minutes in a dimly-lit room — hey, that’s my line!  She accepts his conditions and nervously gets her self dolled up to meet Max Collodi.  She knocks and Collodi calls for her to enter.  They have a short chat, then Harris sees that her allotted time is just about up.  But she can’t resist just touching his hand.

This leads to one of the great reveals in TV history.  The dummy is actually a Vertically-Challenged American, and Max Colloid is merely a mannequin.  I’ll admit that this caught even me off-guard, but then I hadn’t ready any spoilery blogs.  The mannequin falls over and she runs away in horror, inexplicably scooping up an eyeball as a souvenir.

She kept the eye for the rest of her life as a reminder of her one great love.  Shatner says Collodi went on to be a clown in a small travelling circus.  We cut to him driving a horse-draw wagon, sporting an eye-patch.

ahpglasseye27The patch really makes no sense as it was the mannequin that lost the glass eye. Maybe the short story explains this.  Other sites claim this is a tribute in honor of “Max” but that doesn’t really makes sense either.

No matter, this is one of the greats.

  The Post-Post:

  • Rosemary Harris played Aunt May in the Maguire Spidermans.  And William Shatner, c’mon . . .
  • AHP Deathwatch:  Pretty lively group.  Rosemary Harris, Patricia Hitchcock, Paul Playdon and, of course, “The Shat” are still kickin’.
  • [Update] Coincidentally, I was just reading an article about Disney’s animated Pinocchio and learned the source of Collodi’s name — Carlos Collodi was the author of The Adventures of Pinocchio.

Night Gallery – Dr. Stringfellow’s Rejuvenator (S2E9)

ngstringfellow02This is Serling’s contribution to this fairly ignominious episode.  We start off in a nice western frontier town where Forrest Tucker is beating a drum to draw customers to his wagon.  And by customers, I mean rubes.

He is hawking an elixir, “a strengthening cordial that reinvigorates the stomach, stimulates the liver, regulates the kidneys and restores health and vitality.”  It cures cholera, yellow fever, acne, chills and dizziness of all kind.  Although I think a cure for anthrax or syphilis might have gone over better with this crowd.  Being a humanitarian, he is willing to let this miracle tonic go for only $1 per bottle.

One of the suckers comes to Stringfellow’s wagon and asks him to look at his daughter.  He finds her in an uncovered wagon.  She says there is a pain in her abdomen and it is growing.  Rather than thinking she is knocked up, Stringfellow unsurprisingly prescribes his Rejuvenator and predicts she will be up and around in a week.  He pockets a buck for the tonic and a small honorarium.

As he walks away pocketing the 2 bucks, he is approached by a Dr. Snyder who calls him out on his flim-flammery.  Snyder makes a much more medically sound diagnosis of the girl

ngstringfellow04When the rube’s daughter continues to “die an inch at a time,” he confronts Stringfellow. Stringy prescribes another bottle of the Rejuvenator.  Another honorarium probably wouldn’t hurt either.  He changes tacks and says that he is actually selling faith, and that “if that child crosses into the shadows, I will bring her back to life.”

Sadly, the girl does cross into the shadows (i.e.croak).

When Stringfellow goes outside, across the dusty road he sees the dead girl rocking in a chair.  He asks her if it is a haunt or a resurrection.  She stands and the camera cuts to Stringfellow and then back to the empty chair.  The girl has disappeared, but the chair is still rocking.  This makes no sense as even if she is still there, but invisible — she had stood up, so the chair should not be rocking.

Then he croaks.


  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  Murray Hamilton was Mr. Death in One for the Angels.  But he is more better known as the mayor in Jaws, and most better known for his cool anchor jacket in that movie.
  • Skipped Segment:  Hell’s Bells.  Neither good enough nor bad enough to merit comment.  It does, however, star the always-entertaining John Astin.  He is playing a hippie kind of like Bob Hope would play in sketches long after the hippie era ended cuz a 106 year old dude saying “groovy” spellz komedy.