Night Gallery – The Painted Mirror (S2E13)

ngpaintedmirror23Now this is more like it.  No one will ever call this “one of the best” yet I can imagine this would have very effectively creeped me out as a child.

This is the city, as Jack Webb used to say.  Gridlock on the freeways, wrecking balls demolishing buildings, jackhammers jacking off — just a nightmare of noise.  Even in elderly Frank Standish’s Thrift Shop there is no reprieve.  An electric eye announces visitors with a loud bell, a dog barks constantly for no reason, his partner Mrs. Moore (Zsa Zsa Gabor) plays obnoxious stock-and-roll music.  This could drive a man to murder.

Elderly Ellen Chase enters the shop with a mirror she hopes to hock.  Strangely, the mirror has been painted over with gray paint.  Standish (Arthur O’Connell, the other priest in The Poseidon Adventure) begins slowly chiseling away the gray paint.  Even through the small area he has cleared, he can see this is no ordinary mirror.

Mrs. Chase comes back the next day to the displeasure of Zsa Zsa who doesn’t approve of her socializing with Standish.  The old man continues scraping away the paint.

Finally, the last bits are removed and they are amazed at the lifelike other-worldly landscape. They are even more amazed when Zsa Zsa’s cat runs through the frame and down the path in the painting.  Seconds later, it comes screeching back out, scared to death.

Zsa Zsa decides to buy out Standish’s share of the partnership, and apparently he can’t refuse.  This is especially disconcerting to him as Chase and Standish seem to have used the back room for some hanky-panky.  And I mean really disconcerting as Zsa Zsa, at about 60, is the youngster in this group.

ngpaintedmirror26Tired of Zsa Zsa’s dog constantly yapping, and none too crazy about Zsa Zsa’s yapping either, Chase hurls the dog’s ball into the painting, sending him running to fetch it. Even better, Zsa Zsa follows to fetch her dog.

She seems strangely oblivious to the fact she just stepped through a portal into dimension filled with bright colors, pointy volcanoes, strange plants.  She continues further into the strange land calling for her dog.

What she succeeds in attracting, however, are dinosaurs.  As they begin closing in on her, Chase and Standish begin repainting the mirror, sealing her in.  And her little dog, too.

The story lacks focus — much is made in establishing the loud, hectic atmosphere of the city and the shop — but that is disregarded and it is really the thought of losing their “bachelor’s boudoir” that motivates the geezers to condemn Zsa Zsa to death.

ngpaintedmirror27But the double mind-intercourses of 1) the mirror as a portal to another dimension, and 2) Zsa Zsa being sealed in this hostile world by the mere strokes of a brush make this a winner.  It is especially fun to know that she is seeing them painting in the last bit of the mirror like Fortunato seeing Montresor placing the last brick in The Cask of Amontillado.

As frequently happens, the victim here is getting much worse than she deserves.  But that doesn’t stop this from being fun stuff.


  • Twilight Zone Legacy:  None.  Although there is a definite Little Girl Lost vibe.
  • Yikes — this from Vanity Fair:  While Gabor was still married to Conrad Hilton, she admitted to having once had sex with her stepson.

Night Gallery – The Messiah on Mott Street (S2E13)


The hell with Mott Street — I want to hear the story that goes with that dragon sculpture.

Another so-called “one of the best” episodes of Night Gallery, which usually means it will be maudlin if not unwatchable.  Additionally, this is a Christmas episode, so confidence is not high.

Dr. Levine (Tony Roberts) pays a house-call (a what?) to Abraham Goldman (Edward G. Robinson).  The old man is on his deathbed.  Levine warns that he will surely get pneumonia if he does not go to the hospital.  Goldman refuses to go as it would cause his grandson to be sent to an orphanage.

That night, grandson Mikey fixes Goldman tomato soup for dinner. Goldman says he is waiting on the Messiah — “a messenger from God, looming big and black against the sky, striking down our enemies and raising us up to health and wealth and contentment.” He will even bring ice cream, toys and the Giants back to New York.

ngmessiah05Mikey goes out in the streets looking for the Messiah.  He finds Yaphet Kotto meeting the “big and black” criteria and brings him back to the apartment.

Yada, yada, he turns out to be the real Messiah, curing Goldman’s ills and even putting a few bucks in his pocket.  It’s a Festivus miracle!

It’s all well done, it’s just been done so many times before.


Tales From the Crypt – The Reluctant Vampire (S3E7)

Image 002Minor gripe: The cover art that introduces the episodes usually has pretty good cartoon likenesses of the actors (although Whoopi Goldberg did look like she should have been a character on the Simpsons).  This time, though, I am not seeing Malcolm McDowell or George Wendt in this drawing at all.

Which is ironic because the two best known genre actors in this episode are not quite themselves. Hint:  Cheers is not a genre.
An alarm clock rings and titular reluctant vampire Malcolm McDowell arises from his Murphy Coffin (which flips back up into the wall to save space).  We don’t get a good look at him until he is startled by the mention of vampire hunter Van Helsing on the Today Show (or some equivalent unwatchable a.m. trash).  Despite the many ways McDowell has been made-up in his long career, his wig here renders him almost unidentifiable.
He goes to his job as a security guard at the blood bank.  George Wendt, on the other hand, is recognizable despite not having a bar-stool attached to his ass.  Not exactly known for his range as an actor, Wendt falls back on his Mr. Kreitzer alter-ego from one episode of Cheers.  He is chewing out lovely Sally for the mysterious low levels of blood in the bank.  
McDowell defends her from Wendt’s tirade and — ewww — awkward advance.  Sally finds his gallantry sexy.  When she tells that to McDowell, he experiences a new phenomena in vampirism — apparently it is his fangs that grow when he is aroused, which he ashamedly hides from Sally.
tftcreluctantvampire15After she leaves, he is filled with self-loathing for about 2 seconds, then raids the vault for fresh blood.  On the prowl that night, he just can’t bring himself to attack an old lady, but is OK with attacking a mugger that holds her up.  He Heimlichs  the mugger dry to replace the blood he stole the night before.  Although wouldn’t it have been a lot simpler to go directly to the mugger for his fix, and not drink the blood at the bank?
The next day, Van Helsing arrives at the police station to offer his assistance on the murder of the exsanguinated (vocabulary credit to The X-Files) man.  He is played by Michael Berryman who is partially disguised by wearing a hat over that iconic bald head made famous in The Hills Have Eyes and many other joints.
To save the blood bank from bankruptcy, McDowell goes on a vigilante spree.  He procures 500 pints and saves the bank.
tftcreluctantvampire18Coming home that night, Wendt is waiting for him with a gun.  He has figured out that McDowell came up with the blood and plans to blackmail him for more.  McDowell is able to bonk him on the head with the Murphy Coffin, and stuff him into it.
The detective and Van Helsing bust in the house and Van Helsing stakes Wendt.  This turns Sally on so much, she asks McDowell to make her a “creature of the darkness.”
Although George Wendt is incapable of playing anyone but Norm Peterson, the rest of the cast makes the episode.  Horror icons McDowell and Berryman are their dependable selves despite the skull-coverings.  The detective is played by late uber That Guy Paul Gleason (Die Hard, Breakfast Club, Trading Places, etc).  I don’t know much about Sally, but she works regularly and was OK here.


  • Sandra Dickinson played Trillian in the BBC production of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
  • McDowell’s character is named Donald Longtooth.
  • In the opening shot, McDowell puts in false teeth.  The false teeth don’t have fangs, and false teeth could not cover up or shorten fangs — so what are they for?
  • Director Elliot Silverstein has a ton of credits including four Twilight Zones, Cat Ballou, A Man Called Horse and the classic 1970’s cheapo classic The Car.
  • The last of three episode scripted by Terry Black, and probably the best.  Kudos for the highlarious questioning of McDowell’s victims.

Outer Limits – Worlds Apart (S2E10)

. . . or Interstellar if it were 2 hours shorter — space, wormhole, water-landing, time dilation, stranded astronaut, great ideas, a little boring.

Lt. Christopher Lindy (destined to be known as Unlucky Lindy) crashes into the sea of an unnamed planet.  He ejects into the water along with a female astronaut.  She lasts about 10 seconds longer than the woman (hey, she had a name — Stewart) on board the ship in Planet of the Apes (hey, I never realized it didn’t have a name), as she is dragged down to her death by an unseen sea creature.

There is a great reveal as something huge breaks the surface.  At first, it looks like a huge gaping mouth, but it expands into large inflatable life boat.  Lindy olworldsapart08climbs aboard and installs Direct TV.  Although, in retrospect, it might may have been a radio dish.

Meanwhile, back at UNAS (the acronym is often seen, never explained), they receive the SOS and call Chairman Nancy McDonald to initiate a rescue mission — although they have no idea who it is that fell out of the sky or where he fell.

They are able to identify the signal as coming from the Vegan-4 spacecraft (no doubt named because the astronaut was a vegetarian) lost 20 years ago.  McDonald asks if they know who sent the signal, although, since her boyfriend was in the Vegan-4, you might think that would have stuck in her mind.

olworldsapart09They are planning a rescue when they determine that the signal is not terrestrial. Vegan-4 went through a wormhole skipping him ahead 20 years, and landing many light years away.  McDonald worries about him being so far away and “all alone”.  But surely she remembers that he went on a long mission in cramped intimate quarters with a female co-worker. Is that the kind of thing a a girlfriend would forget?

Lindy’s spirits are raised by the call from his old squeeze McDonald.  But not so much from the tentacles that begin advancing into his pod.  Looking out into the water he sees swarms of creatures, jellyfish-like with 10 foot tentacles.

olworldsapart14UNAS tells him a rescue ship is on the way, but advises him to abandon the pod as its size makes it a more likely a target for the creatures than his warm chewy moving body.  He clears a path with a flare gun and manages to reach land.

The wormhole is too unstable to risk a rescue, so Lindy heroically tells them to abort the mission.  They are only able to send ahead a care package.  Finally, McDonald tells him that 20 years have passed, pointlessly giving him nothing to live for.

Being less communicative than the passengers of Lost, he uses up the rest of his radio batteries playing Someone to Watch over Me on CD.  Only then, in the daylight, he begins to survey his surroundings, and gives a slight smile.  The place is green screen Eden.


  • Still no idea what UNAS stands for.  It was a race on Stargate, and an Egyptian Pharaoh.  The agency shows up again in Season 3.  It’s like the use of ASA instead of NASA in Mars is Heaven.  WTH, is the government trademarking these acronyms?
  • BTW, the ship in Planet of the Apes was named Liberty-1 in a 40th anniversary special feature, Immigrant-1 in an early draft of the script, and Air Force One in a series of trading cards.  In the unnecessary 2001 remake, the mothership was The Oberon, but Mark Wahlberg went to the planet in a pod.  In the 2011 reboot, it got a brief mention as The Icarus.  Wow, lets take a closer look at those monikers:
  • Liberty-1 — named after Liberty Bell 7?  The only manned Mercury capsule lost, and piloted by an astronaut who died in a horrible capsule fire.
  • Immigrant-1 — Oh, shut up.  I can see where the USS Invader or Conqueror might be an issue, but this gives away that we’re never leaving.  How about the USS Explorer?
  • Air Force One — Already got one.  Plus, a spaceship doesn’t fly through the air.
  • Oberon — King of the Faeries?  Moving on.
  • Icarus — Flew to close to the sun and was killed.
  • OK, the 1990’s effects are not perfect, but they are pretty great in conveying the awesomeness of the planet.


Ray Bradbury Theater – And the Moon Be Still as Bright (S4E7)

bradbury02In a story from The Martian Chronicles, the fourth expedition has landed on Mars to discover that all the Martians are dead. Their bodies have been desiccated and crumbled down to ash-like leaves.

This is due to chicken pox brought by the Earthmen.  Hey, just like the evil Europeans brought disease to the Indians — get it?  Actually, PC horseshit aside, it is a great basis for a story, even if it was used earlier in War of the Worlds.  In a nice callback, the disease was possibly brought by Captain Black’s crew from Mars is Heaven.

rbtandthemoon04Spender (David Carradine) is the only one of the crew that takes the time to reflect on the devastation they have caused, the destruction of an entire civilization.

The yahoos immediately begin giving the Martian landscape earth names.  Crewman Biggs proclaims this to be Biggstown and immediately throws a can on the ground as the first litter.  All that’s missing is an Italian Martian shedding a single tear.  Spender punches Biggs, devolving to the violence inevitable to progressive, utopian types; although it usually takes more than 3 seconds.  He really had it coming, though.

rbtandthemoon05They discover a structure with hieroglyphics, which turns out to be a library.  Captain Wilder points out the lack of books.  Spender holds up one glass volume and says they’re all in here — a Martian Kindle.  Naturally Biggs tosses it to the ground, smashing it.

Spender disappears for 3 days, and who wouldn’t want to get away from these idiots? Much like the crew of Prometheus, these guys seemed to have been loaded onto the back of a pick-up in front of Astronaut Depot rather than being recruited from the scientific community.

Our favorite imbecile Biggs is having a good ol’ time shooting cans.  Aside from littering the area, it seems irresponsible to start blowing holes in water bottles when you’re in a desert, and don’t know if or when another ship will ever come.  For God’s sake, will someone just shoot this guy?  Happily, Spender does just that.

rbtandthemoon06Back at the camp, he shoots 2 more members of the crew.  He spares the one man who has Cherokee ancestry — and Bradbury makes sure we get this by naming him Cheroke.

Because of his Indian heritage,    Spender expects him to understand his vengeance on the Earthmen for destroying the Martians.  Cheroke, not being the caricature he is set up to be, can’t go along with Spender; so he is also shot.  Luckily his family — Commanch, Apach and Pawn — were not there to see it.

The rest of the crew hunts down Spender.  He plans to meet every expedition that lands and kill them.  He figures he can keep Mars pristine for about 80 years.  That will require some vigilance, one dude protecting an entire planet.

Spender points a gun at the Captain forcing Wilder to shoot him — suicide-by-astronaut.  It then falls to the Captain, somewhat sympathetic to Spender’s theories, to protect the new world.

A pretty good story.  Carradine is good in his usual role of self-righteous outsider. Even the minimalist , budget-driven sets work.

The episode sticks pretty close to the short story.  However, the story is really in Bradbury’s wheelhouse and he knocks it out of the park (to mix metaphors).


  • First published in Thrilling Wonders Stores, June 1948.
  •  It also includes elements from another story in The Martian Chronicles — The Settlers.
  • Title Analysis: I don’t get it at all, but then I’m not much into poetry — based on a poem by Lord Byron.