Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Design for Loving (11/09/58)

Charles Brailing is growing annoyed watching his wife play with a set of magic rings. Nothing so bold as presenting them as only intermittently interlocking — no, she’s just spinning the damn things like an idiot.

He calls his pal Tom. Tom’s wife Anne is playing kissy-face with her oblivious husband and refuses to hand over the phone as it is Tom’s night to stay home with her.  Charles tries to engage his wife in conversation, but she is not interested.  He suggests a vacation, but that somehow turns into her snapping at him for them having no children.

He takes her hands and she gasps as if something a little more intimate occurred.  She is astounded because he “hasn’t done that in years.”  She recalls a time when he once kissed her hand.  The lack of children is starting to make sense.  She gets on her knees and says she’ll go on a trip with him if he will only kiss her hand again.  Apparently that price is too stiff for Charles.  Or maybe he isn’t stiff enough.

Charles manages to get Tom on the phone and they agree to meet.  Lydia tells him to be home in 10 minutes.  Charles sneaks down to their basement and laments that he “gave her a chance.”

We cut to Tom & Charles stumbling out of a bar.  Charles complains that Tom’s wife doesn’t want him to go out because she loves him; and his wife doesn’t want him to go out because she hates him.  It’s a pithy line, but Charles clearly doesn’t have any idea what women want.  Not that Lydia is making it easy — she is alternately accusatory, frigidly cold, and pathetically needy. Charles makes the bizarre claim that he is at home with his wife as they are standing outside the bar.  Tom is drunk enough to take the bet. In easily the best moment of the episode, they stuff the ante into a lawn jockey’s hand for safe-keeping.

Sure enough, they look in the window and Charles appears to be inside with his wife. Charles II really knows how to light Lydia’s fire as they are both dressed in snappy outfits, playing chess.  Charles blows a whistle and the other Charles comes outside. Charles shows Tom a card from Marionette Inc which created a robot in his image. They card says he is a 1965 model [1], which is a very optimistic 7 years in the future.

Tom claims not to be able to tell them apart even though Charles II, made to his specifications, seems to have about 4 inches on Charles I.  I suspect Lydia would be thinking the same thing.  Charles I announces his intention to fly to Rio for some fun while the iron man services Lydia.  Say, maybe he does know what women want.

ahpdesing17Tom thinks this is a swell idea. But when he goes home, he is horrified to discover that his wife has beaten him to the punch and replaced herself with a robot.

Charles bought his robot to give Lydia a companion while he flew off to Rio and later, I suspect, Thailand. That plan could work, but Anne bought her robot to leave with her husband who didn’t appreciate her smothering him. She’s just going to end up annoying some other poor sap.  So her problem is not really solved.

Back at the Brailing house, Lydia starts to come on to Charles II, so Charles I literally blows the whistle and summons him back to the basement.

Charles II says he doesn’t like his box in the basement because it is too cramped. Charles I wittily proposes relocating to a closet which I suspect he has some experience of living in.  Charles II ominously tells Charles I that they Marionettes are far more advanced than the company is aware.  Charles II grabs the Rio ticket and stuffs Charles I in the box.

Tom shows up that the Brailing house and tells Charles that his wife has replaced herself with a Marionette.  Charles II tells him these are strange times when strange machines are moving into our lives and taking over.  Strange days indeed.

ahpdesing23That night, Charles II brings Lydia a martini in bed where she is still playing with the rings.  Even Charles II is annoyed at this.  He kisses her hand and takes the airline ticket out of his pocket.  He places it on the nightstand for reasons unknown.  Is he going to now take Lydia to Rio? Then how to explain the single ticket? Has he decided to cancel the trip and stay happily with Lydia?  Then he better not let her see that ticket or it will not be so happy.

There is an imbalance here that might have required an hour to remedy.  Tom and Charles are in the same situation, trapped — in their eyes — with an incompatible, annoying wife.  However, it is Tom and Lydia that will benefit from the new robots.  They will both be happier despite having been deserted by a spouse and being out $15,000 in 1965 (or 1985) dollars.  Or maybe that lack of symmetry is the point.

Overall it is a fine story, just done in by some weak characterizations and a couple of married schlubs who think themselves superior and entitled due to mores that were out-dated even in 1958.  No, I’m thinking of the lawn jockey scene.

Post-Post:

  • [1] To be fair, when the card is shown, it says 1985.  Of course even in 2015 we have nothing like this technology.  That I’m aware of.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  If IMDb is to be believed, Norman Lloyd is 101 years old.
  • Title Analysis: All I can think of is that it was originally titled Designed for Loving and the ed got cut as being too suggestive.  Love really doesn’t play a role in the story.
  • Based on the same short story as the first episode of Ray Bradbury Theater. Luckily, I saw it years ago, thus did not need to rewatch it for this blog.  And I ain’t going back.  The story leaves it ambiguous as to whether Charles I or II is with Lydia.
  • Back at Tom’s house, we see a couple of signs of the future.  The light comes on automatically when he enters.  And there are faucets on the wall in the hallway to dispense coffee and orange juice.  Are these public utilities now?  Has “Big Beverage” bought off the local government?

 

Twilight Zone S4 – The Parallel (03/14/63)

tzparallel2In the most underwhelming opening in Twilight Zone history, Helen Gaines gets a call informing her that her husband Major Bob will be launching in a few hours.  That’s about it — no menace, no mystery, no switcheroo, no paranormal.  Oh, and she makes cocoa for their daughter.

This seems to be a Mercury mission.  In a TZ rarity, contemporaneous figures are mentioned.  It is stated that this mission will last a week, and that this is progress “after the orbital groundwork set by Grissom, Glenn and Schirra” [1].  This episode did indeed air after Schirra’s flight, but before Gordo Cooper flew higher, farther and faster than any other American.  I suspect any 3rd grader at the time could have told them that Grissom did not fly an orbital flight, but I suppose the statement is correct as his flight contributed to the understanding of orbital mechanics.  During this expository scene, Gaines is strapped into a chair, on his back with his legs up.  I have no idea what they were going for here.  It is a reasonable launch position for a TV astronaut to be in, but he is clearly in an locker room, not the capsule.

Helen is watching the count-down with their daughter.  As soon as the count-down gets to zero, she walks to the TV and turns it off.  There is unintended comedy as we cut to the rocket taking off.  For a split second, the shot remains on the TV as we hear the engines exploding to life.  Happily, however, the rocket launches safely.

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Hey, stirrups! Look at me, I’m a cowboy, I’m a cowboy!

Gaines reports being in zero-G as the rocket is still accelerating through the atmosphere.  Really, does no one on the set ever speak up when TZ makes these kind of simple mistakes?  You would think this was when people might catch a simple mistake like this, being the era when people still gave a shit about space.

Gaines loses communication with earth, and is then hit with a blinding light.  His capsule is later found intact on land and he remembers nothing.

He begins noticing subtle changes — his house now has a white picket fence, his daughter thinks he’s different, he is wearing a Colonel’s uniform.  When he kisses his wife, it is clear that she detects a difference, and not in a good way.  He voluntarily goes to see a psychiatrist and baffles them by referring to a President Kennedy.

While a Kennedyless planet is certainly good news for Marilyn and Mary Jo, it is curious.  By having Gaines know Kennedy and the others not know him, that means that he didn’t change, and that he didn’t slip into another dimension . . . everyone else did.  i.e., we followed the “real” Gaines to this titular parallel world while the other Gaines is in the “real world” stunning Helen with his new-found girth and stamina.

tzparallel6In the mean time, NASA engineers have determined that the capsule Gaines came down in was not the same capsule he went up in. Gaines is brought in to examine the capsule. He begins hearing voices and finds himself suddenly back in the capsule and in orbit.  He stuns Cape Canaveral by asking who the president is.

Due to radio interference, his question is not answered until he is recovered and in the hospital.  The colonel answers, “You were only gone 2 days, major; not 2 years.”  Sadly, that presumed no 2nd term.  More sadlyer, Kennedy only live eight months after this aired.

Gaines conveys his theory of what happened during his flight.  Turns out he was only out of contact for 6 hours despite having lived a week on the other earth.  No Gaines doppelganger visited our earth.  He then goes back to his white picket fence-less home to disappoint his wife.

Post-Post:

  • [1] Where’s the love for Scott Carpenter?
  • The first Mercury capsule was retrieved by the USS Lake Champlain.  Seems strange to name a ship after a body of water.  The function of a ship is to defeat water — water is the enemy.
  • Strange performance by Gaines’ daughter.  She was either very good or very bad  I just can’t decide which.

Kindle Ads

kindle00I don’t mind the ads on the Kindle sleep screen.  In fact, I like them so much that I would have opted for them even if the setting was not cheaper than the ad-free.  It is the most unobtrusive advertising conceivable, and potentially very helpful.  However, Amazon has uncharacteristically squandered this opportunity and a little goodwill.

  1. There is zero thought put into targeting this advertisement.  I will swear on a stack of Hustlers there is nothing in my purchasing history that would lead them to recommend this book to me.  This is a non-sequitur of Netflixian levels.
  2. So unobtrusive is this ad, that I can’t even claim that it wastes my time.  At most, it simply prevents me from being exposed to a different book I might actually have a chance in hell of reading.
  3. The worst part is that it appears on my screen where people might get the wrong impression that I am reading this, or the one about the cowboy and MBA, or the single mother and incognito prince.  To avoid this humiliation, I frequently keep the screen turned face down where it can get scratched or damaged.  Hey, wait a minute!  You don’t think . . . well played, Bezos!  Well played!

Tales from the Crypt – Till Death Do We Part (12/08/93)

tftctilldeath08A black stretch limo drives into the forest.  Frank Stallone lets Kate Vernon and Robert Picardo out of the car.  This is years before Kate could have mocked Picardo for being on Star Trek Voyager while she was on the superior Battlestar Gallactica. Although both probably got a laugh out of Frank.[1]

To be honest, the story kind of bores me.  Also, I’m slumming with some Jack Daniels after recently drinking single malt and Gentleman Jack.  Combine that with the fact that this is the last episode of the season, and that I might not continue with TFTC due to it’s poor reputation in the last two seasons, and I’m calling an audible.[2]

Kate Vernon was downright MILFy in Battlestar Gallactica.  Here, she is merely insanely hot.  While she has had a great career, but I’m baffled why she isn’t a superstar.  C’mon, the Academy couldn’t find room for one more white chick?  It might be the liquor typing, but this is bullshit.  Let’s just close out the season with pictures of Kate Vernon . . .

Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis:  Oh, I’m sorry — we could have accepted Till Death Do Us Part or Till Death Us Do Part.  Not funny or ironic, but at least coherent.
  • [1] Frank Stallone gets the last laugh . . . four platinum albums, ten gold, and a slew of TV episodes to his credit.
  • [2] I hope that makes sense.  I find football even less interesting than this episode.
  • Kate Vernon is the daughter of Dean Wormer.

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Tales of Tomorrow – The Miraculous Serum (06/20/52)

ttmiraculousserum05Dr. Scott barges in on Dr. Bache proclaiming that he has “a whole new approach — the thing all medicine has been waiting on.”  He just needs a warm body to experiment on.  Scott (I didn’t go to college for 7 years to type “Dr”) illustrates his theory by saying that if you cut a worm in two, the worm grows a new front end.

I was prepared to call bullshit on this, but actually learned something.  While it is true that an earthworm can’t grow a new front end, some flatworms do have this ability.  In fact, they can be disgustingly cut into 20 pieces and regenerate into 20 disgusting new flatworms.  Scott calls this adaptation whereas I might just call it regeneration (but then, I can’t even type doctor).  In any case, modern medicine is studying this just as Scott is doing here.

The serum Scott has synthesized was used on tubercular guinea pigs who overcame  their tubercular bacillus to the point where they could live in an ass for days.  Rabid dogs were also cured, as was a cat with a fractured spine.  He further claims it will work on “arthritis, pneumonia, spinal meningitis and toothaches.”  Bache agrees that if he gets a desperate enough patient, they will give it a try.

ttmiraculousserum07He soon finds such a patient.  Because she is fully insured, he must find a way to prolong her life.  He calls for Scott and his serum. Carol Williams has only minutes to live, so agrees to test the serum.

Some time later, back at casa de Bache, he and Scott are waiting on Carol to arrive.  Bache asks Scott if he might have paid more attention to Carol if she had been beautiful. Scott says he isn’t really interested in things like that, which is possibly what prompted his guinea pig research.

Hours later, Carol finally shows up.  She is now a fabulous babe, although she wasn’t exactly hideous when she was in the hospital.  She is so thankful for Scott “giving her the world” that she lays a kiss on him.  She burns her hand lighting Bache’s pipe, but is not harmed.  Bache ignores this super-human feat as he is more interested how Carol afforded her new dress.

She is quite proud of how she lifted a man’s wallet and got away with it.  Bache considers this part of the adaption that cured her.  She needed the money, so she just instinctively took it with no regard to ethics or morality.  She claims it was $5,000 so this must have been a pretty big wallet.  Bache suggests that she go to bed, as I do to all women with no ethics or morality.

ttmiraculousserum10Scott is protective of Carol, but Bache says she has to be “taken care of” like an outbreak of the Black Plague. Scott claims that her adaptability has made her safer than any human being in history.  Bache points out that the rest of the world might not be so safe from her.  They discover that she has fled the house.

The two men are tracking Carol. They discover newspaper reports from Washington of “a 10th cabinet member” [1] further illustrating her descent in lawlessness. She seems to crave power.  Carol unexpectedly shows up in their office.  She is back because now she knows “who I am and what I want.”  She wants Scott to join her in conquering the world.

Bache suggests that they will have to kill her.  He believes her fancy adaptability would not protect her against the laws of physics, “like being run over by a steam-roller”.  Sadly, they forego this option in favor of suffocating her with CO2.  They are only going to knock her out, though, and get her to a hospital to be cured.  Scott lights a candle in her room, and watches from outside to see when it goes out, indicating the room is full of CO2; also to see if she is naked.

ttmiraculousserum14Carol wakes up in the hospital.  She claims to have had a change of heart and realizes that stealing was wrong. We cut to a newspaper headline: Brain Operation Fails to Cure Thief. Just a completed botch, but maybe partially due to the time it was filmed.

First, the headline is very confusing because it is not referring to the operation on Carol. It is referring to a lobotomy which she does not seem to have gotten.  And it refers to an unsuccessful attempt to “fix” a criminal, whereas her operation seems to have been a success.  So, the headline and voice-over are offering a general commentary on scientists “working toward the day when crime will end.”  Maybe another cabinet position will help.

Second, a more modern telling would have not had such a happy resolution.  She would have taken over the world.  Or the doctors would have sacrificed her life to protect humanity.  Or maybe they would have used the steam-roller.

I like the potential of the concept, it just wasn’t well executed.

Post-Post:

  • [1] There were indeed 9 cabinet positions in 1953, after Health and Human Services was added that year.  Now there are 15, thus explaining why things are so much better now.
  • Written by Theodore Sturgeon famous for novels, Star Trek and Tales of Tomorrow.  But mostly novels and Star Trek.

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