Twilight Zone S4 – The Incredible World of Horace Ford (04/18/63)

Horace Ford is sitting at his drafting table where a mouse is running in circles.  I’m not sure if we’re supposed to see the little string, but I love it.  Phillip Pine walks in and Horace shoots him with a cap pistol. Horace is a toy designer and seems never to have grown up.  It’s one thing to toss out great ideas like Tom Hanks in Big; it is another to actually have put together budgets, put them into production and hire union thugs to make them.

Horace’s boss brings in his design for a new robot (pronounce robe-it in 1963).  It is just too expensive with the eyes lighting up and other features.  Horace is irate, pouting, screaming, throwing a tantrum.  Grow up, for God’s sake!  You’re making toys, not running for President!

At home, he stomps around like a big baby with interminable stories about when he was 10 years old.  He goes back to see his old childhood home on Randolph Street.  Clothes seem to be sold on the sidewalk, the Dept of Sanitation hoses down the street, “Wienees” are $.03 each.  He sees some bullies stealing melons and recognizes them as kids from his childhood.  One of the urchins actually follows Horace home and hands over a watch that Horace dropped to his wife.

tzhoraceford07He tells a friend at work about the kids he saw and about a Mickey Mouse watch he had 20 years earlier.  It’s close, but damn if they weren’t introduced exactly 20 years before this aired. At dinner that night, he tries to tell the same old stories to his wife and mother.  He goes on and on about his childhood and a friend who used to say “Shakespeare, sock in the ear,” then tweaks his wife’s ear.  She is horrified, but not as much as if he had tried the old “Titty Twister.”  His wife and mother are aghast at his childish shenanigans.

His wife tells him that it is impossible that he saw his old friends on Randolph street, but he bellows on and on about these goddamn kids.  Christ what a blowhard!  He runs out again to see his little pals on Randolph Street.  He sees exactly the same people and events that he saw on that street earlier.  Again that night, one of the kids brings a a watch to Horace’s wife.

tzhoraceford09Horace gets fired for neglecting his job.  His mother reacts by yelling at him about her needs.  At least his wife tells her to beat it.  Jesus Christ, he just won’t stop his infantile whining about having to go to work to support his wife and mother while his little friends are playing.

He goes back to Randolph Street. He sees the same water truck and hot dog vendor.  His little friends are still stealing melons off the cart.  He follows the boys, but unlike the other people on Randolph Street, they don’t seem to see him.  Then he transforms into his 10 year old self, and there is something about a birthday party.  Little Horace seems like a bit of a dandy as he is wearing a tie (not even the same one he was wearing as an adult), and suddenly has long blonde hair while his friends are dressed in ragged t-shirts and sweatshirts.  So his “pals” kick his ass.

The kid brings back his watch again, but this time it is a Mickey Mouse watch.  His wife goes to Randolph Street to find him.  When she gets there, it is a vacant city street. She finds 10-year old Horace in an alley.  She looks away, and he becomes overgrown baby Horace again.  She tells him that we all block out bad memories and just remember the good times.

Really, they couldn’t find one kid with black hair to cast?

This is easily the worst episode of season 4, and a low-point of the series.  Not only has the past-is-better thing been done to death on TZ, Pat Hingle’s performance is just unbearable. The sole redeeming bit of the episode is that as Horace and his wife walk away, one of the kids is straddling a street lamp watching them.  It makes no sense in the context of the episode, but it is a fun visual.


  • This turd just won’t flush.  It aired in 1955 as part of Studio One, in 1960 as part of Encounter, in 1963 as part of The Twilight Zone and in 1969 as Cudesan Svet Horasa.  For the viewers’ sake, I can only hope that Art Carney, Alan Young or Pavle Bogatincevic was not as awful as Pat Hingle.
  • Nan Martin (Laura) is almost Zelig-like in how she shows up in small but memorable roles.  She was Freddy Krueger’s mother, the owner of Drew Carey’s store, Tom Hanks’ almost-mother-in-law in Cast Away, Deanna Troi’s almost-mother-in-law in Star Trek TNG, and the hot nurse’s evil doppelganger in Shallow Hal.  To be fair, she was pretty great here.
  • Vaughn Taylor (Judson) was in 5 episodes of TZ — no credited actor had more.  Sadly he had none in season 2 and doubled up in season 3, so did not act for the cycle.  He was just in Tales of Tomorrow yesterday.
  • Pat Hingle (Horace) was Commissioner Gordon in the 1980’s Batman movies.
  • Written by Reginald Rose, author of the revered 12 Angry Men where Henry Fonda convinces 11 other jurors to allow a murderer to go free to terrorize his neighborhood and those who testified against him.


Hot Blood – Arthur Wallace (1935)

sascoverI like how we get the authentic flavor of the location by Wallace dropping isolated spanish words into the first few paragraphs — mantillas, senoritas, pica, picador, banderilleros, matador. I could have done without horse being gored by the bull.  But I guess, if you’re going to root for anyone at a bullfight, it’s going to be the bull. The horse is kind of an innocent bystander, though.

A bugle sounded from the president’s box and four banderilleros moved out to place the gaily colored darts between the bull’s shoulder-blades.  It was short and graceful work and when they were done, the beast stood in the center of the ring, four barbed poles, festooned with bright ribbons, dangling from his withers. The crowd applauded as another bugle call rang out.  It was the signal for Diego, the matador, to make his entrance for the kill.

What a bunch of assholes.  If Wallace wants to drop in some Spanish lingo, how about pendejo.

Manuel Rivero is understandably pissed at his fiancee Alicia’s admiration of Diego.

Her hands were cupped about her breasts, fingers digging into resilient flesh with inordinate passion.  As the matador’s sword flashed in the sun, only to be buried hilt deep in the hump of muscle behind the beast’s neck, a long sigh escaped her lips and electric shocks of delirious intensity whipped through her body, shaking her to the very core of all sensation.

After Manuel goes to bed that night, Alicia calls Diego and invites herself to his hotel room. As his current squeeze Josita is “getting fat and disgusting” he agrees.  Diego treats women like he treats bulls — when Alicia arrives, he smacks Josita, calls her a whore and throws her out of his room.

Josita is not thrilled with this treatment.  She recognizes the socialite Alicia, so she runs to inform her fiance Manuel of her booty call.  Manuel and Josita return to Diego’s room where Manuel plans to kill Diego with his bare hands.

Manuel and Diego begin fighting.  Josita is rooting for Manuel because of the way Diego treated her.  Alicia is ready to stick a blade in Diego for the way he treats the bulls. Unfortunately the house staff is on team-Diego and overcomes Manuel.  Josita says the men have taken Alicia to the home of Don Miguel so they hit the road in pursuit.

At casa de Miguel, Diego puts Josita in the bull ring where she is killed.  Manuel is to be killed next, but Alicia jumps into the ring.  She tears off her red dress, exposing her “naked figure” shakes it to distract the bull — the dress, not her figure.  The bull runs by her and spots Diego and his men.  Sensing that Diego ain’t no PETA member, the bull gores Diego and his men.

Manuel grabs Alicia and puts her in a carriage to go back to Madrid, presumably still naked. Well good luck on that relationship.  First Alicia is drooling over the matador, and goes to his hotel room. Then she is so fickle that she sides with Manuel in a fight because the bullfighter is cruel to bulls.

Another Spanish word Wallace might have chosen to drop in: Loco.


  • First published in Spicy Adventures, April 1935.  This is the third story from that issue.  It must have been realllly good.  Or in the public domain.  Yeah, that second thing, I think.
  • Fifth consecutive story to mention step-ins.

Fear Itself – In Sickness and in Health (06/26/08)

fiinsickness0103bThe opening shots of this episode made me think of Trading Places — the orchestral score, the static shots of landmarks and objets d’art.  Sure enough, the episode was directed by John Landis.  After being hooked immediately by this, the camera settle on two insanely cute little kids.  In a scene almost never seen in movies, they are just cute, having fun and running around screaming like kids — not smarter than the adults, not sexualized, not robotic quipsters.

The adults are both occupied and pre-occupied preparing for the wedding of Samantha and Carlos that day.  Carlos is running late, but as the lovely Samantha is waiting around in her slip, I’m in no hurry for him to show up.  She is given a letter which she hopes contains money.  It contains an item not even on her registry — a note reading “The person you are marrying is a serial killer.”

She feels better after going to the groom’s dressing room and not being killed.  She does, however, ask that the “death do us part” section be removed from the vows.  No, seriously she does.

fiinsickness0107She asks her bridesmaid to point out the woman — described as tall with a red scarf on her head —  who gave her the note.  They actually see the woman outside the church, but she gets in a cab before they can catch her.  Samantha and Carlos get hitched without a hitch.  Well, until a guy starts hacking up phlegm during the always-suspenseful “if anyone objects” section.  False alarm, but well played!

After the ceremony, Samantha goes back to the dressing room to get into something a little more comfortable.  Her bridesmaids badger her about what was in the note.  After all, she has not known Carlos very long and they are worried.  Samantha shows her appreciation by throwing them out and slamming the door in their faces.

fiinsickness0108She regrets that when she starts hearing strange noises.  She ventures out in the hall which is now dark thanks to a gloved hand turning off the lights.  She runs into the preacher and he tells her that he had performed the wedding of Carlos parents.  It was memorable for reasons he won’t divulge.

At the after-party, Carlos’ uncle tells the story of Carlos’ parents.  His parents disappeared when he was 16, but we again get no details.  Samantha finally confronts Carlos and he does kind of act like an asshole.  He storms off and Samantha finds him in the church.  Turns out he thinks the note was just ratting him out about a dinner he had with another woman.  There is, however, another revelation that is well worth sticking around for.


I hate it when people hide behind Jesus.

I am kind of baffled by the beating this episode takes in the IMDb reviews.  OK, a few of the herrings are a little too red.  And, to be honest, there is about 5-10 minutes that just don’t need to be there.  However, the performances are great, and Landis’ direction makes this into something special.


  • Written by Victor Salva which puts a creepy spin on the opening scene with the kids.
  • Both Maggie Lawson (Samantha) and James Roday (Carlos) were regulars on Psych.

Tales of Tomorrow – The Search for the Flying Saucer (11/09/51)

ttsearch2The sponsor is still Kreisler Watch bands.  Their new jeweled band will be popular with the ladies because ladies “love jewels from their forehead to their fingertips.”  What? But on to the show . . . .

Dateline Las Palmas, New Mexico — population 860.  At Mother Walker’s Boarding House, Vic Russo finds an old geezer playing with himself — or to clarify, playing a game of chess against himself.  Vic asks for a room and the geezer says they are particular about strangers, which seems like a problem in the booming field of hotel / motel management.

Luckily, a woman who must be Daughter Walker comes into the lobby wearing a bathing suit.  At $25/week, this must be a Motel .06.  Ginny Walker guesses that Vic is a newspaperman looking into the flying saucer reported in their little town.

ttsearch3Vic finds the locals afraid to discuss the reported flying saucer.  He comes back to his room to find the old geezer going through his stuff. He has learned Vic’s true identity — an army pilot who was grounded for talking too much about flying saucers.

Trivia:  it was only four years earlier that the Air Force was split off from the Army in order to more efficiently execute missions and distribute congressional graft.

Ginny figures out that Vic is not a reporter because he doesn’t have a typewriter with him.  Also because he doesn’t smell like whiskey and has an “I Like Ike” bumper sticker on his car.  The geezer enters the lobby carrying a hunk of metal that he says is from a saucer.  The old man tries to tell his story, but Ginny cuts him off.  She is a champion debunker.

At 1 am, Ginny comes to Vic’s room.  They had apparently had a 1950’s hook-up.  Vic admits that he is a grounded pilot and not a reporter.  She still refuses to accept his stories of flying saucers.  He lists off witness who have seen saucers, but she will not believe.

ttsearch5He goes with the geezer to see a flying saucer.  The geezer takes him to a shack, but the occupant disappeared after seeing the saucer. After he goes to look for the saucer, Ginny tells a confidant that there are too many people on their literal alien tails.

He decides it is time for them to leave earth.  Ginny breaks down in tears sobbing, “They didn’t send me here to fall in love.”

The performances were good — Jack Carter and Olive Deering were especially good. Jack Carter was a nightclub comedian at the time, and not known as an actor.  Despite this being only his third IMDb credit, he seemed more natural and competent than many veterans on this early live series.

I had high hopes just based on the title.  Sadly, this is just an utter nothing of a story. Most UFO reports hold more water than this story.  This is swamp gas.


  • Written by Mel Goldberg who also gave us The Crystal Egg, Test Flight and Sneak Attack.
  • Olive Deering went on to play Moses’ sister in The Ten Commandments.  If it wasn’t so late, I’d work in the ancient aliens building the pyramids.
  • 63 years after this aired, Jack Carter (Vic Russo) was a guest on Norm MacDonald’s podcast.
  • The episode is available on YouTube, but why would ya?

Night Visions – Darkness (09/06/01)

nvdarkness14Our introduction to Lucius Winton is quick and to the point.  His house-keeper comes into his estate and sees that the vast lighting system he has installed is out.  She turns the lights back on and we see only Winton’s withered, radiated arm drooped from a chair streaming blood to the floor.  The end.

We get a great overhead tracking shot of the cubicle farm where Harlow Winton (Michael Rapaport) is toiling away in a soul-crushing job.  Kudos for the name of his company being F-Mart. [1]  He gets a Jif-Ex overnight package containing a letter informing him of the death of his great-uncle [2] Lucius.  He must attend the will reading to collect his inheritance.  On the plus side, an airline ticket is provided; on the downside, it literally says Oceanic Air.

Lucius’s attorney Matson informs Harlow he is the last of the line, the lone heir, the sole survivor.  He has inherited the 23-room estate with a monthly stipend of $25,000 . . . as long as he lives in the house.  Bwah-ha-ha-ha!


Why would Ticket Prepared By = Winton?

Thumbhead told us in the intro that the estate has 12 bedrooms and 9 bathrooms.  Assuming one kitchen, that leaves only one slot for a Living Room, Dining Room, Den and such rich-guy niceties as a Library, Art Gallery, Solarium, Butler’s Pantry, Billiard Room, Etc.  That must be one great-ass room.

Matson tells him that the old man had a pathological fear of the dark, hence the collective 5 billion watts of bulbs around every nook and cranny of the house. Harlow looks at pictures of the industries his uncle owned. Matson says that at one time, the family employed almost everyone in this town.  “Old time capitalists,” the episode’s writer — er, I mean — Harlow sneers.  “So they exploited the workers, huh?”  Being an idiot, he naturally assumes, “I guess the Wintons weren’t well-loved by the locals, huh?”  Because capitalist.

The attorney suggests that if he donated the house to the town, he would get a significant tax windfall.  I am neither H nor R Block, but I don’t see how this works if you have no income to off-set the taxes.  Yeah, he is getting the $25k/month stipend, but that ends if he unloads the house.  Must be one of those evil rich-guy tax scams that I don’t understand.  Winton is more interested in party-planning than tax-planning, anyway.

nvdarkness13As he settles in for his first night, he begins putting away his clothes. There are even bright lights in each drawer Winton opens.  One of them brightly illuminates a dead radiated rat.  When he turns off the light, he hears creepy sounds so sleeps with the lights on like a child.  Imagine if he had actually seen the menacing shadows that crept along the walls — he might have made a wittle pillow-fort.

Harlow calls in electricians to rewire the lights.  After just one night in the evil house constructed on the backs of the poor, down-trodden towns-people, he berates the workers, tells them they better call him “mister” and “you treat me with respect!” Because that’s how all rich people are.  Geez, is this a long-lost Rod Serling script?

As Harlow leafs through a scrapbook full of evil headlines like WINTON MAKES FINANCIAL HISTORY, BIGGEST STEEL SALE EVER, RAILWAY COMING TO ST ALBERT, WINTON MINES BOOST OUTPUT and WINTON BACKS CANAL, the menacing shadows advance on him in the now not-sufficiently well-lit room. How did that greedy son-of-a-bitch live with himself bringing cash, a rail line, more jobs and seaport to this little town? Oh, the humanity!

nvdarkness12Sadly Matson rings the doorbell before the creeping shadows reach Winton. He again stresses how Lucius Winton exploited the townspeople. He suggests that Winton is profiting from this and might like to donate the house to the city to ease his conscience. Winton quite appropriately tells him to buzz off. The idea might not seem so crazy when a few minutes later Winton actually sees the creepy shadows fry a rat.

Matson tries again, this time bringing a $70,000 offer for the $2,000,000 estate.  He again stresses how many people suffered to create Lucius Winton’s fortune.  He says over 700 were killed in the family’s coalmine, scores more died in the tenements where he was a slumlord.  Well OK, now I understand the hatred of the old man.  He was a liar, treated co-workers like crap, employed thousands in dangerous dehumanizing conditions.  I guess all would have been forgiven if he had created the iPhone.

Matson tells Harlow the shadows are the dark deeds and dark thoughts and dark hearts — the greed and evil of generations of his family manifested itself in the shadows like the oil slick that killed Tasha Yar.  BTW, what happened to all those generations that resulted in Harlow being the only survivor?

Yada Yada, Harlow builds a Rube Goldberg device to kill the shadows.  He ends up being blinded.  Instead of living in in perpetual lightness, he will live in perpetual darkness.  The big question is why he bothered to hire a cute nurse.

This is a perfectly adequate story brought down by the casting.  Michael Rapaport is an actor of Bill Paxtonian awfulness.  Like Paxton, he seems to be capable of portraying only one character convincingly — a grating obnoxious dick which I assume must be his true self.  I would like to think that is is why Rapaport’s annoying character on Prison Break was named Don Self — kudos to the producers for the in-joke.


  • [1] Presumably not a play on S-Mart, but funny on its own.
  • [2] Uncle = brother of a parent.  Great Uncle = brother of a grandparent.  Great Great Uncle = put you in his will.
  • Complete non-sequitur — a Chevy Avalanche just pulled into the Panera parking lot.  WTH kind of name is that for car?  Is an avalanche ever a source of anything but destruction and misery?  I’ll hand it to Japan, they’re not going to produce the Toyota A-Bomb.  Although the Porsche 911 is cutting it pretty close.
  • BTW, this aired 5 days before 9/11.