Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Six People, No Music (01/04/59)

Oh my God.  I am really growing to hate John McGiver.  He was a very memorable character actor, but a little goes a long way.  I remember liking him on an episode of Gilligan’s Island when I was a kid.  Then decades later, I saw him in AHP’s Fatal Figures.  That pace seems about right.

Unfortunately, he was just in The Bard yesterday, and is now in this episode.  That incessant, crabby whining and moaning is killing me.  Out of 268 episodes, this one is 263rd in IMDb’s newly-respected, formerly always-suspect ratings. [1]

McGiver’s insufferable presence might have been forgivable in service of a decent story, but this ain’t it.  The good news is, this is his final appearance on AHP.  Oh well, let’s get this over with . . .

Arthur Motherwell comes home from his job at the funeral parlor and goes straight for the liquor cabinet, beating the viewers by about 5 minutes.  After his third shot, his wife Rhoda asks him what the problem is.  He pulls a note out of his pocket — department store magnate Stanton C. Barryvale has croaked. The only thing that could make this episode worse is a flashback.

ahpsixpeople09Oh, crap.

That morning, Arthur goes to work at the funeral parlor about 9 am.  There he meets an attorney who is sadly not a client.  He represents the Barryvale estate and wants Arthur to take care of the funeral.

Barryvale is wheeled in for his final layaway and Arthur is excited to work on such a local celebrity.  He actually has a smile as he prepares to dig in.  The attorney calls to inform Arthur of the requirements for the funeral — 30 limousines, a string quartet, a choir, orchids, accommodations for 300 guests, etc.

ahpsixpeople10As Arthur is washing his hands, Barryvale clears his throat and sits up on the slab. [2] Arthur explains that he is in the funeral parlor, having died the night before.  Barryvale believes he was brought back from the dead to assure that his estate is not wasted on a lavish funeral.

Wait — he really thinks his heirs are going to squander the money on a lavish funeral rather than bury him in a pine box and head for the Porshche dealership after the service?

He wants the money to go to his various charities and foundations.  Oh, OK — they might as well have a nice party if the rest of the loot is just going to be wasted on sick kids.  That makes more sense.  He tells Arthur to plan the cheapest possible burial — the titular six people and no music. [3]

Arthur is distressed to hear this as he apparently would have made a tidy profit on the previous plan with the limousines and singers.  Barryvale writes out instructions for his more austere funeral.  Then he lays back down and dies again, conveniently on the slab.
Dull story short, Arthur destroys Barryvale’s instructions and puts on the lavish funeral. Arthur and Rhoda go out to the theater.

Which is what I should have done tonight.


  • [1] I posted about 2 of the 5 episodes rated even lower than this one — The Legacy and The Hidden Thing.  I don’t remember them being nearly this awful.
  • [2] For a more pleasurable take on a stiff regaining consciousness on the slab, I direct you to After.Life.  Christina Ricci awakens during her autopsy and, as I recall, was naked for about half the movie.  Not be confused with the Night Visions episode After Life.  And thank God, because Randy Quaid was the corpse in that one.
  • [3] Six people and no music — Describe Mike Huckabee’s inevitable 2020 presidential announcement rally.
  • Heyyoooo — I got a Carnac chill there.
  • AHP Deathwatch:  Joby Baker (Thor) is still with us.
  • Teleplay by Richard Berg.  His son is the author of several well-received books, A. Scott Berg.  I can vouch for Lindbergh, which was great.  But what’s with the “A”? E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, J. Edgar Hoover, L. Ron Hubbard, J. Fred Muggs — are these people (or a sub-human in at least one case) you want to be associated with?

Twilight Zone S4 – The Bard (05/23/63)


Not worth the bandwidth

I am at a complete loss to explain why the otherwise excellent Twilight Zone Companion has such high regard for this episode.  I thought I had met the most obnoxious citizen of The Twilight Zone in Of Late I Think of Cliffordville.  Jack Weston matches the grating personality of William Featherstone in his portrayal of Julius Moomer.

The 5 minute prologue seemed so long, I actually did a time-check because I thought I had skipped Serling’s intro.  It, and several other scenes, are so overloaded with musical stings that they seem like parody.  At times, literally every line is followed by a quick musical cue or sound effect.

This would be insufferable enough, but the antics of Moomer are like fingernails on a blackboard.  The man-boy Moomer . . . well, it doesn’t even matter what he is doing.

The episode is a satire of television.  I have no doubt that Serling had a ball writing it, but his job is to put on a play for us, not play with himself.

Yeah, John Williams was great as Shakespeare, and it was fun to see a young Burt Reynolds doing his Brando spoof.  Beyond that lies pain.

Maybe the time is better spent wrapping up the fourth season.  I have owned the box set for years, but always skipped the hour long episodes of the fourth season.  The purpose of this blog was to force me to watch things like this and Ray Bradbury Theater which I bought but never watched.

Unlike Ray Bradbury Theater, TZ4 was actually a pleasurable viewing experience.  At least until the end of the season — Passage on the Lady Anne and The Bard were brutal. For the most part, the other episodes were solid, and a few ranked among the best of the series.  They might not have all had the traditional TZ stinger at the end, but this was a different show.  Charles Beaumont especially adapted well to the new format.

They were probably wise to return to the 30-minute format the next season.  This experiment can’t be considered a failure, though.

Next week, I’ll begin considering whether the 1980’s TZ reboot was a failure.

Gee, my refusal to admit I wasted a few bucks buying DVDs I never watched has turned into a years-long waste of time.  Sorry to have cluttered Google search results with stream of consciousness musings on these shows.  I feel like I’ve devalued the whole internet.


  • It’s hard to imagine John McGiver was in an episode where he was not the most irritating character.  He was bad in his couple of TZs, but saved his most insufferable performances for Alfred Hitchcock Presents.
  • Howard McNear (Bramhoff) went on to play Floyd the Barber on The Andy Griffith Show.
  • Even more impressive, Judy Strangis (Cora) would grow up to be ridiculously cute on Room 222 and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl.
  • 10/28/16 update: Just noticed that the guys are watching this in one of the last episodes of The Sopranos.  That’s an ouroboros of TV episodes right there.

Fear Itself – Community (07/24/08)

As great as Christopher Reeve was as Superman, there was a stiffness in his portrayal that wasn’t acting. He was able to exploit it for earnestness in Superman and add a comedic element to embody Clark Kent. Those are two fine achievements in a single film, but in other roles, that stiffness served no higher purpose. In that respect, Brandon Routh was the logical heir to the role.

He has that same stiffness, but it isn’t really a problem here either.  He is, after all, supposed to be the stolid moral center of the episode.  Even the opening shot (well, post-flashforward) has that vibe.  We see him from the rear carrying groceries and my first thought was “That’s Clark Kent” — a square-shouldered doofus working below his pay-grade.

Bobby walks up the stairs to their apartment to find his wife Tracy in a towel.  This is where the show’s roots on Showtime would have been an asset.  Tracy shows Bobby a pregnancy test.  He seems relieved that it is negative, because Tracy did not want a child yet.  But then she is upset that he is happy that she got what she wanted.  Sloppy writing or uncanny portrayal of domestic life?  You be the judge.

Tracy wants to have their first child grow up in the suburbs.  Some friends suggest they try The Commons.  Well there was that thing where The Commons weren’t so welcoming when they thought the friends would have no more kids . . . but that was probably nothing.

Tracy and Bobby drive the Volvo — they’re fitting in already — out to the suburbs to the gated community of The Commons.  They get a tour which informs them that The Commons was founded on a growing need for family values, good neighborhoods, friendly neighbors and low crime.  There is a house for sale conveniently stocked with furniture almost as if the previous owner had been suddenly killed and buried out by the dumpster.  Two days later, they are closing on the house.

At a community Christmas party, there seems to be even more tension than a typical Christmas party.  One of the neighbors has an outburst kind of like Dan Collins in It’s a Good Life.  His wife gives him a good slap and he falls through a glass coffee table. Something is clearly not right here.

One night as Bobby is channel-surfing, he comes across a channel showing the bedroom of one of his neighbors.  Living in South Florida, I can tell you this isn’t necessarily a good thing.  He witnesses a husband busting in on his wife and a neighbor who are having an affair.

The next night at the homeowner’s association meeting, her husband is asked what the appropriate punishment for his wife should be.  Apparently his choice was to have his wife stand in the town square in a pig mask and have garbage thrown at her because that is what Bobby witnesses the next day.

The HOA President drops by one day to ask Bobby and Tracy if they need any help conceiving a child.  Bobby reads the fine print in the Deed and finds that they are required to conceive within 6 months of joining the community.  Failure to do so will result in the foreclosure of your property and loss of equity.  Tracy isn’t entirely against this.

Finally, Tracy gets a positive on the pregnancy test.  Their euphoria is as short-lived as their neighbor who they see running down Main Street.  The neighbors, who have a Simpsons-like habit of all showing up together, agree that it was suicide when Bobby clearly saw that it was not.

Bobby and Tracy come up with a plan to get her out of the Community. She leaves, but Bobby stays behind to provide an ending for the episode.  When the time is right, he makes a run for it — literally, on foot.

The neighbors take off after him with flashlights and an oddly eclectic mix of beating instruments — snow shovels, brooms, golf clubs, hockey sticks.  So I guess this is a gun-free zone.  Thank God, or he’d really be in trouble.  Or, you know, safe.

Five years later, Tracy is the new HOA President.  We see Bobby staring despondently at her through the window as she indoctrinates a new couple.  The twist is that his legs have been amputated because he ran, but this ending seems botched in a couple of ways.  It is revealed that he is in a wheelchair, then the amputation is revealed a few seconds later.  I guess they were going for a set-up and a spike.  Sadly, what they produced was an easing into the twist rather than a shock.

Also, the neighbor who had the outburst at the party was earlier revealed to have a prosthetic leg — so, ho-hum on the amputated legs.  Maybe they should have given the neighbor a couple of missing fingers, or even a hand to get the ball rolling.  Or a ball.

There is also the sudden embrace of the community by his wife.  I can sort of accept this as the Rosemary Woodhouse Syndrome, plus this does seem an ideal place to raise a child (aside from the murders and dismemberment).  However, their friend who originally suggested The Commons is also thinking of moving in now.  This is a complete non-sequitur.  He has no kids, has signed no documents, and has seen what Bobby & Tracy have endured.

Nevertheless, I liked it.  But then I’m a sucker for a mysterious town or workplace.  This episode had a lot in common with It’s a Good Life, Rosemary’s Baby, Devil’s Advocate, The Firm, Stepford Wives, etc.  It isn’t as good as any of them, but it was sufficiently creepy to keep me on board.


  • I’m ashamed of myself for not making the connection of another Superman confined to a wheelchair.  There’s nothing funny about that; so it would have fit right in above.

Tuffy and His Harem – Nick Anderson (1935)

sascover“Broad-shouldered, big-muscled giant of a fellow” Tuffy Scott is standing in the stern of a row-boat.  What is it with the row-boats lately? I’m pretty sure they had steam, diesel and the internal combustion engine in 1935.

Tuffy was put into the row-boat with three “almost totally unclothed” babes when the casino boat the four had worked on in different positions — especially the girls — was raided. After the raid, they were somehow left behind, “three girls in tiny red silk panties, and red & white silk bandeaux that barely covered three sets of luscious breasts” and one lucky, lucky dude.

After the horrendous luck of being abandoned at sea with this half-naked titular harem, Tuffy has the even worse luck of spotting a ship almost immediately.  They make their way to the ship by using their only oar.  The process is  described as somehow positioning the oar between a girl’s legs, and being swiveled back and forth.  This is a row-boat, not a kayak, so I’m not sure how this worked.  But I’m pretty sure I know why the girls wanted to take the long way.

They find it is just a scow that broke its towing cable and was left behind.  Tuffy and the girls — Zoe, Mai and Honey — climb on board the deserted barge. After finding a barrel of water, they get some sleep.  Their good luck continues as a hurricane-caliber storm washes off the barge.  The next day they go all HGR (Home & Garden Radio) on its stern, patching the roof of the wheelhouse, caulking the walls, making the interior homey.

The girls — who had been dancers on the casino ship — are so appreciative of Tuffy’s leadership that they decide to put on a show for him.  Tuffy makes like Desi Arnaz on the bottom of a wooden bucket as the girls dance out of the wheelhouse, having completely ditched their skimpy tops.  “Their breasts, snowy mounds that trembled as they moved were free and uncovered . . . the three pairs of breasts seemed to be alive under the moon’s pale light.”  For the girls’ big finale, they one by one tear off their panties and run buck naked to the wheelhouse.  Batman v Superman gets made into a $250M shit-fest while this goes unproduced for 80 years? [1]

Inexplicably, Tuffy takes a while to ponder and reflect at his situation.  By the time he gets back to the wheelhouse, the girls are asleep.  The next morning, they spot a fishing boat.  The Mexican crew seems a little shifty to Tuffy and leers at his nearly naked harem.  They decide to risk it and promise the captain a reward if he will take then to San Diego; and a bonus if they go to the zoo.

Naturally, it is about five minutes before the crew wants to turn the rescue mission into a pleasure cruise.  Tuffy, with the girls’ help, kills one of the crew before the captain points two revolvers at him.  One of the girls slips Tuffy a knife which he is able to whip Jack Bauer-style into el capitán’s el necko.  Holding the rest of the crew at gunpoint, he sets course for San Diego.

The group separately recovers with friends.  Famous from their ordeal, the girls decide to take a show on the road and invite Tuffy to be part of the act.  Still clearly suffering from heatstroke and dehydration, Tuffy says, “I wouldn’t be no good in that sort of life.  All I’m good for is swabbing decks and such things.”

A model for such stories.  Sexy, scantily-clad then naked girls, strong sailor, danger at sea, action with the fishing boat.  Bravo.


  • [1] Of course, Hollywood would botch this too by casting Ben Affleck as Tuffy.
  • First published in August 1935.
  • Also that month:  Meh, August 1935 is the new April 1935.  Was that the only two months this magazine was published?  I’d subscribe now.