Twilight Zone – Night of the Meek / But Can She Type? / The Star (12/20/85)

Kind of a half-assed ending to the year.  I was tempted to end the month with a picture of something that bugged me at Barnes & Noble.  Given the seasonal nature of 2/3 of this episode, though, I had to end the year with it:

Night of the Meek

Skipped due to general mawkishness of TV Christmas episodes.

Classic TZ Legacy:  Remake of a 1960 episode which I also didn’t watch.

The Secretary

A secretary is transported to a world where secretaries are revered as Masters of the Universe.  Or is it Mistresses of the Universe?  No, that would have been much better.

One-joke piece notable only for the presence of a pre-Star Trek Jonathan Frakes.

The Star

Based on the short story by Arthur C. Clarke.

It seems like it should have been a good fit for a TZ Christmas episode, however, it is far too talky.  Despite valiant efforts by Fritz Weaver and Donald Moffat, it worked better on the page.

Classic TZ Legacy:  Fritz Weaver was in two good episodes.


  • Given the 1st and 3rd segments, this was clearly the Christmas episode.  So what’s up with the 2nd segment?
  • I’m trying to look at this episode as surviving the holidays, and anticipating a better new year.
  • I don’t think I can keep up in January, so signing off until February 1st.

Science-Fiction Theatre – The Brain of John Emerson (05/21/55)

sftbrainof02Six months ago, Police Sargent John Emerson was brought in to the Bannister Hospital with “multiple head gunshot wounds” even though he only has one head.  “A bullet was lodged in the brain.  His skull was fractured”.  He hovered near death for three months.  Finally, he moved a finger, then his legs.  A week later he could see.  Soon he could speak and walk.  Then his insurance ran out so they released him.

When he comes home from the hospital, his hot gal is there.  His sense of smell must be lagging because he doesn’t smell her cooking him dinner when he enters his apartment, and she surprises him. He tells her he is fine, but ironically Dr. Turner who saved his has died of  heart attack.

After lying around for three months, he has to take the lieutenant’s exam the next day.  But he hasn’t studied!  He doesn’t even know where the class is! [1]  He takes the test anyway.  His captain is stunned when the test results come back.  Emerson was scored as having a cute little 119 IQ when he joined the force; now he has scored 173 [2].  The captain knows Emerson to be too honest to cheat, so he hands him his new lieutenant badge.

The next day Mr. Fancypants goes to see a psychologist, “Dr. Franklin, I’m Police Lieutenant John Emerson.”  He asks the doctor if brain surgery can induce physical changes in a person.  Franklin says, “There are certain types of surgery that produce smart personality changes.”  He cites a lobotomy as an example.  What?  I guess Joe Kennedy was a great guy after all, maybe just prepping Rosemary for Jeopardy.  Ironically, the same procedure likely would have raised Ted’s IQ.

sftbrainof14They decide to go to Dr. Turner’s lab to see if they can account for this change in IQ.  Luckily, the heart doctor seems to have shared an office with the psychologist.  The door to Turner’s lab is in Franklin’s office.  Strangely, like deja vu, Emerson seems to know the names of the lab animals and know all about the medical equipment.  Franklin suggests Turner imparted this newfound wisdom to Emerson by playing recordings to him while he was in a coma; in much the same way I watch this show.

That night, Emerson goes to Turner’s house.  Mrs. Turner confronts him with a gun.  He says he didn’t break in, he just knew where Dr. Turner had kept the spare key.  He wants to see Turner’s workshop.  “It’s in the basement,” she says.  “I know,” he replies.  He further stuns her by knowing that the workshop key was hidden in the clock.  However, he stops short of telling her he knows what she looks like naked.

sftbrainof09In the workshop, they find a lot of animals.  Turner had changed their brains so enemy species get along. Literally, dogs and cats living together.  Also hawks and guinea pigs in the same rectum cage [3]. Franklin gives Emerson sodium pentothal and he recalls a tape that Turner made.  Turner, on the tape, says that if Emerson discovered this tape on his own, then his theories have been proven correct.  Emerson vows to continue the doctor’s research.  Mrs. Turner gives him the lab.  Great, he got shot in the head, and all he got was this lousy homework.

There are 39 episodes in this first season of Science Fiction Theatre.  Oh the humanity.

I rate it 50 IQ points.


  • [1] Or is it just me that has that nightmare?
  • [2] Hmmm . . . they only clocked Stephen Hawking at 160.
  • [3] I will be the first to agree that the strikeout is the lowest form of comedy. However, I find it elevating when I do it.
  • Reading Star Trek: The 50 Year Mission, I was happy to see a shout-out to Science Fiction Theatre.  One of the interviewees was afraid Star Trek would turn out this corny.
  • Come on, John Howard (Emerson) was just in last week’s episode!  Give someone else a chance!  He still strikes me as an above-average actor, even if it is in that affected 1950s style.

Outer Limits – Dark Rain (02/14/97)

oldarkrain1A motorcade of black SUVs and limos with a massive carbon footprint rolls up to a secure building.  A diverse group of white men and white women file into a conference room. Rather than wait for Leonardo DiCaprio to arrive in his private jet, they start immediately.  “Dark Rain is now falling on every continent.”

95% – 97% of the earth’s population has been exposed to Teradoxyn. Paradoxically, it was first detected in the Middle East which you might think would get off easy on rain-related plagues. How did Seattle escape this fate?  Note to CDC: investigate immunity based on coffee and awful music.  “The birthrate of viables has already fallen to near-zero.”

Dr. Marissa Golding wants to spread the word that we brought this on ourselves.  It was caused by the use of chemical weapons which mutated.  I guess this was before the next Ice Age was a bigger threat than Global Warming, and the Hole in the Ozone was not fashionable yet.  Maybe this was during the Acid Rain / No Nukes hysteria nexus. Rest assured, though, the producers are quick to say that “both sides” were at fault.  C’mon, I expect that kind of America-bashing from Hollywood, but from Canadians?  Naturally, the administration wants to squash this data lest it hurt their chance of getting re-elected with 2 of the 3 remaining electoral votes.

oldarkrain2Glen Campbell Glen Canyon High School has seen better days; as has Glen Campbell.  Someone has spray-painted School’s Out Forever on the front doors.  Although most of the classrooms are empty, Sherry McAllister teaches the last existing class of kids.  She reminds them it is time to report to the Federal Reproductive Board to “get tested for your fertility rating and become sexually active as soon as possible.” Holy crap, they look about 12 years old!  Their lack of enthusiasm for this plan is the best indication they might be too young.

Back at casa de McAllister, she and husband Tim are watching the news.  The NWA (New World Army) is pissing off the government by minding their own business.  Oh, they’re being accused of terrorism, but I suspect that is a smokescreen.  Even Tim says, “What is wrong with those people?”  He just can’t catch a break.  Even though there is zero population growth, Sherry is making him use a condom . . . mutations, you know.  A week later she is pregnant.  Weirdly played, but I assume this isn’t the first time they’ve had the sex.

At the hospital, Dr. Golding assures them there are no signs of mutation. Quickly, men with guns show up and say they are there for her protection (i.e. We’re from the government and we’re here to help).  Sherry accidentally witnesses another woman go into labor in a very well-done scene.  It is known that the baby will be a mutant, but there is still great energy and suspense as the medical team surrounds her.  The heightened stakes come through in the production, so kudos on that.  Sherry is understandably ready to bail after seeing that.

Some time later, however, Sherry gives birth to a healthy boy.  They are thrilled, but not thrilled that they are still prisoners.  To be fair, they hold the key to humanity’s survival.  I am in the unusual position of supporting Big Government on this one.  This is too important to keep all your fertilized eggs in one basket.  They are awakened one night by an NWA member in their room.  He offers to help them escape with their baby.  When the head doctor brings the brass in to see the miracle baby, all they see is NWA spray-painted on the wall.  As the McAllisters are African-American, this takes on a whole different unintended meaning.  No, the other one.

I should have stuck to my constitutionally-protected guns — they escape to the NWA’s compound and there is a happy, almost tear-jerking resolution.  It has finally struck me that this newer version of Outer Limits is softer on the Sci-Fi, and spends more time exploring humanity and emotion than the original series — just like the new Twilight Zone, but I always complain about that reboot.  Maybe it’s because I am not as familiar with the original Outer Limits, so I can’t be disappointed.  Or maybe Outer Limits is just a much better series.

Nothing extraordinary here, just another well-produced episode. Outer Limits stands with AHP as being reliable when the other series wear me down.

I rate it an 85% chance of dark precipitation.


  • Shades of Children of Men which came both earlier (book) and later (movie).  But it’s probably a common sci-fi trope.
  • Sadly, the mutants reminded me of Unnatural Selection.  Very sadly.
  • The head of the Federal Reproductive Board survived two episodes of Ray Bradbury Theater:  The Wonderful Death of Dudley Stone and The Screaming Woman.
  • Title Analysis:  Meh.  Complete McGuffin.  Could have been anything.

The Hitchhiker – The Miracle of Alice Ames (07/15/89)

haliceames08I decided to give this my undivided attention.  I would make no notes, and give it a fair chance.  The joke is on me because now I have to watch this piece of shit again.

First of all, why is this set in France? Did it originally air on Maison Box Office?  And how far is this hitch-hiker going, anyway?  If those opening desert scenes of him were France, stick to the 1989 domestics.

Brother Charles (Joe Pantoliano) operates The Church of Limitless Love.  Most of his parishioners seem to be seeking a hot meal more than the word of God.  This day, Alice Ames comes in from the cold.

After the sermon, Alice delivers soup to Brother Charles.  He wastes no time explaining that “love is love” and she is “deeply and unconditionally loved”.  He wants to build a new church.  “A temple where people from all over the world could come and feel safe.”

Alice is shown to a room that she will share with Melissa.  She is going out for the evening as Alice is getting into bed.  She says she has a “missionary position in the organization.”  haliceames10I can’t cast any stones about lame, obvious jokes, but this is painfully shoe-horned in and delivered.  It does indicate to us, however, how Brother Charles plans to pay for his new gold and silver “castle in the sky.”  Of course, keen observers of the human condition might have figured that out as the opening scene of the episode was Melissa pushed against a brick wall getting bloody railed.

Even though nothing is ever explicitly said, Alice is given a new suit of hookerwear.  She puts it on and hits the street.  She picks up a guy who seems to be wearing the top half of a scuba suit, but is probably some fashionable Euro-wear.  Aquaman lays on top of her, and the next thing we see is him running out of the hotel room, covered by blood.  The hotel manager looks in and sees Alice with blood pouring from her hand.

Brother Charles rushes to the hospital to pick up Alice.  He is met by a policeman who thinks he can now bust Charles’s operation.  When did the French become such prudes?  On the way back, Charles stops the car and tells Alice to get out.  He says he “can’t have this kind of thing in my church.”  What kind of thing?  Because she seemed to be stabbed? Because it was stigmata?  I have no idea what the point was here.  She gets out, fortuitously, right in front of another church — one that doesn’t operate in a storefront.

haliceames14She looks up at a statue and cries out that it is a test and she will prove herself to be a believer.  We see her wrapping her hands and feet, but where is she?  Then we see her walking through a hospital.  Then we see her being escorted out of the earlier hotel room by the police.  I can’t even begin to speculate what this series of events means.  Was it a flashback?  Did she return to the scene of the . . . well, it wasn’t really a crime.  What the hell?

She returns to Brother Charles who exploits her stigmata as “a living example of God’s work”.  The bucks are really rolling in.  Before the congregation, he unwraps her feet to show her bloody wounds.  As they gasp, he holds up her arms to show her bloody palms.  They again recoil, although it might have been at her shaved armpits.

After the service, Charles is enjoying a swig of sacramental vodka with Alice.  He accuses her, in the nicest possible way, of faking the wounds, then starts negotiating their split of the proceeds.  Charles climbs on top of her, and she cries, “This is the wrong kind of haliceames20love!”  She seems scared to death as he forces himself on her.  Her hands begin to bleed and he dies — why, I have no idea. There is blood on his face — why, I have no idea.  Alice goes limp beneath him.  I guess she is also dead — why, I have no idea. The police know to come examine the bloody room — why, I have no idea. There is a very choppy edit back to the titular hitchhiker who explains nothing.  Not even HTF he got to France.

This is probably the most incoherent episode I have watched for this blog.  It is stunningly inept at every turn.  As with both previous Hitchhiker episodes, it is leaden and humorless; but that seems to be, inexplicably, what they are going for . . . so, kudos for succeeding.  Unlike the other episodes, here you are frequently left having no idea where people are, what their motivations are, and why things are happening.  I assume, at a mere 23 minutes, there were huge chunks of this that were even worse, so were edited out.  Was this like the last episode of The Twilight Zone, where they just bought a French short film and passed it off as original?

OK, everyone has an off week.  The exchange student director didn’t work out, the funding fell short, the story just didn’t translate from the page.  But after it is filmed and seen to be such a turd, WTF would you put it on Volume 1 of what can reasonably be expected to be a greatest hits compilation?  And in the third slot?

Rating:  This ain’t no miracle; this ain’t even a card trick.


  • From the director of Girl Slaves of Morgana Le Fay.  Maybe that’s what got my hopes up.
  • Never got around to it above, but what about those scars on her wrist?  Another mystery.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents – The Kind Waitress (03/29/59)

ahpkindwaitress22Thelma the Waitress is worried that Mrs. Mannerheim is late for dinner. The elderly Mrs. M strolls in wearing a dead fox around her neck which was the style at the time.  She confides in Thelma that she never takes the medicine the doctor gives her, which probably explains her longevity. “When the time comes, the Lord will take me.  Medicine won’t help.”

Mrs. M asks her to sit down for a chat.  She asks Thelma about her living arrangements at the rooming house (“crummy, but cheap”), and confesses that she is very sick.  Apparently having never seen AHP, Mrs. M tells Thelma that she has put her in her will.  After Mrs. M’s death, she will be able to quit this job, and move into a nice apartment. That’s all well and good, but can I get some water over here?

Thelma didn’t mention that she lives with her musician boyfriend Arthur.  Apparently having never seen AHP, Thelma tells him about being included in Mrs. M’s will.  Arthur has immediate plans for the money, like starting his own band.  When she estimates the haul might be $50k, he leaps up and starts blowing his clarinet.

Mrs. M continues coming to the diner, but starts complaining about the service.  Thelma tries to hold her tongue, but is getting a little ticked off.  Arthur is getting a little peeved too, ahpkindwaitress21waiting for months for the “old bag” to die.  Thelma claims to still like her, but Arthur can see the signs, and has a plan.  Thelma initially thinks he is crazy, but comes around.  She will put a little something in her tea, so that over time it kills her.

When Arthur goes to the drugstore to get some poison, the pharmacist asks him to sign his name.  Arthur is no fool — they could trace that right back to him!  So he checks six books about poison out of the library — nothing suspicious there.  After pouring through the books for days, he decides on Anatine, which must have been around page 3.

Suddenly, the clarinet player is Walter White with the flask and coiled copper tubing dripping a distilled poison into a beaker.  The next day, Thelma puts a small dose into Mrs. M’s tea.  Mrs. M drinks it down as Thelma looks on nervously.  Over a short period of time, this should kill her.


That’s her speaking:  What a gal!

This goes on for a six months, driving Arthur crazy and making Thelma sick with guilt.  One day, Mrs. M is too ill to come to the diner, so Thelma brings a tray up to her.  Thelma forgot to bring the milk and Mrs. M asks her to go get it.  There is an argument, then Thelma tells her off.  When Mrs M threatens to take her out of her will, Thelma strangles her.


Why can’t I meet a girl like this?


Ha-cha-cha . . . now we’re talkin!


Well, still a keeper.

The coroner testifies that she was strangled.  She is asked why Arthur has blown town, but she insists he had nothing to do with it.  Thelma is held for trial.  Mrs. M’s doctor tells the coroner that he had prescribed Anatine — a poison in large doses, but with some medicinal value in lower doses.  He says he suspected she was not taking the medicine.  “Actually, Anatine was the only thing keeping her alive.”  Those words echo in Thelma’s mind as she is escorted from the hearing.

Kind of beautiful because if Thelma had been nice and done nothing, Mrs. M would have died sooner.  Less obvious:  If Thelma had been super-nice and insisted Mrs. M take her prescribed medicine, the double dose would also have killed her.

Not a classic, but a solid episode.  I rate it an 18% tip.


  • AHP Deathwatch:  Amazingly, the oldest cast-member Mrs. Mannerheim (Celia Lovsky) is still alive at 120 years old.  Just kidding, they’re all dead.
  • What the hell?  Mrs. Mannerheim was the old Vulcan chick in the Star Trek episode where Spock gets horny.  Her character’s birth-date is given as 2122 so we are five years closer to that date than to the actual birth-date of the actress.
  • Definition of Anatine:  Resembling a duck.