The opening shot is of a speeding train and it isn’t going into a tunnel, so we know Alfred Hitchcock did not direct this episode.
Uber-obnoxious kid Johnny Templeton is stalking the hallways of the train, opening doors where hot college girls could be having naked pillow fights, and just generally being a nuisance. And just how bloody wide is this train that not only has a hallway, but turns in it?
Johnny and his parents Mary (hey, it’s TV’s Cloris Leachman!) and Larry (hey, it’s that guy who played Larry once on AHP!)  make their way to the club car which is staffed by Scatman Crothers — with hair! They are just in time to hear on the radio that a patient has escaped from the state mental hospital. I think even after 30 seconds, everyone watching this is hoping he goes after the kid.
Turns out that Johnny has been suspended from school so maybe he has issues. One thing he definitely has is a cool toy pistol that shoots peanuts that I would have loved as a kid, and maybe even now. He just continues with one antic after another (can antic be singular?). He is yapping, mixing up drinking glasses, yapping, stealing Mary’s goofy dead-fox wrap, yapping and pouring milk into an ashtray. Also, running his yap.
Dad sends him back to their room, but before he leaves, another man named Kilmer (Chill Wills) enters the club car. He doesn’t like drinking alone and asks if he can join the Templetons. Like any family with a small child, they welcome the booze-hound to join them. He just boarded the train back where that mental patient escaped. Kilmer claims to have been a cowboy for 20 years. Suddenly the train stops.
The conductor tells Mary that the generator is on the fritz, this being one of them generator trains what replaced diesel and steam. Could Kilmer be the mental patient? When he asks the bartender to put a head on his scotch, it makes me wonder.
Larry bribes his son with a shiny silver dollar that he can’t keep his yap shut for ten minutes while Kilmer tells a story. Johnny is mighty tempted as he sees fingers clawing at the glass behind his mother.
Despite some lapses, Johnny’s indulgent father gives him the dollar. After being warned by Kilmer to keep the dollar in a safe place, Johnny stows it in between his belt and his pants where it falls down almost immediately. Scatman puts his foot on the dollar and bogarts it after the Templetons leave.
Well, I am utterly baffled by what the story is supposed to be here. There is a great suspenseful set-piece to be had with the scenario we are given, but this just makes no sense. The escaped mental patient is clawing at the window, but so what? It’s not like he’s a man on the wing of a plane. The train is stopped, for crying out loud — just go to the steps in between the cars! What are you, mentally cha . . . oh, yeah.
And why did they feel the need to end the episode by having the black steward stealing from the white kid? The race thing doesn’t bother me as much as how much it is a total non-sequitur. Focus, people!
-  In fairness, Biff McGuire had a great career.
- AHP Deathwatch: Biff McGuire and Cloris Leachman are still alive, sadly outliving their obnoxious TV son by 7 years so far.