Lots to be thankful for: This is the beginning of the last season of Night Gallery . . . I get to skip the execrable first episode as it was inexplicably put on the Season One DVD . . . Joanna Pettet is making her fourth appearance.
On the downside, they have done away with Gil Mellé’s theme which was almost as unnerving as TZ’s. And Serling’s intro is shamefully weak: “Let me welcome you to this parlor of paintings . . .” But the play is the thing, so let’s get to it.
Photographer David Faulkner (James Farentino) is developing film in is darkroom when he sees a picture of a hot babe that he doesn’t remember shooting. The girl in the photo (Joanna Pettet) walks into his darkroom, but now the picture is not of her anymore. He doesn’t complain about her opening the door and exposing the other negatives, but who would? He invites her back the next morning for test shots.
The next day, he fires off hundreds of pictures of her, using the time-honored TV style of photography — constantly moving the camera so it would be impossible to get a focused shot unless he has the shutter speed at 1/30000000. He should really get a tripod; and during the bikini shots, maybe did. Heyoooooo!
The next day, he has a meeting with Mr. Munsch from Munsch Beer who is looking for just the right girl to be Miss Munsch in his ad campaign. He even has a miniature billboard mocked up with a white outline reserved for the perfect white model. None of the usual suspects in Faulkner’s portfolio excite him until he gets to Joanna. And we’ll stick with calling her Joanna because she has no name in the episode.
Soon, Joanna’s picture is adorning beer billboards all over the city. His pal Harry is steamed that Faulkner has not introduced him to her. When he sees her billboards, it’s like she’s looking back at him. He is drawn by her eyes that seem to know things about him that she could not possibly know. Faulkner throws Harry out and makes an early night of it.
Joanna apparently plans to make an early night of it also as she hooks up with Harry downstairs. Faulkner notices the two of them walking down the sidewalk together. He goes down to follow them but only sees her running away alone. He also remembers her ominous admonishment to him that she is never to be followed. So he returns to his studio as Harry rolls down a ditch, dead.
The next morning Munsch says he wants to meet the mysterious Joanna. That night, Faulkner sees her kissing another man who collapses on the sidewalk. She tries to use her magic eyes on Faulkner, but he runs back to his studio.
As soon as he enters, Joanna is already there. He is starting to realize this is no ordinary girl, and I don’t just mean her smoking body. He takes all her negatives from his file cabinets and throws then on the floor. He dowses them with lighter fluid as she screams, and he sets them on fire. She curls up like an old negative and burns.
Outside trying to get some fresh air, he sees a billboard of her bursting into flames It would be fun the think every picture of her on billboards and in magazines is also bursting into flames across the country, but the writer lacked even the imagination of Come Back to Me‘s scribe. Or more likely, lacked the budget.
OK, so she was a vampire who reeled guys in with her looks and hypnotic eyes — pretty standard vampire tropes for both vampires and vampirettes. Originality is over-rated, I always say. But where did she come from? Why did she pick Faulkner? Why did she let him set the photos on fire? Why did that result in her dying? What if the billboard had been set on fire first,would that have also killed her? Why doesn’t she ever get that hair cut? Good performances, but ultimately pointless.
- Twilight Zone Legacy: John Astin was in A Hundred Yards over the Rim.