Outer Limits – The Revelations of ‘Becka Paulson (06/06/97)

The Revelations of ‘Becka Paulson is based on a story by Stephen King that appeared in Rolling Stone.  I am unable to determine whether they printed it as fiction.

We start out with the titular ‘Becka Paulson unpacking her Christmas decorations.  She even takes time to kiss baby Jesus from the nativity scene.  Oh great, Stephen King is going to lecture us on how crazy Christians are again.

In one of the boxes, she finds her husband’s pistol which, like all gun owners, he keeps loaded and unsecured in the closet.  Oh great, Stephen King is going to lecture us on how terrible guns are again.

She stares down the barrel of the gun.  When she loses her balance, she falls and shoots herself right in the forehead.  Oh great, Stephen King is going to lecture us on . . . what, having a spotter?  Oh, who the hell knows with that guy anymore.  Although, that is a good safety tip.  Cheers for having her apply the smallest band-aid in the official Band-Aid brand box to her head-wound. Jeers for it being flesh-colored.

She feels well-enough to go right back to watching her “stories” which, to be honest, don’t require a full noggin.  She might have done some real damage as the dude in a picture frame on top of the TV winks at her.  Strangely, though, he does it after she turns away, implying it is a real phenomenon.
She microwaves two Swanson Hungry-Rube Dinners and starts eating before her husband Joe gets home from his job as a mailman.  He is only mildly miffed as he wolfs down the meal and reclines in his La-Z-Boy to check out the “Sports for Sports” Swimsuit Edition like a Horn-E-Boy.  Becka is bored with her husband and her life as he doesn’t care about the Christmas decorations, isn’t much for conversation, and gives her a pretty listless rogering in bed.  She even turns picture-frame model guy down so he doesn’t have to see this.

The next morning, looking in the mirror, she peels off the Band-Aid to reveal the bloody hole in her skull.  It is indeed cringe-worthy as she decides the proper course of action is to slowly insert a pencil a few inches into the hole rather than, say, go to a doctor. This triggers a series of flashbacks, but she is able to pull it back out with little harm.

She puts a tiny fresh Band-Aid on the wound, because you can’t be too careful.  Her husband, who still thinks it’s just a bump, suggests she go to Doc Fink.  She replies that he is a veterinarian, but he says he only charges $9 for a visit.  This new comedic tone is the most alien thing I’ve seen yet on The Outer Limits.  While not as dour as The Hitchhiker, Outer Limits has always been pretty humor-free.  This episode has an unprecedented fun weirdness to it.  It is only partially due to the script.  Catherine O’Hara and John Diehl give performances that sell it perfectly.  She had years of comedy experience on SCTV, and he learned to be a straight man on Miami Vice by not laughing at Don Johnson’s wardrobe.

After Joe leaves for work, she sits down to watch her stories.  She hears the picture-frame guy (credited as 8 x 10 Man [2]) start speaking to her.  She says, “Pictures don’t talk” . . . to the guy sitting on top of the TV.  Well, granted, they don’t usually tell you your husband is having an affair.  After she gets a call from her dead father, she takes Joe’s advice and goes to see Doc Fink.

In another good comic performance, Fink checks out her wound.  Being a vet, he doesn’t really do much for her, but at least doesn’t give her a cone to wear around her head.  There is some fun dialogue and I got a laugh out of the occupational hazard scratches on his head that are never mentioned.

After some weirdness at the store, she returns home to her stories.  Today’s episode is about surgery on a woman who was shot in the head.  Somehow, Doc Fink is in the scene.  The TV-woman survived the shot because the bullet excised a tumor that was already there.  It also increased her intelligence, creativity and sex drive.

Sure enough, Becka discovers the Pythagorean Theorem [1] just weeks before Amy Schumer.  She invents The Roomba just days before Amy Schumer.  Then she drags Joe to bed for a wild ride, just before . . . I don’t even want to think about that one.

Yada yada, some other stuff happens and we come to a cheerfully dark end.  This was just a shock, like if out of nowhere the next episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents were a musical.  They tried something different and they pulled it off masterfully.


  • [1] I was disappointed that she mispronounced hypotenuse.  Joe got it right, so I think it was just a mistake.
  • [2] Or maybe she was saying “ate by tinman”.
  • There is something unseemly about director Steven Weber casting himself as the 8 x 10 model.  The man in the frame was Jesus in the short story, so I guess he did show some restraint.
  • Some bits of King’s short story were used in The Tommyknockers.

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