Tales of Tomorrow – Seeing Eye Surgeon (09/05/52)

Chief Surgeon Dr. Foyle is chewing out his protegee Dr. Tyrell for his bold work in the operating room.  The 67 year old Foyle says he has 25 years of experience, so maybe he ain’t such an expert if it took him until he was 42 to become a surgeon.

Nurse Martha overhears this unpleasantness.  After Foyle leaves, she agrees with Tyrell that he has not kept up with the times.  Now this is someone to pay attention to — she is an O.R. nurse at 19 years old!  Plus, she’s 19 years old!

Martha takes a call from Foyle, that despite his outburst, he wants Tyrell to assist in a critical operation on Dr. Ross the next day.  The patient is a nuclear physicist who has a growth on the frontal lobe.  Hmmm, how could that have happened?

Martha says “he’s not just another patient,” he’s an important man.  Much as that statement might concern the other patients, Ross is critical to our national defense.  Tyrell goes back to his office and is greeted by Dr. Xenon.

Hmmm . . . Martha, Dr. Ross, Dr. Tyrell, Dr. Foyle, Dr. Xenon . . . which one is the alien?  Way to blend!  Xenon also stresses how important it is that Ross survive.  Dr. Xenon has come to ensure that the operation is a success.  He presents Tyrell with a pair of glasses “I have processed in a special way.”  He also gives Tyrell some cleaning fluid in case the glasses get foggy.  Tyrell tells Xenon he isn’t even performing the operation, Foyle is.  Xenon seems to know differently.

That afternoon, Martha informs Tyrell that Foyle has gotten sick and that Xenon was right — he will be performing the operation.  Tyrell wonders if Foyle is just faking it to avoid the responsibility for this 1,000 to 1 operation.

The next day in the eerily dark operating room, Tyrell is losing his patient.  He fears he will have to perform a lobotomy when he begins thinking about Dr. Xenon.  He sends Martha to get Xenon’s glasses out of his desk.  She returns and places them on his face.  They enable him to see at a microscopic level, able to differentiate good cells from bad cells.

Foyle gets the news that the operation was a success.  He calls Tyrell to get an explanation of the crazy report he submitted about “miracle glasses”.  When Tyrell tells him he got the glasses from Dr. Xenon of a university in Europe, Foyle says, “Don’t give me that, Doctor,  I happen to know that legend.”  He snootily says Tyrell wouldn’t know the legend because he never studied in Europe.  Fearing this might lead to an interesting narrative twist, he never mentions the legend again.

When Foyle demands to see the glasses, Martha retrieves them and the cleaning fluid from the desk.  Foyle looks at them and says, “These glasses have no lenses.”  Tyrell theorizes that maybe the cleaning fluid dissolved the lenses after one use in this critical operation.  Foyle questions whether there ever was a Dr. Xenon.

I have this feeling we’re being watched.

Tyrell says, “For that matter, do we three standing in this room really exist?  Maybe we’re just the figment, the product, of someone’s fevered imagination.  Someone from another world.  Perhaps Dr. Xenon.”

This show, still in its 2nd season, is so primitive you have to grade on a curve.  In its own way, it is one of the better episodes of the series.  Sure, the writing was inept — dropping the Xenon-as-legend thread was a yuge mistake.  However, the dark background in the operating room provided a great deal of suspense and atmosphere.  The stock score was used effectively; more effectively than 1980s TZ ever does, anyway.  I even enjoyed the open-ended resolution and Tyrell’s existential musing.

The episode wraps up with the host telling us the show has received the 1st Annual Television Award from the sci-fi magazine Galaxy.  I believe the category was “Only Sci-Fi Show on TV.”

Other Stuff:

  • Title Analysis:  I kind of like the sound of it, but it’s nonsense.  I guess they were playing off the phrase seeing eye dog.  But we don’t give special viewing equipment to the dog.
  • In 1994, Constance Towers (Martha) played a piano teacher who was Frasier Crane’s “first time”.  This was her first credit on IMDb.  Unlike most actors on Tales of Tomorrow, she is still working; also, still breathing.
  • Bruce Cabot (Tyrell) starred in King Kong the year Constance Towers was born.
  • Dr. Xenon, Dr. Xenon.

Outer Limits – Glyphic (03/20/98)

Dr. Boussard sends his kids Cassie and Louis out to play while he goes to deliver a baby.  He passes a deputy painting the new population number (Pop. 103) on the Welcome to Tolomey [1] sign and makes a pretty good joke about delivering twins.

The kids hear voices and follow them into one of those TV caves that have a cleaner, flatter floor than the Bat-Cave.  Cassie sees a glowing device embedded in the rock.  She puts her hand on it and it emits a green light which blankets the entire town, which is a neat trick since it is coming from a hole in the ground.

Ten years later, Tom Young of the Dept. of Health & Human Services comes to Tolomey (now Pop. 63) and he’s here to help.  He is yet another therapist coming to see if he can help Cassie’s learning disability.  She is better off than her brother Louie who has been in a coma for 12 years.

Tom hypnotizes Cassie back to her 6 year old self.  She says her disability is because she is different than the other kids due to something she heard.  She doesn’t know what it was despite a flashback that seems to indicate her reliving the incident in detail.

Tom asks what happened in Tolomey.  Because the death of 40 kids would not have made the news, Dr. Broussard tells him about the strange brain cancer that hit the community 12 years earlier which only killed the children.

The CDC came in and claimed it was run-off from the mill that caused the deaths, so the govern-ment shut down the mill and killed the local economy.  Now, I’m having a flashback.  They did name the disease after Tolomey, though; so they got that going for them.

While looking at the machines keeping Louis alive, Cassie begins hearing the voices again.  She steals some of Louis’s medicine and, per the voices, mixes a cocktail. She takes it to the cave and is zapped by a green light from the object.  She begins speaking alien until a local hick shoots the object, shutting it down.  Cassie takes the vial back home and pours it in Louis’s mouth.  The grown-ups stop her and drag her away screaming, to have brain surgery.

Hmmmm, for some reason I’m skeptical about that bottom box.  I have a blind faith in that top one, though.

Tom suggests that maybe the alien device was trying to transform Cassie into a living translator.  Louis shocks everyone by waking up.  Tom calls the hospital to stop the surgery.  When they start lasering into Cassie’s brain, she kicks the doctor away.  She grabs a marker and begins writing on her arm.  There are some alien symbols, then “We offer knowledge.  Learn to ask.”  The surgeon says she is not dead, but they visually imply she is.

The government shows up to analyze the device, but Jethro seems to have broken it.  So, once again, we have an alien species that has experienced an individual act of violence by a human, and responded by condemning the earth to be destroyed (or in this case, missing out on all sorts of life-saving knowledge).

These aliens are always so bloody arrogant.  They send a device with no instruction manual, bury it in a cave, murder nearly all the children in the town, then get pissy when some yahoo takes a shot.

Some good performances here.

Other Stuff:

The Hitchhiker – Videodate (02/16/85)

Writer Jack Rhodes made a video for a dating service.  He says “I am 31 years old.”  The actor is a pretty close 33, so I can’t use my standard “f***n’ actors, man” line.  However, according to Hollywood age rules, he will probably end up with a 12 year old girl.  He awkwardly says, “I enjoy sports, traveling, movies, museums, and art galleries” rather than delivering some “A” material like “and I got yer Colossus of Rhodes right here, baby!” And he calls himself a writer.

A woman selects his video and they meet up at an art gallery.  In the first exhibit, visitors are encouraged to toss a TV set.  In another, several dummies [1] appear to be walking on a treadmill accompanied by wacky music.  The gallery has everything — atmosphere, visually interesting displays, social commentary, a guy in a beret . . . everything but, ya know, actual art.

They go back to Jack’s place and hit his B&W zebra stripe sheets — now that’s art!  Afterwards, he puts the woman in a cab.  We find out that it was not his swanky apartment.  He slips the doorman a few bucks to let him use it for his many con-quests.  I guess the owners never notice the rumpled sheets and empty liquor bottles.  Although I suspect there is never a package missing from the condom bowl.[3]

Whoa, this is new.  The titular hitchhiker finally appears eight minutes into the episode.  As Jack is driving home, he stops to tell the hitchhiker, “Sorry pal, I live just down the street.”  This is the first time we’ve seen him interact with another character. I wish I could say it was as exhilarating as that time Rod Serling broke the 4th wall, but no.  No, it is not. [2]

Turns out Jack was only pretending to be a writer; we learn that he is a TV salesman.  At his store, he is stalked by Barbara who earlier filmed him leaving the apartment.  She also films him driving home to his shabby apartment.  Inside, we see he has a bulletin board with pictures of his one night stands.  Even more classy, he has a handwritten banner on the board:  CHICKS.  There is another Festrunkian column marked FOXES which is sadly empty.

There was a VHS tape left at his door, which he pops in.  The woman stalking him is wearing just a bra and panties.  She says her name is Barbara and that she has been admiring him for some time now.  She tells Jack to meet her tomorrow at 5:30, then takes off her top.

They meet at the City Cafe.  After playing a godawful 1980s arcade game, they make plans to have dinner at her place tomorrow.  After 6 minutes of absolute nothing at casa de Barbara, she goes to change into something more comfortable.  As all men do, Jack sneaks back to peek at her changing.  They have dinner which kills another couple of minutes.

Blah blah blah.  There is a twist, but everything that precedes it is such a bore it is hard to care.  They had a lot going for them.  Gregg Henry (Jack) is still consistently working as a character actor 30 years later.  Shannon Tweed (Barbara) was so beautiful that even the godawful photographers at Playboy couldn’t ruin her layout.[4] They had the art scene to satirize, they had videodating, they had some arcade games, they had some bondage, and managed to do nothing with any of it.

The DVD will not play and the You-Tube quality is pretty bad.  I will not do what the Playboy staff could not — make Shannon Tweed look bad.  So no pictures.  Googling is encouraged.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] Actual dummies, not the patrons who support this nonsense.
  • [2] Did Serling really break the forth wall?  Well, every episode, really.  In that TZ episode, it was more like breaking the first wall.
  • [3] Worst Thanksgiving football game ever.  Insert USC Trojans joke here.  Or any joke.  Just to get one in before this carnage is finished.
  • [4] Frequent crimes: Airbrushing girls to look like plastic mannequins, near-pathological refusal to have 100% nudity, a sheen on the model’s skin you could practically see your reflection in, gauzy filters, posed in my grand-mother’s house, relying on heavy make-up instead of girl-next-door types, rendering celebrities unrecognizable.  But I haven’t seen one in 20 years; I’m sure they’re great now.

Alfred Hitchcock Presents – Road Hog (12/06/59)

I wouldn’t mind seeing London.  I guess it would be interesting to see France.  But in the opening shot of this episode, I did not need to see a little girl’s underpants; and she is literally credited as “Little Girl” on IMDb.[1]

She is a butterfly whisperer, playing with a Monarch Butterfly on the porch of a rural gas station / cafe. Salesman Ed Fratus takes pleasure in grinding it under his shoe as he steps up on the porch. [2] When she starts to cry, he laughs and musses her hair.  He obnoxiously tries to sell the cafe owner on various salacious products — key chains with nudie picture viewers, risque playing cards, Pomade lubricant — oh wait, that’s for your hair.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch — literally, the Pine ranch (although they do not literally raise pine trees) — Davey Pine has just been gored by a bull.  His father and brother load him into the bed of the pickup to take him to the hospital.  They get stuck behind Fratus, poking along on a narrow dirt road.  Clay Pine blows the horn, trying to get by, but that just irritates Fratus who yells, “Stupid farmers!  Cornholing Cornpicking yokels!”  Clay yells that it is an emergency.  Fratus yells back, “So what, ain’t no skin off my nose!”

Pa Pine tells Clay, he has to get around the car, no matter what it takes.  When Clay tries to pass him, Fratus runs him off the road into a mudhole.  The Pines have to fill in the mudhole so they can drive out.  They finally make it to the hospital, but it is too late.  Davey is dead.  The doctor says if they had only gotten Davey there 15 minutes earlier . . .

Sons Clay and Sam Jr are ready to find the man and kill him, but Pa says they will do things his way.  Pine psychically goes to the gas station and demands to know who the driver of the station wagon is.  The owner rats out Ed Fratus.

Pine sits in the cafe day after day waiting for Fratus to return.  He just sits and stares at the cafe door, even refusing a free beer.  Eventually Fratus does return — and fortuitously on a day when Clay and Sam Jr are in the cafe.  When he enters, Clay and Sam Jr go outside.  Clay puts a hose in his mouth and starts siphoning the gas out of Fratus’s car.  They leave him enough for 2-3 miles, which would have been about a gallon back then.

Pa says nothing as Fratus and the owner do a little business.  Fratus leaves, and a few minutes later, the Pine family finds him stranded by the side of the road.  Pa says he has a drum of gas back at the ranch and uses his truck to push the car back to his house.  He tells Sam to gas up the car while he and Fratus have a drink.  As we are all guilty of doing, Clay was storing two bottles of unlabeled clear liquid on the same shelf — one liquor and one poison.  They make a big deal about preventing Fratus from drinking the poison.  After a few glasses, Pa tells him the story of Davey and how he died because of a titular road hog.

The perfectly-cast sweaty, fat-faced Fratus says, “You did poison me.”  He screams that he still has time to get to the hospital.  He takes off in his car, but darn the luck, Clay’s truck is blocking the road.  Trying to pass Clay, Fratus runs off the road and is killed.  Of course, it is revealed that there was no poison.

Classic AHP.  Robert Emhardt (Ed Fratus) was so smug and full of hate, I don’t know how he went out in public without people punching him in the face.  If I ever meet Stephen Colbert, I’ll ask him.

Other Stuff:

  • [1]  I always thought the rhyme referenced “a little girl”, but it seems to be the more generic “someone.”  I guess I could rewrite the opening, but do I appear to put that much effort into this?
  • AHP Deathwatch:  Richard Chamberlain, Jack Easton and Betsy Hale are still making the effort.
  • [2] Unlike Eckles in A Sound of Thunder, this was done on purpose and gleefully.  I actually did expend some effort to add that above, but couldn’t figure out how to do it.
  • These were the two filthiest vehicles I’ve ever seen, even before running off the road.