Ray actually participates in the beginning of this episode. Looking around his writing room, which is destined to be on an episode of Hoarders, he pulls out a bound copy of the Johnson Smith catalog from his childhood. Amazingly, unlike Ray, the company is still a going concern — in business, celebrating its 100th birthday this year.
The episode opens with a jaunty tune. Young Tom is leafing through the catalog full of X-Ray specs, magic tricks, whoopee cushions and inexplicably is taken with the ad for growing giant mushrooms in your basement. Unlike the x-ray specs, I can guarantee this ain’t gonna get you any closer to seeing your classmates’ underwear.
Maybe he is just a — ahem — budding horticulturist because in the next scene, he is enthusiastically mowing the lawn with an old push mower over grass that clearly does not need cutting. He stops at his dad’s feet as dad holds up 2 tickets to the ball game.
Their neighbor, a plain middle-aged woman who Bradbury cruelly named Mrs. Goodbody is pumping clouds of DDT onto her plants. Out of the blue, she starts complaining about invaders from outer space. Tom’s attention is elsewhere as he sees the mailman coming to his house. Sure enough, the mushrooms have landed.
The box promises “Giant Abyssinian/Amazon Mushrooms!” There doesn’t seem to be such a thing as Abyssinian mushrooms, and if they were real, what exactly does a mushroom from Ethiopia have to do with the Amazon? And if your life is so dull that mushrooms deserve an exclamation point, for the love of God, get the whoopee cushion next time.
Tom plants his mushrooms and proudly shows them to his parents even though they are tiny and shriveled — fungal shrinkage.
The next day, Tom’s father Hugh is carpooling to work with their neighbor Roger. After Hugh turns off a radio broadcast about a meteor shower, Rog says he feels like things are going to hell, he is having panic attacks, shivering at night. He can feel the dust falling on him and the weather changing second by second. “Something awful is is going to happen to all of us,” he warns. Luckily this stretch of road is largely abutment-free.
When they get to work, Roger just walks off and does not return home. That night, Tom brings up a tray of mushrooms which seems to unnerve his mother. Hugh suspects something crazy might be happening when he sees that Roger’s son is also growing mushrooms.
Roger calls Hugh and tells him to warn the neighborhood not to accept any special delivery packages from New Orleans. Hugh starts to worry about the world being taken over with out a shot being fired, because what fun would that be.
After eating the mushrooms on a sandwich, he gets seems to get with the program and can’t wait to feed mushrooms to his wife.
A nice little episode as long as you don’t burden it with expectations. It really is Invasion of the Body Snatchers-lite. But that’s OK. For what it was attempting, I think they succeeded.
- Yet another first time director.
- Abyssinia, Henry was the M*A*S*H episode where Henry Blake was killed. Also, it always bugged me that there isn’t an asterisk after the H. Don’t they represent the missing letters in the acronym? Are they just there to separate the letters?
- There have always been Miss Goodbodys and Nurse Goodbodys in popular culture. Where are all the Mr. Goodbodys? They must have fathers. And why do they tend to gravitate to the medical or secretarial fields? Has there ever been a Senator Goodbody?
- Charles Martin Smith directed the first episode of Buffy. How could having that on your resume not launch a huge directing career?