Note to self: Do not make “fine mess” reference as it is only 50% accurate.
This is not quite a twin spin. There is a story in the Bradbury book called The Laurel and Hardy Love Affair which tracks the first few minutes of this episode fairly well. However, the short story becomes a traditional melodrama like early Vonnegut, while the episode veers into horror.
Strangers John and Alicia attend the same costume party as singles. Improbably, they have independently elected to attend dressed as characters who individually have absolutely no identity without the other.
This is especially strange for Alicia. At least John has the gut, the black suit, the bowler, and the mustache to sell himself as Oliver Hardy. In a pinch, he could also claim to be a fat Charlie Chaplin or Hitler. Alicia really just has the hat. Never-the-less, once they meet-cute, she does exhibit a pretty good Stan Laurel vibe.
Alicia takes him to a staircase famous from one of L&H’s movies. She had been filming a commercial there earlier in the day. Inexplicably, the crew left a piano case there, but nothing comes of it.
Then they go to a diner and and commence one of the longest, least erotic public displays of affection in movie history. It is even more uncomfortable when done by a couple role-playing 2 dudes. Not that there’s anything wrong with that. However, that is followed by a really nice montage of their courtship.
Then things get weird. Alicia takes John to a fleabag hotel promising to play the titular Gotcha! game.
She gives John white pajamas to wear, lights a bunch of candles and tells him to remain completely silent until the alarm clock goes off. There is a nice shot where she is standing at the end of the bed, and we are seeing John’s POV. Alicia says “Gotcha” and sinks as if through the floor, although the bed blocks our view.
The alarm goes off and she is her cute self again. “Gotcha.” John is terrified, in tears, and she apologizes. For reasons unknown, he goes with her back to the same diner. He seems to be PTSDing pretty hard. She asks if everything is OK, if he would like to play the game again tomorrow with the roles reversed.
He says no, but as she is leaving dejectedly he says, “Gotcha.” He says it with the blankest possible face, and it is impossible to attach any valid analysis to the ending. Sadly, botched endings are becoming the hallmark of this series.
- Alicia says that the original scene with the piano case was filmed 4,000 miles away in Los Angeles. Unless this episode takes place in Ecuador, that is just about impossible.
- It is weird that they made the effort to have the crate be so similar to L&H’s in some ways (placement of the THIS END UP stencil), but not in others (placement of the cross beam).
- Brad Turner went on to direct 46 episodes of 24 — almost 2 full days — so he is forgiven.
- The Laurel and Hardy theme song, used way too much in this episode, is Dance of the Cuckoos.