Ray Bradbury Theater – Gotcha! (S2E4)

rbgotcha04Note 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.

rbgotcha01Then 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.

rbgotcha06After several largely pointless shots of the candles, John, the alarm clock, and the shower head, Alicia suddenly reappears with a pasty face and puts her bony fingers on John’s face.  “Gotcha!”

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.

Post-Post Leftovers:

  • 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.

2 thoughts on “Ray Bradbury Theater – Gotcha! (S2E4)

  1. I never did understand this story. I could come up with some very satisfactory answers, but nothing I was sure of. There was a Doctor Who episode called Midnight about an alien who steals people’s words in order to gain control of their souls. The lady in this story was saying “Gotcha”, then it transferred over to the guy as if some kind of possession had taken place. I will see if I can watch this story again as it has been over 25 years. But, I hope I can find some explanation for it.

  2. Having watched it now, I don’t think aliens were behind it. It was witchcraft.
    To really describe my version of what happened would require several full pages to point out everything.

    Things I noted:

    The lady dressed as Laurel, but was alone, and without anyone in a Hardy costume.

    The game had to be played in a motel in a bad location of town.

    The lady told the man in the hotel that this was the last night of his life.

    The lady she created the game, “…well almost.”.

    The lady said the man had to be good first, before they could play the game.

    The lady could not understand the man’s horrific reaction to the game.

    The lady showed no intent at any given time in this movie to hurt the man, with the possible exception of when her form changed briefly, and her hands were around his neck.

    When the lady’s hand were around the man’s neck, a voice (likely the lady’s) said “Gotcha!”.

    A spider had appeared on the man’s hand right before the final act of terror.

    The lady invited the man to play the game again, reversing their roles. She also seemed surprised when he said no.

    There was something else, but I forgot.

    I’ll let anyone reading form their own conclusion as to what happened. Seeing these facts, its easy for me to understand where Ray Bradbury was going with this most of the time. However, the ending is still very eluding, and it even challenges every suggestion or idea I have it.

    The train stops here for me for now. But, my quest to find out exactly what the ending meant will resume later in life. In 10 years, I will be much smarter and wiser, and will watch this again. Maybe then, I will grasps for sure what happened.
    BTW, no one on the Internet could come up with anything plausible.

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