Ray Bradbury Theater – The Tombstone (10/30/92)

Another director with RBT as his only directing credit.  Usually, the episode that follows makes this understandable.  In this case, however, the episode immediately got off to an interesting start.  The dust flying from the chiseling of the titular tombstone, then the car silently going across a bridge.  Mix in some interesting camerawork, and this had potential.

Walter and Leota Bean are in town looking for a hotel room in an unnamed city (presumably not Tombstone).  The first one they try has an inexplicably repulsive guy renting the rooms.  It is a little bizarre as Walter goes to what is clearly just a room at the hotel with the word OFFICE on it.  No front desk, no ledger, just a guy in a stained wife-beater with a Bud in his mitt.  Even at this dump, there is not a room.

When he goes back to the car, he is berated by his wife Leota, who you would expect to be getting by on her personality.  As a funeral procession goes by, Walter says there ought to be at least one room free in the city [1].  I guess this is Hotelville where everyone lives alone in a hotel.

At the next hotel they try, Walter is nearly knocked over by a man running out.  They get the last vacant room, but when they are taken to it, they see a large, black, oddly phallic tombstone in the middle of the room.  It was left by the running man who was disconsolate over misspelling Whyte as White on the stone.  Why the man chose the 2nd floor of a hotel to chisel the 2,000 pound block of marble is not mentioned.

Leota is convinced the room is haunted, but they stay there anyway.  That night, the chiseler comes back to retrieve the tombstone.  As he chats with Walter and Leota, in the background we see the 60 year old clerk take the stone away on a handcart.  Either this ain’t a real tombstone, or this guy possesses the alien technology that enabled the building of the pyramids.

rbttombstone07Turns out that another person has croaked and just happens to have been named White.  As the Beans are checking out, Walter notices that Mr. White had the room below theirs.

The ending is kind of a mess.  So Mr. White had the room downstairs — so what?  The noises the Beans heard which Leota interpreted as haunting were clearly from the living Whites below.  The noises from above might have been questionable, but the Whites were not staying above.

Mrs. White takes possession of the tombstone locally.  Strangely, the hotel clerk is even on-hand, apparently having more jobs than Kirk on The Gilmore Girls.  So why was the local couple staying in a hotel?  And yeah, I watch The Gilmore Girls.

As the Beans get back on the road, Walter swerves to hit a black cat.  Hunh?

rbttombstone09There is a shot of a Maryland license plate clearly intended to trick the audience into thinking this was not another New Zealand production. However, the last shot of the episode has the car going past a big sign for NZ alt-band Bailterspace.

Thus endeth 6 seasons of Ray Bradbury Theater.

Post-Post:

  • [1] Walter Bean, portrayed by Ron White, is not as funny as the other Mr. Bean, but is funnier than the other Ron White.
  • Never considered:  Mrs. White murdered her husband!
  • If nothing else, I learned that epitaph and tombstone are not synonyms.  The epitaph is an inscription written on the tombstone.
  • Did you ever really think about the fact that there is an American city named Tombstone?  Most people have heard of it, but just think about that — weird.  Now it is no longer a thriving community, just a tourist attraction most famous because of the gunfighting.  Like Chicago.

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