Ray Bradbury Theater – The Utterly Perfect Murder (S5E6)

rbtutterlyperfect30You put a moniker like that on an episode, and you better have some special in store.

Young piano prodigy Doug Spaulding is being chased through the woods by bullies.  This is intercut with telephone calls he made to his chief tormentor over the years since.  On his 21st birthday, he calls Ralph and says, “Hello Ralph.  Is this Ralph Underhill?”  Ralph says, “Yes,” and Doug hangs up the phone.  He does it again on his 40th birthday, or maybe we are supposed to believe this is an annual occurrence.

On his 60th birthday, Doug, now a famous composer has something bigger in mind. Doug does not make the usual call that day, but the next morning goes to a locked cabinet in his garage where he keep momentos of the times that Ralph bullied him.

rbtutterlyperfect17He goes downstairs and sees the mess from the party and says, “When was the armistice signed?” His nameless, uncredited wife replies in a complete non-sequitur, “The world will little note, nor long remember” from Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address.  Is this how smart people talk in the morning?  I’m more used to, “You owe me an extra $50 for that last thing.”

She hands him a bottle of Worcestershire sauce and he pours about 1 molecule into a Bloody Mary before taking a sip.

When he says, “I must arise and go now,” she replies from the same Yeats poem, “but not to a bee-loud Glade.”  Christ, these people make Frasier & Niles look like the Clampetts. He tells no-name that he is going to Chicago, but he actually packs a small bag with the toys — and a non-toy gun — and goes to pay a visit to Ralph.  At this point, after 40 years of calls, Ralph must be mystified why this year, it was one day late.

rbtutterlyperfect26On the way, he recalls other humiliations from his youth, having a big marble thrown in the creek, being afraid to throw rocks at a house, being roughed up, being tied to a tree.  Ralph tells him, “You will never belong anywhere!  Just look me up when you’re old and gray and I’ll remind you!”  So he has held on to that for 40 years despite having a nice home home, a thriving career and a wife with no name.

He stops by his childhood home for a few more bad memories.  The boys thought he was weird for practicing the piano so much and winning competitions.  The slicked back hair and shirt buttoned to the top probably didn’t help either.  Not quite sad enough, he marches into the woods to the tree where Ralph had tied him up once.

That night he goes to Ralph’s house and sets up the toys — the non-lethal ones — on his porch.  He rings the bell and Ralph answers the door.  Doug seems shocked as he looks Ralph up and down.  Of course he has gotten older, just like Doug.  Is there some point  to him not wearing shoes?  He was just at home watching TV.  Maybe it is just seeing him that takes Doug back.  He reaches into his pocket for the gun, but hesitates when Ralph sees the toys.

rbtutterlyperfect49Ralph kneels to see the toys, and Doug points his finger at him, “Bang, you’re dead.” As Doug walks away, Ralph just calls after him, “Doug, is that you?”

Doug goes back to the tree where he was tied up and inexplicably sleeps there for the night.  The next morning he goes back to his old house and summons “young Doug” to stop practicing and go out and play.  In his mind, he sees black & white young Doug head off to the woods across the street.

Thus potentially sabotaging his professional success, and proving Ralph right in an alternate timeline.

rbtutterlyperfect54Post-Post:

  • Title Analysis:  What murder?  In the words of Sidney Wang, “Killed good weekend.”
  • Two women have speaking roles but are not credited on screen or on IMDb.
  • Young Doug (David Turri) has no other IMDb credits.  I’m assuming that is Young Doug, IMDb doesn’t even name his character.  There is an author by that name at Amazon, who has a New Zealand connection, but the age doesn’t seem to work out.

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