Science Fiction Theatre – No Food for Thought (04/23/55)

The host tells us we are in Santa Rosa where “nothing much has happened since the Wells Fargo robbery of 1882”; that streak will not end tonight.  Sheriff Simpson enters Silas Barker’s funeral parlor, sadly for the business, on his own two feet.  He tells Simpson about a call he got to pick up a stiff at the Tyson place.  He was told the corpse would be in the garage.  He found it there with a death certificate that fingered pneumonia as the murderer.  There was no one else around.

Believe it or not, this might be the most visually interesting shot in the episode.

County Health Officer Paul Novak is the next person through the door, also sadly vertical.  Walk-in business — not good for a mortuary.  He examines the corpse which the death certificate identifies as John Corey.  It gives his age as 52, but Novak says he has the body of a 20 year old.  He asks who this E.M. Hall is who signed the death certificate, but no one knows.

Novak drives out to the ol’ Hall place to ask a few questions.  He gets no answer at the door, but does have the good fortune to meet TV’s Fred Ziffel from Green Acres who is delivering a package!

Back at the Sheriff’s office, Novak suddenly decides “Dr. Hall” sounds familiar.  He pulls out a medical directory and flips through the pages, “Haynes . . . Haynes . . . Hale . . . Haley . . . Hall”.  What bloody order is this thing in? [1]  Hall was a Nobel Prize winner in 1936, when that meant something.  He was a leader in the field of nutrient biology.

Novak returns the next morning to the Hall house.  This time, via an intercom, Hall tells Novak he may come in.  However, just inside the door he will find a shower where he must scrub down.  Luckily, not airing on Showtime, the next shot is of him post-shower buttoning a fresh surgical gown.  Hall greets him and takes him into the lab.

Hall tells Novak that Corey worked for him 3 years.  Corey’s hot daughter Jan is also working in the lab.  They are searching for a nutrient — an artificial food — that is cheap and foolproof because earth has gotten to the point where it can’t feed the number of people living on it.[2]  As proof, he shows off a fully grown rabbit that is only 6 weeks old. Sadly it will die soon as a virus occurs whenever the nutrient is used.

The next day, Novak goes back to see the doctor.  He confronts him about not buying groceries and John Corey’s inexplicable youth.  He suggests that Corey did not die of pneumonia, but from testing the nutrient on himself.  Once on the nutrient you can never go back to real food.  Everyone in the lab is now taking the nutrient.

They were able to survive by switching to the New & Improved nutrient after Corey croaked.  Unfortunately, the novelty wears off and Jan contracts the virus.  Blah, blah, blah, Novak comes up with a cure.

This was excruciating.  The YouTube transfers are terrible but whatta ya gonna to do? The score continues to be offensively pompous.  The story was just an utter nothing although some of the dialogue was good.  John Howard had a few good moments as Novak.  The real catch was Vera Miles who would be in The Searchers the next year, and in Psycho a few years later.

I rate it 20% of the minimum daily requirement.

Post-Post:

  • [1] I guess it could have been the less-used Haines, but why would they do that?
  • [2] This was when the earth’s population was about 1/3 of what it is now.  This is the kind of shrewd analysis that led to Hillary being given a 95% chance of winning.
  • Director Jack Arnold, writer Robert Fresco, and hayseed Fred Ziffel previously worked on Tarantula together.  That film was one of Clint Eastwood’s first gigs.

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