The Hitchhiker – The Cruelest Cut (11/18/89)

Question #1: What was holding this knife up?

Without much in the way of preliminaries, a hooker stabs her client.  Leave it to The Hitchhiker to not even get this right.  She sits on the edge of the bed, and pulls a knife out from her leather mini-skirt.  I reran this several times — it wasn’t tucked in her thigh-highs.  She slides it down from her skirt.  What the hell was holding it up?  We see later it is tucked into a garter; but with the handle at the bottom, the question stands, what was holding it up?  She slides it down her right hip.  The dude is behind her and maneuvering his head around her right side.  She must be a contortionist to even sink it into him.  And that 270 degree arc that she had to swing it gave him every chance to stop her.

The cops try to get the other hookers to take it seriously because people are being killed.  Blonde floozy Sterling Jenkins says, “People?  Johns.  Somebody oughta give her a medal.”  With that kind of contempt for her customers, she should be NFL Commissioner.  As Sterling walks away, the knife starts to slip down, but she catches it.

Question #2: Could she really swing that arm allllll the way around to stab him?

A well dressed guy is following her later that night, and she pulls the same distinctive knife on him.  He says he has car trouble and just wants some help.  Amazingly, she is able to get his car started, although, since it is a 1980s Jaguar, his troubles are far from over.  As they start a little flirtation, her scumbag pimp waves her over.  The dude catches up to her later and offers her a ride home.

Another night, the dude finds her again and asks her to dinner.  They go back to his place and she starts to strip, but he stops her.  He is redecorating and wants to get her opinion.  No, seriously.   He says he is color-blind and needs her help.  He does break out the champagne, though.  This is just too weird for her, so she bails out.

Back at her apartment, her pimp is waiting for her.  After some yak-yak, the dude shows up and decks the pimp with an amazingly lame punch.  He takes Sterling to a hotel and orders room service with champagne.  They finally not only have the sex but make the love.  Apparently after one night together, he is ready for this hooker to move in.  He sends her back to her apartment to get her things which makes as much sense as the Frelings trying to dodge a night’s hotel rent by returning to hell-house.

As she is gathering her things, she hears a noise outside her door.  She says, “Jason?” but gets no answer.  So she opens the door.  What?  If she was going to . . . oh forget it.  This is the last episode of this god-awful series.  It’s not worth my time.  Blah blah, it’s the pimp, but she gets away.

She goes back to Jason’s apartment.  Either he left the door open or she has a key.  She overhears him giving another hooker the same sweet-talk he was giving her.  OK, so he sent her back to her apartment to get her things, and thought that narrow window was plenty of time to seduce another hooker?  And knowing Sterling could walk right in and catch them?  Sterling pulls out that ubiquitous knife.  When Jason goes to get some champagne — again with the champagne — she points it at him, but ends up leaving.

Jason goes back to the other floozy five feet away who has somehow seen or heard none of this.  He begins kissing her neck.  She pulls out an identical knife and raises it to stab him.  Oh my God, how did this junk get on TV?  Think back to Alfred Hitchcock Presents from the 1950s.  They almost always had a tight, logical story.  The Hitchhiker is a metaphor for America going to shit.  And no, I’m not 80.

What are they trying to tell us?  Is this a copy-cat killer?  If so, that is a complete non-sequitur.  Did this new chick do the first killing?  I call bullshit on that, too. Immediately after the first killing, we see Sterling with a knife like the murder weapon.  In fact, she seems to whip it out in every scene.   Misdirection is one thing.  Blatantly lying is another.  The first killer also had a leather skirt, black patterned hose, and a silver bracelet all just like Sterling’s.  To be fair, the hooker at the end did too, but what the hell does that mean?

Tales of Tomorrow and Science-Fiction Theater were made when TV was still figuring itself out.  I will defend Ray Bradbury Theater as doing the best they could with severe budget constraints and being saddled with a single writer who was better at prose than screenplays.  This series, however, defies explanation.

They put out 30 of the 85 episodes in 3 DVD sets that should reasonably be expected to be the best of the series.  To be sure, there were some winners, but on the whole, I have never seen a sloppier series.  Some of it can be attributed to terrible transfers and the unfortunate styles of the 1980s.  At the core, though, is just a disregard for story structure and logic.

It is to be avoided.

Other Stuff:

  • This episode was the writer’s only credit.

The Hitchhiker – Riding the Nightmare (10/05/90)

Teleplay by the writer of the incoherent A Whole New You, and the even more incoherenter The Miracle of Alice Ames.  It’s going to be a long night.

We get a shot of a castle with arches.  Wait they don’t have roman columns on castles, do they?  Maybe a mausoleum?  We see a white horse running through the woods at night, but just barely.  Then a shot of some kind of optical effect, a light?  Another shot of the horse.  The light seems to be some sort of rotating cube.  I have replayed this 10 f***ing times and I still have no idea what it is.  It scares the horse, but just pisses me off. [1]

The phone wakes Tess up just as I’m dozing off.  She has broken a sweat sleeping at her desk.  She tells her secretary to show her visitors in.  Her publisher Jim and reporter Dorothy enter to discuss the Davidson article.  Dorothy wants to use photographs in the article, but Tess wants to use the Clemente List.  This second scene was the first sign of trouble except for the entire first scene.  WTF is a Clemente List?  How is it an alternative to photographs?  I played this scene over and over and could not understand what she was saying.  I got Clemente List from the closed caption, but I guess I need footnotes in addition to subtitles.

Jim wants to see Tess’s version, but it will take her a couple of hours to put together.  Dorothy says, “The deadline is 2:00.  I’d say any pictures are better than nothing.”  However, Tess quotes Jim who always says, “Better nothing than anything but the best.”  Tess promises to have the articles and illustrations on Jim’s desk by 2:00.

She scrambles to meet the deadline, but for some reason her sister Jude is there.  Despite the time crunch, there is plenty of time to talk about Jude’s problems with her husband Gordon.  Jude wonders where he is all those late nights, but Tess assures her Gordon would never cheat on her.

In the next shot, Tess is in bed with Gordon.

She gets out of bed when she hears her daughter Karen arrive home.  She has been made editor of the school paper, just like Mommy, except without the whoring.  Tess says they’ll talk about it later and returns to Gordon.  He says he has to go, and I guess Karen doesn’t wonder why her sweaty uncle is leaving her robed Mommy’s bedroom in the afternoon.

That night, Tess again dreams of the horse and the mausoleum.  This time, she gets on the horse and rides it toward the light.  The director seems to think it is important that we see a necklace with a T on it around her neck . . . but not important enough to give us a decent shot.  The horse jumps through the light which seems to be a portal, arriving on the lawn of a large house, but without Tess.  When the horse stops, the T necklace is around the horses neck.  Jude is standing in front of the horse and sees blood near the T necklace.

Tess again wakes up screaming.  Karen comes to the room after hearing Tess screaming which I guess is why she bangs Gordon while Karen is in school.  But wait, Jude says he has been going out at night.  Tess looks at the T necklace she wore to bed and sees there is blood on it.  WTF?  Is she the horse?  Then who was the horse she was riding?

The next day, Gordon meets Tess on the street in front of her office.  Gordon has bad news — his wife Jude is pregnant.  Tess thinks that is great and sees no reason for their arrangement to change (i.e. she can go on humping her pregnant sister’s husband — who are these people?).  Gordon, however, wants to be faithful to Jude now.  And by now, I mean right now — he still proposes they go away together in a couple of weeks.

That night, Tess dreams of the horse again.  Picking up from the previous cliff-hanger, Jude is still fingering the bloody T around the horse’s neck.  OK, now Jude is riding the horse through the woods.  She gets clotheslined by a low branch and is knocked off the horse.  Somehow this causes real Jude, in the hospital, to sit bolt upright as we all do after a nightmare.  Wait, in the hospital?  Is this 9 months later?

Jude gives us a little exposition that “I lost my baby, didn’t I?”  She blames Tess.  Gordon asks if she spoke to Tess, which makes no sense.  Jude says, “I don’t have to.  I saw.  I know.”  Risking his nomination for husband-of-the-year, Gordon decides that this is the best time to tell his wife — in the hospital with a miscarriage — that he was banging her sister.  Jude quite appropriately tells him to beat it.

He goes back to Tess’s place.  He tells her “she acted like she knew.”  He says he is sorry over and over.

We cut to a nice sunny day.  Gordon is in Tess’s kitchen wearing a nice dress shirt and tie, and calls Karen to get the lunch he packed for her to take to school.  Tess comes in and they are all joshing like Ozzie and Harriett.  After Karen leaves, Tess says “I think we’ve done a pretty good job as parents.”  So I guess Tess’s fling with Gordon has been going on for 15 years.  And he might be the biological father, but exactly what parenting did he contribute as Uncle Gordon?

Tess suggests they deserve a reward for being such good parents.  She wants to go away to a cabin in the woods for the weekend.  “Without Karen?” Gordon asks.  So, is Jude dead?  What happened to Jude?  And she is thinking Karen should know of their weekend getaway?  She knows Mommy is banging Uncle Gordon?

Tess, for some reason, meets Gordon out on the same street she met him when they were sneaking around behind the aching back of his pregnant wife.  She sees that he has brought Karen.  He says he didn’t have the heart to leave her by herself.

At the cabin, there is an argument about bedtime.  Gordon takes Karen’s side and Karen calls Tess a witch before running to her room.  In bed, Gordon and Tess are sleeping back to back.  Tess dreams about that goddam horse again.  Now Tess is the rider again.  She is wearing the T necklace, and this time the horse seems to have not accessorized.  The horse jumps through the light again and Tess falls to the ground.  We now see the horse is wearing a necklace with a K on it.

We cut to another nice sunny day.  Gordon and Karen are at Tess’s funeral.  Karen asks if he is going to leave.  He says, “I’ll take good care of you, I promise.”  And continues, “Do you promise to take good care of me?”  She smiles and we see she is wearing a necklace with a K on it.

Lauren Hutton (Tess) is literally the only person to give a reasonable performance.  The men are especially egregious.  Jim doesn’t have much to do but plays it so pointlessly humorless and aloof that it is laughably distracting.  Gordon has long moments of absolute blankness.  At times, he is still and emotionless, not giving a hint of what he is thinking or of his motivation (see the pictures above).  Tess’s sister is similarly a tree stump with awful 1980s hair.  Karen is very cute; almost too cute.  She also has a strange acting style where fear is pretty close to laughter.

Once again, this series has put me in a position where I feel I must be missing something obvious.  These aren’t stupid people.  Nothing as incoherent as this seems could have made it through the production process.  Just about nothing about it makes sense to me.

What is the horse?  Did Jude die?  How did Gordon become man of the house?  Seriously, that kitchen scene is such a non-sequitur and so tonally different from the previous scene that it suggests a time leap or even a different reality.  And let’s consider Karen.

At times the 14 year old actress shows a strange maturity, and at other times is just a kid.  Gordon seems to have a creepy relationship with her.  He brings her along on a romantic weekend with Tess, takes her side in childish arguments.  Is he a pedophile?  She seems to be cool with that, egging him on at the end.  And would the state really allow the single non-biological uncle with tinted sunglasses to adopt this Lolita?  I guess he could show a relationship by showing he was banging her dead mother’s dead sister, but would that help his case?  Something is going on there that they were either too dense to see, or too scared to commit to.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] After a couple more tries, I realized it was rectangular light.  A tree bisected it so it appeared to be a dash and a dot, then gave the illusion of rotating.  Filmed competently, it could have been pretty cool.
  • I read the original short story.  Not really my thing, but it didn’t shed much light on the episode.  There was no Karen, and Jude was OK with her sister humping Gordon.
  • Mostly it made me wonder how Google Books can just put it online for free.  Sure there were a few pages missing, but is anyone thinking, “I liked those seventeen pages, I think I’ll buy the book to see the other two”?  Readers of this blog are paying customers, although the currency is mostly disappointment and wasted time.

The Hitchhiker – Tough Guys Don’t Whine (09/28/90)

I always respected the late Alan Thicke for being such a multi-talented guy.  He wrote insipid TV theme songs (Diff’rent Strokes, Facts of Life), starred in a long-running insipid sitcom (Growing Pains), hosted an insipid talk show (Thicke of the Night), and had writing credits on many shows of varying quality. [1]

A reporterette says to film producer Mickey Black (Alan Thicke), “Your films create heroes we don’t always feel comfortable siding with, but you seem to.  Tell me Mr. Black, [2] is it social consciousness or is it middle age machismo?” [3] He replies, “Skip the feminist rhetoric.  My pictures are about survivors.  They may not be heroes to you — ”

She cuts him off to complain about the violence in his movies, but a gun-fight breaks out nearby.  They take cover and Mickey pills out a pistol to protect them.  “Where’s your rhetoric now?” he quips.  Within seconds, it is all over.  One of the gunman comes over immediately to high-five Mickey for their great ruse on the reporter.  The scene is over so quickly, and the actress so impassive that it is an utter waste of time.  Was she panicked at the gunfire?  Did she fear for her life?  Was she appalled that Mickey carried a concealed weapon?  Was she conflicted that his weapon might now be the only means to save her life?  Did she have an epiphany about the 2nd Amendment?  Did she forget to turn off the iron this morning?  We’ll never know because of the way they raced through the scene.  She does call him a jerk though.

Mickey heads to a dive bar to scout a location for his next movie.  I’ll give him credit for guts.  The bar is filled with typical Hollywood 1980s drug-dealers — studded denim jackets, mullets, permanents, sleeveless shirts, fingerless gloves — and a stripper who is covered up with more clothes than I wear to work.  Mickey tries to recruit the gangstas, but they take off after another low-life.  Mickey sees potential in the stripper, though.  He unwisely makes sure gang-leader James knows he is taking the girl, Penny, back to his place.

Update: Not Milo.

Back at his place, Mickey gives her a tour of his home, and takes a bottle of champagne out of the refrigerator before offering to drive her home.

James and his gang walk up to Mickey’s front door, switchblades drawn.  Fortuitously, the front door is unlocked so they can walk right in.  When James takes one step in, Mickey puts his pistol to James’ head like he was waiting in the dark by the door rather than getting Penny drunk in the kitchen.  In an amazing, barely revealed move, Mickey is able to at-once shut the door on the rest of the gang, push James against the wall, and put the gun to his head.  Also unseen, I guess during this Bruce Lee caliber balletic swirl, he was able to lock the door so the rest of the gang couldn’t enter and kick his ass.

Penny sides with Mickey because she thinks he is going to make her a star.  So we can rule her out as the brains of the gang.  Mickey forces James to his knees at gunpoint.  After telling James — correctly, by the way — what an idiot he is, Mickey pulls the trigger.  The gun just makes a click.

OK, once again, this series seems so unbelievably awful that I have to question my own intelligence.  I have replayed this scene a dozen times — there IS an audible click like an empty chamber being fired.  What is that click?

  1. After the sound, the hammer is still in the cocked position.
  2. The hammer was already in the cocked position, so the sound was not Mickey pulling it back.
  3. Hearing the click, James flinched, so something happened, but what?
  4. James heard a click, flinched, then realized he was not dead.  Why then did he remain kneeling on the floor, and leave peacefully when Mickey ordered him to? Rather than, oh say, beating him to death?
  5. And what happened to his pals?  Surely I am missing something.

In the next scene, Penny is enjoying a bubble-bath.  Really, the only reason for this piece of sh*t to exist is to have a nude scene here.  But no.  Mickey not only awkwardly shields her with a yellow towel the size of a bed sheet as she gets out of the tub; he stops her when she tries to let it slide down.  For some reason, Mickey decides to dress her up in a costume which appears to just be a red sheet.  Looking in a mirror, she says, “I always thought I looked like an Egyptian princess.”  And with her blue eyes and blonde hair, she does look like the Hollywood version of an Egyptian princess.

Mickey has a blue sheet conveniently hanging on the mirror which he drapes over the red drapes already draped over her.  That Mickey is really taking no chances.  They do finally end up in bed.  The next morning he is wrapped in the red sheet and she is wrapped in the yellow sheet.

Mickey and Penny are awakened by Milo Yiannopoulos bashing in a glass door — am I dreaming this?  James instantly appears in Mickey’s bedroom.  Wait, so did he come in a different way?  He points Mickey’s own pistol at him.  There is another of those mysterious clicks, then James tosses that pistol aside and pulls out another pistol.  I don’t know, I guess the first pistol was supposed to create suspense.  Did Mickey recognize his pistol?  Then he knew it was not loaded.  Or is he thinking James, after returning some books to the library that morning, bought ammo, broke into the house, found Mickey’s gun, then loaded it?

James points the second pistol at the couple who are still in bed.  He says, “It must have been a hell of a party.”  Hunh?  I guess he means them having the sex, but what prompted the remark?  The bedroom is not in disarray, there are not bongs and whiskey bottles strewn about, there is not a pile of condom wrappers beside the bed, it is only the two of them in bed.  I guess it is the fabulously festive multi-colored linens.

Milo continues breaking every piece of glass in sight like a peaceful Antifa protester.  James marches Mickey and Penny downstairs at gunpoint.  Milo points a shotgun at Mickey’s head and pulls the trigger.  The chambers are empty — the third time that trope has been used in 15 minutes.

Credit where it is due, though.  This gang — James, Milo, Permanent, and Mullet — are cringingly repulsive human beings.  On top of that, the mindless destruction and the frequent sound of glass breaking create a literal physical reaction in the viewer.

Adding to this revulsion, Mullett holds a sandwich up to Mickey’s face and insists that he “Try some!”  When Mickey opts to stay on Atkins, Mullett mushes the sandwich onto his face, leaving his mug covered with mayo and sandwich debris.  It might not sound like much, but how often do you see a famous actor willing to display humiliation like that on screen?  Then Mullet forces him to take a swig of wine, probably a domestic — oh the humanity!  This is an uncomfortable — in the best sense  — scene.

Thicke is pretty good here.  He tells James there is $50,000 in the end table, to just take it and go.  James says, “Big man — thinks I want his money, thinks I’m after his things.”  He pulls out a knife and continues, “I’m here for your heart!”  He rushes Mickey, but Mickey karate chops him, steals the gun out of his waist, and pushes him back.  Mickey tells him to take his “street-meat” girl and get out.

Penny somehow takes offense at this.  She grabs James’ knife and rushes Mickey.  Mickey could handle the big thug, but little Penny manages to knock the gun out of his hand.  He takes the knife from her and holds it to her throat as James now goes for the gun on the floor.  James backs away from the gun.  Mickey cuts Penny’s cheek which somehow kills her.

Despite Mickey holding a gun on the gang, James is able to knock him down and start pounding his face.  Permanent pulls out a gun.  He points it first at Mickey’s head, thennnnn at James’ head.  At least he doesn’t pull the no-bullets gag again.  Then he pulls out a badge — he is the worst undercover cop since Mr. Orange.

Yeah, I didn’t see that coming, but WTF would I?  If they had sprouted wings and flown off to Capistrano, I wouldn’t have seen that coming either.

This is the third to last episode on the last DVD.  However, the 3 DVD sets only contain 30 of the 85 episodes.  Were they chosen at random?  Could the other 55 really be even worse than the ones in the collection?

I must say Alan Thicke does as good a job as he possibly could.  The problem is that he is Alan Thicke.  I respect his effort to expand his range, but there is just an inherent non-edginess to him that undermines an effort like this.  Just nothing to see here, move along.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] Although, to be fair, one / two of them was / were Fernwood 2-Night / America 2-Night which earns him a lifetime pass from me.  Unfortunately, his lifetime, not mine.
  • [2] This is kind of stilted only-on-TV dialogue that bugs me.  I can’t recall any reporter ever directly addressing a subject in a question as Mr. or Ms.  OK, they might address the president as Mr. President, or say Your Holiness to the Pope or Barrack Obama.
  • [3] Ignoring the dreadful construction of her first question, how is this the choice we are given?  Social consciousness is generally regarded as diametrically opposed to machismo.  Surely he has a reputation as one or the other.  Oh, The Htchhiker is the writer’s only TV writing credit.
  • Title Analysis:  I guess it is a reference to Tough Guys Don’t Dance, but to what end?  They might as well have called it Catch-24 or To Kill a Mockingjay.  Who was whining?  Not the gang.  Mickey was actually pretty ballsy for a Hollywood crap-weasel.   Or maybe Mickey was a tough guy because he didn’t whine.  No idea.
  • This might be my longest post ever.  All I’m trying to say is, that new Death Wish remake looks awful.

The Hitchhiker – My Enemy (11/25/89)

Holly is a little miffed at her boyfriend that she had to spend her birthday with her future in-laws at the restaurant they chose — the Burger Hut.

Lou:  There’s no pleasing you, is there?

Holly:  Just because you can’t doesn’t mean there isn’t.

Well now, starting off with a fun zinger like that, and spoken by a circa 1989 Joan Severance, this episode of The Hitchhiker has immediately established a lot of goodwill.  I have to debit the account for the awful wig they put her in (not pictured), but this is still a good start. [1]

Meanwhile in another part of town, movie star Jane Ambergris [2] — also played by Joan Severance — pulls up to the studio in her white Porsche Carrera.  The awful wig on Holly in the first scene was just to contrast the well-coiffed beauty of this character.  Her license plate 813 FAD is thrust in our face like it means something, but I don’t get it.  Jane gets a look at some of the contestants in her look-alike contest and takes off in disgust like she had just seen contestants in my look-alike contest.

In her tiny, run-down house, Holly gets dolled up for the contest.  She makes herself up every bit as beautiful as Jane, which I predict will not make Jane any happier.  It really makes you wonder what the hell Lou used to reel her in.  She goes to the studio where Jane has reluctantly returned.  Kudos to the director for a nice bit of business here with the contestants all wearing identical purple gowns.  The clacking of their heels as they flock up and back on the sound-stage floor is pretty fun.  A slightly malevolent look-alike mannequin the background is also effective.

Jane hides out in her dressing room until everyone is gone.  However, Holly has hung around.  She brags about how she can do anything Jane can do; so Jane shoots her.  She puts the gun in Holly’s hand so it will appear Jane Ambergris committed suicide.  Jane dumps out Holly’s purse and finds her drivers license.  She makes herself over to look like Holly.  Here, it gets complicated.

Jane makes herself over as Holly so she can escape from the fun, glamorous, fast-paced, high-pressure life she is living — I guess Holly didn’t have a picture of Lou in her wallet.  She writes a suicide note and leaves it for the studio chief.  She also takes the time to set a fire before leaving.

On the way to . . . somewhere, Holly’s car breaks down.  A cop gallantly drives Jane to the address on the car’s registration.  At the house, the cop says, “I’ll just wait here until you’re safely inside.”  Jane opens the door and enters.  After the cop drives off, Jane explores Holly’s house.  She screams when she discovers Holly has murdered her boyfriend and in-laws.

Jane suddenly doesn’t want to be Holly anymore.  She tears off the wig and cries, “I can prove who I am!  I’m still Jane Ambergris!”  A radio apparently turns itself on and the announcer says, “A suspicious fire broke out tonight at the studio of glamorous star Jane Ambergris.  However, thanks to the the actions of a passing maintenance man, there were no injuries.”  Jane is confused and says she couldn’t have missed.  Fearing Holly will take over her life, Jane goes back to the studio.

She sees the studio head and concocts a self-defense story to explain why she tried to kill Holly.  He takes her onto the sound-stage where she sees a mannequin on the floor with a bullet hole between the eyes and a pistol in its hand.  She tries to run.  The exec stops her.  He asks, “Why did you sign the suicide note “Holly”?  Was it because that is you too?  Who are you now, Jane or Holly?”  Jane looks as confused as I am.  The titular hitchhiker shows up, but that guy’s never any help.

“For Jane Ambergris, fame had become a facade she could no longer bear to hide behind.  But by discarding one mask, only to assume another, she was doomed to lose touch with the woman she once was.”

Thanks for clearing that up.  What are we to believe?  I think we are supposed to believe that movie star Jane Ambergris invented Holly to find the simpler life she wanted?  How long was this going on?  She said she had heard Lou’s stories 10,000 times, so they have been together quite a while.  And why would she be with this loser anyway?

They do have a little bit of an out because the studio exec says he has not seen Jane in a week.  Is that because she was playing house with Lou?  I like a good identity mystery, but there are just too many loose ends and contradictions here to make any sense.

Maybe the duality of her personality is reflected in the same license plate appearing on both Holly’s car and the fire chief’s car.   Or maybe someone screwed up.

Other Stuff:

  • [1] I also love the simple dress she is sporting as she runs into the house.  But really, Joan Severance was going to make anything look good.  Lou, on the other hand — I don’t know what the hell he’s wearing.  He has a short-sleeved T-Shirt that somehow still has the sleeves rolled up, a sleeveless denim jacket, and a rogue hoodie mysteriously hanging out of his back collar.
  • [2] What is up with Hollywood and ambergris?  It sounds like a disgusting slime.  Let’s just leave it alone.
  • The writer has a story-by credit on the similarly incomprehensible Miracle of Alice Ames.

The Hitchhiker – Best Shot (04/28/87)

Attorney Steve, of the law firm Steve, Attorney at Law is cruising through the city in his new Porsche which I’m sure he pronounces with 2 syllables. OK, maybe that’s the correct pronunciation, but it still sounds pretentious. [1]  A regular client has landed in jail, but Steve is more interested in getting away for the weekend.

His buddy Brett is having an earnest discussion about the death penalty with a couple of his students.  I am pleasantly surprised that after setting Steve up as a dick, they didn’t make his buddy a staunch death penalty opponent (i.e Hollywood good guy).  His student, clearly not wanting an A in his class, finds the whole idea ghastly and cruel.  Actually I think I like Steve more than the student.

Brett climbs in and they hit the road.  Steve tosses a beer can out of the car.  He asks if Brett would like to drive — not because of the alcohol, but because he wants to show off his new toy.  As Brett tools along at 85, Steve suggests a shooting contest.  I am again surprised as this does not involve drinking shots at 85 MPH, and also does not involve guns.  Steve pulls a video-camera out of the back seat.

Brett pulls up beside a station wagon.  Very creepily, Steve films the dog in the rear, the kids in the back seat, then mom driving.  While Steve is turned around looking for his weed, a dude bounces off the windshield.  Brett was turned around too so did not see what they hit.  They stop.  Steve finds a dead body thrown down the embankment.  He tells Brett it was a dog.

Blah blah blah.  The episode is fine, but tedious to recap.  And, frankly, I’m so happy to again have the power, air-conditioning and wi-fi trifecta back after Irma, that this isn’t holding my attention.  The boys go to a roadhouse where they run up against the great Brion James.  Or maybe the middle section seems less interesting because the episode has such a great ending.

The dead man was a friend of James.  Some good ol’ boys from the bar bury Steve so just his head and shoulders are above ground.  Then they force Brett to drive over his buddy.  There is nothing graphic, but there doesn’t need to be.  The situation and the cartoony Tales From the Cryptian revenge make for a memorable conclusion.

Other Stuff:

  • [1]  That Nietzsche dude is on thin ice with me, too — an E sound on the end just sounds so richtig.