This gets off to a very rough start. Oddly, the calliope score here did not work for me as well as it did in The Man Who was Death despite this episode being set in a carnival. I guess that’s why you pay extra for Ry Cooder.
Things do not improve with the 1) the use of a distorted lens, 2) having the camera be directly addressed as a carnival goer and 3) the appearance of Robert Wuhl.
Even Wuhl’s patter is awful. He somehow entices the rubes into his show saying that it is “100% natural, no pesticides, but perhaps a homicide.” The homicide part makes sense, as we will discover; but for the couplet to work, there has to be some point to saying pesticide other than just that it rhymes. I expect more from a carny. It’s like vaudeville for people with missing fingers — they use the same routine for years, generations; passed down from father to son, brother to brother; sometimes in the same transaction. They would have had it polished to perfection around 1920.
He promises “two shows in one — the tragedy of death and the miracle of resurrection!” He introduces Ulric who will be buried 6 feet under, and return to life 12 hours later. Things immediately take a turn for the better as Ulric is played by Joe Pantoliano. Once settled in his grave, Ulric addresses the audience, flashing back on how he acquired this talent.
Ulric was a bum, er, Homeless-American when Dr. Manfred offered him cash to participate in an experiment. Manfred came up with a way to transfer a cat’s 9 lives to a human. Rather than sell this discovery to Big Pharma, or to some aging billionaires, Manfred decides the big money is to be made in smelly tents from rubes eating corn-dogs and funnel cakes.
Ulric is skeptical that the operation actually accomplished anything other than killing the cat until the doctor pulls out a gun and shoots him in the head. When he reawakens, he is angry until he realizes that the doctor was telling the truth.
So they split the take as Ulric is killed on a nightly basis by drowning, electrocution, hanging, arrow to the heart, etc. I can understand Ulric not fearing death, but it’s hard to believe he would subject himself to such painful events; unlike Cypher, he is coming back. These things have got to leave a mark. And is that bullet still in his head?
As usual, there is a great twist and justice is served. Suffice it to say, Ulric finishes his story in the same coffin where he began it; just in a much louder voice.
This series and its source material revel in going over the top. Robert Wuhl and much of the direction had the energy, but in this case were just too annoying.
I rate it 4.5 out of 9 cat’s lives.
- Not a biggie, but Ulric is introduced as Ulric the Undying. Technically, he dies every night; he just doesn’t stay dead.
- Wuhl is best known, ironically, for a show that no one watched. Arli$$ was on HBO for 6 years, and the joke was always, “Who is watching this?” Literally, no one knew anyone who watched this show; it just wouldn’t go away. It was Arli$$ the Undying.
- Wow! Writer Terry Black wrote Lethal Weapon, and wrote & directed Iron Man 3. Oh, wait. Oh, that was his brother Shane. Awkward.