Once again, I have to applaud Tales of Tomorrow for going for the long ball. In the first 2 episodes, they destroyed the earth twice. This week, they are presenting a novel (or, at least, a novella) in a 25 minute episode, inviting comparisons to a classic adaptation, and working without the copyrighted make-up that everyone associates with the monster.
A group is sitting around a dinner table discussing the perfect human being. I assumed that this was going to be the alleged party where Mary Shelley came up with the idea for her book. But the time allowed allows no time for almost anything in the book, never-mind outside the book. Elizabeth suggests, “The perfect human being should be giant in size, strong as a gorilla, disease-proof, durable and quick to learn.” Victor Frankenstein opines that not only should Mr. Perfect be those things, he will be all those things.
Unbeknownst to Elizabeth, Victor is working on such a dreamboat. Much is made over Dr. F. throwing a few switches and hovering over a sheet draped over a figure on the slab. It’s amazing how much padding is required when shrinking a 166 page book down to 25 minutes. The shape begins moving and a grotesque figure arises.
The brute gets up off the slab and bounds around the laboratory. Despite Victor and Elizabeth’s predictions, he seems to be about 4 inches shorter than Victor. Vic ties him down, but naturally that doesn’t last long. The brute finds his way to the dining room, sending the help into hysterics.
A little boy handles his appearance a little better, but makes the mistake of saying he’s ugly. He finds a mirror and sees the kid is right. In his rage, the brute picks up a chair like he’s going to smash it, then gently places it back on the floor. This is actually the 3rd time this move has been used with a chair. I assume it’s because busting chairs was not in the budget, and they had to get them back to the Ozzie & Harriett set before sunrise.
After the commercial, the brute breaks into the lab where Victor and his butler are waiting. Victor shoots him several times, inexplicably, in the dick. He falls out the window, 200 feet into the water. Naturally, he comes back Jason-style. Victor is able to kill him with electricity.
Well, what did I expect? It just wasn’t possible to do much justice to the great novella in 25 minutes. The whole episode is really nothing but the brute ambling around and people screaming.
At least it was a lesson well-learned by the Tales of Tomorrow producers. You just can’t adapt a book into a 25-minute episode. Next week: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea . . . oh, crap.
-  Further reading suggests that Chaney’s delicate handling of the chairs was due to his being drunk and not realizing this was the live performance rather than a rehearsal.
-  The next episode to air was indeed 20k Leagues < the C, but sadly it is not included in the collection I am watching.
- John Newland (Victor Frankenstein) was the host of another genre series, The Next Step Beyond.
- The brute was played by Lon Chaney Jr. who played The Wolf Man.
- Not sure why I latched onto the word “brute.” It does appear in the original Frankenstein, but only once.