The Hitchhiker – Ghostwriter (01/07/86)

hghostwriter08Writer Jeffrey Hunt’s car is pulled out of the water.  A detective standing by is immediately suspicious of his wife Debby and his agent Tony Lynch. They also retrieved a notebook with three false-start letters:  Goodbye Debby, Goodbye Tony, then Goodbye Debby & Tony.  This was pretty prescient as the next scene is one of those godawful amber-bathed Cinemax style sex scenes with the wailing sax, but with an NQ of 0%.[1]  This is not HBO, this is TV.

Thank God it is cut short by Librarian Vivian [2] who drags Tony away to discuss re-releasing Jeffrey’s books.  Left alone at the house, Debby takes a long steamy shower. No wait, she hears a noise and goes upstairs.  To take a shower.  No, she hears Jeffrey’s typewriter clacking away.  She sees a piece of paper roll up with the words: CAN’T LIVE WITH MYSELF.  DROWNING IN GUILT.  It is a sad commentary on this episode that 1) I have an idea where this plot should go, and 2) there’s not a chance in hell it will happen.

She is stunned to see Jeffrey come walking into the bedroom.  He says he faked his death because he wants what every writer wants:  Immortality.  He announces that they are going to disappear to Samoa.  He smirks and tells her “Today is the first day of the rest of my death,” possibly explaining his lack of success as a writer.

hghostwriter14At a reading of Jeffrey’s books by Vivian and Tony, Debby waves Tony outside.  The director very nearly sneaks some humor into the episode before catching himself.  She tells Tony all about Jeffrey.  His bright idea is to kill Jeffrey for real.

To Debby’s credit, she is not thrilled at this idea.  More to her credit, in the next scene, she strips and climbs buck-naked into a Jacuzzi with Jeffrey. Within seconds, we see Tony’s hands around Jeffrey’s throat as he drowns him with an assist from the still-naked Debby.  The score in this scene is so nearly an exact duplicate of the shower scene in Psycho that I’m not sure if it was a homage or rip-off [UPDATE: Rip-Off].

They roll Jeffrey up in a tarp and toss him in the back of a pick-up truck.  Darn the luck, the police show up.  Debby manages to slip away and drives to the river to dispose of his body.  Once again, reports of his death are premature as he suddenly gets up and attacks Debby.  He throws her off a pier on to some rocks.  He then leaves a typewritten note on her windshield TONY FORGIVE ME.  I HOPE YOU GO ON WITHOUT ME. THE GUILTY MUST PAY.

Back at casa de Hunt, it becomes clear that Tony & Jeffrey were in cahoots.  They have a glass of wine to celebrate, but Tony’s is poisoned. The police show up again.  These are both the most diligent and most incompetent cops in the world.  The cops break in and find a note on the typewriter:  POISONED BY GUILT. A GREAT WRITER IS DEAD.  GOD FORGIVE US, DEBRA, FOR THE MURDER OF JEFFREY HUNT.

Jeffrey is spotted at the ferry and makes the world’s worst attempted escape.  He steals a car, rams the gate, and I assume plans to jump the car onto the departed ferry.  He misses by a mere 200 feet.  But what if he had made it?  Couldn’t they radio the captain to turn around, or just meet him on the other side?  So the car goes in the drink and he drowns just as was originally believed.  Nice.

I must admit I was way off-base.  An extra twist and a sexy murder scene redeem this episode from the trash I expected it to be,  It was still a humorless, melodramatic slog but it had some good qualities.


  • [1] Nudity Quotient.  This was on HBO, right?
  • [2] Madeleine Sherwood was a regular on The Flying Nun. Only worth noting because it had the greatest premise in the history of TV: a flying nun.
  • Dayle Haddon (Debby) was on the cover of the 1973 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.
  • Jeffrey often calls Debby “mousy face” which is the least romantic gesture since John Travolta clawed Joan Allen’s face in Face/Off.
  • Almost homophonically related: I’ve been requested this from Alexa a lot lately.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.