The Hitchhiker – O.D. Feelin’ (01/28/86)

You touch me, he dies. If you’re not in the air in thirty seconds, he dies. You come back in, he dies.

God, the 1980s — cultural nadir of America.  The big-shoulder clothes, the rolled up jacket sleeves, the parachute pants, the over-produced music, the synths, the big hair, the punk motif, the MBA-mentality, the manic coke-snorting yuppies, The Hitchhiker. Confidence is not high.

Sandra Bernhard (playing the charmingly-named ‘Rat’) witnesses a drug deal.  She is pure 80’s homeless / punk chic with spiky bright yellow hair.  There is a Mexican Stand-Off between three white guys, a black guy and no Mexican guys that leaves them all dead guys.  Rat walks onto the scene and makes off with a wristwatch and a brick of cocaine.

She walks home tapping a crystal-knobbed cane in front of her.  Wise Man — a true 80’s dude with both a tiny pony-tail and a mullet — says to his rotund, inevitably-named associate Fool, “Look who’s tapping his way down the street.”  OK, Sandra Bernhard was always kinda androgynous, but I don’t get the use of his.

Wise Man and Fool follow Rat to her, by definition, Rat-infested home. They peek in the window and see that within seconds she has already thinned the herd by overdosing on the coke.

Damn them for actually giving me a good laugh as they enter her hovel via crashing through the window. They take the cocaine . . . I mean with them.  A few seconds after they leave, partners of the drug-dealers break in.  It’s just as well Rat OD’d or she would have been murdered twice by now anyway.  Looking out the window, one of them sees, “Wise Man and that fool” running away, so I guess Fool isn’t his given name.

The episode is wearing me down as usual, but this time in a good way.  Yeah, the 80’s atmosphere is awful, but if you look beyond that, there are some fun performances and dialogue here winning me over.  Sadly Fool does not survive the scene.[1]  His death forfeits logic and the laws of physics for a shock laugh, but that seems like a good trade to me this time.

Wise Man goes to see The Chemist (played perfectly by Joe Flaherty). Whether it was intentional or not, his ditsy blonde assistant Orchid gets a laugh from me by calling him Wiseman [2] as if it were his name. While Chemist and Wise Man are weighing the cocaine, Orchid pours some champagne — hey, there’s a brick of coke right there! [3] We are tipped off that Orchid has slipped poison into one of the glasses.  Son-of-a-bitch if I wasn’t fooled again!  She killed The Chemist and she and Wise Man end up in the sack.

Orchid leaves Wise Man and takes the cocaine to The Duke.  The drug-dealers, always a step behind, find Wise Man and kill him.  Now he is Dead Man.  And on it goes through The Duke and Mr. Big.

The ending . . . well, I don’t even understand what happened.  It was fun and unexpected and looked great, though.  The Hitchhiker could use a lot more episodes like this.

Great stuff.


  • [1] Played by the then ubiquitous, now dead, always likable Dennis Burkley.
  • [2] Unlike Arnold Schwarzenegger who just didn’t care when he pronounced Batman like it was his name.
  • [3] I’ve got an I Get a Kick Out of You shaped hole right there with nothing to go in it.  Yeah, I could have linked to Blazing Saddles, but I always wondered if Frankie really mentioned Cocaine.
  • The top picture caption is an Escape from New York reference.  I had mashed up a comparison, but they don’t look as similar as I remembered.

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