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.

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