Tales from the Darkside: Season 2, Episode 23

Fear of Floating (25 May 1986)

TV Episode  |  TV-14  |   |  Fantasy, Horror, Thriller
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At an Army recruiting station in Arizona, Arnold Barker asks for protection from the Cooper's, who are trying to hold him hostage as "The Human Balloon" in their circus. But the Cooper's are nearby and have a different story to tell.



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Title: Fear of Floating (25 May 1986)

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Episode cast overview:
Arnold Barker (as Howard Sherman)
Anne Lange ...
Cpl. Marcia Smith
Sgt. Buzz Caldwell
Betty Ann Cooper / Good Time Rita
John Ridge ...
Paul Sparer ...
Narrator (voice)


At an Army recruiting station in Arizona, Arnold Barker asks for protection from the Cooper's, who are trying to hold him hostage as "The Human Balloon" in their circus. But the Cooper's are nearby and have a different story to tell.

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis





Release Date:

25 May 1986 (USA)  »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


The uniforms of the two Army recruiters are completely out of regulation. They are wearing no name tags or insignia of any kind other than their rank, one of which isn't even an Army rank. Also the Corporal has her sleeves rolled up. See more »

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User Reviews

Tales from the Darkside - Fear of Floating
16 February 2015 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

With any anthology series, you have your good episodes and bad ones. Then there are those strange tales that are simply loony tunes. Built from start to finish as a silly exercise, "Fear of Floating" is all about people out for getting what they want…but no one seems to by the end. Arnold Barker (Sherman Howard, all expressive and animated) is running from what we are told is a circus! Two army recruiters, Marcia Smith (Anne Lange) and her boss, Buzz (Leon Russom), stuck in some sunbaked Podunk town where they have went a long stretch without any signees, finally believe they might have found their pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: Arnold, a "floater". For some reason, Arnold is unable to remain grounded unless he wears "lead shoes". Buzz sees Arnold's "condition" as a means to escape his current place in the military as does Marcia. Both, having endured the sweltering confinement and tedium of their current position in the army, see Arnold's recruitment as a way out. But Pa and Betty Ann Cooper (John Ridge and consummate scene-stealer, Yeardley Smith (of Maximum Overdrive & Legend of Billie Jean, fame)) come a calling, wanting Arnold to return home with them and be a husband and father he supposedly intended to be. So you have this battle over Arnold as both sides demand him while he tries to just get out of responsibilities based solely on his own mistakes. Yeardley is so tiny, vulnerable, and innocuous (quite the available patsy for Arnold to finagle into the sack), the portly hillbilly Ridge (toting shotgun) all demanding and aggressively asserting (that Arnold return to the family whether he wants to or not), Marcia supportive and encouraging (she doesn't want the situation to end badly, and her desire to leave this area is well established), and Buzz rightfully enthusiastic and hopeful (due to Arnold signing the recruitment papers to join the army): all have a reason to want Arnold to "join their fold". That Arnold may actually relieve himself of the floating "disability" by telling the truth could be his light at the end of the tunnel. However, Arnold is indeed a conniving, manipulating snake unable, it seems, to get his act together so the end result: Buzz has just a momentary buzz until yet another lie sends Arnold heading upward, getting quite a bit of blood spattered on him. The ceiling fan is an important prop in this one. This is totally designed as an absurd comedy where a small cast circles around a prize, with that prize being unworthy of their attention. Sherman (known as Bud in Day of the Dead (1985)) has plenty of fun as this corrupt rube with no intentions on ever being honorable (as Marcia finds out all too well). The setting is really convincing as a dead end for those who enter the army expecting great things, receiving a sentence of boredom and disappointment as a result. The three principals are all in with their lively performances; Buzz and Marcia's predicament is especially expressed in their desperation, haphazard hair and disheveled attire, and the recruitment building's disconcerting sense of hopelessness. It is pretty clear you don't want to wind up there.

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