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Is 'A Million' Worth It?
The second ongoing episode of 'Tales From The Darkside', 'I'll Give You A Million' focuses on two millionaires whom have left no means unturned to rise to the top of their game, including murder. On one Thursday night, Duncan Williams (Keenan Wynn) decides to test the faith of his friend Jack Blaine (George Petrie) by offering one million dollars for his eternal soul. Jack balks, but is eventually convinced to sell his soul to Duncan (who included provisions where Jack would get both his money and highest interest allowed by law if Jack were to die by unnatural causes, same with himself). Bad move, since Jack soon learns he has cancer and only has about a month to live. Duncan is skeptical, refusing to accept Jack's offer to return the money and to void the contract. Only after Duncan is offered an additional million dollars does he reconsider. By this time, however, it's too late. Jack dies, and Duncan is left with a worthless contract. Or is he? Not quite, as Jack returns from the grave in spirit form and tries to convince Duncan to accept the soul. Duncan ends up having a heart attack due to seeing his friend (whose body was cremated), and as he lies dying on his bed, a well-dressed man appears in the room. The man speaks cryptically about the details of the contract before throwing it behind him... the paper bursting into flames. It's the Devil (Brad Fisher), and he's claiming the reward of these two evil mens' souls. Before he returns to Hell, he glares at the body of Duncan Williams, whose chest bursts with three flaming words: Paid In Full. An excellent episode of the series with great performances by Keenan Wynn and George Petrie. The highlight performance is that of Brad Fisher, who despite not looking like the typical Devil, pulls off the coldest, most sinister approach I've ever seen anyone take. You fear him not by his looks, but by his sheer evil. He's almost amused by their little game, yet stayed out of it until they'd ruined themselves by bargaining with impossibly high stakes.
This deserved to be followed up as a series...
I caught this on HBO back in 1989, and this was definitely meant to launch a television series. Mark Lindsay Chapman plays a reporter who discovers a plot by aliens/androids to begin a conquest of Earth. Unfortunately, he's branded a fugitive when he is caught killing one of the cyborgs who replaced his girlfriend. His trip takes him through California and Oregon, where he learned that while his girlfriend was replaced by an android, others that vanished with her on an airplane flight she was on are still human. The end had him on the run with a list containing the names of all people that were on the flight that his girlfriend was on in an effort to see just who from the flight could remember just what happened. Great premise, though a bit underbudgeted (what could one expect when it came to sci-fi on network tv back in 1986?), and there were many questions that were never resolved. Definitely should have been followed up, since we never learned if Chapman's girlfriend was alive (played by Catharine Mary Stuart) or how he would manage to convince the human race of the threats posed by the aliens. With today's budget, it'd be great to see 'Annihilator' retried. Nice mix of 'The Fugitive' and 'War Of The Worlds'.
War of the Worlds (1988)
A great series that could be revived at any time.
'War Of The Worlds' was an excellent show. There were so many dark moments in the first season, and many endings had hollow victories. The cast was great. Jared Martin gave his all, as did Phil Akin and Richard Chaves. What was unfair was the fact that many things that were building towards the second season NEVER took place, thanks to the fatal change in direction. I personally liked the original aliens compared to the Morthren, but they (the Morthren) had some cool weapons. The first episode of the second season should have been the last episode period, unless the producers could find a way to bring more reinforcements from the original aliens homeworld. That would have been a REAL 'War of the Worlds', as the humans could have faced both sets of warring aliens in a battle to save Earth. I'd like to believe that the series could be revived, since one of the early episodes dealt with a list of 10,000 aliens held somewhere that disappeared. It was never revealed if the aliens had it, so it's possible Quinn (an alien from the 1953 invasion trapped in a disease-free human body) could have taken this list, and gone about his own agenda to take over Earth. It's out there, Paramount, so revive the series that the fans want... the Original 'War of the Worlds'.
Tales from the Darkside (1983)
Welcome... to the "Darkside"!
One of the more sinister television series ever to air, "Darkside" was actually passed up by the networks who thought a series of that caliber would be too dark for the demographics. Big mistake. The first two seasons of "Tales From The Darkside" had a sense of realness to them... suspending disbelief, viewers could actually believe these situations would happen. Case in point: An episode ("I'll Give You A Million") dealt with two elder businessmen. One offers the other one million dollars in exchange for the rights to his eternal soul. They agree, but the seller begins to regret his decision, especially after learning he has liver cancer. The buyer refuses to break the deal, until he learns that the seller will give him two million for the contract and his soul back. Only problem: The seller dies and a third party enters the fray. Needless to say, the buyer dies and the third party (The Devil, played perfectly by the underrated Brad Fisher) collects both souls. Many actors (unknowns and former big names) displayed great performances on "Darkside". The series was so successful that CBS revived "Twilight Zone" to capitalize on "Darkside". The show was dark, frightening, and had a sense of bizarre justice. Truly one of the best series ever to air.