American Playhouse (1980– )
97 user 11 critic

Overdrawn at the Memory Bank 

The mind of a computer programmer forced to take a virtual vacation is removed by a totalitarian government and accidentally trapped in the virtual reality simulation. He must find a way out before he expires.


Douglas Williams


John Varley (short story), Corinne Jacker (teleplay)




Episode cast overview, first billed only:
Linda Griffiths Linda Griffiths ... Computech Apollonia James
Raul Julia ... Aram Fingal / Rick Blaine
Donald Moore Donald Moore ... Novicorp Chairman / The Fat Man (as Donald C. Moore)
Wanda Cannon ... Felicia Varley / Lola
Helen Carscallen Helen Carscallen ... Dr. Darwin
Rex Hagon Rex Hagon ... Shuttle Passenger (as Rex Hagan)
Patrick Brymer Patrick Brymer ... Nirvana Clerk
Chapelle Jaffe ... Djamilla
Denise Pidgeon Denise Pidgeon ... Doppling Medico (as Denise Pigeon)
Bunty Webb Bunty Webb ... Teacher
Audra Williams Audra Williams ... Desirée
Hadley Kay Hadley Kay ... Marco
Gary Farmer ... Tooby
Arnie Achtman Arnie Achtman ... Slavin
Maury Chaykin ... Gondol


Raul Julia plays Aram Fingal, a very intelligent computer programmer and a very bored man in the employ of Novicorp, a mega-corporation that exists somewhere in the future. When caught watching "Casablanca" at his desk, Fingal is required to undergo rehabilitation therapy called "doppling." Doppled patients find their minds transferred into the bodies of animals for a new outlook on life (and for a number of amusing nature documentary sequences narrated by Julia). However, Fingal's body is misplaced and he is transferred into a computer while the body is located. With the help of Appolonia James, a medical technician played by Linda Griffiths, Fingal manages to reprogram himself into a simulation of Casablanca and eventually gains access to Novicorp's financial computers, bringing the company to its knees. But Fingal's real problem is getting back into his body before his memory patterns are erased. Written by Chris Holland <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


They want to control his mind but can't even find his body. See more »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


All of the animal footage during the sequence where Fingal is doppled into a baboon is taken from the film Beautiful People (1974). See more »


Appollonia's hair when she is attempting to save Fingal from being sucked into the computer. See more »


Fingal: At least I'm not an anteater.
See more »


Features Beautiful People (1974) See more »

User Reviews

Read the short story, it's good!
3 August 2002 | by h_pmSee all my reviews

This movie was based on the short story "Overdrawn At The Memory Bank", written by John Varley in 1977. You can find it in "The 1977 Annual World's Best SF", edited by Donald A. Wollheim and published by DAW.

John Varley has won both several Hugo *and* Nebula awards for his work. One of his most famous stories is "Persistance Of Vision" (also the title of a short-story collection). This was not the only story dealing with the idea of peoples minds being transferred. Guess how they do sex-change operations?

The funky names of the characters come from the short story, so you can't blame PBS for them. However, the plot of the PBS movie differs significantly in many ways from the short story. THe basic premise remains the same, but they really messed with it too much.

Also, I saw the original production of this on PBS when I was a teenager, and didn't think it was absolutely horrible. Frankly, the digital effects were state of the art for the time and for a TV production.

(I may be one of those rare individuals who has seen MANY of the MST3K titles in their original form back when I was a kid).

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Official Sites: (Spanish)


Canada | USA



Release Date:

1983 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Archivio segreto See more »

Filming Locations:

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Company Credits

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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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