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Where's the Raid?--A Fear of Spiders
22 April 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Serling from the Elizabeth Walter short story The Spider, gourmet critic Justus Walters (Patrick O'Neal) is trying, and failing, to complete a series of articles for his newspaper column, interrupted by both Elizabeth Croft (Kim Stanley), who Walters dated several times out of courtesy, and who now desires his love constantly, but is rejected by Justus each time, and a spider in his kitchen sink that returns despite his efforts to get rid of it due to being deathly fearful of spiders, and it is larger each time in his phobic view. He tries 2 times to get his landlord, Mr. Boucher, (Tom Pedi) to get rid of it, only to be told that he's nuts, after which Justus heads to his own apartment and finds a huge spider in his bedroom. He then goes to Elizabeth to seek, rather insincerely, her company that he'd callously rejected moments before, only to be given a taste of how she was treated by him, right down to the words that he'd used. He then asks her to see if the spider is still there in his bedroom. She looks, seeing nothing, then asks Justus to see for himself. When he enters to check, Elizabeth locks Justus in the room, enjoying listening to Justus pleading hysterically to be released from the room. Reciting poems by Browning, Elizabeth tells Justus that she'll release him in the morning. Justus then hysterically howls, "It's in here!" when he sees his 8 legged nemesis again. Elizabeth then recites a poem authored by a poet whose name she cannot remember as she exits Justus' apartment, which is now silent. I must admit I enjoyed this segment since it was but one of several exercises in poetic justice offered by Serling in this series. When I saw the big spider, though, I thought: gee, where's the large can of Raid! when you need it, because that spider is about the size of a 1/6th scale Volvo. There aren't any spoilers in this comment whatsoever.
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Dr. Stringfellow's Rejuvenator
31 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, "Doctor" Ernest Stringfellow is selling his fake drugs to the people of a desert town when a farmer (Lou Frizzell) asks him to help his daughter. Stringfellow sees that the girl is beyond help, but seeks to profit from her plight and her father's misery by giving a bottle of his medicine to ease the girl's pain. Dr. Snyder (Murray Hamilton), who practiced medicine before being brought low by his devotion to whiskey, offers a second opinion: The girl's pain indicates a burst appendix, and she will surely die. Stringfellow scoffs, "Diagnosis by a drunk." "Doubtless, but with a far sight more truth than the labels on those bottles of yours," Snyder says. Rolpho (Don Pedro Colley), Stringfellow's slow-witted assistant, is troubled by the girl's plight, but Stringfellow says, "I should be getting $100 a swallow for that stuff. I give hope to the hopeless and faith to the faithless. You see, I let them look over the pigsty and get a peek of Heaven." The farmer returns to ask Stringfellow to help his little girl, and he sends Rolpho for more of the fake drugs, saying, "You know what I do, brother? I sell faith. I'm going to give your little girl enough faith to kick her way out of a coffin if she needs to be. If she steps into the shadows, I am going to bring her back to life!" She dies anyway, the undertaker (Matt Pelto) gets her body, and Stringfellow prepares to leave town. Snyder says, "You offer one valuable service, medicine man. You can make the Devil himself look like God." As Stringfellow walks down the street, he sees the spirit of the little girl. He reckons that either his fake drug works, or this is a terrible judgment. She rises from the rocking chair as if to accuse him, then vanishes. The wind knocks the undertaker's sign down, missing Stringfellow, but scaring him to death. The undertaker then gets Stringfellow's body. Rolpho says, "Fool old man. You thought you was so smart, but you weren't after all," as he sets the wagon on fire. Snyder asks, "What did you do that for?" Rolpho says, looking first at the burning wagon, then the undertaker's shop, "Nothing in there worth anything, and nothing in there worth anything either," and Snyder agrees with a smile. When I saw this, I thought that Forrest Tucker gave flickers of humanity that indicated Stringfellow was once a compassionate man, and that the story made a comment about profiting from the misery of others, and its consequences.
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Night Gallery: Something in the Woodwork (1973)
Season 3, Episode 11
Something in the Woodwork
31 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted from the R. Chetwynd-Hayes short story Housebound by Serling, Molly Wheatland (Geraldine Page), the former wife of Charlie Wheatland (Leif Erickson), turns to martinis to escape her loneliness within her house, which stood empty for 30 years before she bought it for almost nothing due to the fact that holdup man Jamie Dillman (John McMurtry) died in the attic after a gun fight with cops, and his ghost has been there ever since. But Molly isn't scared by the idea of a ghost in the attic of her house. In fact, she welcomes the company. Molly invites Charlie over to talk, which is a pretext to throw him a birthday party, but Charlie says that since his girlfriend, Julie (Barbara Rhoades), is waiting for him in his car, he must decline. Molly rages that she has no need of him, adding after her anger subsides that she has friends of her own, like the ghost living in the woodwork of the attic. Charlie, thinking that Molly has had her sanity compromised from too many years of swimming in martinis, tells her that he will return later with help. Molly rushes to the attic to enlist the aid of Jamie's ghost, who says, "Leave me alone." Molly threatens to torch the house unless he helps her. "What can I do?" Jamie asks. Molly says with a smile, "Charlie has a bum ticker, Jamie. Frighten him to death." When Charlie returns, saying that he's brought a psychologist to examine her, she dares him to go up to the attic. Charlie goes there to humor Molly, and she hears a sharp cry and the sound of a slumping body. As she pours herself another martini, Molly says, "Well, there's always more goblets to replace the broken ones. But unfortunately, there's only one heart to a customer. And yours, Charlie, has given out." She sets her martini down, though, when she hears the stairs creak, and sees Charlie coming down the steps. She calls his name, and is shocked to hear Jamie Dillman's voice say, "Charlie is no longer with us, Mrs. Wheatland. He's in the attic room, moving around, getting used to things. Why didn't you leave me alone? There was peace in the woodwork. Peace." Molly Wheatland screams in terror and hysteria as Jamie advances on her with murderous intent. When I saw this, I thought: Gee, Molly should have started dating other men instead of asking a ghost to solve her conflict with Charlie, her former husband. Spoiler alert: Edward M. Abroms, editor of the Night Gallery pilot film, directed this segment from the series' 3rd season.
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The Academy: I would not want to be sent there
31 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Serling from David Ely's short story, rich widower Mr. Holston (Pat Boone) comes to the Glendalough Military Academy to talk to its director (Leif Erickson) about the eligibility of Holston's son, Roger, for enrollment there. Holston says that Roger is a good kid who had gotten into trouble, and needs a strict routine, adding that his wife had died in a boat accident while Roger was young, which the boy survived due to his ability to swim. They tour the academy, including the classrooms and dorms, and Holston, noting the ages of each of the cadets (some are boys, others are young, middle aged, or old men), asks one of the cadets, Sloane (Larry Linville), how he feels about academy life, and Sloane says that he likes it, despite how busy he and the other cadets are kept. Holston notes an item of news about an assault on a young woman some years ago, and says that if this is the same Sloane, then he'd have to be in his 30s, adding that the academy's hallmark is unending drill. The director says that Holston is right about this, and shows him the statue on campus, which is the director with a cadet. Holston notes that the statue faces the academy, and the director says that it is the world of both cadets and instructors, and all that a boy needs is right there, and for that reason the statue symbolizes welcome, not farewell. Holston asks how long his son's stay is, and the director says, "I assumed you knew that. Indefinitely, Mr. Holston. Most of the parents prefer it that way." Holston says, "Roger will be here tomorrow," and questions the gatekeeper before leaving. The gatekeeper says that he's a cadet like the rest, adding that he came to the academy as a teen, and would soon be 55. Holston's driver asks if Roger was enrolled, and when Holston says that Roger is to be there tomorrow, says that as Roger is high-spirited, he would not like being there. Holston says, "My son's a rotter, you know that. This is just the place for him," as he enters the car, and they leave. When I saw this, I thought: Gee, I would not want to be sent to this academy if I were in Roger's place, and neither would anyone else. I also noted that Holston might be to blame for his wife dying, and wanted to put the blame on Roger, his son. Spoiler alert: John Lewis's score for the segment "Class of '99" was recycled for this story.
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The Waiting Room: No one wants to die here, not even me
30 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this story, Sam Dichter (Steve Forrest) sees a hanging body before entering the town and its bar. He orders a whiskey, then sees 5 men playing a game of poker. When the clock chimes 9, Charlie McKinley (Lex Barker) leaves, and Dichter recalls that Charlie died in Abilene, and is shaken when Charlie meets his fate, but not the other 4 men at the table, who ask Dichter to take McKinley's place. When Dichter idly calls Joe Bristol (Albert Salmi) "brother", he snaps, "Don't call me brother. I'd sooner be kin to a vulture bird," and asks Dichter to recall when Bristol lost a duel in Monterey to Max Auburn (Larry Watson), a gunman who was younger and faster than Bristol was. He says to Doc Soames (Buddy Ebsen) that while Dichter may be fast on the draw, he's slow with his brain, and Dichter calls Bristol out. The clock chimes 10, Bristol is called out by Auburn, and as Bristol leaves, Dichter sees daylight instead of darkness, after which Bristol meets his fate. Dichter says he's dreaming, but Abe Bennett (Jim Davis) says that it's no dream, saying he had robbed banks before being shot dead in a holdup of a bank in Tombstone by a deputy armed with a rifle who saw him in a church steeple, and that his take was $40, which paid for his burial. The clock chimes 11, and Bennett meets his fate. Doc Soames tells Dichter of how he saved gunmen, until he counted the lives lost. Then he killed himself, adding, "The point, Mr. Dichter, the elusive point, is that we, all of us, were doomed from the moment we took up firearms." The clock chimes 12 and Soames meets his fate. The barkeep (Gilbert Roland) asks if Dichter recalls the lives he took, adding, "It's just a waiting room, Mr. Dichter, where each man awaits what is ordained. Some call it Hell." The clock chimes 1, and Dichter hears a crowd outside, which he is told is his jury, and the barkeep says, "It's closing time, Mr. Dichter. No doubt I'll be seeing you again." Dichter looks at the hanging body, and removes the hood from its face, then he screams, recalling that he was hung for murder. He enters the bar on foot, and sees the barkeep and the 5 men who said that all 6 would be there forever. When I saw this story, I thought: No one wants to be there forever, not even me. Spoiler alert: The segment was shot in the saloon set used in the TV western series based on the Owen Wister novel The Virginian.
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Marmalade Wine: A Very Special Nightcap
26 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Jerrold Freedman (who also directed it) from the short story written by Joan Aiken, daughter of poet and story writer Conrad Aiken, novice shutterbug Roger Blacker (Robert Morse) is caught in a surprise rainstorm, arriving at the residence of Dr. Francis Deeking (Rudy Vallee), a noted surgeon who's now retired. Deeking invites Blacker in to share a decanter of marmalade wine and talk. Blacker brags that he's a star photojournalist for Life and Look magazines, which is an outright lie, adding that he has the ability to predict when things happen. Intrigued by this, Deeking asks for a demonstration of Roger's abilities. Roger immediately announces the results of a horse race and an election, and Deeking makes bets on both, winning them when Roger's predictions come true, then he asks for stock picks which he could phone in to his broker prior to the opening of the markets, making a bundle when those predictions also come true. While this takes place, Roger wonders about something concerning the doctor in the news, something strange and spooky, then drifts off to a drunken sleep. Roger awakens to a huge hangover and what he thinks are tight boots around his ankles, and tries to apologize to the doctor for telling him lies. The doctor informs him that all his predictions came true and that he would do something about the tight boots around Roger's ankles. Roger insists that the results of his predictions were coincidental, but the doctor's enthusiasm is unbridled. While alone, Roger discovers to his horror that Dr. Deeking was stripped of his license to practice medicine because of the doctor's insanity. He attempts to leave, but is stopped by his host, who informs him, "I'm sorry, but leaving is out of the question. But don't worry, you'll be very happy here. While you were asleep, I took the liberty of amputating your feet." The now invalided Roger Blacker is being spoon-fed by the deranged doctor, who says, "Open wide, open wide," as he does so. When I saw this segment, I thought that this guy had no idea of what he was getting into. Spoiler alert: Robert Morse and Rudy Vallee starred in both the stage and film versions of the play How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying before appearing together in this segment.
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The Sins of the Fathers: Chilling Food for Thought
26 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Halsted Welles from the short story by Christianna Brand, who was noted for the Nanny McPhee series of books, a famine and plague are ravaging the 19th century Welsh countryside, obliging Mrs. Craighill (Barbara Steele) to send her servant (Michael Dunn) on horseback for 3 days and nights to find someone to do the hated sin-eater's rite. After finding that all the men nearby are either dead or dying of famine and disease, he then heads to the farm of Dylan Evans, only to be told by the man's wife (Geraldine Page) that he's too weak from famine and illness to perform the sin-eater's rite. The servant begs Mrs. Evans to send her husband, describing the foods of the feast in mouth-watering detail. Out of desperation, Mrs. Evans decides to send her dull-witted son, Ian, in her husband's place. Ian, though, is horrified at having to feast from a dead man's corpse and taking on the sins of the departed, and being damned forever as a sin-eater, and refuses to do it at first. His mother insists, saying that he must imitate his father and recite the sin-eater's prayer, but instead of eating the funeral feast must hide the food in his cloak to take home, and never eat so much as a crumb or morsel in the corpse's presence, adding that he must insist that he perform the rite alone. Ian rides to the Craighill home on the servant's horse. Mrs. Craighill protests that Ian is too young and weak from hunger to do the sin-eater's rite, but concedes that since there's no one else healthy enough to do it, then she must have him perform the task. When the mourners urge Ian to eat, he insists that he must perform the rite alone, and Mrs. Craighill, wishing to see her husband's sins removed from his soul, agrees, and ushers them from the room. Ian begins the prayer, hiding the food in his cloak, gagging as he moves around the corpse to do it, and utters the horrified shriek that tells of the passing of the sins. He then runs from the house in terror, with Mrs. Craighill tossing the 3 gold coins after him. Ian makes it home on foot, and his mother removes his cloak, taking the food into the other room as Ian watches. Mrs. Evans says that the feast is ready, and Ian enters the room to find the feast arrayed around his father's corpse. Mrs. Evans pleads with him, asking if he wants his father to die with a sinless soul or not, adding that he shouldn't worry because he would have a son to eat his sins. Ian, now doomed to be a sin-eater, begins his hated feast, shrieking the prayer. I have to admit when I saw this, I was chilled by the thought that anyone would subject their child to this, whether male or female. Spoiler alert: this segment was made before the I'll Never Leave You-Ever segment, but aired a week after it.
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A chilling preamble to the Night Gallery series: the pilot film
25 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This, the pilot to the Night Gallery series, makes for a rather chilling preamble, starting with The Cemetery, in which Jeremy Evans (Roddy McDowall) offs William Hendricks (George Macready), his reclusive, rich uncle to inherit his estate, unaware that Osmond Portifoy (Ossie Davis), Hendricks' butler, wants to drive him mad or scare him to death by switching copies of the cemetery painting to have it look as if Hendricks were leaving his grave to seek revenge for Jeremy's evil deed, and Portifoy also seeks to inherit the estate once his hated rival is gone. But he discovers too late that, just as greed was his rival's undoing, so it would be his undoing when he sees Jeremy leaving his grave in the painting, and starts raving madly as the door slowly opens. In the next story, Eyes, wealthy, blind Claudia Menlo (Joan Crawford), threatens to ruin Dr. Heatherton (Barry Sullivan) unless he transplants the central optic nerves from the eyes of bookie Sidney Resnick (Tom Bosley), thus giving Menlo 11 hours of sight. It's a success, but her sight returns during the 1965 New York City blackout. In a rage, Menlo trashes her suite. She then calls for help without result, so Menlo collapses in tears. The next day, she sees the sun rising over the New York City skyline, awed by its beauty and shocked when it fades, as her 11 hours are up. The last thing she sees while falling to her death is the ground. The last story, The Escape Route, is about Josef Strobe (Richard Kiley), a man who is really Helmut Arndt, a Nazi hiding in Buenos Aires. One night, to evade capture, he enters the museum, ignoring a concentration camp canvas, but Bleum (Sam Jaffe), a camp survivor, is frozen by the sight. Strobe prefers to look at a canvas of a fisherman, and finds that he can will himself into the canvas. When the museum closes, Strobe kills Bleum outside a bar after Bleum tells him that the Israelis now know where Strobe is hiding. Strobe evades the agents, enters the museum, now closed, and begs God to get him into the picture. He squints, then screams in agony, vanishing from sight. A guard and a curator run to the scream, but find no one. The guard tells the curator that the fisherman canvas was taken away and replaced with the crucifixion painting. They see Josef Strobe on the cross in the canvas, moaning in agony, since this was his punishment for the evil that he did. Serling certainly didn't pull any punches with these stories. Spoiler alert: John Badham, associate producer of this pilot, would direct 6 segments of this series.
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The Doll
23 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Serling from the short story by Algernon Blackwood, one of Howard Phillips Lovecraft's peers in horror writing, Colonel Hymber Masters (John Williams, noted for appearing in the 1954 film Dial M for Murder, amongst other cinematic and TV offerings) arrives home from duty in India to find the place in order, and his niece, Monica (Jewel Blanch) well cared for by Miss Danton (Shani Wallis), her governess. He also finds Monica holding a doll that looks rather unsettling in appearance. Miss Danton explains that since the doll was sent in a package postmarked India, that she assumed the colonel sent it to Monica as a present. Masters informs Miss Danton that he most assuredly did not send the hideous thing to Monica as a gift, and asks Miss Danton her views concerning the doll. She says that she senses an unwholesomeness, an aura of evil, surrounding the doll, and the colonel says, "The doll was not intended for my niece. It was meant as a gift to me. We must find a way to get it away from her somehow, but say nothing about intention...in the doll's presence." The colonel offers to get Monica a new doll, saying that she must not imagine such things as being spoken to by the doll she plays with presently. She says that the doll would be displeased if any new doll were brought to replace it, a statement confirmed one evening when both the colonel and Miss Danton are awakened by Monica's tearful wailing and find the new doll smashed and the first doll, eyes open and teeth exposed, standing on the stairs and looking at Masters. He tries, and fails, to get rid of the doll, and has his suspicions as to its purpose confirmed when Pandit Chola (Henry Silva), a leader of the resistance movement in India, visits him the next night. Chola, a Sudra, sent the doll, which was a representation of Chola's brother, whom Masters ordered executed for resistance activities, as an instrument of revenge, and Chola informs the colonel that the doll cannot be destroyed until its mission was accomplished, adding, "Best remain awake, Colonel. The doll has teeth, and there is no medicine on earth to save you." Masters, hearing Monica's cries for her missing doll, seizes a poker from the fire place, rasping angrily, "Indestructible, eh? Let's just see how indestructible you are." Miss Danton, Monica, and the butler (John Barclay), hearing a sharp cry, arrive to find the colonel on the floor, his arm wounded. The doll, having done its work, is taken by Masters to the fireplace and burned. He informs Miss Danton to use the money from his insurance, which he willed to Monica, to live in a place where she would have children of her own age to play with, and to provide for Monica's needs, then asks Miss Danton to send a letter addressed to an Indian name, adding, "Tell him that the thing has happened." Chola, while packing for his departure, pauses to answer a knock at the door. A messenger in Indian clothing greets him with a package, saying, "Colonel Masters did not wish to appear ungracious. You gave him a gift, he reciprocates." Chola closes the door, opens the box, and drops it in shock. Inside the box is a doll, which represents the likeness of Colonel Masters in British Army uniform. Chola looks on with dread, knowing what his fate will be, as the doll's eyes open slowly and the mouth grins. This story proves that retribution can be reciprocal, through the use of dolls. Spoiler alert: Bud Westmore, the legendary makeup artist at Universal, worked on the creation of both the hideous dolls with another artisan.
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You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore
18 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
At Robot Aids, Inc, Malcolm Hample (Henry Jones) takes the Fosters on a tour, telling them what the robots do. He's called to meet Dr. Kessler (Severn Darden) in a back room. He arrives to hear the Fultons (Broderick Crawford and Cloris Leachman) complain and Kessler asking how many robots they didn't destroy. Hample says that the robots do tasks and can't feel, stopping when he sees tears on the robot's face. Kessler warns Hample that the robots only respond to their data at first, but soon develop survival instincts, and when this happens, he should tell the Fultons to hit things that won't hit back. Model 931 (Lana Wood), the Fulton's new maid, is cleaning up after a party, and Mr. Fulton looks lustfully at her, which Mrs. Fulton sees, and she takes out her envy and rage on Model 931, saying, "I'm fascinated by this prefabricated wonder, who can be thrown through a window, knocked through a wall, and the worst thing that can happen is her face lights up and she says don't." Mrs. Fulton says to her, "Let me tell you something: We don't employ you, we own you. I own these drapes, I own these pictures, and I own you. Remember that. And if I should be off my feed, I may have to take it out on you. Is that clear?" When the maid stares at the Fultons, Mrs. Fulton says, "Would you like to register a complaint?" Model 931 says, "No, I was just looking at you." Mrs. Fulton says, "Did you hear that, honey? She was just looking at us. Well, what do you see?" The robot says, "I can't lie, as I am programmed to tell the truth to my owners." Mrs. Fulton says, "So tell it. What do you see?" Model 931 says, "I see a jealous woman who isn't contented though she has everything, and whose ugliness can't be covered with makeup. And you, Mr. Fulton, are cruel, lusting for everything but loving nothing." Mrs. Fulton says, "And you're a vacuum cleaner on 2 legs who needs to be taught a lesson." Model 931 says, "I'm sorry, but I'm programmed to protect myself from destruction." Mrs. Fulton says, "What did you say?" Model 931 replies, "I won't let you destroy me." "Oh yeah?" asks Mr. Fulton. "Well, let me tell you, Model 931, or whatever your name is, you're going to be salvage scrap." He attacks the robot, who flings and kills him. Model 931 says, "I've no desire to hurt you, Mrs. Fulton, but I must survive." Mrs. Fulton attacks the maid, saying, "And so you shall, my dear, so you shall, long enough to regret the day that you were...Aah!" as Model 931 flings and kills her. As more robots are made, Kessler's double tells callers that the factory is closed for retooling. He says to Model 931 as they pass by Hample, the human Kessler, and the Fultons, all stuffed and mounted for display, "How very odd. Man's ingeniousness and ingenuity, and yet his incredible stupidity." This story tells of the risk posed to mankind by advanced technology through cruelty and stupidity. Spoiler alert: This story was Serling's take on a theme posed by the Philip K. Dick novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? which became the 1982 film Blade Runner.
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Night Gallery: Satisfaction Guaranteed (1972)
Season 2, Episode 23
Satisfaction Guaranteed
18 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this story, a prospective employer (Victor Buono) arrives to ask Mrs. Mount (Cathleen Cordell) about a suitable replacement for his last secretary since she'd left much to be desired, stating, "I am extremely particular, Mrs. Mount. Extremely particular." She assures him that she relishes the challenge and presents the customer with the first candidate, a rather attractive, intelligent blonde. He looks her over, and says to Mrs. Mount that this first candidate is too fragile, too ephemeral, and says to the candidate, "Nothing personal, but you won't do." Mrs. Mount asks him, "No?" "No," the customer whispers. Mrs. Mount presents a second candidate, then a third, each being rejected by the customer like the first one. Mrs. Mount is at a loss since this customer appears to be her first one in 25 years of business to be dissatisfied, and the motto of the employment agency that she runs is where the story's title is taken from. "You mean that there's no one else available?" the customer asks. "No," responds Mrs. Mount. At that moment, in walks Mrs. Mount's file clerk, Miss Blodgett (Cherie Franklin), a fully figured woman, hovering efficiently over the file cabinet. The customer eagerly asks Mrs. Mount, "What about her?" Mrs. Mount says, "Miss Blodgett? She knows no shorthand." "Doesn't matter," the customer responds. "Her writing is impossible to read," she says. The customer responds, "Makes no difference." "But she can't type," Mrs. Mount says. He responds, "Nobody's perfect." Mrs. Mount says, "She can't even brew a digestible cup of coffee." "She's just what I've been looking for," the customer responds. "You want her? You actually want Miss Blodgett?" Mrs. Mount asks in an astonished tone. The customer writes a check, saying as he presents it to Mrs. Mount, "I believe that the amount of this check will make further conversation unnecessary. Remember your motto: Satisfaction Guaranteed." Mrs. Mount responds in a glum tone, "Very well, sir, although I don't see why. When do you wish her to report?" The customer replies, "Oh, that won't be necessary." "Won't be necessary?" Mrs. Mount asks weakly. The customer, now wearing a bib and seated with a set of cutlery in his hands, says with a smile, "Oh, no, why bother? I can just eat her here." Once I figured out that the customer was, in fact, a cannibal, I had to laugh since Mrs. Mount didn't figure this out until the end of the story. Buono and Cordell carried the segment wonderfully with their talents and accurate comic timing. Spoiler alert: The people in charge at both NBC and Universal at the time made nervous comments to Jack Laird, Night Gallery's producer, concerning the double meaning of the story's closing line, to which he responded, "Well, you guys have really dirty minds. I never thought of that." The line stayed, and no further comments were made.
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Deliveries in the Rear
17 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this story, Dr. John Fletcher (Cornel Wilde), surgery instructor at the MacMillan School of Medicine, uses grave robbers to supply him with bodies for dissection, without any concern as to whether they died of natural causes or foul play, taking the view that a life lost, if it leads to the saving of many lives, is a necessary sacrifice, and if that one life lost comes from the lowest level of society, to whom could it possibly matter? Mr. Bennett (Kent Smith), father of Dr. Fletcher's fiancée, Barbara (Rosemary Forsyth), is dismayed by this view, and takes Fletcher to task over it. Barbara is also concerned, commenting that Dr. Fletcher seems to be more involved with his work at the expense of everything else, including her. Fletcher is confronted by Mrs. Woods (Marjorie E. Bennett) as he returns to the medical school, and she accuses him of having the corpse of her husband, Charlie, on a dissection table inside, warning Fletcher that she's reporting him to the police for using grave robbers who, to provide him with corpses, killed Charlie. Dr. Shockman (Peter Brocco) calls Fletcher to task over this, stating that the police will be around to search for Charlie Woods that evening, and if his corpse is there, Dr. Fletcher is going to be in trouble. Fletcher assures Shockman that no one fitting Woods' description is in the building, and that a female cadaver is present instead, which was an outright lie since his underling had hidden Woods' corpse in a storage room of the school. After Shockman leaves, Dr. Fletcher demands that his suppliers give him the body of a woman. After coming up empty in their bid to provide Fletcher with a female cadaver, the grave robbers decide that since the weather is too chilly to dig for a woman's body, they would go hunting the streets for a fresh one. They return to the school with the cadaver and are paid double the normal rate for bringing the corpse on such short notice. Before Dr. Fletcher's lesson in the lecture hall begins, the police investigator, Hannify (Larry D. Mann), asks the whereabouts of Charlie Woods. Hannify checks the recently arrived cadaver to find that instead of Woods being on the gurney, it's a woman's body. Hannify assures Dr. Fletcher that he hopes to be around the next time that Fletcher accepts a cadaver provided by the grave robbers that he hires, for on that day Hannify would arrest him and see to it that the doctor gets 50 years of hard labor in prison, making small rocks out of large ones. After this, Dr. Fletcher enters the lecture hall, stating that a life lost isn't important if many lives are saved as a result. He begins the lesson, and, looking down at the body on the slab, screams in horror, dropping the scalpel and crumpling in a hysterically gibbering heap on the floor as Dr. Shockman and the students watch. It turns out that Barbara, Dr. Fletcher's fiancée, was the corpse on the slab, and he finds out too late that the sanctity of life can't be cast aside for reasons of convenience, and though his fate wasn't shown, I'd be betting that Dr. Fletcher was committed to a mental hospital afterward. Spoiler alert: Gerald McRaney, renowned for Simon and Simon and the sitcom Major Dad, turns up briefly as a squeamish medical student in this segment.
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The Miracle at Camafeo
16 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted from the C.B. Gilford short story by Serling, insurance investigator Charlie Rogan (Harry Guardino) trails insurance swindler Joe Melcor (Ray Danton) and Melcor's wife Gay (Julie Adams, Danton's wife) to the Mexican shrine city of Camafeo. Melcor, after faking paralysis to win a half-million dollar claim against the insurer of a city transit company, has come to Camafeo to get "healed" in order to get Rogan off his back, and Rogan tells the bartender that when Melcor swindled the company that Rogan worked for, it's stealing, but when Melcor is conning God, it's sacrilege. In their hotel room, when Gay tells Joe her concerns about the morality of the scheme, he warns her, "If you start acting like a fallen woman on the way to confession, then my first act as a whole man will be to play handball with you against the wall. And you'll be up at that shrine asking to have the blue marks removed. You dig?" The next day, Rogan comes across a blind boy and his mother, saying a quiet prayer asking God to restore the boy's sight. On his stretcher, Joe Melcor goads Rogan by saying that he's on the way to "pick up a little miracle", which disgusts Rogan. Gay tells Rogan that she's leaving Joe, but refuses to testify against him, adding that while she won't hurt Joe, she's not going to help him either. The blind boy has his sight restored, which amazes the crowd of worshipers at the shrine, and Melcor's "miracle" happens at the same time. He presents the priest with a tip, cracking, "Don't look so surprised, you'll give the place a bad name." He exits the shrine, shading his eyes from the sun, and utters a pained cry. Rogan and Gay turn to Melcor's direction, to witness him walking carefully down the steps of the shrine and moaning, "Help me, someone. Someone please help me" as he does so. He removes his sunglasses to reveal his eyes, now milky white and sightless-a judgment from a less merciful God. I enjoyed viewing this segment because I was intrigued by how the con man, Joe Melcor, ended up being punished by God simply by exchanging his fake paralysis for the real blindness that the boy was cured of.
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There Aren't Any More MacBanes
16 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Alvin Sapinsley from the Stephen Hall short story By One, By Two, and By Three, Elie Green and Mickey Standish, recent Bard College graduates, arrive to find their dorm mate Andrew MacBane (Joel Grey) in yet another argument with his uncle, Arthur Porter (Howard Duff, husband to actress and director Ida Lupino) over Andrew's studies of witchcraft and the occult, which Porter sees as wasteful of Andrew's time and Porter's money. Andrew hasn't graduated yet despite his being older than Elie and Mickey due to his studies of witchcraft and the occult, and to top it all off, hasn't found a suitable job, which displeases Porter no end. As he leaves, Porter informs Andrew that if he doesn't find a job in 6 months, Porter will disinherit him. Andrew isn't concerned, devoting his energies to finding the 10 missing pages of his ancestor, 17th century sage Jedidiah MacBane, who was rumored to be able to kill from long distances without leaving home. He did in his worst enemy, his best friend, and his best friend's wife in this way. Then something did Jedidiah in. Andrew is anxious to find the 10 missing pages from Jedidiah's diary to find out what the thing was that did Jedidiah in, and how he summoned forth the thing to do in those 3 people. After 6 months pass, Porter arrives to inform Andrew that 5 minutes after 10 in the morning when the bank opens the next day, he will cut Andrew off. As Porter leaves, Andrew says "zap", and a shadowy red eyed figure kills Porter on campus, facilitating Andrew's inheritance of Porter's finances. When Elie and Mickey visit Andrew at his ancestral home, they notice him burning some papers in the fireplace, and also hear a growling outside the door, which prompts them to ask if Andrew is keeping a dog as a pet. After a while, Elie receives a telegram from Andrew begging him to warn Mickey that his life is in danger, but when Elie does so, he's informed that Mickey has been killed by a leopard, and is menaced by something evil at his apartment. After the danger has passed, Elie visits Andrew, who admits that he'd found the missing pages of Jedidiah's diary and used the spell on the first page to summon forth the same demon that Jedidiah did, using it to get rid of his uncle, then Andrew found out from reading the other 9 pages that it's a jealously loyal servant demanding to be given victims regardless of whether they are friend or foe, and he, like Jedidiah, can't get rid of the demon except to deny it victims. Andrew also admits that after he got rid of his uncle, he gave Mickey to the demon after initially refusing to do so, then the demon attempted to get Elie, only stopping after Andrew called it back. Andrew then says that after him, there aren't any more MacBanes after the demon is destroyed, and the demon bursts in to try to get Elie, but Andrew gets in its way, dying in the process, which kills the demon, just as when Jedidiah did it, leaving a pile of ashes next to Andrew's corpse. Spoiler alert: When he adapted Hall's tale, Sapinsley moved its setting from Cambridge University and the wilds of Scotland to Bard College and New England almost 3 centuries after the Salem Witchcraft Trials.
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A Question of Fear
13 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
At a gentlemen's club Dr. Mazi (Fritz Weaver) is telling his friends of his experiences while at a haunted house, saying that until his visit there, he wasn't given to showing any fear, and that he was so scared that his hair turned white and he'd fainted, reviving to have no memory of the events. Colonel Denny Malloy (Leslie Nielsen) derides Mazi for his fear, saying that he himself is immune to being afraid as he doubts the existence of ghosts or demons, adding that he'd killed his first man in hand to hand combat while fighting Franco's army in the Spanish Civil War, and served in both the British and American armies in World War 2, the French Foreign Legion in the 1950s, and had been making his living as a mercenary up to now. Mazi bets $10,000 that Malloy won't be able to spend 1 night in that very house without being scared to death, and Mazi's friends add $5,000 to the bet. Malloy accepts the bet with a laugh, saying that for $15,000 he'd survive a night in Hell. Malloy arrives at the house that night, and begins his visit, taking his pack, a flashlight, and a .38 caliber Smith and Wesson revolver with a 4 inch barrel. While in the dining room, Malloy draws his gun and fires a shot at a ghost, only to see it vanish, leaving a blood trail. While in the kitchen, Malloy takes a spare light and extra bullets for his gun as he goes to check the cellar. He enters the cellar to find a slimy trail, sees the ghost again, and he empties his gun at it, only to see it vanish. He returns to the kitchen, puts fresh bullets in his gun, and drinks coffee from his thermos. When he hears the piano being played, Malloy checks the music room, and sees the ghost again, who turns to face him with flaming hands. Malloy sees a gas line attached, and suspects a setup. He cuts it, and the flames die out. Malloy says to Mazi that he should add an extra $10,000 to the $15,000 bet earlier since that was the amount of money spent by Mazi to arrange the setup. He goes to get some sleep, and is pinned to the bed by metal restraints, with a pendulum coming closer to his throat. When Malloy yells that bets can't be paid by dead men, the blade stops short of his throat. Malloy snarls that Mazi wants to see him afraid, and that he won't be reduced to Mazi's level. He goes to sleep, waking the next morning to find breakfast waiting for him. Mazi appears on a closed circuit TV in the kitchen, his hair now black, and tells Malloy that while the food is safe, the coffee in Malloy's thermos was laced with a sedative. He admires Malloy's courage and resolve in surviving Mazi's setup, but adds that as brave as Malloy is, all men have a breaking point, and Malloy has one, too. Mazi asks Malloy if he remembers the capture of his musician father while Malloy was in the British 8th Army during its drive to Tobruk, as America had yet to enter World War 2. Mazi's father, who was a junior officer in the Italian army at the time, was burning secret papers at Sidi Barani when Malloy's unit caught him. Malloy asked him about the arrival of Rommel's Afrika Korps, and when Mazi's father was unable to give him the information since he was a low-ranking officer, Malloy burnt his hands to useless stumps. Needless to say, Mazi's father would never play music again, and Mazi had made a vow before his father died to punish Malloy for this atrocity, adding that when he, as a biochemist, wasn't making biological and chemical weapons for the American military, he'd been tracking Malloy's routine, waiting for a chance to exact revenge. Mazi then tells him of a serum made to destroy the human skeleton, reducing the victim to an earthworm, or in the case of Mazi's colleague, a big slug, adding that while Malloy slept, Mazi gave him the serum, and that the change would happen in a matter of months, during which Malloy would be able to collect the bet. Mazi then says that even if Malloy went to the cops or a doctor, he would be disbelieved, and even if they did believe him, nothing could be done for Malloy as no antidote existed, and they would likely cover up the event anyway. Malloy is asked to check the cellar again, to see Mazi's colleague. Malloy goes to the cellar door, then stops. Mazi then taunts Malloy to go and see what he'd be. Malloy snarls, "You still lose, Mazi," turns his gun on himself, and fires. Mazi tells Malloy's corpse that he lost since the cellar was empty all along. This revenge tale really grips the throat of the viewer each time it is seen. Spoiler Alert: The limousine in which Malloy and Mazi arrive at the house is a 1969 Lincoln Continental, and it makes an appearance in several more segments.
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Little Girl Lost
11 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted from the E.C. Tubb short story by Stanford Whitmore, Tom Burke (Ed Nelson), a test pilot recovering from injuries sustained in a crash, is assigned to Professor Putman (William Windom), a scientist who was working in weapons research before having his daughter Ginny killed by a hit and run driver, as a bodyguard by Dr. Charles Cotrell (Ivor Francis) and Colonel Hawes (John Lasell), and they inform Burke that Putman has developed the delusion that Ginny is still alive, and in order for Putman to complete the research Burke must maintain the scientist's delusion. Burke does this by brushing Ginny's hair and reading bedtime stories to her. Burke and Cotrell suspect that the military would allow Putman to completely lose his mind once the plans are finished, summed up by Cotrell in the following: "My profession is understanding the human mind, Burke. Take a group of men. Split responsibility, avoidance of guilt. Add: security, patriotism, and man's desire to be all powerful, and, you'll see, the professor doesn't stand a chance. What better way to maintain arms supremacy for the military than to allow Putman to lapse into total insanity?" One night, Burke, Putman, and Ginny are dining at a restaurant, and a man attempts to take Ginny's chair, asking angrily where the place setting is when Burke stops him from doing so. A waiter stops the argument, but the damage is done. Putman glances at his plate, then wearily announces that Burke can have the plans tonight since the work on them is finished, asking him in an angry, accusing tone, "That's what they want, isn't it? Bigger and better weapons at a fraction of the cost? The demented fools!" Forgetting Ginny's presence, Putman stalks out. While Putman and Burke are driving down a winding mountain road, Putman attempts suicide by driving off the highway, forcing Burke to take the wheel, at which point Burke blurts out, "You could have killed both of us," and this time, Burke forgot Ginny's presence. Burke makes his report to Cotrell, and Cotrell informs him that, in view of what took place, Putman now knows that Ginny is dead. "And that is the man," Cotrell says in a trembling whisper, "who worked out the means to create fission using nonradioactive materials!" Burke realizes at once the implications of what Cotrell is telling him: that Putman gave the formula for a weapon which would destroy the entire world if said weapon were ever tested, and this prompts Burke to ask Cotrell, "Why would Putman give the military the wrong weapons formula? That's madness!" Cotrell responds, "Madness, or the perfect solution? When our world goes up in flames, he'll be revenged on the murderer of his little girl, and at the same time be with her the only way he can!" At that moment, the weapon detonates, completely consuming Putman, his daughter Ginny, Burke, Cotrell, and the entire world in a blinding white flash of light. This story comments pointedly about the means the military would use to maintain supremacy of weapons. Spoiler alert: Stanford Whitmore moved the setting of the story from England to the United States to give it extra punch, taking into consideration that the Cold War was still on at that time.
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Hell's Bells
11 March 2009
In this segment, which Theodore J. Flicker adapted from the Harry Turner short story, and also directed, stoner hippie Randy Miller (John Astin) crashes his car, resulting in his death, and while on the way to Hell, encounters 3 angry demons (played respectively by Flicker, Gene Kearney, and producer Jack Laird) who accuse Miller of committing a wide variety of sins. When Miller arrives in Hell, he discovers that it has a waiting room...and rules of conduct...and a fat lady (Jody Gilbert) who yells at people if those rules are broken. Miller isn't greatly concerned, though. He envisions the real Hell to come, complete with tormented souls, capering demons, and the Prince of Darkness all awaiting him to appear. A fire door opens and he passes expectantly into the waiting hell mouth of... A sitting room, which is furnished with dull furniture and drab wallpaper. Miller is pleased to see a jukebox in one corner of the room, with a stack of records on the changer, but when he selects the first record, instead of rock and roll he gets a decidedly boring big band tune, and is unable to get the record to stop playing. A simple, boring farmer (Hank Worden) appears in a rocking chair, and Miller asks this guy what his thoughts are concerning the disbanding of the Beatles, only to hear from the Bore that you get rid of beetles using boric acid, in addition to telling Miller about such uninteresting subjects as baby's croup, crop rotation, and the Farmer's Almanac, to name a few. Hell is turning out to be a real bummer. At this point, a vacationing couple (John J. Fox and Ceil Cabot) appear, along with their slide projector and 8,500 slides of their Tijuana trip. As Mr. and Mrs. Tourist launch into their dissertation on the joys of touring Mexico, Miller's patience is exhausted, and he demands that the Devil show his face. Satan (played by Flicker) appears, calm, unimposing, and quite short. Sure, he's got the horns, the beard, and the pitchfork, but he isn't quite as awe-inspiring as Miller had envisioned him to be. Miller asks him about the whips, the chains, the snakes, and the boiling oil, all the things that Miller thinks Hell should have. Satan tells Miller, "This is it. My dear boy, Hell is never what you quite expect it to be. For you, this is it. Don't you like it?" Miller tells him, "No, it's a real downer." Satan responds, "Yes it is, isn't it? You know, they have a room up in Heaven just like this one, and while this room is Hell for you, absolute, beastly Hell, up there the same room is someone else's idea of Heaven. Think about it. Bye." And with a wave, the Devil is gone. Hell's latest initiate, Randy Miller, clamps his hands over his ears in an effort to shut out the yammering voices of the Bore, Mr. and Mrs. Tourist, and that gratingly boring big band music, and he moans repeatedly, "Bummer, bummer, bummer," as he does so. I found this to be a rather enjoyable absurd view of Hell thanks to Theodore Flicker's direction, his script, and the performances of the cast. Spoiler alert: Theodore Flicker was to have directed more segments of Night Gallery after this, but refused to because of the temper of the cinematographer assigned to him, Lionel Lindon.
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Certain Shadows on the Wall
10 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, which Serling adapted from the Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman short story, Dr. Stephen Brigham (Louis Hayward, best known for his roles in several swashbuckler films several decades prior to playing this role) is reading to his invalided elder sister Emma (Agnes Moorehead) from a Dickens novel, something he's been doing for a course of decades while attending to her medical care for the same amount of time after leaving his medical practice due to his gambling problems and the fact that his patients were going to other doctors, and Stephen of course cares for Emma rather begrudgingly, as Ann (Grayson Hall, renowned for playing Dr. Julia Hoffman in the 1960s Gothic soap Dark Shadows, produced by Dan Curtis), one of his younger sisters, observes. Ann and Rebecca (Rachel Roberts) maintain the orderly condition of Emma's house, which is bequeathed to Emma's 3 siblings, along with the contents inside the house, to be split equally between them as her will stipulates, and Stephen has been giving Emma gradually larger doses of sedatives to kill her slowly, out of greed as much as out of resentment that their father bequeathed the bulk of his estate to Emma and next to nothing for Stephen, Ann, and Rebecca in his will. Emma's death devastates her 2 sisters, but Stephen immediately begins listing the house and all of its contents with the express intent of selling everything and splitting the proceeds between them, which both Ann and Rebecca both oppose. Stephen's plans are brought to a screeching halt, though, when he and his 2 sisters see what appears to be Emma's shadow on the living room wall, as though she were laying in profile in bed. Stephen, of course, attempts to find a logical explanation for this phenomenon, but despite repositioning the furniture and the lighting, painting and wallpapering where the shadow is, it remains there as if to accuse Stephen of responsibility for Emma's death. All of Stephen's frantic actions arouse Ann's suspicions, and even Rebecca sees her brother in a different light, asking about the sedatives that Stephen was treating Emma with. Stephen states to Rebecca that he was simply giving Emma the sedatives to relieve her pain and to help her sleep, and that he would, if asked, give some of the sedatives to Rebecca for the same purpose. Rebecca, though, puts a large amount of the sedatives in Stephen's tea, which results in a rather fatal dose of poetic justice dealt out to Stephen for his murderous greed. Rebecca comments to Ann that they're finally a family again, looking at both Emma's and Stephen's shadows on the living room wall. Stephen is seated next to Ann's bed, reading the Dickens novel A Tale of Two Cities to Emma, which along with other Dickens novels he will read to Emma for all eternity. I found this segment to be one of many examples of pointed commentary concerning greed and its consequences. Spoiler alert: the off-key tune used in the segment by Jeff Corey, its director, and Robert Prince, the provider of scores for many of the segments of Night Gallery's first season, was titled Sing Me to Sleep, which was also sang and played on the piano by Rachel Roberts.
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The Little Black Bag
9 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Serling from the Cyril M. Kornbluth short story, Gillings (George Furth), a low-level employee at a time-travel laboratory in September 2098, reports that a high-tech medical bag was mistakenly given a tube number and routed into a time-travel circuit set for the year 1971, and that no one in the facility is able to retrieve the bag. Shortly thereafter, William Fall (Burgess Meredith), a Skid Row wino who once was a practicing doctor before he was brought before a medical review board and stripped of his license to practice medicine because of fee splitting and attempting to perform an appendectomy while intoxicated, all of 20 years ago, and fellow derelict Hepplewhite (Chill Wills, best known for providing the voice of Francis the Talking Mule in the 1950s and appearing in several John Wayne films in the 1960s), discover the medical bag in a back alley trash can. Initially, Fall and Hepplewhite take the bag to a pawn shop, intending to sell it for eight dollars, but while inside the building are met by a mother desperate for someone to save the life of her daughter. Fall and Hepplewhite arrive at the apartment, and Fall checks the diagnostic card describing the girl's condition, which is, of course, a rather nasty lymphatic infection. Fall uses a hypodermic syringe containing a medicinal compound tuned to cure the infection, and the girl recovers almost immediately. Fall and Hepplewhite have a look at the bag's patent date: July 2098, which amazes them both. Fall checks the diagnostic computer's data concerning a specific scalpel, and it says that the scalpel can cure cancer by bypassing major and minor blood vessels and muscles in order to remove the cancerous tissue. Fall then goes to the room of his friend Charlie Peterson, who has a malignant tumor on the left side of his neck, uses the scalpel to remove the tumor, and Charlie descends the stairs with Fall and Hepplewhite, completely restored to good health by his friend's efforts. Another of the residents of the flophouse in which Fall and Hepplewhite stay approaches Fall to ask for treatment of his arthritis, Fall checks the computer screen, and the data presented directs Fall to use a compound tuned specifically to cure rheumatoid arthritis. After that, Fall and Hepplewhite discuss how the bag should be put to use in the future. Fall wants to use the bag in a demonstration before an assembly of the top figures from the medical and scientific fields to exhibit the healing potential of the bag's contents, thus bypassing a century of medical and scientific trial and error, and in the process save countless lives. Hepplewhite wants to use the bag's healing properties for profit, with the proceeds divided between Fall and himself. When Fall refuses to do what Hepplewhite wants, Hepplewhite extracts a scalpel from the bag and, with a wide-mouthed facial expression of greed, advances on Fall with murderous intent. Roughly a month after the incident, Hepplewhite, having cleaned himself up and assumed the identity of his late acquaintance William Fall, holds center stage at a packed hospital lecture hall, asking the doctors and scientists in the audience what their appraisal of his odds for surviving a 3 centimeter deep incision in his neck by a scalpel would be. When one of them responds that Hepplewhite would die almost immediately from loss of blood as a result, Hepplewhite responds, "Then, gentlemen, watch this!" Back in September 2098, Gillings reports that an alert tone given by one of the bag's scalpels indicates that the scalpel was used to commit murder, and deactivates the bag at about the same instant that Hepplewhite makes the 3 centimeter incision in his neck, said deactivation reducing the scalpel being used in the demonstration to an ordinary scalpel incapable of doing any medical benefit whatsoever, resulting in Hepplewhite's fatal undoing by his own greed. As the doctors file out of the hospital lecture hall, one of them asks a colleague why Hepplewhite didn't have the decency of committing suicide at home instead of in public, and his colleague responds that he isn't so sure that what happened before them was suicide, adding that he'd never seen anyone look so surprised at what happened as Hepplewhite looked. The bag and its contents, now reduced to decayed uselessness, is immediately dispatched to the medical waste incinerator, and the markings describing what the incinerator was for provides a telling commentary of how greed can waste a gift. Spoiler alert: George Furth, who played Gillings in this segment, was responsible for scripting the Broadway play Company, which was a huge hit in 1970.
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Green Fingers
6 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Serling from the R.C. Cook short story, Michael J. Saunders (Cameron Mitchell, best known for playing Uncle Buck Cannon in the western series The High Chapparal), head of Saunders Construction Company, arrives at the residence of Mrs. Bowen (Elsa Lanchester), a widowed gardener, to negotiate with her in person in order to purchase her property since his representatives have failed to persuade her to sell it and move elsewhere. She not only tells him of her unique ability to make everything that she plants grow, she demonstrates an example of this ability: a stick of kindling that she planted has taken root and is in bloom. Saunders then hints that he would stop at nothing to get what he wants, which only stiffens Mrs. Bowen's resolve to stay where she is. Saunders then hires a hit-man to remove the woman as an obstacle to his plans to erect a factory complex. The cops show up at the Bowen house in response to a distress call, to find Mrs. Bowen digging and planting her thumb in the ground while losing blood from where her thumb had been hacked off by the hit-man who used Bowen's ax to do the deed. Conveniently for Saunders, of course, the hit-man dies from a car crash while being pursued by the cops, thus removing any connection to Mrs. Bowen's murder, and Mrs. Bowen dies soon after being brought to the hospital. Saunders arrives at the house of the late Mrs. Bowen, thinking himself triumphant as he takes an evening tour of her garden. However, he finds out that Mrs. Bowen has the final word, literally, when she emerges from the ground, covered from head to toe in root ganglia and earth. Saunders follows to find Mrs. Bowen seated in her rocking chair on the porch, and she says, "Mr. Saunders, I have green fingers. Do you know that? Everything I plant grows-even me!" Saunders rushes to Mrs. Bowen's rose bushes, his hair blanched white from fear and insanity, and says between hysterical fits of laughter, "Do you want to hear something funny? You know, from small acorns mighty oaks grow. That's a fact. But do you know what grows from an old lady's fingers? Hmm? Old Ladies!" I couldn't help but think the following thought while viewing this segment: Didn't Saunders realize the horror he would be growing by using murder to get Mrs. Bowen's land to do what he wanted with it? Spoiler Alert: Bill Quinn made his second appearance in this season 2 segment, his first being in the segment The Phantom Farmhouse, with him playing a doctor in each of his 2 appearances.
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Camera Obscura
6 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, masterfully adapted by Serling from the Basil Copper short story, William Sharsted, a financier who expresses pleasure in causing total financial destruction to those whom he lent money, and, for various reasons, couldn't repay the amount due, arrives at the Ginggold residence with the intent of doing the same to Gingold since it looks like Ginggold is unable to pay the amount of money that Sharsted loaned to him. During the discussion of the terms of the debt settlement, Ginggold first demonstrates his latest acquisition: a viewing device showing the home of one of Sharsted's debtors, said home about to be sold out from under the man to recoup the amount of money that Sharsted loaned to him, thus destroying the man financially. When Sharsted refuses to show mercy to his debtor, Ginggold then demonstrates another viewing device, which in addition to being rarer than the first one, displays images of buildings in the village that existed in Sharsted's past. Sharsted not only continues to refuse Ginggold's pleas to show his debtors any mercy, but bids Ginggold a good evening as he leaves, reminding him that he would be returning on Monday to auction off some of Ginggold's antiques to recover the loan with interest. Ginggold responds ominously, "And I, Mr. Sharsted, bid you goodbye." Sharsted exits Ginggold's building from the back stairs, into the village as it was in Sharsted's youth. He comes upon the Corn Exchange building, which had been destroyed in a bombing raid in World War 1, then Victoria Greens, which was also gone. Along the way he ends up encountering the following people whom Ginggold sentenced to this rather unique form of punishment which Sharsted now experiences firsthand: Sanderson, a grave robber who was executed when Sharsted was a boy, Amos Drucker, a war profiteer who hung himself in prison, Abel Joyce, a banker who, like Sharsted, took pleasure only when he subjected his debtors to destitution, and William Sharsted, Sr., who passed down to his son the same cruel character traits that he possessed. Sharsted attempts to escape the fiends by running through the streets and alleyways of the village, but ends up running to the Corn Exchange and Victoria Greens every time, and ends up being seized by the ghouls who proclaim him one of their own. Sharsted pleads to Ginggold to show him mercy, offering to forgive Ginggold's debt along with the amounts of money owed by Sharsted's other debtors. Ginggold responds, "Oh, no, Mr. Sharsted, too late for reprieve. Now you shall stumble, and weep, and swear along the streets and squares and alleyways of your own private hell. And you shall do so for all eternity," closing the lid on the viewing table of the viewing device that displays the fate of those who refuse to show compassion to their fellow human beings. Spoiler Alert: John Badham, the segment's director, paid for the horse and wagon that was used in the segment's shooting out of his own pocket, asking series producer Jack Laird to let him use the scenes involving the use of the horse and wagon. Along with that, Badham and cinematographer Leonard J. South used both still and motion picture film shot through green and gold filter gels placed in the camera lens to give the sequence involving Sharsted's condemnation a very hellish look to it.
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The Devil is not Mocked
6 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
In this segment, adapted by Gene Raser Kearney from the Manly Wade Wellman short story (Kearney also directed it), an SS unit led by Gruppenfuhrer Von Grunn (Helmut Dantine, who was well-known for playing Nazi officers in cinema and television) is moving through the Balkans and Carpathia to secure the areas for the Third Reich, coming to a dark castle owned by Count Dracula (Francis Lederer, who played this role in the 1958 film The Return of Dracula), who doesn't reveal his identity to Von Grunn until after all of Von Grunn's troops are savaged by the servants of the Count prior to telling his grandson the rest of his account of his wartime service to his country, displaying in a frame on a castle wall the decoration for said service therein. I enjoyed seeing it because the idea of a Nazi and his men being a midnight snack for Transylvania's most renowned bloodsucker and his servants, who were just as undead as he was, intrigued me a great deal. Spoiler Alert! Hank Brandt, who played Nazis in Combat! the Gene Levitt-produced World War 2 series featuring Vic Morrow and Rick Jason in the primary male leads, played the role of Standartenfuhrer Kranz, Von Grunn's ill-fated second-in-command in the segment.
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Night Gallery (1969–1973)
Night Gallery
5 March 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I've recently purchased the first and second seasons of Night Gallery on DVD and viewed them, and I have to admit that even after almost 40 years since the 3-segment pilot film, and the series itself, aired, it's still able to not only fill one's imagination with visions of all sorts of horrors, but also deals in sci-fi, fantasy, and nostalgia. 3 Bond Girls appeared here in this series: Martine Beswick (1 appearance, in the segment The Last Laurel, based on the short story The Horsehair Trunk by Davis Grubb, author of The Night of the Hunter), Lana Wood (1 appearance, in the segment You Can't Get Help Like That Anymore, where Wood appears as Model 931, a domestic android from Robot Aids, Inc who develops survival instincts which she uses against her abusive employers the Fultons, played by Broderick Crawford and Cloris Leachman), and Joanna Pettet (4 appearances in the series which are in the following order: the segment adapted by Rod Serling from the Andre Maurois short story The House, aired with its follow-up segment Certain Shadows on the Wall, which Serling adapted from the Mary Eleanor Wilkins Freeman short story The Shadows on the Wall, on December 30, 1970, Keep in Touch--We'll Think of Something, aired after The Dark Boy on November 24, 1971, The Caterpillar, aired on March 1, 1972, which was adapted by Serling from the short story Boomerang by Oscar Cook, which appeared in the anthology Switch on the Light, edited by Christine Campbell Thomson and published by Selwyn and Blount in London in 1931, and the segment adapted from the Fritz Leiber, Jr. short story The Girl with the Hungry Eyes by Robert Malcolm Young, which was aired on October 1, 1972). John Astin and Geraldine Page had 3 appearances apiece, Burgess Meredith, Agnes Moorehead, Vincent Price, Leslie Nielsen, Louise Sorel, and several other actors and actresses had 2 appearances here, with Bradford Dillman, Grayson Hall, and several others appearing in 1 segment for each season. I'm eagerly awaiting the 3rd season's release on DVD. It's simply a thought that I wished to express, nothing else. There aren't any spoilers present in this comment whatsoever.
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Keep in Touch-We'll Think of Something
12 February 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I viewed this segment several times, and I have to admit that there's one of 2 points of view that those who view the segment can decide to take: 1. Claire was using Erik as a deniable accessory to the murder of her wealthy husband, and by that I mean that Claire has Erik kill her spouse by strangling him in his sleep, then she disavows any knowledge of Erik's deed in order to gain access to her late spouse's wealth. 2. Claire's husband, though wealthy, happens to be a tyrannical, abusive creep, and she's looking to Erik to end the abuse that her husband visits upon her, and live happily ever after with Erik as a result. I choose the latter point of view, because at the time that the story was made, spousal abuse was then a largely undiscussed subject, either in print, in cinema or on TV. There are no spoilers present within this comment, just to make sure you're aware of the fact.
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ABC Afterschool Specials: Just Tipsy, Honey (1989)
Season 17, Episode 5
Just Tipsy, Honey (1989)
20 January 2009
I viewed this episode while in high school, and I had no idea that Ms. Pettet was portraying a person who was addicted to alcohol until I looked it up just now. I'd have to guess that she acquitted herself in this role, which ultimately proved to be her final TV role. She should have had more roles as good as the ones from the 1970s onwards to this one. It would have been very interesting to have had her appearing in such TV shows as E.R., Law and Order, CSI, and many others from the 1990s to present, had Joanna chosen to remain active in the acting profession. It's simply a thought that I wished to express, nothing else. There are no spoilers in this comment, just to inform you in advance. Thanks for your indulgence and patience.
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