Guilty Pleasure No. 47: The Powers of Matthew Star


A few weeks ago, I was looking through the Guide and I noticed that MeTV had apparently started airing a show called The Powers of Matthew Star.

The name immediately intrigued me, though I wasn’t quite sure why.  I think that some of it just had to do with how silly it sounded.  The Powers of Matthew Star.  Of course, someone named Matthew Star would have powers.  But what type of powers?  Since his last name was Star, it would probably be a good guess that they would be extraterrestrial powers and since his first name was Matthew, it stood to reason that he was either an angel or a human-alien hybrid, or perhaps an alien pretending to be a human.

As I pondered just who Matthew Star could be and what his powers were, I suddenly realized the real reason why the title jumped out at me.  I had actually heard of this show before.  Several years ago, while I was reviewing all of the Friday the 13th films for this site, I came across several references to The Powers of Matthew Star.  That was because the show had featured by Amy Steel (who survived Friday the 13th Part II) and Peter Barton (who did not survive Friday the 13th — The Final Chapter).

Because The Powers of Matthew Star airs at four in the morning (Sunday morning, to be exact) I set the DVR to record it.  I’ve now watched a handful of episodes and I like the show, even though I’m still not really sure what’s going on.

As I suspected, Matthew Star (played by Peter Barton) is an alien who is pretending to be a human.  Each episode opens with a narrator explaining how Matthew Star ended up on Earth but I have to admit that I’ve found the narration next to impossible to actually follow.  As far as I can tell, Matthew Star is actually a member of alien royalty but, after his home planet was either conquer or blew up, he had to go to Earth in order to hide out from another alien race that wants to destroy him.  Because he looks like a teenager, Matthew has to go to high school and deal with high school stuff while, at the same time, solving crimes for the government.  As far as his powers are concerned, he can apparently move stuff with his mind but he has to be careful about moving too much because then his cover might get blown and the aliens that are searching for him might destroy Earth.

Matthew’s guardian is Walt Shepherd (Louis Gossett, Jr.), who is a teacher at the high school and who knows about Matthew’s powers.  I think Walt is actually supposed to be another alien, though the episodes I’ve seen have not exactly been clear about this.  Matthew’s best friend is Pam (Amy Steel), who is the editor of the school newspaper.  Matthew has a crush on her but he’s not sure if he can ask her to prom because he’s an alien and he’s got other aliens looking for him.

From what I’ve seen, the show’s a bit silly.  For instance, one episode featured Matthew and Shepherd going to Italy on some sort of top secret government job.  The very next episode featured Matthew using his powers to win a high school football game and it ended with a message about the importance of education.  Despite my love of Italy, I preferred the football game episode to the secret agent episode.  The football game episode was so achingly sincere that it was hard not to enjoy it.

And really, from what I’ve seen, that’s the main appeal of The Powers of Matthew Star.  It’s silly and the plot is difficult to follow but there’s an overwhelming sincerity to the show’s portrayal of Matthew as an alien who just wants to save the Earth, enjoy high school, and work up the courage to ask Pam out on a date.  If I had been alive and like 13 years old in 1982, I would have had such a huge crush on Peter Barton.  Barton is incredibly likable as Matthew Star and he and Amy Steel are a cute couple whenever the show allows them to get together.

Unfortunately, according to Wikipedia, it appears that the whole high school angle of the show was dropped after the first 12 episodes.  (MeTV is only 7 episodes in.)  Starting with the 13th episode, Matthew was no longer a high school student, Amy Steel was no longer on the show, and every episode featured Matthew and Shepherd exclusively using their powers to defeat terrorists and other criminals.  That doesn’t sound like it’ll be as much fun.  I’ll probably stop DVRing the show once that happens.

Until then, though, I’m enjoying the adventures of Matthew Star, alien royalty-turned-high school student!

Previous Guilty Pleasures

  1. Half-Baked
  2. Save The Last Dance
  3. Every Rose Has Its Thorns
  4. The Jeremy Kyle Show
  5. Invasion USA
  6. The Golden Child
  7. Final Destination 2
  8. Paparazzi
  9. The Principal
  10. The Substitute
  11. Terror In The Family
  12. Pandorum
  13. Lambada
  14. Fear
  15. Cocktail
  16. Keep Off The Grass
  17. Girls, Girls, Girls
  18. Class
  19. Tart
  20. King Kong vs. Godzilla
  21. Hawk the Slayer
  22. Battle Beyond the Stars
  23. Meridian
  24. Walk of Shame
  25. From Justin To Kelly
  26. Project Greenlight
  27. Sex Decoy: Love Stings
  28. Swimfan
  29. On the Line
  30. Wolfen
  31. Hail Caesar!
  32. It’s So Cold In The D
  33. In the Mix
  34. Healed By Grace
  35. Valley of the Dolls
  36. The Legend of Billie Jean
  37. Death Wish
  38. Shipping Wars
  39. Ghost Whisperer
  40. Parking Wars
  41. The Dead Are After Me
  42. Harper’s Island
  43. The Resurrection of Gavin Stone
  44. Paranormal State
  45. Utopia
  46. Bar Rescue

Here Are The Major 72nd Emmy Nominations!


Usually, when it’s time for the Emmy nominations to be announced, I’ll post what I personally would have nominated.  I didn’t do it this year because, for whatever reason, I didn’t watch as much TV last season as I have in the past so I felt like, if I had done a Lisa Has All The Power post for the Emmy nominations, I would have ended up just nominating a bunch of shows that I hadn’t actually watched and that would just be wrong.

I will say that I was hoping to see nominations for Bad Education and Unbelievable.  Both did receive nominations, though not as much as they should have.  Bad Education was nominated for Best TV Movie and Hugh Jackman received a nomination but it deserved so much more.  (It’s the best film that I’ve seen so far this year and it bugs the Hell out of me that it was sold to HBO and not Netflix because Bad Education is the type of movie that should get Oscar recognition.)  Unbelievable was nominated for Best Limited Series but Kaitlyn Dever and Merritt Weaver deserved nominations as well.  I was also disappointed that neither Aaron Paul nor Robert Forster were nominated for El Camino.  I’m also upset that my favorite comedy series — Medical Police — was totally snubbed but I’m not really surprised.  Medical Police is hilarious but it’s not self-important enough for the Emmys.  Still, considering that Curb Your Enthusiasm was kind of terrible this year, it’s a shame that Medical Police couldn’t sneak in there.

(This year still isn’t as bad as the year that Twin Peaks: The Return was snubbed in all the major categories.)

Anyway, here are the major nominees.  At least The Mandalorian got some recognition.  GO BABY YODA!

Drama Series

“Better Call Saul” (AMC)
“The Crown” (Netflix)
“The Handmaid’s Tale” (Hulu)
“Killing Eve” (BBC America/AMC)
“The Mandalorian” (Disney Plus)
“Ozark” (Netflix)
“Stranger Things” (Netflix)
“Succession” (HBO)

Comedy Series

“Curb Your Enthusiasm” (HBO)
“Dead to Me” (Netflix)
“The Good Place” (NBC)
“Insecure” (HBO)
“The Kominsky Method” (Netflix)
“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” (Amazon Prime Video)
“Schitt’s Creek” (Pop TV)
“What We Do in the Shadows” (FX)

Limited Series

“Little Fires Everywhere” (Hulu)
“Mrs. America” (Hulu)
“Unbelievable” (Netflix)
“Unorthodox” (Netflix)
“Watchmen” (HBO)

Televison Movie

“American Son” (Netflix)

“Bad Education” (HBO)

“Dolly Parton’s Heartstrings: These Old Bones” (Netflix)

“El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie” (Netflix)

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. The Reverend (Netflix)

Lead Actor in a Drama Series

Jason Bateman (“Ozark”)
Sterling K. Brown (“This Is Us”)
Steve Carell (“The Morning Show”)
Brian Cox (“Succession”)
Billy Porter (“Pose”)
Jeremy Strong (“Succession”)

Lead Actress in a Drama Series

Jennifer Aniston (“The Morning Show”)
Olivia Colman (“The Crown”)
Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve”)
Laura Linney (“Ozark”)
Sandra Oh (“Killing Eve”)
Zendaya (“Euphoria”)

Lead Actor in a Comedy Series

Anthony Anderson (“Black-ish”)
Don Cheadle (“Black Monday”)
Ted Danson (“The Good Place”)
Michael Douglas (“The Kominsky Method”)
Eugene Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Ramy Youssef (“Ramy”)

Lead Actress in a Comedy Series

Christina Applegate (“Dead to Me”)
Rachel Brosnahan (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Linda Cardellini (“Dead to Me”)
Catherine O’Hara (“Schitt’s Creek”)
Issa Rae (“Insecure”)
Tracee Ellis Ross (“Black-ish”)

Lead Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Jeremy Irons (“Watchmen”)
Hugh Jackman (“Bad Education”)
Paul Mescal (“Normal People”)
Jeremy Pope (“Hollywood”)
Mark Ruffalo (“I Know This Much Is True”)

Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Cate Blanchett (“Mrs. America”)
Shira Haas (“Unorthodox”)
Regina King (“Watchmen”)
Octavia Spencer (“Self Made”)
Kerry Washington (“Little Fires Everywhere”)

Supporting Actor in a Drama Series

Giancarlo Esposito (“Better Call Saul”)
Bradley Whitford (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Billy Crudup (“The Morning Show”)
Mark Duplass (“The Morning Show”)
Nicholas Braun (“Succession”)
Kieran Culkin (“Succession”)
Matthew Macfadyen (“Succession”)
Jeffrey Wright (“Westworld”)

Supporting Actress in a Drama Series

Laura Dern (“Big Little Lies”)
Meryl Streep (“Big Little Lies”)
Helena Bonham Carter (“The Crown”)
Samira Wiley (“The Handmaid’s Tale”)
Fiona Shaw (“Killing Eve”)
Julia Garner (“Ozark”)
Sarah Snook (“Succession”)
Thandie Newton (“Westworld”)

Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series

Andre Braugher (“Brooklyn Nine-Nine”)
William Jackson Harper (“The Good Place”)
Alan Arkin (“The Kominsky Method”)
Sterling K. Brown (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Tony Shalhoub (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Mahershala Ali (“Ramy”)
Kenan Thompson (“Saturday Night Live”)
Dan Levy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series

Betty Gilpin (“GLOW”)
D’Arcy Carden (“The Good Place”)
Yvonne Orji (“Insecure”)
Alex Borstein (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Marin Hinkle (“The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel”)
Kate McKinnon (“Saturday Night Live”)
Cecily Strong (“Saturday Night Live”)
Annie Murphy (“Schitt’s Creek”)

Supporting Actor in a Limited Series or Movie

Dylan McDermott (“Hollywood”)
Jim Parsons (“Hollywood”)
Tituss Burgess (“Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt: Kimmy vs. the Reverend”)
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II (“Watchmen”)
Jovan Adepo (“Watchmen”)
Louis Gossett Jr. (“Watchmen”)

Supporting Actress in a Limited Series or Movie

Holland Taylor (“Hollywood”)
Uzo Aduba (“Mrs. America”)
Margo Martindale (“Mrs. America”)
Tracey Ullman (“Mrs. America”)
Toni Collette (“Unbelievable”)
Jean Smart (“Watchmen”)

Reality Competition

“The Masked Singer” (FOX)
“Nailed It” (Netflix)
“RuPaul’s Drag Race” (VH1)
“Top Chef” (Bravo)
“The Voice” (NBC)

Variety Sketch Series

“A Black Lady Sketch Show” (HBO)
“Drunk History” (Comedy Central)
“Saturday Night Live” (NBC)

Variety Talk Series

“Daily Show with Trevor Noah” (Comedy Central)
“Full Frontal with Samantha Bee” (TBS)
“Jimmy Kimmel Live” (ABC)
“Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” (HBO)
“Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS)

TV Review: Night Gallery 2.1 “The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes/Miss Lovecraft Sent Me/The Hand of Borgus Weems/Phantom of What Opera?”


The second season of Night Gallery premiered on September 15th, 1971.  Once again, Rod Serling led viewers through a darkened museum, inviting them to look upon macabre paintings and imagine the story behind image.

The first episode had four — that’s right, four! — different stories!  Apparently, the show’s producers demanded that, for the 2nd season, each episode feature shorter stories along with some light-heated segments.  From what I’ve read, Rod Serling was not particularly happy with the directive and it’s perhaps significant that, after writing every story featured in Night Gallery‘s first season, he only wrote one of the stories featured in the second season premiere.

The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes (dir by John Badham, written by Rod Serling)

Herbie (played by 12 year-old Clint Howard, younger brother of Ron) is a little boy with a very special gift.  He can see the future.  He seems like a normal child, the type who rambles about random subjects except that, at random, he’ll suddenly stop and ominously predict the future.  After Herbie correctly predicts both the rescue of a missing girl and an earthquake, Herbie is given his own TV show.  For a year, Herbie makes predictions, all of which come true.  Then, suddenly, Herbie refuses to shares his latest prediction and says that he doesn’t want to do the show anymore.  What has Herbie seen and is it a good thing or a bad thing?

The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes gets the second season of Night Gallery off to a good start.  Centered by a natural performance from Clint Howard, The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes is an intelligently written and thought-provoking story.  Not only does it examine the burden of being able to see the future but it’s also a provocative look at how society exploits the gifted.  With the exception of Herbie’s grandfather (William Hansen), the people around Herbie are less concerned with what he predicts than that people keep watching.  The segment ends on an appropriately dark note, one that will keep the viewer thinking.

Miss Lovecraft Sent Me (dir by Gene Kearney, written by Jack Laird)

A gum-chewing babysitter (Sue Lyon) show up for her latest job.  It’s at a castle!  And the owner of the castle (played by Joseph Campanella) has gray skin, is wearing a cape, and has a Transylvanian accent!  What could it all mean?

This is a short comedic segment.  Apparently, the producer of Night Gallery, Jack Laird, had the idea to liven things up with sketches like this one.  Serling was apparently not a fan of the idea but Miss Lovecraft Sent Me isn’t that bad.  It’s silly and insubstantial because Joseph Campanella and Sue Lyon handled their roles well.  It’s impossible not to laugh when the babysitter reads aloud the names of the books that Campanella has sitting on his bookshelf.

The Hand of Borgus Weems (dir by John M. Lucas, written by Alvin Sapinsley)

Peter Lacland (George Maharis) sits in a doctor’s office and asks Dr. Ravadon (Ray Milland) to remoe his right hand.  Peter explains that his right hand has a mind of its own and that it keeps trying to kill everyone who Peter comes into contact with.  Peter explains that his hand has been possessed!

There’s a surprisingly large number of stories out there about possessed hands.  The Hand of Borgus Weems doesn’t necessarily bring anything new to the genre and it gets a bit bogged down with its flashback structure but it’s still an enjoyably creepy little segment, featuring good performances from George Maharis and Ray Milland.  Possessed hands are also creepy, no matter what.  Like The Boy Who Predicted Earthquakes, it also has an effective ending, which is quite a contrast to the often insubstantial conclusions of Night Gallery’s first season.

Phantom Of What Opera?  (written and dir by Gene Kearney)

This is a short, 4-minute comedic story — a skit really — featuring Leslie Nielsen as the Phantom of the Opera and Mary Ann Beck as Christine. This version starts out like a typical Phantom segment, with the Phantom kidnapping Christine, taking her down to the dungeon, and telling her never to remove his mask.  Christine, of course, removes his mask while he’s playing the organ just for him to then discover that she’s also wearing a mask.  It all leads to love and a happy ending!  It’s kind of a sweet segment, actually.

So the 2nd season of Night Gallery got off to a pretty good start!  Would future episodes continue the trend?  We’ll find out soon as I continue to watch Night Gallery.

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper
  3. Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy
  4. The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall
  5. Make Me Laugh/Clean Kills And Other Trophies
  6. Pamela’s Voice/Lone Survivor/The Doll
  7. They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar/The Last Laurel

TV Review: Night Gallery 1.6 “They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar/The Last Laurel)


The first season of Night Gallery came to a conclusion on January 20th, 1971.  Though the first season was undoubtedly uneven, it did end on a high point.  The first segment in the 6th episode, They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar, is widely considered to be the best episode of Night Gallery and one of Rod Serling’s best teleplays.  It also brought Night Gallery one of it’s few Emmy nominations when it was nominated for Outstanding Single Program of the year.  (It lost to The Andersonville Trial, a theatrical adaptation that was produced for PBS.)

They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar (dir by Don Taylor, written by Rod Serling)

They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar tells the story of Randy Lane (William Windom).  In 1945, Sgt. Randy Lane returned home from serving in World War II, a war hero who had a wonderful future ahead of him.  He had just gotten married.  He had just gotten a good job at an up-and-coming company called Pritzker Plastics.  When he came home, the first place he went was Tim Riley’s Bar, where his father and the other bar patrons toasted him and told him to look forward to the future.

Twenty-five years later, the middle-aged Randy Lane is looking at his life and asking, “Is this as good as it gets?”  He’s now a sales director at Pritzker Plastics but his boss (John Randolph) doesn’t appreciate him, his assistant (Bert Convy) is plotting to steal his job, and the only person who seems to care about him is his sympathetic secretary (Diane Baker).  Randy’s wife died in 1952, while Randy was out of a sales call.  Randy now lives alone.  Even his neighborhood bar — Tim Riley’s Bar — has closed and been abandoned.  With the bar schedule to be torn down, Randy wonder what happened to all of the promise and happiness of the past.

When Randy goes by the deserted bar and looks through the front window, he’s shocked to see all of his old friends and his father waving at him.  But when Randy rushes into the bar to join them, he discovers the bar is deserted.  Later, Randy is at work when suddenly, he sees Pritzker Plastics the way it was back in 1948.  Even later, when he enters his house, he finds himself standing in a hospital hallway in 1952, once again getting the news that his wife has died.

In many ways, They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar is an atypical Night Gallery segment.  Though there are hints of the supernatural throughout the story, it’s hardly a work of horror.  Instead, it’s a rather melancholy meditation on aging, disappointment, and regret.  Is the past forever lost?  Can things ever be as good as they once were?  These are the questions that are raised in this well-directed and well-acted segment.

The Last Laurel (dir by Daryl Duke, written by Rod Serling)

Clocking in at 8 minutes, The Last Laurel is yet another segment about a bitter man (in this case, Jack Cassidy) who suspects that his wife (in the case, Martine Beswick) is cheating on him with his doctor (in this case, Martin E. Brooks) so he teaches himself a supernatural skill in order to get revenge.  In this case, it involves astral projection.  Not surprisingly, it ends with a twist that’s pretty much dependent on one of the characters doing something extremely stupid.

The Last Laurel is well-acted but predictable.  It’s not bad but, especially when compared to something like They’re Tearing Down Tim Riley’s Bar, it feels rather insubstantial.  It feels like filler.

The first season of Night Gallery came to an end with an excellent episode.  Starting tomorrow — season 2!

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper
  3. Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy
  4. The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall
  5. Make Me Laugh/Clean Kills And Other Trophies
  6. Pamela’s Voice/Lone Survivor/The Doll

TV Review: Night Gallery 1.5 “Pamela’s Voice/Lone Survivor/The Doll”


The fifth episode of Night Gallery originally aired on January 13th, 1971.  It featured three stories, each one of which was introduced by Rod Serling walking through a darkened museum.

Pamela’s Voice (dir by Richard Benedict, written by Rod Serling)

Jonathan (John Astin) kills his wife, Pamela (Phyllis Diller), because he’s sick of listening to her shrill voice.  However, it turns out that not even death can stop Pamela.  While Jonathan is staring at a coffin, he starts to hear Pamela’s voice.

At first, you might think that this is going to be one of those stories where it’s going to turn out that the murderer has been driven made by his crimes and he’s imagining being taunted by his victim.  But then Pamela makes an post-death appearance herself and the story reveals it’s final twist.

For the most part, Pamela’s Voice is entertaining.  Both John Astin and Phyllis Diller give such eccentric performances that their fun to watch even if the majority of the audience will be able to guess this segment’s big twist.

Lone Survivor (dir by Gene Levitt, written by Rod Serling)

This wonderfully atmospheric story opens in 1915, with the crew of the Lusitania discovering a man (John Colicos) floating in a lifeboat.  The lifeboat is from the Titanic and the man, who claims to be a crewmember of that doomed ship, is wearing a dress, leading the ship’s doctor to assume that the man survived the sinking of the Titanic by pretending to be a woman and stealing someone else’s rightful spot in the lifeboat.

At first, his rescuers are skeptical.  If the man was indeed a survivor of the Titanic, that would mean that he had spent the past three years floating in that lifeboat?  How could the man have survived?  And, assuming that he is telling the truth about the ship that he came from, what has now brought him to the Lusitania?  Could the man possibly be a German spy?  After all, World War I has just broken out and the sea is no longer as safe as it once was….

Lone Survivor is an example of this often uneven show at its best.  It’s a genuinely creepy short film, one that ends on a frightening and rather sad note.  Lone Survivor is the tale of man trying to escape both his own guilt and the whims of fate and discovering that neither can be easily conquered.  In the main role, John Colicos gives a wonderfully intense and haunted performance.

The Doll (dir by Rudi Dorn, written by Rod Serling)

“Our painting is called The Doll,” Rod Serling says as he introduces this one, “and it’s one that you better not play with.”  Truer words were never spoken!

In this one, British Col. Hymber Masters (John Williams) returns home from India and discovers that his niece (Jewel Branch) has a new doll.  Someone mailed the doll to her.  Everyone assumed that Col. Masters sent the doll but he actually had nothing to do with it.  Masters is not happy to see his niece carrying around that doll and it makes sense when you consider just how ugly the doll is.  I mean, this is one creepy doll!

It turns out that the Masters was correct to be concerned because the doll was sent by Pandit Chola (Henry Silva), who holds Masters responsible for the death of his brother.  The doll has been sent to take revenge….

The Doll is another triumph, largely because the doll itself is so creepy that it looks like something that sprung straight out of a nightmare.  John Williams does a good job playing the well-meaning if somewhat stuffy colonel and Henry Silva is well-cast as the villain of the piece.  This segment deserves a lot of credit for taking a fanciful story and playing it totally straight.

The fifth episode of Night Gallery is a triumph.  After a run of uneven episodes, this episode is consistently creepy and entertaining.  For this episode, at least, Night Gallery lived up to its potential.

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper
  3. Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy
  4. The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall
  5. Make Me Laugh/Clean Kills And Other Trophies

Night Gallery 1.4 “Make Me Laugh/Clean Kills And Other Trophies”


The fourth episode of Night Gallery originally aired on January 6th, 1971.  It was the first episode of the new year and it continued to open with Rod Serling walking through a most curious museum, inviting us to take a look at the macabre paintings on display and consider the stories behind them.

This episode featured two stories.

Make Me Laugh (dir. by Steven Spielberg, written by Rod Serling)

Jackie Slater (Godfrey Cambridge) is a comedian who can’t make anyone laugh.  He’s just been fired from his latest job and even his loyal agent (Tom Bosley) is suggesting that it might be time to throw in the proverbial towel.  While Jackie drowns his sorrows at a bar, he’s approached by a man named Catterje (Jackie Vernon).  Chatterje explains that he can cast miracles but, because he’s not very good at his job, the miracles often have unintended consequences.  “I don’t care!”  Jackie says, “I’ll take the risk!”  Jackie wants people to laugh at him.  Jackie gets his wish but it turns out that he should have listened to Chatterje’s warning.

This segment was directed by Steven Spielberg, back when he was just starting his career and he was largely working in television.  Spielberg also directed Eyes, which was a highlight of the Night Gallery pilot.  Unfortunately, his direction of Make Me Laugh is a bit less successful than his work on Eyes.  Spielberg’s direction features none of the inspired touches that made Eyes so successful.  Part of the problem may be that this story takes place in the word of comedy and comedy has never been a topic for which Spielberg has shown much affinity.

Make Me Laugh does feature a good lead performance from Godfrey Cambridge.  Otherwise, this segment is largely forgettable.

Cleans Kills And Other Trophies (dir by Walter Doniger, written by Rod Serling)

Raymond Massey plays Col. Archie Dittman, a wealthy racist who is obsessed with hunting and killing.  He even has a study full of the mounted heads of all of the animals that he’s killed.  Archie’s son, Archie, Jr. (Barry Brown), has just graduated from college and has no interest in hunting.  Col. Dittman demands that his son go on a hunt or risk being disinherited.  What the colonel fails to take into consideration is that both his bloodlust and his racism has offended his butler (Herbert Jefferson, Jr.) and that his butler has a magic-related revenge in mind.

Clean Kills and Other Trophies is hardly subtle but it does create and maintain a properly ominous atmopshere.  Raymond Massey gives a wonderfully villainous performance and it’s hard not to be amused by the fact that his son is wearing a peace signal prominently on his lapel, as if the segment’s director took one look at it and said, “What’s one thing that we can do to make the themes of this segment even more heavy-handed?”  The segment ends on a note that is so entertainingly over-the-top that it’s hard not to love it.

This episode was uneven.  Make Me Laugh does’t quite work but Cleans Kills and other Trophies is good enough to make up for the disappointing segment that precedes it.

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper
  3. Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy
  4. The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall

TV Review: Night Gallery 1.3 “The House/Certain Shadows on the Wall”


The third episode of Night Gallery aired on December 30th, 1970.  While Americans were undoubtedly finalizing their plans for a wild New Year’s Eve (because, after all, Nixon was president and every day was a party), NBC and Rod Serling invited viewers to take a tour through a darkened museum, one where every painting told a story.

This episode of Night Gallery featured two stories:

The House (dir by John Astin, written by Rod Serling)

The House opens with Elaine Latimer (Joanna Pettet) talking about a recurring dream.  She’s driving her car through the countryside when she comes across a large house.  Though she’s never seen the house, she finds herself drawn to it, as if she somehow belongs in the house.  As Elaine describes her dream, we come to realize that she’s talking to a psychiatrist (Steve Franken) and that Elaine is recovering from mental breakdown.  Her doctor tells Elaine that the dream is nothing to worry about.

However, when Elaine is driving home, she realizes that the countryside looks familiar.  Soon, she’s pulling up in front of the house from her dreams!  When Elaine gets out of the car, she’s greeted by a real estate named Peugeot (Paul Richards) who asks her if she’s interested in buying the house.  As Peugeot gives her a tour of the estate, he mentions that the house is thought to be haunted….

I liked The House.  It was an atmospheric little tale and, from the minute that Elaine started talking about her dream, the story captured my attention.  (I should admit that I also have recurring dreams about a house that I’ve never actually seen before.)  Admittedly, the story does play out at a very deliberate pace and requires a bit of patience but the dream sequences are effectively surreal and Joanna Pettet gives an empathetic performance in the lead role.

Certain Shadows On The Wall (dir by Corey Allen, written by Rod Serling)

This segment features Agnes Moorehead as the sickly Emma, who is poisoned by her own brother, the despicable Stephen (Louis Hayward).  After Emma’s death, Stephen is shocked to discover that, even though Emma is gone, her shadow remains on the wall.  While Stephen is trying to make sense of that, his other two sisters (played by Grayson Hall and Rachel Roberts) have plans of their own for how to deal with their duplicitous brother.

Like The House, Certain Shadows On The Wall is appropriately atmospheric.  The ending is a bit weak as Stephen gets what he deserves but the shadow itself doesn’t have much to do with his actual fate.  Just when you’re waiting for Agnes Moorehead to make a sudden, ghostly appearance, the story comes to an end.  Still, this is an effective segment and it features excellent work from its ensemble.  I especially liked the performance of Grayson Hall, which features one of the most frightening glares that I’ve ever seen.

The third episode of Night Gallery was a definite improvement over the two that came before it.  Both segments tell intriguing stories, though it’s obvious that the show was still better at coming up with good premises than effective endings.

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper
  3. Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy

Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, Ep 3.6, (Dir. Michael Goi)


sabrina

I couldn’t totally tell if I was being entertained by this episode. I’m gonna say no because it’s taken me a week to write this. I have to review Sabrina in stages like getting oral surgery. They root canal you- Sabrina Season Opener, They put bone and hardware up into your gums – mid-season Sabrina, and finally you get a new fake tooth and it’s over- Sabrina Season Finale.

If it weren’t the live tweet sessions with Lisa, I would’ve lost it long ago.  Those banter sessions make the show pretty fun; it’s a shame that the writers and directors can’t achieve that on their very own. In that same vein, if Harvey gets to be any more boring, he’s just going to be recapping his favorite scenes from “How it’s Made” on the Science Channel.  Hey Sabrina, you know what’re swell? Diving Helmets!

At least in this episode, Sabrina didn’t have to find anything. FFS, every episode has been

I miss Nick. But, Sabrina the Town. NIIIIIIIICK!  Sabrina wait….

NO, I’ve to find Judas’ silver, a stop sign, and an Easter basket and have it back at the rec center by Midnight!

Meanwhile courtly intrigue, Caliban is proposing to Sabrina to be his Queen of Hell and he’ll prove he’s on the up and up by making a crappy spell to turn Roz back from stone.  To do this, Harvey has to give up the thing he loves most – his 19th Century Danish Coin Collection.  He actually had to kiss Roz and it would make her not want to have anything to do with him anymore.  They should’ve just had Harvey try express a fully formed thought- she would’ve rolled her stone body the hell out of Greendale lickity split! The kiss didn’t work because he supposedly still loves Sabrina.  Instead, they just capture Circe and she changes everyone back from stone. Oh well.

Hilda is super-gross and nearly full-on spider. She puts a glamour on and decides to hang out with Dr Cee.  Unfortunately, she losses her glamour and he sees all of her spiderness.  He does what any fiance would do and gets her some fast food.  Why not?  While he’s gone, she eats a guy who must be 90% balloon, given the blood splatter.  When he does return, Hilda corners Dr Cee, has him fertilize her eggs (somehow yeech), and kills him.  Hilda tells her sister to come and bring a gun and Zelda kills Hilda.  Afterall, Zelda used to kill Hilda once a month; so, Zelda puts Hilda in the resurrection plot device out front and waits for Hilda’s return.

Lastly, Lilith seduces father Blackwood so that she will have a Satan baby to keep Lucifer from killing her.  Why not?

This episode was not terrible, but not great.  It kind of made me sad for Hilda and the actress herself because she rarely gets to show any range.  In this episode, we find out that she has a broadway quality voice. Oh well, Lisa’s got the next one. Tag, you’re it!

TV Review: Night Gallery 1.2 “Room With A View/The Little Black Bag/The Nature of the Enemy”


The second episode of Night Gallery originally aired on December 23rd, 1970 and it featured three stories, two of which were written by Rod Serling.  Serling, himself, introduced all three of the stories by inviting us to look at the paintings that may or may not have been inspired from them.

Room With A View (dir by Jerrold Freedman, written by Hal Dresner)

When a cranky, bed-bound man (Joseph Wiseman) discovers this his wife (Angel Tompkins) is cheating on him, he comes up with an elaborate scheme to get revenge.  It all hinges on his somewhat nervous nurse (Diane Keaton), who has no idea that she’s being manipulated.

This short segment is well-done but it doesn’t really feel like it belongs on an episode of Night Gallery.  There’s no elements of horror or science fiction to be found in this story.  Instead, it’s just about a manipulative man seeking revenge on his wife.  It’s actually easy to imagine this segment as being a flashback on a Monk-style detective show.  You just need a detective saying, “I finally figured out how you did it!”

For most viewers, probably the most interesting thing about this segment will be the presence of a young Diane Keaton, playing the nurse and laughing nervously at her patient’s rather intrusive questions.

The Little Black Bag (dir by Jeannot Szwarc, written by Rod Serling)

In the 30th Century, a careless accident at a time travel station sends a black medical bag into the past.  It arrives in 1971, where it’s discovered by two homeless gentlemen.  One of the men is a disgraced former doctor named William Fall (Burgess Meredith).  The other, Hepplewhite (Chill Wills), has no medical experience but he does have a greedy spirit.  Fall wants to use the bag to do good,  Hepplewhite wants to use the bag to make money.  Meanwhile, in the future, poor put-upon Gillings (George Furth) is just trying to figure out what to do about the missing bag.

The Little Black Bag is this episode’s high point, featuring good performances from Meredith, Wills, and Furth and also ending with properly macabre twist.  This is another Rod Serling story about how terrible, at heart, most people are but Jeannot Szwarc’s direction is fast-paced and he never allows things to get too heavy-handed.

The Nature of the Enemy (dir by Allen Reisner, written by Rod Serling)

NASA’s latest expedition to the Moon has run into trouble.  The astronauts have discovered that there is something living on the lunar surface.  On Earth, the director of NASA (Joseph Campanella) tries to keep everyone calm while also figuring out the nature of the enemy.

This segment has an intriguing premise but it’s let down by a so-so execution.  Like a lot of less-than-effective Night Gallery segments, this one features a story that doesn’t so much conclude as it just stops after a somewhat weak punchline.

So, the second episode of Night Gallery was not an improvement on the first and it was nowhere close to matching the pilot.  Watching this episode, it was hard not to feel that the show had a few growing pains.  Did it want to be a horror anthology or a collection of short skits?  The 2nd episode reveals a show that was still trying to find it’s voice.

Previous Night Gallery Reviews:

  1. The Pilot
  2. The Dead Man/The Housekeeper

 

TV Review: Night Gallery 1.1 “The Dead Man/The Housekeeper” (dir by Douglas Heyes and John Meredyth Lucas)


As I wrote yesterday, I recently decided to sit down and watch every episode of the horror anthology series, Night Gallery.  Yesterday, I watched and reviewed the pilot movie.  Tonight, I watched the first episode of the weekly series.

Though the pilot originally aired in 1969, Night Gallery did not start to air as a regular series until December of 1970.  The first episode of season one was broadcast on December 16th, 1970.  As all of the episodes did, it stated with Rod Serling walking through a dimly lit museum and inviting the audience to look at a macabre painting.  Each painting was inspired by a different story.  Or were the stories inspired by the paintings?  To be honest, I don’t think the show ever made that clear.

The first episode featured two stories, both of which dealt with mad scientists.

The Dead Man (written and directed by Douglas Heyes)

The first segment was The Dead Man, an enjoyably atmospheric if somewhat difficult-to-follow story about a scientist, a young man with an amazing ability, and the woman who is torn between the two of them.

Carl Betz plays Max Redford, a doctor who has discovered that, under hypnotic suggestion, John Michael Fearing (Michael Blodgett) can simulate any medical condition, no matter how severe.  When Max reveals his discovery to his associate, Dr. Talmadge (Jeff Corey), Talmadge is concerned that Fearing will suffer permanent damage as a result of Max’s experiments.  Nonsense! Max explains.  All he has to do is give Fearing the proper signal and he’ll pop right out of his condition, as good as new.

Max decides to put Fearing to the ultimate test by having him simulate death.  However, when Fearing goes under, he dies for real.  Was it just an accident or did Max — who suspects that Fearing was having an affair with his wife (Louise Sorel) — secretly mean for Fearing to die?

The Dead Man raises some intriguing questions about life, death, and medical ethics.  It also has a quartet of good performances with Carl Betz doing an especially good job as Max.  Michael Blodgett showed up in a lot of early 70s films and TV shows and he was always convincing as a decadent hedonist.  The entire segment is full of creepy atmosphere but the ending is a bit of a let down.  After a great set-up, the segment just kind of fizzles out.

The Housekeeper (written by Heyes, directed by John Meredyth Lucas)

In the second segment, our mad scientist is named Cedric Acton (Larry Hagman).  Whereas Max Redford, in the previous segment, was misguided, Cedric Acton is just crazy.  Through the use of black magic (it involves a frog), Cedric has been experimenting with soul and brain transference.  (There’s an oinking chicken and a clucking pig in his laboratory, just in case anyone’s wondering how the experiments are going.)

Because Cedric loves his wife’s body but hates her personality, he wants to put the soul of his kindly housekeeper (Jeanette Nolan) into the body of his wife, Carlotta (Suzy Parker).  At first, the experiment is a success but things get complicated and …. well, I’m not really sure what it all leads to because this is one of those stories that just kind of ends without really offering up any type of resolution.

The Housekeeper is meant to be a comedy but it’s a bit too mean-spirited to really work.  This segment really calls out for karma to intervene and for Cedric’s soul to end up in something else’s body but instead it just ends with Cedric continuing his experiments.  It’s more than a little dissatisfying.  Larry Hagman does a good job playing Cedric, though.  He’s convincingly crazy.

Especially after the pilot, it’s hard not to be disappointed by the first episode of Night Gallery.  Both stories had potential but they were let down by weak endings.  Oh well.  Hopefully, tomorrow’s episode will be an improvement!