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Bruce Willis ( 5th Element ) is drinking in a bar. Back when this was made he was a jobbing actor, making most of his money as a bartender, so there is a certain irony. He tries to make a phone call, accidentally dials home, and ends up speaking to himself! They wage war on each other, conducted over the phone - one in a comfy apartment, the other in a cold wet phone booth.
Willis carries the entire story, and he does a great job of it. The Producers must have seen his potential, because this is the first episode of a show they invested a lot of money in. The director was Wes Craven and the script is based on a short story by Harlan Ellison , so they certainly pulled out all the stops.
A middle-aged telesales worker is stressed by having to learn the names of new products he has to sell. However, things get worse for him when he realises that everyday English-language words have changed their meaning. Dinosaur means lunch, lunch means pink and so on. His wife ( Annie Potts ) is shocked and frustrated by his apparent inability to make coherent sense. Worse, their son is taken seriously ill.
There is no moral to the story, only a question. Is it better to have a long life in depressing servitude, or to live briefly in a beautiful dream?
A young girl is troubled by her parents' constant arguing. However, she gets them to take her to a new zoo that she has a free ticket for. When they arrive at the zoo, the parents are sent to a waiting area while the youngster gets sent in alone. It turns out not to be a petting zoo, more of a choose-one-to-keep sanctuary.
Dee Wallace Stone attends a garage sale with her gal-pal Julie Carmen . They discover a magical oil-lamp with the caveat certain restrictions may apply! Rather than meet an Arabian Genie, she materialises in a bank with Nigel Havers lookalike who offers her three wishes. However, the wishes come with a lot of red tape.
It is a dark and stormy night. A police officer stops off at a roadside diner for coffee and donuts. He is soon joined by a crazed loner, who creeps everyone out with a cliched tale of carnage in the Vietnam conflict.
In the second half of the story, the stranger's nightmares come true. He and everyone else in the diner must relive a murderous gunfight.
Adrienne Barbeau is teacher at a US High School. The place is run by a 1980s interracial street-gang, and the Principal states the school has more gang fights than graduations. However, they filmed it on location at a nice suburban school reminiscent of Sunnydale High in Buffy the Vampire Slayer , and the tweenager gang members all have matching jackets like in Grease.
The teacher invokes the wrath of the gang leader simply by doing her job. Luckily for her, the school has a magical gargoyle on the roof. Well, the school was only built within the last fifty years and the statue is technically a grotesque not a gargoyle, but it certainly has some kind of magic powers. It somehow possesses her or something, and gives her the strength to defeat the gang. However, it wants to take over her body, and she starts to metamorphose.
A Chinese-American named Wong enters a Lost and Found Emporium in San Francisco. There are no staff members on duty in the shop, but soon he meets other customers. They are seeking metaphysical things like lost time and lost love.
A suburban couple ignore their young son as he watches a TV show that encourages him to perform Black Magic rites. In this heavy-handed slam on parental irresponsibility, it turns out that the Black Magic has real consequences.
Of the three eps in the portmanteau, this is the odd one out, with its comedic tone. It was directed by someone named David Steinberg - he is not a recognisable name the way the others ( John Milius, Joe Dante ) are, but apparently he has directed a lot of comedy stuff for television.
Jeffrey Jones ( Howard the Duck ), here credited as a young Jeff Jones, is married to a beautiful woman. She is having an affair with his best buddy (Martin Kove - Karate Kid). The Femme Fatale seduces Kove into killing his friend. But Kove must relive the day ... in his victim's role.
This was directed by John Milius and co-written by Gerrit Graham ( Now and Again ). The odd one out from the all-star cast and crew is the female lead ( Elan Oberon ). It turns out she is the Director's wife, and all her acting credits are in his films!
Pam Dawber is a hard-working secretary. She does all the work in the office, but her boss takes her for granted. Then she discovers that the photocopier opens a magic porttal to a parallel universe.
The alternate universe is one where secretaries are highly valued, due to their very specific set of skills. After all, they are to offices what engineers are to spacecraft. Without them, the bureaucracies would be unable to run. One of the benefits of her newfound status is that Jonathan Frakes ( Star Trek: TNG ) attempts to seduce her.
This is based on a story by Arthur C. Clarke . A starship captained by Donald Moffatt ( The Thing ) explores the remains of a star system that went supernova over three thousand years before the Common Era.
The ship's Chaplain finds his faith tested when the remains of an alien civilization is discovered. Worse, the peaceful aliens were wiped out by an explosion that was not seen on Earth until just over three thousand years later.
Restuarant critic Elliott Gould ( Capricorn One ) is an unethical bastard who writes fraudulent critical reviews of establishments he has never dined in. He tries that on a Chinese Restuarant, and discovers that the fortune cookies they give out have fortunes that come true! Unfortunately he discovers that people only get the fortunes they deserve.
Alien Ambassador Jon Glover ( Smallville ) arrives at the United Nations, and in his electronically modified voice he tells the ambassadors that the human race is about to become extinct. His armada will arrive in 24 hours time. Can they come to an agreement and save the world?
Nobody asks the question, if the aliens are pacifists then why do they have an armada of planet-destroying ships? And the UN diplomats are sceptical that they can make common cause together. How ironic, since the UN was invented by FDR during the Second World War as an alliance between the five allied superpowers, who are still the five permanent members of the UN Security Council.
A chronically depressed dentist wishes his life was better. Then he meets the Tooth Fairy. Unfortunately he forgets the maxim be careful what you wish for .... Some people are never happy!
Darlanne Fleugel goes out shopping, and leaves her young son alone in the house with his grandmother. Momma ordered him to never go near granny's room, no matter how much the old lady asks for a cup of tea. But the boy foolishly gives in.
Martin Balsam ( Murder in Space ) plays a writer named O'Bannon after the man who wrote this episode, Rockne S. O'Bannon . The protagonist realises that he cannot write anything original. Luckily he sees a demonic dwarf, something that looks like an Ugnaught dressed as a Jawa. At first he is distracted and cannot concentrate. The writer's Agent (Clive Revill - Empire Strikes Back ) cannot offer any useful advice.
Lane Smith ( V: The Series ) is a lecturer at Harvard University in November 1963. It turns out that he is a time-traveller from 2172 AD.
The traveller's job is to observe JFK (Andrew Robinson - Star Trek: DS9 ) but not interfere. After all, LBJ (Jerry Hardin - X-Files ) is supposed to inherit the throne. Naturally, our hero interferes. But how bad will it get, and how will he fix it?
Mare Winningham is a very selfish, materialistic woman who makes her poor husband's life a misery. One day a strange man delivers a mysterious box with a button on top. If someone presses the button, two things will happen. Firstly, the presser will receive two hundred thousand dollars. Secondly, a complete stranger somewhere will die. The only question is, how long will it take the greedy woman to press the button?
If this story sounds familiar it was used in a movie that starred Cameron Diaz in the lead role. In all fairness the shorter version is better, unimpaired by a massive an unnecessary backstory or any other padding.
Peterson does the field-work. discovering that the answer to Life, the Universe and Everything may be the equivalent of the World's funniest joke from Monty Python.
This was made in 1986, when the Cold War was still raging. KGB goon George Dzunda (The Beast) is made to look like a liberal by rival Andrew Divoff ( Lost ). As a result, Dzunda is sent to investigate a couple of mysterious deaths in a small village north of the Arctic Circle. Once there he discovers the village is filled with people exiled from Russian society. Also, it is so far North that they get six months of darkness and six months of sun - like the Al Pacino film where he investigated a murder in Alaska.
Dzunda meets Victoria Tennant , who was sent to the Gulag fifty years previously and has not aged a day since. And since the village is currently enjoying six months of sunless winter, we automatically think of the more recent effort 30 Days of Night .
This was written by David Gerrold
A young Astronomy Professor (Victor Garber - Alias ) and his much younger-looking girlfriend are driving in the desert near a small town named Beaumont.
They see a flying saucer land nearby. When they investigate, they see insect-faced bipeds emerge carrying mysterious people-sized pods. Yes, all the cliches are present - paranoia sets in as our heroes discover that the aliens are disguised as humans, and distinguishable only by a congenital mutilation of their fingers.
A sword-stick-wielding old man is summoned to meet young gypsy fortune-teller Jenny Agutter . They are Lancelot and Morgana LeFay, the last survivors of Camelot. Merlin is awakening, in a cave in Cornwall.
This is an interesting take on the Arthurian legends because it reverses the moral standing of the characters. Morgana justifies her actions in opposing Merlin, pointing out that he was okay with helping Uther to father Arthur out of wedlock, but wanted Guenivere burned at the stake for similar adultery with Lancelot. When Lancelot finds Merlin again, he realises that Merlin's archaic morality has no place in the modern world.
A young Elvis impersonator (Jeff Yagher - V: The Series ) is in a car crash. He wakes up, Rip Van Winkle style, but instead of the future he finds himself in the past. In the 1950s, just before Elvis recorded his first song. Our hero befriends the pre-fame King-to-be of rock and roll. However, things take a nasty turn for the worst.
This was filmed from a teleplay by George RR Martin
A lonely waitress ( Shelley Duvall ) has a close encounter with a flying saucer. A television crew broadcast this event around the world, but her new-found fame is not as positive as 21st-Century celebrity status. She keeps up her day job at a greasy spoon diner, and gets harrassed by crazies who want to know what message the UFO gave her.
This stars David Faustino (Married with Children).
Lisa Eilbacher works in a radio station, not unlike her character in Nighthawk.
Terry Farrell visits a clothing store in a shopping mall, just as it is about to shut down for the night. The other customers seem to take an unusual interest in her.
A special-needs teenager is cared for by his elderly parents. Unfortunately he has a superpower - he can summon any item he thinks about. When he teleports himself some doughnuts for a midnight snack, he over-indulges and ends up in hospital. His doctor is Richard Biggs ( Babylon 5 ).
A nosy social-worker tries to take the boy into foster-care.
Susan Blakely is a single mom who needs to boost her credit rating.
This story features William Atherton ( Biodome ).
This story is about an African-American coal miner. Chris Mulkey ( Tru Blood ) guest-stars.
Joe Mantanega (House of Games) is a survivalist with a military-grade fallout shelter in his basement. His wife ( Joan Allen ) takes their children (including Danica McKellar ) to her sister's house for the weekend, while the Cold War heats up and nuclear war seems imminent. Then a nuke detonates at a nearby Air force base, and the survivalist gets trapped in his shelter ...
A tweenager with a fancy new walkman-style radio gets onto an airplane. Soon his device stops working as the manufacturers intended. Instead of picking up radio waves, it starts to pick up the thoughts of his fellow passengers.
One of the other passengers has a bomb, and is about to destroy the plane. This is definitely a flashback to the pre-9/11 era. Apparently in the 1980s you could take dynamite in your carry-on luggage! But who is the mad bomber? Luckily, the only other passenger who gets any lines is the man sitting right next to the protagonist! This stranger is Andrew Robinson ( Star Trek: DS9 ), best known to mainstream audiences as the mad killer Scorpio from Dirty Harry. Yes, with a list of suspects like that the mystery will never be solved!
A musical composer drops dead, but gets given a second chance.
This story features Grant Heslov ( True Lies ).
A couple of middle-aged suburbanites are unhappy that they have become middle-aged suburbanites. They then meet their younger selves, not unlike Ghosts of Us by Philip Henry .
This is let down by the poor makeup, which could have been avoided if they had used a dual cast.
A Past-Life Regression therapist wishes she had past-life memories of her own. Worse, she wakes up in a world where everyone is already aware of their past lives. Nigel Bennett ( Lexx S4 ) tries to help her put her skills to good use.
An alcoholic signs up to the ultimate detox method. It turns out to be an extreme form of aversion therapy. He must go cold turkey, or else ...
Lonely working man William Sanderson ( Blade Runner ) accidentally phones a wrong number, and makes contact with a lonely woman named Mary-Ann.
A shyster who looks like Marc Singer ( V: The Series ) give public shows where he claims to channel the spirit of a man who died thousands of years ago.
The shyster starts to manifest genuine voices. Unfortunately, the spirit that speaks through him is a cynical asshole. So he gains a superpower, but loses his opportunity for personal gain.
The protagonist is a woman who is being abused by her husband (Kenneth Walsh - Twin Peaks ). Then she gets a porcelain statue of a dobermann pinscher for her birthday ... and a real dog starts to menace her husband every time he is mean to her.
This was written by J Michael Straczynski .
Warren Cribbens (Michael Moriarty - Q: The Winged Serpent ) is Loans Officer at a bank.
A 1980s business executive returns to work after a heart transplant. But he begins to act differently, going for walks on the riverbank and eating lunch at a greasy spoon diner. For some reason he is stalking a brunette waitress ...
Obviously, he is being influenced by the heart he was transplanted with. But this is not Hands of Orlac , and nobody has any evil intent. In other words, there is a complete lack of conflict in the story. It lacks anything that would make it watchable.
Terence Knox ( Star Trek: DS9 ) is a starship pilot, taking a vaccine to a remote outpost on a distant world. Unfortunately, he discovers that his ship has a stowaway. The ship does not have enough fuel to land. As long as the girl is aboard, the ship will crash - killing her, the pilot and everyone who needs the vaccine.
This is a heart-wrenching drama. There is only one real viable outcome, so the characters must embrace this dreadful truth.
However, in all fairness the characters do not work hard to find an alternative. They needed to trim an extra 25 kilos of dead flesh, so to speak, but do not even bother to take their clothes off. And why does a spaceship need heavy metal internal doors?
This week's protagonist lives a life of quiet desperation ... living with his wife and daughter in a homeless shelter. He has a chance encounter with a millionaire, and they end up in each others' shoes.
This is not exactly original - The Prince and the Pauper with a sci-fi body-swap embellishment.
A psychiatrist takes a new job at a sanitarium. He is intrigued by a self-admitted patient ( Deborah Raffin ). She is paranoid that the patterns in wallpaper (and blankets, clothes, anything with a pattern on it) can come alive and are plotting to kill her.
This was written by J Michael Straczynski , creator of the villainous Shadows ...
A pool shark (a very young-looking Essai Morales from Caprica ) would give ANYTHING to play against the greatest player of all time - Fats Waller (Maury Chaykin - ). Well, be careful what you wish for ...
The Fat man's ghost plays the pool shark a visit. Their game is for the highest stakes - life and death!
A US Military test-pilot is sent through a mysterious portal. This being the 1980s, they do not have unmanned probes. He discovers a beautiful landscape on the other side, inhabited by a peaceful society of farmers. Naturally, they all speak perfect modern-day American English.
As in B5, our hero must decide whether he should blindly obey orders, or if he should follow his natural instincts and preserve the paradise?
The title seems to be a vague reference to Room 101, the interrogation room in Orwell's 1984 .
Academic scientist and researcher Dean Stockwell ( Battlestar Galactica ) has been imprisoned, evidently by a Stalinist regime, for refusing to hand over his research notes because he realises they will be weaponised by the military-industrial complex.
Can his new cellmate teach him how to Quantum Leap (yes, I had to say it) out of his cell?
The unemployment rate is 32%, and there is no Welfare system. Little surprise that the only the Pawnbroker is still in business. Thus, the protagonist has to pawn things to get enough money to live on. He ends up pawning his memories, like in We Can Remember It For You Wholesale.
Once he has money, our hero can make himself presentable and do a job interview over his video-phone. Unfortunately, the Job-Seekers counsellor ( Ilse Von Glatz ) is more interested in the minutae of the job applicant's memories rather than any actual skills they might bring to the job.
A cat lady lives along and spends time with her pussy. But this is not any pussy-cat, he is a were-cat who turns into a European Gigolo. But he is also a tomcat with a wandering spirit. Unfortunately, cat ladies think they can treat people the same way they treat pets - as property!
A new plague hits the USA. People are going blind for no known reason. A lady thinks that people without a conscience are suffering the fate of the three monkeys - see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.
Lonely old lady Janet Leigh is obsessed with death. She eventually meets the Grim Reaper himself (Stephen McHattie - ).
An average white-collar worker discovers a hidden video-camera installed in his bathroom. It turns out he is the unknowing star of a Reality TV show, like The Truman Show .
The repair man tells him that Some people are famous just for being famous. This is even more though-provoking when you consider that the episode dates back to the 1980s, to the birth of Reality TV.
A truck-driver thinks his wife is cheating on him. He follows her to a bar, and gets a lesson in morality from a mysterious blind musician.
A degenerate gambler sold 51% of his soul to a double-crossing demon. He then goes to his loan shark (Anthony Franciosa - Beneath The Planet Of The Apes ) for protection. George Buza ( Mutant X: S3 ) is one of the Shylock's leg-breakers.