Space Ramblings

Night Visions turns in a mixed performance with an SF story and Bill Pullman

Night Vision returns in its second week with two more episodes, after a
weak beginning. As before, the results are a mixed bag.

The first episode titled “View through the window” is based on a not
particularly well known SF story, so tailor made for an anthology series
that I’m suprised the new Outer Limits never used it since it would have
been perfect for them.

Like Brian Dennehy, Bill Pullman seems to have been lured into doing
this show by giving him the chanche to direct the episode. Unlike
Dennehy though, he does direct the episode he’s actually in, which seems
like a mistake. But then this isn’t much of an episode anyway.

The original story was nasty and mostly pointless, and this episode is
even more so. The entire twist which might make watching this episode
worthwhile is given away in the promos which show the girl growing a CGI
predator mouth. The story’s main charachter becomes the man who actually
enters the world, based on a generic “my son died” background. This only
serves to make the main charachter more sympathetic and where in the
story, the deaths happened to minor charachters, his killing just
becomes more unplesant and pointless.

The only thing Pullman has to do here is look sad, a lot, and it’s easy
work. The actual direction is mediocre at best. And the realism of the
military encampment only makes the whole “magic” world thing look silly.
The episode dispenses with even the barest attempt at explaining who or
what these things are and how they can maintain a civilization while
possesing the eating habits of rabid animals. Somehow I think they might
have been far more terrifying and disturbing, if they’d taken him out to
a slaughterhouse and cut his throat while wearing plastic aprons and
served roasted chunks of him at a Norman Rockwellesque Sunday dinner.

As it stands the story and the episode had little to offer besides the
obvious shock value of the nice family turning out to be ravenous
monsters and that shock is a pretty cheap and pointless one, much like
jumping out of the closet and yelling “Boo”, it’s bad storytelling and
it doesn’t hold your interest.

The second episode is titled “Quite Please” and features Brian Dennehy
and Cary Elwes and is directed by feature film director Joe Dante. The
basic plot is a generic serial killer story, most people can predict
after the first few minutes, but Dante and the actors have a lot of fun
with the material.

Both Dennehy and Elwes are out of control, doing completely over the top
charachters that are at the same time very plausible. Joe Dante also
does some very wierd shots and closeups, choosing to focus on look and
style, instead of the pacing and the suspense of the plot. This
undercuts the mystery aspect of the episode, but makes it a lot more
enjoyable when Dante chooses to spend the time on grizzled closeups of
Dennehy pounding away, yelling at his dog and grinning with amiable
menace from the shadows and Elwes hiding behind the prop glasses,
constantly shaking and trembling and huddling under his tent.

Instead of taking the plot seriously, Dante, Dennehy and Elwes turn it
into comic material which gives the episode a nice twisted Tales from
the Crypt feel. Where the prior episode was just warmed over New Outer
Limits, Quiet Please comes closest to approaching the fun of Tales From
the Crypt by realizing that it’s not really about the blood or the body
parts, but the cartoonish and over the top rampaging charachters who run
into terrible but funny things.

Where “View” is simply SciFi gobbleydook with no aim or idea in mind,
“Quiet Please” knows that its material is ridiculous and just has fun
with it.

Meanwhile the tatooed bozo as narrator persists. So I’ve learned to do
what I do to the OL narrator, click on the mute button while he delivers
his insipid lines.

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