TFtD 103: Pain Killer

The show opens with a middle-aged couple lounging in their living room. Nadine is watching television, and the husband “Harvey” is reading a book on computer programming. Nadine wants Harvey to get ‘good with computers’ so that he can get a better job than working in her brother’s company’s parts department.

In the kitchen getting some coffee, Harvey has a terrible back spasm and winds up on the floor, unable to move. Despite his wife’s protestations, harvey insists that the best thing for his back would be to spend the night on a hard floor.

Covered with a blanket (but lacking a pillow), everything seems like it’s going fine for Harvey, until he glances out the window and sees what looks like a man in a blazer hovering outside the window in the rain.

Harvey is understandably terrified, even more so a moment later when a close-up (and a distinctly less-blue flash of lightning) reveals that he’s touching the side of his nose in the universal ‘our little secret’ gesture.

Harvey calls for help, but when Nadine arrives, there’s no sign of the mysterious hovering man. Of course, he never actually mentions the hovering, so it’s possible that part was an unintentional failure of the effects.

The next day Harvey and Nadine are at a doctor’s office, and when Doctor Roebuck enters, it’s the man from the window! Played by Farley Granger!

Yes, it’s Farley Granger, star of the fifteenth-greatest movie ever made, Strangers on a Train!

The examination is unable to find any concrete cause for the back pain, and Farley suggests it might be stress and tension that’s causing his troubles. Of course, it’s clear what’s causing the stress – his wife is pushing him to become a computer programmer, which he’s incredibly uncomfortable with. Harvey leaves with some muscle relaxant, assuring his wife that he’ll be ready to go back to work before his sick leave runs out.

Cut to a few months later, and Harvey is now stuck in a halo neck brace. Absolutely nothing is helping relieve the strain on Harvey’s back, and the stress of his marriage is just making everything worse. Unable to work and faced with financial ruin, the marriage has reached its breaking point. Just then Roebuck calls the house, offering a miracle cure for Harvey’s back.

It’s a simple cure, Farley explains in his office, all they have to do is murder Nadine. Farley outlines his logic – Nadine’s constant haranguing has caused his back pain, and the only way to get rid of the stress she causes is to kill her. Harvey won’t even have to do anything, just agree to let it happen. Having reached the end of his rope, Harvey acquiesces.

A few days later Harvey is lying on his couch, watching television when he gets a call telling him that Nadine has been killed in a car accident. Without even realizing it he’s able to sit up immediately after he hears the news. True to Farley’s word, he’s been completely cured!

Six weeks afterward Harvey gets a visitor at his house. It’s a little old lady who identifies herself as the driver of the car that killed Nadine. She apologizes to him, and explains that the accident wasn’t her fault – she didn’t have any choice.

Called back into Farley’s office for a meeting, Harvey discovers what the old lady was talking about. When Farley tries to talk about Nadine’s death, Harvey insists that it was an accident, and that he doesn’t believe that a murder was ever committed. Farley’s not happy to hear this, and insists that they have a deal, and now it’s time for Harvey to hold up his end of the bargain. Another patient has chronic migraines ‘caused by her father’s constant demands for attention’, and Harvey needs to go and kill the old man.

Harvey attempts to escape, and finds the door locked. Then, with a flick of his wrist, Farley brings back Harvey’s back pain – which he threatens to do indefinitely so long as Harvey refuses to help out his other patient, just as the old lady had helped him.

Finally agreeing to the terms, Harvey demands to know just who Farley really is, that he has these powers. Farley responds in the only way he has to, by laughing evilly as thunder crashes outside the window.

Fun outing this week, with nothing to really complain about. Sure, the sets were as cheap as usual, and the two leads played the schlubby husband and harridan wife in a fashion that, at my most charitable, I would call ‘stereotypical’. Still, the premise was good and Farley was genially creepy, so while I wouldn’t call it a great episode, it was certainly competent.

And it also marks the third time Satan showed up, which is something that I’ll now be chronicling, since it seems like he kind of thing that’s going to be a theme in the coming weeks.

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