Tales from the Darkside 110: Djinn, no Chaser

Letting us know that we’re probably in for another comedy (two in a row?) this episode opens with a man humming happily in a mental institution, while the credits let us know that Kareem-Abdul Jabarr is this week’s special guest star. Somehow I don’t see him doing intense horror.

The crazy man, one Daniel, begins his story, speaking directly to the camera as if it’s the psychiatrist in the hospital. He flashes back to he and his wife’s first days as newlyweds, as they were looking for furnishings for their new apartment. While out walking they stumble across a magical tent that appears form nowhere-

In the middle of a vacant Los Angeles lot. Continuing with their humourous self-aware banter, they head into the tent and, naturally, come across a magic lamp that Connie, the wife, wants to purchase. Daniel bargains the man down to ten dollars, and they leave, only to have the tent mysteriously, and predictably, disappear.

When they get home Daniel refuses to let Connie rub the lamp, for fear of the genies that they both profoundly don’t believe in. Connie manages to talk him into it, and yes, the genie begins to speak from inside the lamp. That’s all he can do, however – just cackle maniacally and throw things around the room. The constant insults of the genie and Daniel’s attempts to shut him up to avoid complaints from the neighbours leads to a fight, which contains the most obviously ADRed dialogue I’ve ever seen.

Seriously, what was originally said in that scene that had him rushing out of the room, clutching two toasters, which, for some reason, were sitting in his bedroom? It’s a mystery that can only be solved by obtaining the original script! Or perhaps reading the Harlan Ellison story that this was based on. Which, if I’m being perfectly honest, I was probably going to do anyway.

Although I’m sure the two toasters have something to do with redundant wedding gifts, with them being newlyweds and all, but as it stands, him carrying the toasters feels like a punchline without a setup.

Connie comes into the living room to apologize and try to wrangle the Genie. Kareem quiets down a little, and explains that he doesn’t need to follow their directions, but he might be willing to help them out and so long as they’re willing to free him from the lamp. Daniel refuses, and the Genie begins foisting natural disasters upon them, filling their apartment with slime, fungus and hurricanes.

Things are getting tense in the apartment, with Daniel being unable to leave because of the wild animals that keep turning up in the hallway. The genie does offer one out, however – if they got a divorce, Connie would be the sole owner of the lamp, and then Daniel would be free. After only the most basic assent from Connie he jumps at the chance, and winds up committed to the asylum at the beginning of the episode.

Back in the therapy session he expresses regret for his cowardice, and decides to check himself out and go home, which turns out to be, in a pleasant surprise, beautifully furnished and not infested with vicious wildlife.

Connie explains that everything was provided for by the Genie, who became very nice once freed from the lamp. How was this accomplished, at long last? Through the use of a can opener!

Although I’m not sure how that would work, given that the lamp didn’t have a rim or any place to dig in the metal hook to get the whole ‘opening’ thing started. Just take a look:

Seriously, how would that work?

The episode ends with a kiss and wacky music, which then immediately cuts to the end credits spiel, which seems amazingly inappropriate given the broad, zany, wordplay-centered comedy that preceded it.

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