Tales From the Darkside 114: Snip Snip

The opening credits of this week's episode immediately caught my attention - Carol Kane is guest-starring! Oh, those lovely childhood days of listening to her shrill voice scratch at my ears from the confines of some syndicated Taxi re-runs. The episode also features 'Bud Cort', who the internet tells me is a successful character actor, but who I know only from his hilarious cameo on Arrested Development, replacing the star of 'Mister Reinhold's Courtroom'. I wonder what Carol's going to be up to this week? Whatever it is, it certainly involves lighting a lot of candles!

Actually, it's Bud lighting the candles - he's using them as part of a spell to try and rig the lottery! He's so sure that he's going to win that he calls the headmaster of the university where he works to gloat about his coming success and quit! Which seems a little presumptuous, but he explains that his years of teaching Algebra have left him with the ability to 'hear' what numbers are saying to him - which is the kind of thing you'd expect someone who'd, Pi-style, unlocked the numerical master code of the universe to say, as opposed to a guy who's exploiting magic to his own ends:

Yeah, that's a flying lottery ticket. So it's definitely magic, and not math, that's responsible for his coming riches. Although I can't imagine that there's going to be much money in the Jackpot - while the MC of the drawing referred to it as the state's first mega-jackpot, he also mentioned that five million people have bought tickets. If there are only six numbers on the ticket, however, aren't there only a million possible combinations? Won't Bud be sharing his win with at least five other people? Or more likely hundreds, given that he's selected a combination sure to be favoured by would-be-witches and self-identified goths all across the state.

Turns out the whole thing is moot - it turns out he didn't pick the right number after all. The winner was 666667! Yup, he was one number off, and is, as a result, out some TEN MILLION DOLLARS!

Seriously? There were only a million possible tickets. How could the prize possibly be ten million dollars? How much did these tickets cost?

Anyhoo, Carol Kane is the winner, which the newsman announces on the show - a development that can only go well for her. Seriously, that's basically asking someone to rob and murder the winner, isn't it? Bud is, naturally, despondent, and tries to get his job back. It doesn't go well, and he's left with only one option - try to get the money he believes is rightfully his back from Carol! Who works as a hairdresser! Hence the snip-snip of the title.

When we next see Carol she's just winding up a celebratory party at her salon, while Bud climbs a ladder and peeps none-too-subtly in through the window:

There's also a little comedic business between her and the old man about the winning ticket, which she keeps tucked away in her bra. I hope the episode doesn't pretend that the person who holds the ticket could claim the money - after all, the MC announced Carol's name, so obviously the ticket is registered as belonging to her with the state. Which isn't a bad idea, come to think of it.

The old man warns Carol about all the crazies out there, but she remains confident that her bird 'Lou' will protect her. Which seems optimistic to me. Given that it's a bird. Carol relaxes with some wine and chats with Lou about her plans to open the best Beauty Parlour in all of Port Huron! Which can't be the highest bar ever set, I'm guessing. Meanwhile Bud has creeped into the salon, and is desperate to steal the ticket - which, again, wouldn't gain him anything. Although Carol seems to act like she has to keep the ticket in order to win... did the writer of this episode not know how lotteries work? Once you've announced the winner's name on television you're going to have a hell of a time not turning over the money, tickey or no tickey.

Bud sees her locking the ticket away in a flimsy music box, then wastes time trying to pry it open:

Rather than simply fleeing with it and worrying about cracking it later. The thing weighs two ounces, Bud - just run!

Lou's loud squawking finally alerts Carol to Bud's presence, and he threatens her, explaining that he was supposed to win, and that he's entitled to the money. She doesn't find this convincing, even when Bud announces that it was black magic that was supposed to win him the lottery. Bud then announces his fiendish plan - he can't cash in someone else's ticket, so he'll simply tear it up, thereby forcing the state to hold a new drawing!

Again - not how lotteries work. Hell, there's a line in the fine print on the back of lottery tickets that says you have to claim your winnings within a year after the drawing. I remember a few years back one of the eastern provinces (that's right, this is a Canadian story) was presented with a thorny issue - the year actually lapsed on a multi-million dollar jackpot! It was national news because it had never actually happened before, and I'll always remember the statement from the head of the Lottery - the gist was that although the year was up, if the person actually did turn up with the ticket at some point in the future, they'd be happy to work out at least a partial pay-off of the jackpot, since anything less just wouldn't be fair.

I know that things are a little more reasonable in Canada than in certain southern countries, but it can't be so different that the plot of this episode could ever happen.

Back in the show, Carol states that Bud shouldn't have bothered dropping by, since the ticket is down at the bank, despite what he saw with his own lying eyes. Bud snatches the key from her and opens the music box, only to discover that it is, in fact, empty! What could be happening? Obviously Carol is also a witch.

Just look at that face. What else could be going on here?

The game is given up immediately when the show comes back from the last commercial break, as Carol reveals that her bird is actually named 'Lucifer'! She actually pities Bud a little, and tries to warn him away from her witches' den. He pushes his way into it, revealing an altar of her own!

Yup, that was Bud's problem - not that magic isn't real, but rather that he was bested by a more powerful witch! One that knew about Bud all along! The only remaining question is: Why did Carol pick such a preposterous number?

Oh, and what's she going to do to Bud?

She says 'snip snip' over and over again, cornering Bud with dark magic while complaining about her bad luck in relationships. It's an odd scene, as her evil magic is displayed primarily through the bursting of various party bubbles and tearing up his suit.. It's only when she has him completely cornered that she reveals his role in the proceedings - there must be a human sacrifice to complete the spell and satisfy Satan!

So she stabs him in the neck with some scissors.

Which is sort of hardcore and completely out of theme for a witch, if you think about it. Even one who cuts hair for a living

The next day Carol's back at work, cutting hair, and using Bud's severed head as a hairstyle guide!

Which, while certainly creepy, doesn't really work, since he's got short, tightly-curled hair, not the style you can really give a man who's coming in for a trim.

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