Tales From the Darkside 213: Comet Watch

Hey, look! It's Anthony Heald, star of the film 8MM! And he's alone in an attic, praising what's clearly a photo of Sir Edmond Halley (1656-1742).

Yikes, they didn't try to make that thing look like a painting at all, did they? Anthony is excitedly awaiting the return of Halley's comet, which he plans to watch through an elaborate telescope.

There's just one thing standing in his way:

His monstrously shrewish wife! Yes, she's actually wearing curlers and a hairnet, and eating chocolates - just in case you didn't know what role she was supposed to be serving. She announces that the local bankers' association is having a meeting that night, and Anthony's supposed to be there! After all, his father-in-law owns the biggest bank in town, and Anthony isn't making a very good go at being a banking executive! Shrew thinks it's because he's so obsessed with astronomy, and she's going to fix that problem by destroying the telescope with a tiny hammer!

Would that even work?

They get into a fight over the telescope, and Anthony tries to convince her to share the comets with him - but she won't be convinced. Anthony tries to make a stand, and shrew leaves without a final decision in re: going to the event together being made. Once she's out of the room Anthony goes back to the telescope, and finds a person trapped in the viewfinder!

Somehow she manages to travel through the telescope and lands in the attic! Laura, which seems to be her name, proves to be from the distant past, as we can tell based on her comments about fashions of the day - insisting that Anthony should wear a cravate instead of a bow-tie, and suggesting that a handlebar mustache might well cover up his hideous upper lip. Anthony finally manages to convince her that it's the year 1985, and that she's missed her wedding by some 75 years!

That's all well and good, but how did riding a comet (which she claims to have done) keep her from aging? She had the telescope commissioned in 1908, and it seemingly has the special property of allowing people to move through a 'dimensional window' that exists only when Halley's comet comes close by the planet. While floating through space she was pulled onto the comet by Halley himself, who she'd lived with for the past 75-years. She intimates that it was a nightmarish ordeal, but doesn't explain why.

Shrew comes charging into the room - Anthony barely has time to hide Laura in the closet before she gets there. The ruse doesn't last long, though. Shrew is so annoyed that she smacks the telescope as she walks into the room, which causes it to fly open, releasing Halley into the room!

Hey, is the  guy playing Halley the same actor who played the evil doctor in the first 'monster in the closet' episode? I'll have to check later on.

Anyhow, Halley has arrived to reclaim Laura, who he wants to claim as his 'comet bride'. Laura has no desire to remain with such a dainty, elitist, fop. She's more concerned with remaining a real, flesh-and-blood person, and wants Anthony's help to convince Halley to let her stay. Shrew obviously is having none of it, as she doesn't like the idea of her husband palling around with another astronomer - especially a young pretty one! And really, who could blame her?

Naturally, we all see where this is going, so let's speed things along, shall we? They have all manner of fights and disagreements, with Anthony learning to stand up for himself - first by questioning Halley's backstory, and then by finally telling off his horrible wife. Halley then tries to bribe Anthony with the location of a upcoming supernova which can be named after him!

This all leads to a struggle where Halley tries to drag (and Shrew tries to push) Laura into the telescope, but things go awry, so Shrew winds up going into the telescope instead, spending the next 75 years trapped on the comet with Halley, nagging him! What a horrible fate, am I right, fellas?

Of course I'm not, but as punishments for shrewish wives go, at least she wound up immortal in space, rather than erased from existence, as in our last case.


Questions left unresolved at the end of the episode:

What will be the legal repercussions of Anthony's wife having mysteriously disappeared?

How did Halley end up on his eponymous comet? According to the show he first sighted it when he was twenty-six, and since he died in his eighties, he didn't live to see it come back and open the 'time window'. After death, did he become the ghost of his own comet? That would be an ironic punishment, given his famous love of atheism.

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