Tales From the Darkside 308: Serpent's Tooth


Okay, so based on the title and nothing else, this is going to be an ungrateful child-themed episode? Of course, if it is, it's not like the show would be breaking any new ground. Hell, we had a 'bitterest pill' just a few weeks ago. Alright, so - what's this one about?

We open in an apartment, where a mother prepares a meal while an idle child reads a book and listens to his walkman. Gosh, I miss walkmans. The meal preparation involves an oddly graphic depiction of a plucked chicken being chopped in half. Is that something which could get on television these days? I mean, it's already dead, but PETA's pretty powerful...

My musings are interrupted by the punk-costumed daughter who comes walking down the stairs, looking for her lipstick. The mother has hidden it, hoping that she can convince her daughter to stop tramping about in slutty clothes. They have a generic fight about these issues, and the daughter, being 21, storms out while threatening to leave for good.

The son calls her on her nagging, and she offers the standard 'you're going to miss my nagging when it's gone'. Foreshadowing?

After discovering that her son is disobedient as well - he's changing his major! - the mother looks for comfort from Myron, a scholarly friend. He quotes the 'serpent's tooth' line from Shakespeare, although he credits it to the Torah, for some reason. Mom looks for more practical advice on how make her children more obedient. Luckily Myron is something of a mystic, and offers her the serpent's tooth in question.

He also gives her the standard 'be cautious when using the cursed artifact' spiel that everyone always says. Although I'm not really sure why they bother, given its woeful lack of success in every case it's been used.

The very next day the tooth begins working - unfortunately Myron never bothered to explain how it works, so the specific details: Mom says things and they happen, immediately turn out quite badly. The son's eyes go bad from reading and his sneezing develops into a cold. Then all the appliances disappear into thin air:

Man, nagging really has some terrifying consequences if taken literally, doesn't it? Given what a nag Mom obviously is, you'd think Myron would have given her a heads' up about what the tooth actually does. Her daughter even breaks her ankle from wearing high-heeled shoes! It's only after the unpleasant neighbourhood boy's face literally freezes while making an unpleasant face that Mom finally clues in to what's going on.

Now handed the powers of a god, how will she abuse them next? First it's time for some gloating, as she smiles to herself while her children suffer. Then it's time for a quick cure. Since she believes that chicken soup will cure anything, it magically does!

When we next check in on the family they're doing exactly what the mother wants. Studying dentistry, dressing conservatively, even the little boy next door has become a helpful gofer! Her children are understandably terrified of her and her schemes to remake the world in her own image. The latest scheme: convincing her daughter's scummy beau to become worthy of her! When that doesn't work out, she turns him into a slice of bread. Seriously. Then, instead of simply using her god-tooth to fix the problem, she apologizes and goes to answer the door.

Not exactly top-flight mothering, if you ask me.

At the door is the little boy, whose gofering went so terribly that he's forgotten all the evil powers the old woman has at her disposal. So he tells her off, and finds himself suffering from an epileptic fit as a result. Poor kid.

Obviously it's time for Myron to come and sort things out - but he claims that the power is too much even for him to deal with! Mom finally takes the tooth off without first fixing the slice of bread or the little boy. She insists on keeping the tooth, though, which can only end horribly.

Predictably enough, when her daughter goes back to dressing in a slutty fashion Mom immediately puts the necklace back on and, following her tradition of in no way thinking through her wishes before making them, announces that if anyone ever loved their children as much as she loves hers she would turn into a pillar of salt!


The fate of the now-epileptic little boy and slice of bread go unresolved.

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