Tales From the Darkside 309: Baker's Dozen

Finally, an episode where the title doesn't give away the game! Unless this is actually about a baker who gives someone a cursed 13th muffin. That can't be it, can it?

Well, it does open in a Bakery, where an elderly man serves up a tray of cookies while lamenting his lot in life - still working while old: tragedy! Fun note - this episode was written by George A. Romero!

As the old man takes a break from complaining a man arrives at the door. It's Rick from Magnum PI, making his second appearance on the show! He's there to see the woman who owns the shop, who's extremely confident about the medicinal qualities of her baked goods. Rick agrees about the magical qualities of her goods, and proposes franchising the business, bringing her incredible cookies to the whole world! The old lady isn't very interested, so naturally Rick does the only logical thing and threatens her with stealing the recipe - he imagines that whatever's in the cookies that makes them so special can be measured and quantified by lab technicians, then replicated somewhere else.

It's like he's never seen an episode of one of these things, isn't it? Not that I think they're going to chop him up and turn him into cookies of course, but he's obviously misunderestimated the literally magical properties of the cookies he loves so well.

The old lady saw Rick coming, of course. She's unimpressed with the idea of partnership, but reconsiders a little when Rick explains that he doesn't want a piece of her business - just her advertising account. He even shows her a mockup of an ad-

Which impresses her for some reason that escapes me. Isn't it supposed to be 'Country Sunshine'? People rarely contrasts the City and the County.

The old man walks out to sweep up the floor, and gets an earful of abuse from the old lady for her trouble. Once she's left the room the old man passes a new cookie over to Rick: it's a gingerbread man!  Rick's confused - there are only supposed to be twelve variety's of cookie! Making this cookie the product of the titular Baker's Dozen. Also, it's probably a voodoo gingerbread man, since this is set in New Orleans.

The old man sends Rick off with a warning that the old lady is a real witch, and that she works for the devil. Only by employing the gingerbread men can she be taken down!

As ever, the witch is onto him, and uses some dough to torture the old man, who turns out to be her father, and then turn him into a rat. She's not worried about Rick, you see - she's sure he'll wind up using the gingerbread men to improve his own life, rather than battle her. Given Rick's history with black magic on this show, she might be on to something.

Rick, for his part, has come home to suspicion and accusations - his wife believes that he's cheating on her! During their fight he accidentally dips the gingerbread into his coffee, and it burns her leg! It seems that the cookies work on whoever you're thinking of when you damage them. Rick takes this as well as can be expected:

Ah, villainous laughs - you're underappreciated.

There's a quick montage as the old lady becomes super-famous and Rick narrowly staves off failure by murdering people who get in their way!

Then, sometime later, Rick drops by the original bakery, which is still being cleaned by a de-ratified old man. He's there to see the old lady, demanding more cookies so he can finally get his career going. She has no interest in that - while her business was taking off she ensured that he wasn't a success, primarily so he would focus entirely on her business. Rick, natually, doesn't like the sound of that, and even considers using his last cookie on her. He can't go through with it, though, and heads home to his (luckily still alive) wife.

She continues accusing him of infidelity, so Rick heads off to take a shower, leaving his wife alone with his last gingerbread man. Which he doesn't keep locked in a safety deposit box, for some reason. On the cookie's wrapper she sees something incriminating:

Lipstick! But whose is it? The old lady didn't give him the cookies in the first place, so it shouldn't be hers. Was he actually cheating on his wife? But why would his mistress have access to the one thing he valued above all else? This plot point is confusing the hell out of me.

Naturally the wife takes this as proof of infidelity, and destroys the cookie in anger, completely unaware that at the same time she's tearing her husband to pieces in the shower above!

Back at the bakery, the old woman continues tormenting her father, once again turning him into a rat - but only after he swears that he'll get even with her. The old woman laughs at the idea, but she's forgotten the title of the episode, and the old man only ever gave Rick 12 cookies...

Yup, the rat starts snacking on the head of the  cookie that represents his daughter!

You know, this was a way more effective episode than usual. Despite him not directing it or scripting the originally story, I'm going to assign all credit for the success of it to George A. Romero. Congrats, George!

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