Thursday, December 31, 2015

Tales from the Darkside: The Unhappy Medium

I'm trying to think of a really great spoof of televangelists. I don't know. Maybe because the real-life ones are already overblown caricatures, the best way to send them up is to just watch them because all the examples in movies and TV I can think of are obvious and unfunny. Can anyone say anything about Jimmy Swaggart that is more ridiculous than anything he says himself? (Ozzy Osbourne's "Miracle Man" is an awesome song, though)

"Unhappy Medium" isn't bad, but the points it makes about these TV preachers - that they're corrupt, lecherous, snake oil salesmen who will say anything to get people's money - were old hat even when the episode originally aired. The televangelist's sister in this one resembles no one if not Tammy Faye Bakker. Talk about easy targets.

The episode finds the family of a dead televangelist, Farley Bright (Peter Miller), squabbling over the inheritance, but even a man of God doesn't know when to let go because Farley continually possesses and speaks through his niece Jenny (Carolyn Clark), who he always favored even though she called him out for the scumbag he was.

The supernatural elements, with the forces of Hell closing in on Farley, give this one a little more life. When Farley speaks through Jenny, it does have a kind of creepy effect (she becomes lit in blue and red light), and when doors open up to the dark side, there is a hint that something really bad is over there.

But the rules are all inconsistent, and it's hard to understand or care why anything happens. I don't know why Farley is possessing Jenny sometimes and not other times nor do I understand why Hell hasn't already claimed him (he claims he was so amoral, nobody up or down wants anything to do with him). Just listen to "Miracle Man" and be done with it.

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