Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Tales from the Darkside: I Can't Help Saying Goodbye

Sometimes, the limitations of a given format inspire greatness, but not in the case of "I Can't Help Saying Goodbye."

Here's a story with an interesting setup, but right when it looks like it's about to be good, it has to wrap everything up in a hurry and rush through important plot developments and characterization to fit under 20 minutes. Maybe as an expanded short or even at feature length, the episode might have worked, but alas, it disappoints.

This episode is about a girl named Karen (Alison Sweeney) who when she says goodbye to people, she means it because soon after they die. Understandably, this concerns the people around her.

You know those "Creepiest things my child has said to me" articles? Do a quick search you'll find a lot online (some are quite eerie). This episode fits on one of those lists.

That's a spooky thing to tap into: what children know that adults don't. Unfortunately, the 20-minute format doesn't allow time for this episode to fully ferment. Karen's sister Libby (Loren Cedar) and the sister's fiance Max (Brian Benben) too quickly conclude and accept Karen's power for it to be believable, and certain facets of the story that could have been interesting to explore - guilt, grief, regret, etc. - are glossed over.

Karen doesn't seem too bothered that people she loves die after she says goodbye to them. True, she threatens to say goodbye to Max when he and Libby upset her, suggesting she's evil or at least she doesn't fully comprehend death, but again, it's rushed through and we don't get the full impact.

The final image is nice and appropriately sad, but I didn't buy the character actions leading up to it. If the episode focused more on Karen and how isolated she felt with her foreknowledge, maybe this could have worked better.

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