Friday, August 4, 2017

Tales from the Darkside: A Serpent's Tooth

This plays like a female-centered version of "The Word Processor of the Gods" in which the main character obtains the power to reshape reality as they see fit. Unfortunately, while Bruce Davison was sympathetic in the earlier episode, Renee Taylor is an annoying nag.

The title comes from a line King Lear: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child!" That's how Pearl (Taylor) feels. Her daughter dresses like an 80s metal chick and hangs out with an unworthy boyfriend while her son has switched majors from dentistry to agriculture. Even a neighbor boy is mean to her. When a mystic friend gives her a literal serpent's tooth, she discovers everything she says comes true.

At least Bruce Davison used his reality-altering power to bring the dead back to life and make himself a best-selling writer. "A Serpent's Tooth" goes for broad, obvious comedy, and Pearl comes off as especially clueless to root for or against. We understand quickly why her children are annoyed by her.

What do I mean by broad and obvious? When the neighbor makes a face at her, she tells him it'll get stuck that way. Guess what happens. When she insists chicken soup (which she is always cooking) can cure anything, guess what it does. Of course, Pearl forgets about her powers and thoughtlessly says things the serpent's tooth takes literally, and that predictably causes trouble.

The episode also seemingly forgets the extent of her powers. When Pearl meets the boyfriend, she accidentally turns him into a slice of bread. Everyone panics and acts like it's permanent. Why can't she change him back into a human?

This idea is rather frightening. Someone who demands total obedience gains the power of a god. Alas, the episode tries to be cute and funny, and I found it lame.

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