In 1989 HBO debuted┬áTales From the Crypt, a horror-anthology show with an unprecedented amount of tits, gore, budget, and bad puns. Based on a variety of titles from EC Comics, the episodes ranged from silly to creepy to horrible. And we’re going to review every single one of them.
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Spoiled (3.13)

“My Phillips did so much screwing, I thought the tip would fall off.”


WHAT IS IT?


A frustrated and ditzy housewife, inspired by her daytime soaps, plots an affair of her own.

WHO’S RESPONSIBLE?

Look folks, I’m not going to bullshit you. The star power is very low this time around. It’s like Super Mario Brothers 3 up in this bitch. This episode was directed by Andy Wolk, whose claim to fame is the 2002 TV movie The Christmas Shoes. It was written by Connie Johnson and Doug Ronning, neither of whom have done anything else of note. The star of the thing is Faye Grant, best known for her role as Dr. Julie Parrish on V. There’s a few supporting roles by steadily working but unnoteworthy actors like Alan Rachins (Dharma and Greg) and Annebelle Gurwitch (Mousehunt). The biggest star here is Anthony LaPaglia, who you probably best know from one of his many many cop roles (Murder One, Innocent Blood, Without a Trace, etc.) Yeah, as far as big name talent goes it’s pretty slim pickings. My advice is to squint whenever LaPaglia is onscreen; he’ll almost pass for Bill Pullman!

HOW IS IT?

I’d like to say that, despite not having much going for it in front or behind the camera, Spoiled rises to the occasion, but that’s not really the case. It’s a pretty goofy episode that eschews any real sense of horror for a boilerplate “horny neglected housewife” story that wouldn’t even fulfill the requirements for a late-night Cinemax film. It’s got some things going for it, like a strong meta-narrative aspect and an appealing lead performance. But this is essentially a soft-core porn with a sense of humor and, worst of all, no nudity. Season Three has risen my expectations for both episode quality and boobs, so the ball was really dropped here.

Our horny heroine is Janet (Faye Grant), a loopy homemaker in love with the glamour and romance of day-time soaps. Her own life is not so exciting, with her workaholic brain surgeon husband Leon (Alan Rachins) always at the hospital. Leon is working on a new anesthetic┬áthat can suspend brain activity for weeks at a time while surgery is performed, which sounds suspiciously┬álike a serum from earlier in the season. When her TV reception goes on the fritz, even Janet’s favorite soap, “There’s Always Tomorrow”, gets taken away from her at crucial climax where the rich Evian Monroe discovers his wife (and Janet’s role model) Fuschia in bed with her lover. Finding herself with blue balls (blue ovaries?) not only in her actual love life, but her fake one as well, she takes a friend’s advice and decides it’s time to get cable.

This is where the episode turns into Logjammin’. The arrival of the hunky (and ridiculously named) Abel the Cable guy (Anthony LaPaglia) also marks the arrival of probably the worst run of puns the show has ever seen. And this column has an entire section dedicated to bad puns, so you know this is particularly egregious. For the next ten minutes we’re subjected to every half-baked cable double entendre the writers could think of. It drives the Sideshow Bob Rake Theory of Comedy right into the ground, going from groan-inducing to absurd to irritating to hysterical to tortuous; all in the span of 5 minutes. There’s several “laying cable” jokes, a handful of “I’m good with my tools” jokes, and probably a dozen “male/female connectors” jokes, and every single one of them is sold in the same “this is a parody of porno dialogue, isn’t that funny, do you get it?” tone. You may feel I’m harping on this a bit much, but the show dedicates nearly half of it’s running time to this nonsense. I’m only commenting on what they’ve given me to work with. Anyway, after each other’s true intentions are made clear, you can guess what happens next.

He fixes the cable. Yep, she may have put her sex On Demand (that one is mine) but before they can get down to business he gets a call and has to head out to another house. But he does leave her his business card and tells her to call him any time, day or night. Doesn’t even give her a 7 hour window in which he might show up. That’s customer service. She’s initially not even going to call him but after another failed attempt at seducing her husband (this time in sexy, if fairly conservative, lingerie) she finally cracks and calls Abel. After some more horrible puns (some recycled from the previous scene) they make passionate (but off-camera) love on the couch. Thus begins their affair, which isn’t even interrupted when Leon begins working in his home laboratory full-time. You see, he has a red light outside the basement door, to let Janet know when he doesn’t want to be bothered. But it also works as a warning light for Janet and Abel: if the red light is on, Leon’s too busy at work to catch their homebrewed after-dark programming (last one, I promise).

Except that, 15 days into their affair, Leon perfects his super Re-Animator serum and is so happy that he runs upstairs to tell Janet the good news. There he sees Janet in Abel’s able arms (I know I promised I’d stop, that was the last one, swear to God) but, instead of pulling a gun like his soap opera counterpart, he formulates a plan. He knocks the two lovebirds out with chloroform and drags them down to his basement, where he puts his new serum to work exacting his revenge. After 15 days of intensive surgery, his fiendish plan is realized: he switched their heads, so Janet’s head is on Abel’s body, and visa versa. Um, what? That’s his big revenge? The visual effects used to achieve this are laughable, but that aside, it’s a pretty wet fart of an ending. Janet probably would just go on to strangle her husband with her new powerful biceps while Abel fondled his new breasts, or something like that. For a supposedly brilliant man, Leon came up with probably one of the lamest revenge plans ever. It’s a dopey end to a dopey episode.

DOES IT HATE WOMEN?

Spoiled seems to have a little more sympathy for Janet than most Crypt episodes do for cheating wives. She does everything short of raping her husband, and he still turns her down. But she’s such a ditzy moron that it’s hard to really care that much about her, or her fate, either way.’

ALSO WORTH NOTING:

*There’s a line of meta-humor running throughout the episode, where Janet repeats the words and actions of her soap opera idol Fuschia, which is kind of neat but ultimately doesn’t go anywhere.

*Janet’s friend Louise is played by Annabelle Gurwitch, who had a year long stint on Guiding Light as Gina Daniels. Not sure if that’s coincidence or another intentionally meta in-joke.

*When Louise is recommending cable to Janet (telling her it “will change her life”), she makes a special point to bring up how great HBO is. And later, there’s an episode of Tales From the Crypt playing on the TV. Subtle!

WORST CRYPT KEEPER JOKE:

“Oh don’t mind him, that’s just my caddy, Juan. He got me tee’d off while on the green so I shot a HOLE IN JUAN.”

GRADE: D

JOHN SAYS:

Total dogshit. It’s been consistent so far; the worst episodes of Crypt are PG rated soft core pornos, which is about the stupidest thing you could ever make. I like the lead actress here, but the script hates her, and the rest of the cast is wretched. It’s got more filler than ever, between the vile puns, the copious footage of the soap-opera-within-the-soap-opera, and the repetitive conversations about the same thing. It’s tough to have this much filler in a half hour, but that’s what happens when you have a plot seemingly based around creating sex scenes, but no sex scenes, R-rated or otherwise. And I know it’s twenty years old, but the special effects for the body swap could be easily bested on a personal computer today.