THIS is the episode that made me a fan of Tales... a brilliant, funny, gross and star-studded episode called “A Case of the Stubborns”! I can remember when this debuted—my parents were out to dinner and I was alone in the house with this horrible/amazing show and for some reason I couldn’t wait to tell them about it when they got back!
First, the synopsis: Jodie (played by a darling teen Christian Slater) and his mom are eating breakfast, getting ready for the viewing and funeral of the very recently-deceased Titus Tolliver, the patriarch of their family. He is Jodie’s grandpa and it looks like the father of his mom(I think I remember her calling him “Daddy” once or twice?). All of a sudden, who should come clomping downstairs and bellering but Titus himself!
Turns out, Titus has a reputation in this small rural(possibly turn-of-the-century) town for being pretty danged stubborn. And he’s too stubborn to ACCEPT THAT HE’S DEAD.
So the rest of the episode deals with Titus’ poor family trying to deal with having an animated and cantankerous corpse smelling up the house, possibly being quarantined by the health department, and being a scandal in these parts. Even the preacher comes and tries, unsuccessfully, to convince Titus to lay down his burdens at last and go to his glorious reward.
I won’t spoil the ending for you.
A nifty bit of personal trivia about this episode: if the preacher in the above image looks a bit familiar to you(especially if you’re a nerd like me), it’s that he is none other than Brent Spiner, aka Data from Star Trek: The Next Genereation.
I got to meet Brent at DragonCon a couple of weeks ago–a good chunk of the ST:TNG stars were there, looking terrific and cheerful and celebrating the 30th anniversary of the show’s debut. It was the last day of the con and dear Brent was actually eating a sandwich and still receiving guests at his table. When it was my turn to come up, I indicated I was not a paying customer for a photo or anything but he was fine with a quick chat, which was very nice. Anyway, when I decide to meet and greet a celebrity, I always try to think of something unusual to talk with them about, and I chose this Tales from the Darkside episode! He was thrilled with talking about it and was chattering wildly about it through a mouthful of sandwich—- about what an honor it was to work with Eddie Bracken, mostly. And Eddie Bracken played Titus Tolliver!
Brent reminded me that Eddie was a popular Hollywood actor–not quite a star, but a popular personality indeed— in his day, more for being “the silly guy, the nice guy, the self-effacing guy”, as he said. Bracken retired from films in the 50s but would later return to play small character roles on 80s and 90s TV shows. I said I also saw him on an episode of The Golden Girls in that exact type of role, as a former (slightly goofy)boyfriend of Rose’s that she doesn’t remember. Brent said,”That is exactly the role he was born to play, and he was brilliant at it.”
Brent and I shook hands and he thanked me for bringing up a great memory.
So go ahead, kids! Click this link here to go watch “A Case of the Stubborns”. Dangit, you’ll love it!!