The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 19: The Mists of Avalon Parkway (2001)   1 comment

Above:  SAFE DRINKING WATER SINCE 1996!

All images in this post are screen captures.

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The Mists of Avalon Parkway

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired March 1, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-118

Starring

Chad Willett as Tucker Burns

Jon Polito as Donald Stern

Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Rena Sofer as Grace Hall

Curtis Armstrong as Sal the Pig-Boy

Sharon Sachs as Vera

Main Guest Cast

Ellen Cleghorne as Esperanza

Bobby Edner as Victor Clark

Philip Pavel as Jeremy the Grief Counselor

Behind the Camera

Writer = Henry A. Myers

Director = David Straiton

Above:  The Fog Monster and the Scout Master

Brief Summary

A fog monster is killing people on Long Island in March and May 2002.  The three off-screen victims are Kathy Kelly (a teacher, on March 10), Rod Howe (a police officer, on May 19), and Denise Hermanson (a school librarian, on May 24).  The fourth victim, claimed before the opening credits, is vindictive scout master Bill Able, whom the fog devours in front of his scouts on the night of May 26, 2002.  All of the scouts are upset with him after his terrible performance of “Kum Bah Yah,” followed by his mean-spirited scary story, a reaction to their request to hear a scary story.

Tucker Burns is receiving bags full of fan mail in response to his story (via Grace Hall’s lead) about a man with an exposed brain.  That story is the most popular one the World Chronicle has published, second to “the vagina monologues, you know, the real ones,” as Vera says.  Donald Stern hopes that the large volume of fan mail means more paying readers.

Esperanza arrives in Donald Stern’s office and identifies herself as the World Chronicle‘s new psychic.  Stern tells her that the newspaper already has one, Ruby Rydell.  Esperanza informs the publisher that Ruby will quit.  Then Ruby calls and resigns.  Esperanza gets the job.  The new psychic advises Wes Freewald to get the transmission in his car checked. He disregards this advice.

News fit for the World Chronicle to print is not plentiful, so Donald Stern is about to assign Tucker, Grace, and Wes to cover an exceedingly boring convention of Wiccans.  Tucker prevents that terrible fate by proposing another story, one about a missing scout leader on Long Island.  Grace Hall will be lead reporter on story, though.  Tucker spends most of the episode resenting this.

To the catalog of useless, well-intentioned people in The Chronicle one may add grief counselor Jeremy.  He is conducting a public group therapy session with the scouts when our three heroes arrive in town.  Jeremy displays the worst tendencies of stereotypical counselors.  He denies the existence of a fog monster.  The real monsters, he insists are fear and grief.  Then he tells the scouts to “close their eyes and picture a winged unicorn flying over a rainbow.”  Furthermore, the only person who may speak in the session is the one holding the talking stick, a decorated tree branch.  Jeremy objects to Tucker and Wes being present.  He tells them to leave before he loses his commitment to pacifism.

Tucker, Wes, and Grace start interviewing witnesses anyway.  Our heroes learn of the other disappearances, too.  Tucker hypothesizes that the monster is a “photosensitive mutant that comes out at night, under the cover of fog.”  Our three heroes, investigating the swamp at night, discover that Jeremy the grief counselor is not a pacifist, for he points a gun at them.  They also discover that his boyfriend is Carl.  Tucker, Grace, and Wes warn Jeremy and Carl of the dangers of being in the swamp at night.  Jeremy and Carl do not believe them.  Then the fog monster, which Jeremy had denied existed, kills him.  Wes realizes that the monster is not in the fog; it is the fog.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace return to swamp during daytime with a plan.  They will capture a sample of the fog monster.  Wes will fight off the fog monster with a flame thrower.  Grace will drive the car.  Tucker encounters and chases down 12-year-old Victor Clark, whom another boy had called “fart face” a few scenes prior.  Tucker yells at the boy and tells him to leave.  The boy departs.  Then Tucker realizes that he is at the fence near the old Dewitt Chemical Company plant.  That night, the fog monster chases Tucker.  Wes fights off the fog monster with the flame thrower.  Our three heroes do not get far in Wes’s vehicle, for the transmission fails.  The fog monster surrounds the car and ruins the paint job.  This was a terrible time for Tucker and Grace to forget their cellular phones and for the fog monster to have ruined Wes’s cellular phone.

The following morning, a tow truck arrives.  Esperanza has called AAA.

Back at the World Chronicle, the analysis of the sample of the fog monster proceeds.  Esperanza does a psychic reading.  She perceives repressed rage, fear, and loneliness, as well as the words “fart face.”  The fog monster attacks those who have angered Victor Clark.  Sal the Pig-Boy announces that the fog monster consists of airborne, flesh-eating bacteria.  Its origins are from the Dewitt Chemical Company, but the fog monster has imprinted on Victor.

Victor Clark is in a difficult situation.  His mother died in an automotive accident that started when she tried to prevent him from playing with the radio.  The boy’s father is hardly emotionally supportive.  As our three heroes leave the Clark residence, they notice a rare daytime fog bank.  It is large enough to cover the town.  And the fog bank is rolling down the street at 45 miles per hour.  They find Victor at the old chemical factory.  The fog invades the factory as Wes’s flame thrower is running on fumes.

Victor Clark is not conscious of his connection to the fog monster, the channel for his repressed emotions.  He sits on the floor, on which he has written, “I HATE EVERBODY.”  Victor sees his misspelling and shouts, “Can’t I do anything right?”  Tucker and Grace resolve the immediate crisis.  Tucker, acting like Victor’s father, berates the boy until Victor expresses his repressed emotions.  The fog monster recedes.  Then grace comforts Victor.

Back at the World Chronicle, the headline for the new cover story is, “I WAS A TEENAGE FOG MONSTER.”  Grace has shared a byline with Tucker.

Esperanza did not use her psychic powers to detect the problem with Wes’s transmission.  No, she saw the transmission fluid leak.  She knows much about transmissions because her brothers are mechanics.  Sometimes simple explanations suffice.

Above:  Disappearances at the Swamp

Character Beats

Grace Hall never attended college.

Jeremy and Carl are stereotypical homosexuals.  I find Jeremy annoying because he is useless as a grief counselor.  I want to take his talking stick away from him.

Above:  Esperanza

Great Lines

Tucker Burns:  “I love nature, especially when there’s a parking lot nearby.”

City sign (in 2002):  “SAFE DRINKING WATER SINCE 1996!”

Above:  More Fan Mail for Tucker Burns

In-Universe

We first heard about the man with an exposed brain in Touched By an Alien (the fourteenth episode produced and the eleventh one broadcast), set more than a year prior to The Mists of Avalon Parkway.  We will hear about the individual again before the end of the series.

The Mists of Avalon Parkway plays out in late May 2002.  However, the supposedly current issue of The Koyanisquisset Ledger that Tucker Burns hands over to Donald Stern bears the date of October 12, 1964.

Koyanisquisset, Long Island, New York, population 10,000, is on the north shore of the island and about ten miles from Long Island Sound.  For a long time, until the late 1980s, the largest employer in town as the Dewitt Chemical Company.  The chemical factory, located just north of town, closed because the Environmental Protection Agency forced it to, after two decades of dumping of dangerous chemicals in the adjacent swamp.  The effects of the dumping remain; there are three-headed fish in the waters.  The population declined greatly after the plant closed.  But the town has had safe drinking water since 1996, at least.

Why are scouts camping at a swamp with three-headed fish in it?

Tucker Burns refers to Squeezy Cheese (Let Sleeping Dogs Fry, the second episode produced and the ninth one broadcast).

Above:  Victor Hates Everybody and Spells Badly

Comments

The Mists of Avalon Parkway is the nineteenth episode produced and broadcast.  It is also the last episode of The Chronicle to bear the copyright year of 2001.

Bobby Edner, who played Victor Clark, was 12 years old at the time of filming.

Grief counselor Jeremy joins the ranks of other annoying dolts in fiction.  He stands beside the useless high school counselor in Heathers (1988).  Her proposed response to alleged suicides (actually murders) was a group hug-in.  I also think of the sincere, conservative suburban parents in Donnie Darko (2001).  They allied themselves with Jim Cunningham, that motivational speaker who encouraged students to become “fear survivors.”

One may recognize Ellen Cleghorne from various movies and series, including Saturday Night Live.

The date on the latest issue of the World Chronicle at the end of the episode is indecipherable, due to video quality.  I want to see The Chronicle in crisp video.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 8, 2020 COMMON ERA

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One response to “The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 19: The Mists of Avalon Parkway (2001)

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  1. Pingback: The Chronicle: News from the Edge (2001-2002): Broadcast and Production Orders | SUNDRY THOUGHTS

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