Archive for the ‘Elaine Hendrix’ Tag

The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 22: A Snitch in Time (2002)   3 comments

Above:  Swedish Gangsters from the Future, Surrounded by Federal Agents from the Future

All images in this post are screen captures.

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A Snitch in Time

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired March 22, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-121

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

Len Cordova as Detective Hector Garibaldi

Stephen Dunham as Louis Phillips

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Von Schauer as Head Swede

Behind the Camera

Writer = Hans Beimler

Director = Krishna Rao

Above:  Grace Hall and Louis Phillips in 1945

Brief Summary

It is late July 2002.  Grace Hall has been dating Louis Phillips (Hell Mall) for several weeks.  Meanwhile, since May, a few people have been combusting, seemingly spontaneously.  Grace has written a story about one of these incidents, and found that story boring.  One day, in the offices of the World Chronicle, Louis abruptly breaks up with Grace.  Wes Freewald, Tucker Burns, and Vera try to comfort her.

Tucker Burns and Kristen Martin are growing closer to each other.  She gives him a key to her apartment.  Later in the episode, he tells her, “I love you,” for the first time.”  He does not yet know that she is recording conversations for Detective Dense, er, Garibaldi.  The detective really wants to nail Donald Stern (for murders) legally and to take down Grace Hall and Wes Freewald (as accessories to murders) along the way.  Garibaldi promises to work to make the law go lightly in Tucker’s case.  Kristen presses Garibaldi to persuade the District Attorney to grant Tucker immunity, but the detective will not go that far.  Kristen cooperates out of love for Tucker and out of fear for herself; Garibaldi threatens her with arrest, too.

Louis is being mysterious.  He quit his job at the architectural firm a week ago.  His boss was surprised; Louis’s designs were nearly sculptural.  Grace follows Louis to the offices of a dentist, Dr. Sheila Shelton.  After Louis departs, Grace notices that Dr. Sheldon’s body has combusted.  Grace concludes that Louis is a serial killer.  Dr. Sheldon had been the dentist for the other people who combusted.

Sal the Pig-Boy explains to Wes, Tucker, and Grace how these combustions could have occurred:  agitation of water molecules.  To demonstrate, he uses a Brownian motion accelerator to blow up a watermelon remotely.

Louis visits Grace at the World Chronicle.  He tells her that the last month has been a deliriously happy time for him, and that he has become miserable.  He also says he cannot explain why he must leave.  That night, Grace follows Louis to a mausoleum.  She is so noisy that he detects her presence easily.  Men with guns that cause targets to melt appear in the mausoleum.  Louis and Grace get away, but Louis loses a crypt key.  One of these men, listed as “Head Swede,” has the key.  The man have tracked Louis via a molar that is really temporal beacon.  Louis removes this tooth at Grace’s apartment.  She takes it to the archives at the World Chronicle.  Two hit men teleport into the archives and start shooting melty guns.  Then Donald Stern shoots them with a really big gun.

It is time for the exposition dump, so Louis sits down with Wes, Donald, Tucker, and Grace.  After the Great Polar Meltdown of 2060 left Scandinavia underwater, Swedish refugees scattered around the world.  Many came to North America.  They sold boxy cars, furniture one had to assemble, et cetera.  Some became active in organized crime and took over all the syndicates.  Louis is part of the federal witness protection from 2314.  After he saw the head of the Swedish mafia melt a federal judge “in cold blood,” Louis testified against the don in court and broke the back of the Swedish mafia.  In the future, the only people with access to time travel technology seem to be federal authorities and vengeful Swedish gangsters.  Louis has been living under the cover of an architect from Minnesota, but hit men have been pursuing him. All those who combusted (not spontaneously) were support personnel to the witness protection program.  Dr. Sheldon was also Louis’s main link to the future.  When he needed to send a message to federal authorities in the twenty-fourth century, he took that message to her.  Now the only way left for him to send a message to the future is to leave in a particular crypt at the mausoluem, one of the few buildings left intact after the Walt Disney corporation turned New York City into the world’s largest theme park in 2090.  But Louis needs the crypt key back.  Louis also sought out the World Chronicle, to look out for tips of anyone pursuing him.

Wes, Grace, and Tucker cooperate to get the crypt key back.  Where do Swedish gangsters from 2314 hide out in 2002?  At an Ikea store, of course! Wes and Tucker pretend to be a homosexual couple bickering about colors.  They also destroy a pillow.  When the Head Swede is covered with feathers, Wes gets the crypt key back.

At the crypt, Louis places his message inside the specified crypt.  Immediately, Swedish gangsters, led by the Head Swede, teleport in.  Immediately after that, federal agents from 2314 teleport in around the Swedish gangsters.  The federal agents shoot the gangsters, who disappear.

Tucker, who had overhead part of a conversation between Kristen and Garibaldi at her apartment door, returns to her apartment.  He does not enter.  No, he breaks up with her and returns the key she had given him.

Shortly thereafter, the time has come for Louis to depart.  The witness protection program relocates him.  Grace, initially reluctant to go accept his invitation to go with him, does accept.  First, however, she says her goodbyes at the World Chronicle.

Donald Stern comforts the staff members, who wonder what happened to Grace.  Grace can take care of herself, the tells them.  Once, in the Amazon rain forest, cannibalistic pygmies abducted her and held her hostage for six months.  Now all those pygmies are vegetarians.

Then Stern asks who has leads for stories for the next weekly issue.  Tucker has a lead about a man with magnetic skin.  Wes has head that the world’s tallest man is missing.  Then Detective Stupid, er, Garibaldi, and uniformed police officers enter the conference room.  Garibaldi serves a warrant.  Grace, it seems, got away just in time.

She and Louis went to 1945, in time to witness the famous photographed kiss on VJ-Day.

Above:  Donald Stern

Character Beats

Kristen Martin likes fruity wines.  Grace Hall does not.

Grace Hall usually dumps a boyfriend before he can dump her.

The Head Swede is homophobic, using the slur “fairies.”  Does one expect a violent criminal to be socially progressive?

Above:  Detective Garibaldi’s Raid

Great Lines

Headline:  “NEW HERBAL INTERGALACTIC LAXATIVE BANNED IN FRANCE.”

Vera:  “Men!  They’re all dogs.  Wes Freewald:  “Why are you always chasing ’em?”  Vera:  “Dogs make good pets, once they’re housebroken.”

Above:  Kristen Martin

In-Universe

All of the federal agents from 2314 we see are beautiful women who wear berets and sunglasses.

Did the federal agents from 2314 kill the gangsters or return them to the future?

Wes jokingkly tells Tucker that the man with an exposed brain is engaged to marry a woman with an exposed liver.  In the universe of the World Chronicle, that not being a joke is plausible.

Above:  Louis Phillips

Comments

A Snitch in Time is the twenty-second episode produced and broadcast.  It is also the last episode of The Chronicle:  News from the Edge.  Given that the Sci-Fi Channel cancelled the series when it did, The Chronicle ends on a cliffhanger.

Von Schauer, usually a stage actor, had a few other on-film credits.  Perhaps the most famous of these is Attack of the Killer Tomatoes! (1978), in which he had such memorable lines as, “Incredible!  A kamikaze tomato!” and “God!  Who would have thought?  All I wanted was a bigger, healthier tomato.” Ah, the classics!  “Rosebud.”  “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”  “How fast was I going, officer?” “What we have here is a failure to communicate.’  “Incredible!  A kamikaze tomato!”

A Snitch in Time artfully combines elements of humor and science fiction.

I wish that the Sci-Fi Channel had renewed The Chronicle for a second season.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 21: Hell Mall (2002)   3 comments

Above:  The Ghost of Velma Jacob

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Hell Mall

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired March 15, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-120

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

Kelly Biddlecome as Brandi

Ellen Cleghorne as Esperanza

Len Cordova as Detective Hector Garibaldi

Stephen Dunham as Louis Phillips

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Myrna Niles as Velma Jacob

Mark Perkins as Anthony

Rebekah Peace as Danielle

Behind the Camera

Writers = Michael Shear and Patrick Sean Smith

Director = David Barrett

Above:  Danielle

Brief Summary

The Staten Island Fashion Square Mall has become a dangerous place to be in June and July 2002.  In the last month, three employees have gone out of their minds briefly killed people.  Off-screen there was an “unfortunate incident at the piercing kiosk,” followed by someone getting impaled at Weiner on a Stick.  And, before the opening credits, Brandi, an employee at Fashism, attacked Stefaney, her manager, with a pair of scissors.  Brandi, in the back room at the story, asked Stefaney, “What are you doing in my room?”  Then Brandi complained, “I don’t want people touching my things.”

Two days later, valley girl Danielle, daughter of a copy editor at the World Chronicle, speaks to Tucker Burns, Wes Freewald, and Grace Hall in the conference room.  She tells them about Brandi.  Donald Stern adds more information.  Wes asks if the cause of the attacks could be demonic possession or a government experiment that has gone wrong.  Stern rejects those theories and proposes psychoactive mutant worms instead.  Tucker Burns suggests that there may be a rational explanation.

Wes, Grace, and Tucker work on the story. Tucker goes undercover at the mall as a spritzer.  His supervisor is Anthony, another stereotypical homosexual.  Grace and Wes briefly interview Brandi in jail, until Detective Hector Garibaldi tells them to leave.  Brandi remembers nothing of the attack on Stefaney.

The new man in Grace’s life is Louis Phillips, an architect she meets when he accidentally drives into the back of Wes’s car, in which she is a passenger.  By the end of the episode, Grace and Louis are dating.

Detective Oblivious, er, Garibaldi, is back.  He meets with Kristen Martin in his office.  Garibaldi refers to the events of Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns, Take Me Back, and Man and Superman.  He says the police made no arrests in these cases.  Garibaldi suspects Donald Stern of being responsible for those murders, at least.  Kristen rejects this.  The detective shows Kristen an Iranian newspaper from 1981.  Stern’s photograph is obvious.  According to Garibaldi, the headline, in Farsi, announces Stern’s death.  The detective goes on to compare the staff of the World Chronicle to the Heaven’s Gate cult and offers Kristen an opportunity to help Tucker Burns before it is too late.  Kristen leaves Garibaldi’s office.

The ghost of Velma Jacob, an elderly nurse, keeps appearing to Tucker and leading him into restricted areas of the fashion mall.  She asks him to help her.

Anthony the chief spritzer goes nutso.  He sets some customers of fire.  Then he says, “Goodbye, Blue Door,” in German and jumps off the highest level of the fashion mall.

Tucker, based on evidence, suggests that ghostly possessions have caused the problems at the fashion mall.

Donald Stern warns Grace, Tucker, and Wes to “use their heads” around Garibaldi, whom Grace refers to as a “Sipowicz-wannabe.”  That, of course is a reference to Andy Sipowicz, whom Dennis Franz portrayed in NYPD Blue.

Louis Phillips comes to offices of the World Chronicle.  He holds a copy of the issue from the end of The Mists of Avalon Parkway.  Grace accuses him of being a stalker.  He denies that allegation.  The roses are from Grace’s mother, who sent them after learning of the break-up with Dennis.  Louis explains that he has been calling Grace because his insurance company needs a statement from her.  Furthermore, Louis explains, he is at the office because he needs to sign forms for Wes’s insurance company.  No, Louis explains, he is not there to ask her out.

Research in the archives yields helpful information.  There is nothing suspicious about the site of the mall.  In fact, it was the site of an Indian mall in antiquity.  However, the “Blue Door” is a reference to the Shady Oaks Sanitarium for the Criminally Insane, the decaying ruins of which are 15 miles away from the mall.  The sanitarium, which had large blue doors, was the site of excessive electric shock therapy until the State of New York closed the facility in the late 1950s.  The spirit of Klaus Hauser, a pyromaniac who jumped to his death from the room of the sanitarium, possessed Anthony.  The ghost of Frank Silva, who jabbed a spoon into his doctor’s eye socket, possessed Brandi.  And nurse Velma Jacob was a sweet old lady until she vivisected three of her patients.

Wes, Grace, and Esperanza visit the ruins of Shady Oaks.  The psychic pronounces the structure devoid of spirits; it is a “ghost’s ghost town.”  The spirits, attached to items, have moved to the fashion mall because the “art” at the mall consists of objects from Shady Oaks.

The spirit of Velma Jacob possesses Tucker Burns.  Neither Grace, Wes notice this immediately.  Kristen never notices it.  Nevertheless, the possessed Tucker has been trying to kill them.  At the fashion mall, at night, Wes and Tucker realize that Tucker is possessed after he attacks them.  Ghosts of the criminally insane try to prevent Wes and Grace from electrifying the “art” fixture, but our heroes succeed.  Velma flees Tucker, and all the spirits leave the mall.  Tucker gets electrocuted, but he recovers.

Louis Phillips and Kristen Martin are waiting at the World Chronicle when our heroes return from the mall.  Louis had lied when he denied going to the office previously to ask her out on a date.  Grace asks him out to dinner.  Tucker and Kristen go out to dinner.

Later, Kristen sits in Detective Garibaldi’s office again.  He holds a copy of the most recent issue of the World Chronicle.  The headline reads, “GHOUL, INTERRUPTED.”  Kristen agrees to cooperate if Garibaldi will protect Tucker.

Above:  Kristen Martin

Character Beats

Off-screen, Grace Hall has recently broken up with Dennis, who has moved to Canada.  We met Dennis in Hot from the Oven (the ninth episode produced and the seventeenth one broadcast), set in late September 2001.  Their relationship lasted much longer than three weeks.

Kristen Martin has resolved her crisis regarding what to believe.  She, despite witnessing the alien spacecraft take off and fly away at the end of Take Me Back and the ritual at the end of The Cursed Sombrero, has chosen to believe that Donald Stern is merely a harmless huckster.

Kristen Martin and Tucker Burns have been dating for more than a year.

Above:  Louis Phillips and Kristen Martin

Great Lines

Danielle, addressing Tucker Burns, Grace Hall, and Wes Freewald:  “Hi!  Okay, so I was at my friend Dawn’s house, and Dawn was, like, dating this guy who was going out with this girl named Brandi, who works at Fashism, in the mall.  Anyway, he told Dawn, and Dawn told me that Brandi was acting kind of strange and stuff.  Then, a couple of days ago, she went, like, totally nutso and jammed a pair of scissors in her manager’s eye.  And the really strange thing is that I almost applied for a job at Fashism, like, a couple of months ago.  It could have been me.”

Kristen Martin, to Tucker Burns:  “I rarely know what’s going on with you–late-night calls from jails, smashed cars.  I mean, it’s like I’m dating Jason Priestley.”

Wes Freewald, to Grace Hall:  “This is a mall, not the Starship Enterprise.”

Above:  Louis Phillips

In-Universe

Anthony is correct; the “art” in the fashion mall is hideous.

The “United We Stand” banner in the fashion mall confirms that the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, occurred in the universe of The Chronicle.  This is interesting, with regard to continuity, especially given the events of Man and Superman, set about that time.  (The real-world answer, of course, is that banner was present in the filming location in San Diego.)

Above:  Shady Oaks Sanitarium for the Criminally Insane

Comments

Hell Mall is the twenty-first episode produced and broadcast.

I have known a number of openly homosexual men and women over the years.  I have attended church with some, been classmates of others, and taught others.  Not one has been a stereotypical character.

What of Brandi’s fate?  It was not her fault that a homicidal ghost possessed her temporarily.

We last saw Kristen Martin in The Cursed Sombrero (the sixteenth episode produced and the thirteenth one aired), set in May 2001.

Hell Mall sets up the next episode, A Snitch in Time.

Hell Mall combines elements of comedy and horror well.  It also relates several previous episodes to the events of this episode effectively.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 10, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 13: The Cursed Sombrero (2001)   4 comments

Above:  The Cursed Sombrero of Izamal

All images in this post are screen captures.

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The Cursed Sombrero

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired January 18, 2002

Production Number = 5009-01-115

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

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Bonnie Brewster as Nancy Silva

Jordan Liddle as Brad the Frat Boy

Behind the Camera

Writer = Silvio Horta

Director = Sanford Bookstaver

Above:  Kristen Martin

Brief Summary

The Cursed Sombrero of Izamal is on the loose in New York City.

Apparently, the priest-kings of Izamal, a Mayan city on the Yucatan Peninsula, were evil.  According to Sal the Pig-Boy, researcher extraordinaire, they “made Jim Jones and David Koresh look like tour guides at Legoland.”  The evil priest-kings conducted many human sacrifices.  The souls of the evil priest-kings are trapped in colorful stones long buried in a Mayan pyramid yet excavated in the 1880s.  At that point, a peasant worker found the soul-stones, stole them, decorated his sombrero with them, wore the sombrero, and died.  Since that time, the souls of the priest-kings have caused all who have worn the cursed sombrero to die in the most unlikely of ways then harvested their souls.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace have to track down the cursed sombrero on Cinco de Mayo, 2001.  The quest to save lives becomes complicated when irresponsible fraternity boys steal the cursed sombrero and pass it around at a drunken party at a sorority house.  If that were not enough, many people are wearing sombreros at that Cinco de Mayo party, and there is a lookalike sombrero.  A sorority girl places the cursed sombrero on Tucker’s head.  He nearly dies at a restaurant where he and Kristen are dining.  Kristen witnesses the ritual whereby Donald Stern conducts the ritual to lift the curse from Tucker, free the trapped spirits from the stones, and destroy the sombrero and the stones.

In the B-plot, Kristen Martin is experiencing difficulty adjusting to having seen an alien space craft take off and fly away in Take Me Back.  She takes a week off from work, stays home, eats bagels, and watches The View.  Kristen also ponders breaking up with Tucker, despite his offer to help her adjust to the crashing down of her worldview around her.  By the end of the episode, Kristen adjusts somewhat (for a while, at least) and does not break up with Tucker.

The evil spirits escaped into a toilet.

Above:  Sal the Pig-Boy

Character Beats

Wes Freewald despises Jar-Jar Binks and opposes a fan cut of Star Wars Episode I:  The Phantom Menace (1999) that removes the annoying character.

Kristen Martin is proceeding on her character arc for this series.  She also prefers to ignore her problems.

Great Lines

Donald Stern:  “If people want something stale, they can buy a Mariah Carey CD.”

Kristen Martin:  “I’m having a nervous breakdown.  Bagel?”

Wes Freewald:  “Maybe that sombrero’s just misunderstood.”

Donald Stern, at the sorority house:  “It’s a good thing I don’t need the blood of a virgin for this ritual.”

In-Universe

The yard sale at the beginning of the episode is perhaps the most overpriced yard sale ever.  $7 for a glass ashtray?  $50 for a sombrero?

May is usually a slow month for supernatural news.

This episode occurs mostly on May 4 and 5, 2001, two months after the events of Take Me Back.

About eleven months have passed since the events of the pilot episode.

Above:  The Ritual

Comments

Prior to my recent binge-watching sessions of The Chronicle at archive.org, this was one of the few episodes I remembered, if only vaguely.  I remembered the cursed sombrero on Cinco de Mayo, mainly.

Much of the fun in crazy lines is due to the delivery.  The actors make the most of these lines, primarily by underplaying them.  Their characters have seen so much that they can be blasé about a cursed sombrero, for example.

The looks of shock on Elaine Hendrix’s face when she portrays Kristen Martin witnessing bizarre events are such that dialogue is not necessary.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

JUNE 2, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 10: Take Me Back (2001)   5 comments

Above:  The Departing Alien Spacecraft

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Take Me Back

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired September 15, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-112

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

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Len Cordova as Detective Hector Garibaldi

Robert Crow as Detective Chiklis

Steven Flynn as Max

Mike McCafferty as Averill

Melissa Reneé Martin as Sylvia McKenzie

Erika Napoletano as Officer Quinn

Charley Rossman as Officer Martin

Behind the Camera

Writer = Naren Shankar

Director = Krishna Rao

Officer Quinn and Tucker Burns, Dressed as an Extraterrestrial

Brief Summary

The episode starts at a later point in the narrative, contains flash backs, jumps back and forth, then catches up with itself before proceeding to the end of the narrative.  In this summary, I tell a linear story.

On the first day….

Sylvia McKenzie, en route to alien abductee support group meeting at a community center, wanders into a store.  She sees a mask that freaks her out.  She begins screaming.  The customers flee.  The story manager uses cable ties to restrain her then calls a mental hospital.  Grace Hall and Wes Freewald from the World Chronicle get to the store first.  Grace, abducted six times, bonds with Sylvia, who invites her to the group therapy session.  Then Tucker Burns walks into the store.  Sylvia hallucinates that he is an alien, so she freaks out again.  Grace comforts Sylvia.  The two women go to the group therapy session.

The therapists are Max and Averill.  Grace is initially skeptical of them.  She says she has a “pretty good psychobabble detector.”  Grace is especially skeptical, initially, of Max’s suggestion that Tucker help Sylvia reenact her first alien abduction.  Max suggests that helping Sylvia confront her fears and change the outcome will prove helpful.

Tucker and Kristen are in her kitchen.  He realizes that they are a couple when he knows the organization of Kristen’s kitchen.  The date ends immediately after Grace interrupts it.  In the archives of the World Chronicle, Sal the Pig-Boy hands Tucker the preserved skin of an extraterrestrial.  In a warehouse, Tucker, dressed as an alien, helps Sylvia reenact the abduction.  The therapy works.  Later that day, she disappears, though.

On the second day….

Off-camera, police officers find Sylvia’s corpse, minus the brain and the spinal column.

At the World Chronicle, Donald Stern assigns Tucker a story about aliens performing surgery in a warehouse.  Tucker and Grace are concerned that, if the publisher were to learn of the alien abductees support group, he would publish a story about it, thereby disrupting the group.  The reporters also know that the story is a non-story.  Tucker ignores the assignment.

Max and Averill tell Grace that Sylvia has left town.  That night, Grace, alone in her bedroom, hallucinates that a space alien is there, too.

On the third day….

At the World Chronicle, Grace hallucinates that Tucker is an alien.  She tells him that she remembers her abductions as if they happened to another person.  Donald asks how the reporting on the assigned story is going.  Wes stonewalls the publisher better than Tucker does.

Max encourages Grace to engage in abduction reenactment therapy, too.

That night, in the same warehouse, Tucker, dressed as an alien again, helps Grace reenact her first abduction.  N.Y.P.D. Officers Quinn and Martin (Get it?  Quinn Martin!) interrupt the production.  (That was a good choice of words, was it not?)  Grace runs away.  Officer Quinn unmasks Tucker, who says, “I can explain this.”

On the morning of the fourth day….

Grace runs off to see Max and Averill.  She tells Max that she remembered more than she had.  Max and Averill are extraterrestrials following up on test subjects.  Averill, on Max’s orders, sedates Grace.  Then he starts chittering.  Max and Averill have also been triggering hallucinations.

At the police station, Tucker is in a room with a one-sided mirror.  The police are holding the reporter for questioning.  Detectives Garibaldi (a recurring character) and Chiklis suspect Tucker of having assaulted Grace and murdered Sylvia.  Kristen arrives at the police station.  Tucker tells her that Grace may be the next murder victim.  He asks Kristen to find Grace, to save her life.

Donald Stern learns about what Tucker has been doing.  He is not terribly upset about the lying, though.  The publisher is also an attorney.  He takes Tucker out of the police station as Kristen goes off to find grace.

The real story is more interesting than the one Donald thought he had.  In the archives of the World Chronicle, Sal detects an alien signal emanating from the community center.  Wes, Tucker, and Donald go to the community center.  Donald uses a really big gun to kill Averill before he can attack Tucker and Wes.  Our three heroes rescue Grace before Max can remove her brain and spinal column.  Max escapes through the ceiling.  Sal calls; the alien signal is a launch countdown.

Tucker, Wes, and Donald escort Grace out of the community center just as Kristen arrives in a taxi cab.  All of them witness a spacecraft launch into the sky and fly away.  Detectives Useless (otherwise known as Garibaldi and Chiklis) suspect Wes, Tucker, and Donald of having harmed Grace.  She tells them that Max and Averill killed Sylvia and tried to kill her, too.  Grace also tells the detectives that Wes, Tucker, and Donald saved her life.  Garibaldi wants to take statements from everybody, but Donald, as an attorney, prevents that.

Later….

In the offices of the World Chronicle, the latest issue reveals that Donald is making the most of the real story.  He is also focusing much of the attention on his heroics.  This will continue into the next issue.

Kristen visits Tucker at work.  She is feeling insecure in her worldview, given what she saw recently.  However, she feels secure dating him.  Grace tells Tucker that Kristen is a keeper.

Grace looks at Donald and, momentarily, sees an extraterrestrial.  It is just a hallucination, probably, she tells herself.

Above:  Sylvia McKenzie

Character Beats

Tucker, Wes, and Grace take care of each other.

Donald Stern is always eager to rescue an employee and to print a really good cover story.

Donald Stern is a renaissance man.  He is a journalist, a publisher, an attorney, an exorcist, and an expert in retrofitting space stations.

Above:  Averill and Max

Great Line

Wes:  “I’m not going to let some Alpha Centaurian Hannibal Lector get busy with our girl.”

Above:  Donald Stern, Wes Freewald, Grace Hall, Tucker Burns, and Kristen Martin

In-Universe

This episode follows Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns narratively.  Let Sleeping Dogs Fry, the episode aired immediately prior to Bring Me Back, properly belongs to a time previous to Bring Me the had of Tucker Burns.

Donald Stern’s middle initial is “Q.”

Donald Stern being a space alien in disguise is not the wildest accusation one could make.  After all, he has not aged visibly in at least two decades.

Above:  Kristen Martin

Comments

Take Me Back is one of the better written serious episodes of The Chronicle.  Naren Shankar deserves much praise for his script.

Finally, Kristen saw something bizarre she could not immediately dismiss as hooey.

Above:  Part of the Front Page of the World Chronicle at the End of the Episode

A Final Note

The Chronicle:  News from the Edge is difficult to find on physical media.  A fan-made DVD set is available, but, to the best of my knowledge, NBC/Universal has not issued the series on physical media officially.  The only website I know of that offers streaming of The Chronicle is archive.org.  The episodes on that website are versions a fan recorded from Canadian television.  I am thankful that the series is available for viewing at archive.org.

I notice, however, that the video quality is consistent with VHS–not as clear as one gets from most physical media and from paid streaming services.  This irritates me only whenever I try to read certain details from the series.  What, for example, is the date on the front page above?  I have a guess, but the image is not clear.

Even if I did know for sure, the date might not prove helpful in ironing out the proper viewing order of episodes.  My attention to details reveals that dates on front pages of the World Chronicle can be unreliable for that purpose.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 30, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 8: Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns (2001)   7 comments

Above:  The Headless Biker

All images in this post are screen captures.

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Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired August 25, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-111

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

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

Paul Lane as the Headless Biker

Mark A. Shepherd as Nitro

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Casey Biggs as Dick Blanston

Len Cordova as Detective Hector Garibaldi

Behind the Camera

Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Writer = Javier Grillo-Marxuach

Director = Sanford Bookstaver

Above:  Tucker Burns and Kristen Martin

Brief Summary

At midnight each day, for a few days, a headless motorcyclist wearing a jack-o-lantern helmet beheads a person with an annoying job that makes the lives of ordinary people miserable.  The first three victims are, in order, an employee of the state Department of Motor Vehicles, a meter maid, and a tax auditor.  The episode begins with the execution of the meter maid.

Tucker encounters Kristen Martin again as both of them join the gaggle of journalists at the scene of the meter maid’s beheading.  The lead detective in the case is Hector Garibaldi, who misses many vital clues and becomes a recurring character.  At the crime scene, Kristen asks Tucker if he thinks alien head hunters are responsible.  He jokes, “Nah!  LBJ kicked all the alien head hunters off the planet once they got Jayne Mansfield.  Bad scene.”  Kristen replies, “Cute.”   They agree to share leads.  Sharing leads leads to dating during the episode as Tucker focuses on romancing Kristen, thereby allowing the investigation to fall to Wes and Grace.

Grace had been working on a story about a scientist who claimed to be cloning the Rat Pack, minus Joey Bishop.  Allegedly, the cloned Rat Pack would be ready to start performing in Las Vegas by the end of the year.

In the archives, Wes and Grace uncover a plethora of legends about headless horsemen, bikers, et cetera, from all around the world.  Wes explains that some of these headless spirits merely wreak the same kind of havoc they did in life.  He continues, “Many people think this legend explains the Reagan era.”

Wes and Grace uncover a lead about a Hell’s Angel (Clarence, known as “Hellboy”) accidentally decapitated a few years prior.  They interview Clarence’s brother, Nitro, who sells motorcycles.  Nitro tells Wes and Grace that Clarence, a veteran of the U.S. invasion of Panama, got drummed out of the Army for reasons related to conduct, then became a bounty hunter.  Nitro also tells our heroes from the World Chronicle that Clarence enjoyed frightening children by wearing the jack-o-lantern helmet.  Nitro affectionately describes his late brother (whose skull he later admits to having kept) as “a whore-monger, a gambler, and a drunk.”

Shortly thereafter, Wes and Grace attempt to save the life of the third victim, a tax auditor.  They succeed, however, in locating the Headless Biker’s lair.  Then the call the police.  Detective Garibaldi proves to be useless.

Wes and Grace uncover a vital clue:  all the victims have sequential driver’s license numbers.  They would use the Rosetta Stone to hack into the DMV’s computer, to identify the next possible victim.  Why not?  The Rosetta Stone does interpret extraterrestrial languages.  Yet, as Wes explains, “nobody screws with the DMV.”  Fortunately, Vera the sex-starved receptionist has a former boyfriend who works at the DMV.  She uses phone sex to get the essential information for Wes and Grace.

The next possible victim is Dick Blanston, a cable guy.  Wes and Grace get to him just in time for the Headless Biker to drive into the apartment.  They take Blanston to relative safety at the offices of the World Chronicle, but the Headless Biker drives into the tabloid’s headquarters.  Wes and Grace hide with Blanston in the elevator, but the Headless Biker abducts Tucker and leaves a note (written in blood) threatening to kill Tucker unless our heroes deliver Blanston by dawn.  Blanston, from Hell (literally), takes the file on the case of the decapitations.  Off-screen, he beats up Nitro and takes Clarence’s skull.  Then Wes and Grace visit Nitro.

Clarence is the Headless Biker.  He is also still a bounty hunter.  Blanston and the other victims are prisoners.  They are souls of discord who escaped from the eighth circle of Hell.  The soul of discord who got a job at the DMV set up everyone else with new identities and with sequential driver’s license numbers.  Clarence is working for Satan, I guess.

Kristen ceases to deny the existence of a biker after she and Tucker witness him exit the offices of the World Chronicle.  However, Kristen denies that the Headless Biker is headless, for she saw him wear a helmet.

Blanston goes to the Headless Biker’s lair.  Wes, Grace, and Nitro meet him there.  Nitro rides a motorcycle and wears a jack-o-lantern helmet.  Blanston tosses the skull to that cyclist, who removes his helmet to reveal that he is Nitro.  The Headless Biker returns Tucker, safe and sound.  Then Clarence drives up and decapitates Blanston.  Nitro tosses the skull to Clarence, who removes he helmet, puts the skull on, then puts the helmet back on.  Nitro says his farewell to Clarence, who drives off and never beheads again.  Next, Nitro thanks Wes and Grace for helping him find closure and offers each one a deal on a motorcycle.  Then he, in a good mood, rides away.

The useless police, tipped off by Kristen, show up.  Kristen is glad to see that Tucker is alive.  They are now boyfriend and girlfriend.

Above:  Ruby Rydell

Character Beats

Grace does not know who the Hessians were.

Donald Stern is an expert in retrofitting space stations.

Tucker decided to become a journalist because of the example of his grandfather, a reporter.

Kristen decided to become a journalist because of the example of Lois Lane.  (Was Lois Lane a good reporter?  How sharp were her powers of observation?)

Great Lines

Wes:  “Who wouldn’t want to ice a meter maid and a DMV clerk?”

Wes:  “I knew an elementary school education would come in handy.”

Wes:  “Now, I know what you’re thinking:  It’s impossible, you know, Germans making war and all that.”

Kristen:  “Why do all men think that women want to be Lois Lane?  And don’t get me started on Supergirl.”

Wes (at Dick Blanston’s door):  “We know you’re in there watching reruns of Suddenly Susan, buddy.  Open up now.”

Above:  Detective Hector Garibaldi, N.Y.P.D.

In-Universe

This episode marks the first appearance of Detective Hector Garibaldi, a police officer yet hardly one of New York’s finest.  The journalists at the World Chronicle are better detectives than he is.

Donald Stern is in Russia, helping the team retrofitting Mir.  Apparently, the crash of the space station into the ocean on March 23, 2001, was a cover story.  (March 23, 2001, was in the recent past in the present day of this episode.)

Wes and Grace once chased a disembodied hand down the Holland Tunnel.

On the other hand, Wes finds going to New Jersey creepier than chasing a disembodied hand.

Kristen Martin begins continues down the path of struggling with the possibility of the world be a stranger place than she assumes.

How many other escaped prisoners from the eighth circle of Hell work in annoying jobs?  And which bounty hunter(s) will pursue them?

Above: Kristen Martin Sees the Biker, Whose Existence She Had Just Denied

Comments

I detect open hostility to the Department of Motor Vehicles in this episode.  I understand this.  In Georgia, we have the ironically-named Department of Driver Services.  I have my own story about that agency, staffed with Vogons.  (Yes, I have read Douglas Adams.)

This episode is worthy of watching many times, and not just for the swipes at the DMV.

Bring Me the Head of Tucker Burns is not the first episode of a television series to feature a headless motorcyclist.  I know of one other, Chopper (1975), from Kolchak:  The Night Stalker (1974-1975).

Nothing in this episode is gratuitous.  The camera cuts away (sometimes to shadows) at certain moments.  Leaving some details to one’s fertile imagination suffices.

I binge-watched this series and made mental notes before I commenced this rewatch project and started making written notes in preparation for blog posts, such as this one.  The Chronicle would have been a different series–whether better or worse, I cannot say for sure–had Tucker stayed with Shawna Fuchs.  Take my word for that, or do not, O reader.  But do watch the series, if you wish.

Casey Biggs played Damar, an intriguing character, on Star Trek:  Deep Space Nine.

Mark A. Shepherd portrayed attorney (later President, briefly) Romo Lampkin on the Ronald D. Moore reboot of Battlestar Galactica.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 26, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 5: He’s Dead, She’s Dead (2001)   2 comments

Above:  Tucker, Wes and Grace

Grace holds a package containing the ashes of her ferret, Pookie.

All images in this post are screen captures.

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He’s Dead, She’s Dead

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired August 4, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-106

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

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Cast

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Leigh Hennessy as Homeless Woman

Shawn Lane as Reanimated Corpse

Karen-Eileen Gordon as Dr. Evelyn Elkins

Joe Nesnow as Dr. Harry Cooper

Justine Miceli as Helen Cooper

Todd Patrick Breaugh as Clark Jensen

Behind the Camera

Consulting Producer = Naren Shankar

Writers = Erin Maher and Kay Reindl

Director = John Kretchman

Above:  Donald Stern and Kristen Martin

Brief Summary

Young daredevils Brad, Todd, and Lee are drinking in a cemetery at night.  After Brad falls into an open grave, Todd and Lee flee.  They are terrified after seeing a hatted man stab a corpse then run away.

Tucker, Grace, and Wes work on the corpses story while Kristen researches a story about the World Chronicle for The New York Times.  Donald Stern ensures that Kristen gets the story he wants:  that the World Chronicle is not a legitimate publication.  The world is not yet ready to believe otherwise, he tells Tucker.  Besides, Kristen’s story will constitute good publicity.

Three corpses have gone missing from the cemetery during the previous month.  There was the exchange student from the beginning of the episode.  He attacked Tucker in the morgue, but waited for Kristen to leave before doing so.  There was also a homeless woman, who attacked Kristen on a sidewalk at night.  The third disinterred corpse was that of Dr. Harry Cooper, who had been interested in the occult and the reanimation of corpses.

Helen Cooper, Harry’s daughter, is still angry with her father.  She still considers the reanimation of corpses immoral.  Nobody has the right to cheat death and play God, she insists.  She, therefore, cooperates with Clark Jensen, one of Harry’s few allies, to reanimate her father.  Then she kills him again.  (Talk about resentment!)  Police officers arrest Jensen, apparently for robbing graves.  Helen will probably be fine, legally, for killing the dead is not a crime.  Kristen arrives on the scene too late to witness the brief resurrection of Dr. Harry Cooper.

Donald Stern, after reading Kristen’s article dismissing the staff of the World Chronicle as delusional, breaks out the bubbly.

Above:  Helen Cooper

Character Beats

Vera has the hots for Tucker.

Tucker is desperate for Kristen to think of him as a legitimate journalist.

Grace mourns the death of Pookie, the ferret she adopted while in junior high school.  (Ferrets are illegal in New York City.)  Grace’s mother mails the ashes to Grace, who scatters them in Central Park.

Great Lines

Todd, offering an obvious excuse to flee the cemetery:  “I think I want to go home and watch Felicity.”

Wes:  “This guy is so full of holes he makes Noriega look like a Noxzema model.”

Dr. Evelyn Elkins, introverted medical examiner:  “Live people just get in the way.”

In-Universe

An army of vampires bent of world domination exists.

Tucker compliments Kristen on her story about Yamaguchi Wireless (What Gobbles Beneath).

Ruby has real psychic powers.  Nevertheless, Donald Stern insists that she mix false and true predictions, so she does.  Besides, people deal better with her predictions when they do not know if they are true or false.

Comments

This episode is the first so far to use the alternative, mysterious theme, instead of the standard, whimsical one.

This episode has a lighter tone (despite the alternative theme) than the previous episode.  I would rather watch this episode again and skip the previous episode during subsequent rewatches.

Pookie the ferret was a delightful companion, I am sure.

Kristen is a recurring character with an arc.  I am not a militant anti-spoilers person.  Rosebud was a sled.  There, I said it!  The Maltese Falcon was a fake.  There, I said it!  And this series is two decades old.  The statute of limitations on spoilers expires long before twenty years.  Nevertheless, I choose not to reveal Kristen’s character arc in this post.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 20, 2020 COMMON ERA

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The Chronicle: News from the Edge–Episode 2: What Gobbles Beneath (2001)   5 comments

Above:  The Tumor Monster, with Mr. Bailey, Soon to Become Monster Food

All images in this post are screen captures.

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What Gobbles Beneath

Canadian Television Rating = PG

Hyperlink to Episode

Aired July 14, 2001

Production Number = 5009-01-105

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

Octavia L. Spencer as Ruby Rydell

Main Guest Actress

Elaine Hendrix as Kristen Martin

Behind the Camera

Writer = Silvio Horta

Director = Adam Davidson

Consulting Editor = Naren Shankar

Above:  Reno Wilson as Wes Freewald

Brief Summary

This episode opens shortly after the conclusion to the pilot episode.  Wes and Tucker at at an Arby’s because an angry ghost is there.  Tucker, attempting to interview the spirit, asks, “Does this happen to be your first haunting?”  The ghost slimes Wes and Tucker with ectoplasm, in the style of Ghostbusters (1984) and leaves.  Shortly thereafter, Tucker, in need of a new place to live, accepts Wes’s offer to become a roommate at Wes’s rent-controlled loft apartment.  Wes offers Tucker the use of of one of two beds.  One bed is in the design of a sleeping chamber from the Nostromo (Alien, 1979), and the other bed’s design comes from Titan A.E. (2000).

The newest model of cellular phone is the Yamaguchi 9000, a satellite phone one can use from anywhere.  The Yamuaguchi 9000 is about to go to market.  Unfortunately, when one (a prominent figure at Yamaguchi Wireless, for example) uses a Yamaguchi 9000 cellular phone on the island of Manhattan, one attracts the attention a large, growing tentacled tumor monster that emerges from the earth and drags its victim into the planet.  Yamaguchi Wireless has a more prosaic problem; the Yamaguchi 9000 works as well as it does because of dangerous levels of radiation more hazardous than cigarettes.  An executive, Mr. Bailey (who wisely chose not to call the company Bailey’s), really wants to keep the danger of irradiation secret.

Tucker spends much of the episode not working on his assigned story, about how Minnie’s Chips makes precise animal-shaped chips.  He, Wes, and Grace instead investigate the disappearance of an executive of Yamaguchi Wireless in Central Park in the middle of the day.  They get their story and earn Donald Stern’s high praise.  During the investigation, Tucker meets class rival Kristen Martin, who received the Student Pulitzer Prize he lost in disgrace.  She works for The New York Times.  He lies and tells her he works for Newsweek.  She discovers this lie quickly.

Wes, Tucker, and Grace confront Mr. Bailey, who accidentally summons the tumor monster, which feeds off radiation and consumes the executive.  Wes, Tucker, and Grace kill the tumor monster.  The full force of the law descends upon Yamaguchi Wireless, and Kristen becomes a media darling for reporting the story, minus the tumor monster.  That is fine, for Donald Stern has Wes’s Wolkswagen van, far past its prime, towed away about one minute before he presents Wes with the keys to a brand new car.

Above:  Kristen and Tucker

Character Beats

Ruby Rydell, the psychic on staff at the World Chronicle, is jealous of Miss Cleo, the faux-Jamaican fake psychic.  Ruby has been making obscene phone calls to Miss Cleo from the offices.

Donald Stern likes for his employees to show initiative, even when they disobey him, if they bring a better story to him.

Donald Stern has a mysterious past, which he prefers to leave that way.  He, once a respected journalist, disappeared for five or six years.  He, presumed dead, returned with vast sums of money and founded the World Chronicle in the early 1980s.

Above:  Ruby Rydell

Great Lines

Vera (the receptionist):  “Which of the Baldwin brothers is eating your pet?”

Wes, to Sal the Pig-Boy:  “Hey, do you like pork rinds?”

Above:  Tucker, Vera, and Grace

In-Universe

Tucker reunites with Kristen, a recurring character, for the first time in this episode.

Somewhere in Tennessee, a young woman was at her dentist’s office, having her teeth bleached when the aspirator sucked out half of her brain.  The women returned to work at Starbucks.  Nobody noticed any difference in her.

Tucker continues to adjust to life after becoming an employee of the World Chronicle.  Experiences are blowing his mind.

Based on the decor at Wes’s loft apartment, to call him a science fiction geek is to understate reality.

Comments

The tone of this episode is wonderfully whimsical, despite the sinister corporate agents and the tumor monster’s body count.

Tucker’s efforts to interview the angry spirit at the beginning of the episode are funny.

KENNETH RANDOLPH TAYLOR

MAY 17, 2020 COMMON ERA

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