Archive for the ‘Ellen Cleghorne’ Tag

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

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

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++