Archive for the ‘Naren Shankar’ Tag

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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