Director: Ted Gershuny
Writer: Ted Gershuny
Cast: Dorothy Lyman, Carmen Matthews, Teri Keane, Woody Romoff, Johann Carlo, Rosanna Carter, Arthur Pierce, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Tom Pile
Air Date: 1/27/1985
In this haunting episode, a fortune teller named Catherine (Dorothy Lyman) makes a living by selling false readings to her customers. However, after a competitor known as Madame Marlena (Carmen Matthews) swaps out Catherine’s deck, the good-natured but dishonest tarot reader learns to respect the power of the cards as her deadly predictions come true.
Though marred by goofy production values, “In the Cards” combines strong performances with a spooky atmosphere. Tales from the Darkside fans should view this episode for its horror elements, whereas those who enjoy more serious offerings will appreciate “In the Cards” for its lack of humor.
While Ted Gershuny’s narrative relies on occasional plot contrivances for story progression, any such weak points can be easily excused given the somber approach to the subject matter. Whereas many season one offerings suffer as a result of juvenile comedic devices, “In the Cards” maintains its solemn tone throughout, thus allowing audiences to sympathize with Catherine’s plight.
Similarly, a suspenseful mood complements the supernatural themes quite nicely. In particular, the tarot reading sequences benefit from a combination of chilling cinematography and the actors’ harrowing reactions to their ominous circumstances.
A high camp factor and a predictable twist ending hamper the execution of this episode.
Despite its fantastic premise, “In the Cards” brings attention to the dangers of offering hollow platitudes and comforting predictions in lieu of realistic advice. By conning her customers with fluffy but false predictions, the protagonist ultimately creates more problems for both herself and others than if she had simply embraced a truthful outlook from the onset.
“In the Cards” is a solid, if not terribly memorable, Tales from the Darkside entry. Series enthusiasts should view this episode for its resonating themes, while others who enjoy horror with a moral twist will admire this episode for the aforementioned reasons.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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