Director: Armand Mastroianni
Writer: Haskell Barkin
Cast: Farley Granger, Peggy Cass, Lou Jacobi, Fay Sappington, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Wells Christie
Air Date: 10/14/1984
Mechanic Harvey Turman (Lou Jacobi) complains of chronic back pain, which Dr. Roebuck (Farley Granger) attributes to the constant badgering of Harvey’s wife Nadine (Peggy Cass). After completing a thorough examination, Dr. Roebuck explains that uxoricide can be the only cure for Harvey’s ailment.
A morbid example of the henpecked husband trope, “Pain Killer” is marred by stale and repetitious humor. Tales from the Darkside fans may nevertheless enjoy the dark, if not excessively cruel, approach to comedy employed in this offering.
Lou Jacobi’s realistic cries of agony and stiff, arthritic movements work to generate sympathy for Harvey, even before Nadine’s harassing behavior becomes entirely obvious.
By forcing her elderly, blue-collar husband to study computer programming against his will, Nadine effectively portrays herself as an insufferable old crow. That being said, there are times when Nadine’s incessant nagging fails to result in a comedic effect as intended.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
Prompted by a conveniently timed burst of lightning, Dr. Roebuck erupts into a fit of maniacal laughter and thereby reveals his true identity (i.e. the Devil) to the audience. Though possibly tongue-in-cheek, the above display will likely elicit groaning from viewers of a serious inclination.
“Pain Killer” benefits from the subtle but sinister performance of Farley Granger, a more convincing Devil than Brad Fisher from “I’ll Give You a Million.” The tedious nature of Harvey’s interactions with Nadine should, however, be criticized.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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