Director: Michael Gornick
Writer: Mark Durand
Cast: David Patrick Kelly, Phillip Casnoff, Kerry Armstrong, Harriet Rogers, David Lipman, Ruth Miller, and Paul Sparer
Composers: Tom Noonan and Music Sweet Music
Air Date: 11/11/1984
In this haunting episode, a graphic designer named Richard Hall (David Patrick Kelly) misses out on a promising job opportunity and fails to receive an invitation to his high school reunion. When his own mother fails to recognize him, Richard comes to the conclusion that his past, present, and future are slowly being erased from existence.
Tales from the Darkside fans are sure to enjoy “Slippage” for its atmospheric approach to an unnerving premise. Likewise, David Patrick Kelly’s compelling performance as the sympathetic protagonist offers an interesting changeup from this actor’s usual “bad guy” roles.
Kelly’s portrayal of the main character should be noted for its subtle development as the narrative unfolds. Initially, Richard comes across as a hard worker and loving husband who tries to make the best of his unfortunate circumstances. However, as the dire reality of his situation becomes increasingly difficult to deny, Richard succumbs to paranoid fantasies regarding the true intentions of his wife Elaine (Kerry Armstrong) and best friend Chris (Phillip Casnoff). Especially noteworthy is Richard’s heartbreaking reaction to his mother’s apparent senility, which proves that Kelly can reflect nuanced emotions despite his reputation for playing sleazy, one-dimensional villains.
Although the writers obviously wished to keep the nature of Richard’s predicament a mystery, perhaps a hint or two regarding his sudden disappearance would have strengthened an already excellent story.
(Spoilers beyond this point)
In spite of its ambiguous elements, this episode can certainly be viewed as a lesson on the dangers of surrendering to negative thinking. On one hand, Richard’s attitude at first reflects the character of a man who strives for greatness and refuses to allow life’s hurdles to stand in the way of success. However, when discrepancies begin to appear in almost every area of his formerly comfortable existence, Richard chooses to embrace his delusional ideas until reality finally takes the form of his worst nightmare. In the end, Richard’s defeatist mindset becomes so extreme that only a literal shadow of his former self remains, leaving Elaine and Chris to carry on as if their companion had never been born at all.
“Slippage” is a remarkable Tales from the Darkside entry that maintains its harrowing impact after thirty-plus years. In addition to its timeless subject matter, this episode showcases strong performances/chemistry from its primary actors and benefits from a somber execution.
Overall Quality: 9/10
If you enjoyed this post, please click the follow button or enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.