Tales from the Darkside Episode 16: The Tear Collector

Technical Specs

Director: John Drimmer

Writers: John Drimmer and Geoffrey Loftus

Cast: Jessica Harper, Victor Garber, Linda Lee Johnson, Eric Bogosian, Kay Walbye, John Rothman, and Paul Sparer

Composer: Tom Pile

Air Date: 2/24/1985



Unable to control her incessant crying fits, a woman named Prudence (Jessica Harper) believes she may have found the solution to her problem upon meeting Ambrose Cavender tales-from-the-darkside-the-tear-collector(Victor Garber)—a therapist who collects the tears of his patients. Before long, however, Prudence begins to suspect that Ambrose may simply wish to exploit rather than assist those from whom he gathers teardrops.

An incoherent offering, “The Tear Collector” raises more questions than it ultimately answers. The potential for a poignant outcome is present, though never realized due to a layer of mystery that shrouds the motives of said tear collector from start to finish.



The delicate performances of Jessica Harper and Victor Garber are accentuated by Tom Pile’s haunting soundtrack, thereby culminating in a suitably atmospheric tone.



By failing to explain how Ambrose benefits from the magical power inherent to his tear collection, the ambiguous conclusion makes waste of a suspenseful series of events that precede tales-from-the-darkside-the-tear-collectorit. Even when Prudence accidentally shatters the glass vial storing all tears shed during her previous sessions, no reason is given as to why such an action would release the main character from her perpetual grief (that being said, the symbolism included in this sequence is admittedly quite powerful).

Also disappointing is a lack of realistic character development, which could have provided a wonderful complement to Harper’s elegant portrayal of Prudence. Without sufficient background information to support the protagonist’s lifelong struggle with depression, viewers may have difficulty accepting Prudence as the sensitive and remarkable individual that “The Tear Collector” attempts to depict.



tales-from-the-darkside-the-tear-collectorWhile any message to be gleaned from “The Tear Collector” is made entirely vague as a result of the aforementioned conclusion, audiences may interpret this piece as a commentary on how predators will often take advantage of the most innocent and trusting among us (this interpretation is supported by a scene in which an aggressive junkie (Eric Bogosian) harasses Prudence until she feels guilty enough to offer him money). Additionally relevant is the fact that Prudence overcomes her sadness without relying upon others for assistance, which seems to indicate that true happiness can be found only within oneself.


Concluding Comments

“The Tear Collector” establishes the basis for compelling conflict and profound themes of redemption. As it stands, however, this odd vignette contains little value for Tales from the Darkside fans who enjoy this program for its elaborately crafted twist endings.


Overall Quality: 3/10


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