Director: Frank De Palma
Writer: Harvey Jacobs
Cast: Vince Edwards, James Hong, Ellen Winthrop, Phil Roth, and Paul Sparer
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 5/26/1985
Having received a tip from his friend Sam Larchmont (Phil Roth), shady real estate developer Henry Gropper (Vince Edwards) visits a laundromat owned by Chow Ting (James Hong), whose expensive but effective “special service” will purify the conscience of any patron who requests it. Henry decides to hire Chow Ting, but ends up paying a far greater price than he can afford.
“It All Comes Out in the Wash” makes creative use of a shoestring budget. That being said, little of note occurs within the already brief runtime allotted to this episode; therefore, Tales from the Darkside fans who prefer suspenseful offerings over primitive and one-note gags would be wise to look elsewhere.
Vince Edwards should be commended for conveying the paranoia and mental anguish that result from Henry’s guilty conscience, even though his frequent monologues fail to produce a dark comedic effect as intended.
Despite operating on a unique premise, “It All Comes Out in the Wash” never expands on the concept of a Chinese laundryman literally washing away the sins/guilt of a morally corrupt patron. Rather, nearly the entire episode focuses on Henry’s crooked dealings and subsequent remorse—all of which are conveyed through monotonous dialogue and thus become repetitive over time (the fact that every scene save for the introductory segment takes place in a single office room does little to compensate for a general absence of narrative depth). Perhaps if greater emphasis had been placed upon the antics of Chow Ting instead of Henry’s less amusing conversations, a more entertaining outcome could have ensued.
After failing to cleanse the “dirty laundry” produced by his callous misdeeds, Henry alone is forced to confront the consequences of his actions. The above resolution indicates that each individual must take responsibility for his or her past transgressions; however, viewers may have difficulty deriving any lasting value from the frivolous manner with which this concept is executed.
An underwhelming episode, “It All Comes Out in the Wash” struggles to maintain tension due to a lack of scenic variety coupled with tedious amounts of expository dialogue. Any attempts at humor also fall flat, with the possible exception of Chow Ting’s “fortunate” twist of fate as detailed in the final sequence.
Overall Quality: 4/10
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