Director: Armand Mastroianni
Writer: Haskell Barkin
Cast: Chuck McCann, Bobby Di Cicco, Jack Andreozzi, Claudia Templeton, Gene Borkan, and Paul Sparer
Composers: Ken Lauber and Kevin Maloney
Air Date: 9/29/1985
Tired of his career as a nightclub impressionist, Spiffy Remo (Chuck McCann) decides to assist the government by obtaining the secret to nuclear fusion from a stubborn alien known as Hoffgosh (Claudia Templeton). In order to succeed, Spiffy must emulate Hoffgosh’s mannerisms with perfection, for even the slightest idiosyncrasy can ruin weeks of progress.
Though light on substance, “The Impressionist” contains a strangely inspiring message about making friends in the most unlikely of situations. Science fiction fans are therefore advised to view this unique, if occasionally underwhelming, Tales from the Darkside offering.
Initially a man without purpose, Spiffy Remo undergoes a compelling character transition that will appeal to audiences of a sensitive nature. Specifically, the impressionist agrees to attempt communication with Hoffgosh only after being blackmailed by a man desperate for answers; despite his early reluctance, however, Spiffy eventually comes to enjoy the challenge inherent to his task before finally developing an intimate and lasting connection with his extraterrestrial acquaintance—an oddly poignant commentary on the human need to apply one’s talents to a worthwhile endeavor (themes of conquering barriers when building friendships are also present, albeit never explored beyond a surface level).
Spiffy’s interactions with Hoffgosh may induce cringing from viewers who lack an appreciation for the B-movie tropes that inspired “The Impressionist.” Especially ridiculous are the alien vocal sounds made by Spiffy following the success of his assignment, which serve only to highlight the cartoonish atmosphere encompassing nearly every scene.
In contrast to those Hollywood films that depict extraterrestrials as hostile, malevolent invaders with little or no interest in negotiating with less evolved lifeforms, “The Impressionist” presents a more optimistic encounter between aliens and humans. While a goofy execution hampers the above premise from reaching its full potential, this episode should nonetheless be commended for putting an original spin on one of the most overused science fiction concepts of all time.
“The Impressionist” forgoes the supernatural horror typical of Tales from the Darkside in favor of a somewhat quirky approach. That being said, fans of the alien invasion genre may wish to view this episode for its clever take on a clichéd narrative device.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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.