Director: Ted Gershuny
Writer: Ted Gershuny
Cast: John Heard, Penelope Miller, Caris Corfman, Greg Thornton, John Snyder, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Michael Gibbs
Air Date: 10/13/1985
While awaiting execution, inventor Billy Malone (John Heard) relays an incredible account of his circumstances to receptive journalist Adele (Caris Corfman). According to Billy, an earthquake opened an interdimensional portal on his property—through which a young redhead named Keena (Penelope Miller) appeared and, following a chain of remarkable events, led to his imprisonment on death row.
“Ring Around the Redhead” is marred by cheesy dialogue and robotic performances. Fans of low-budget science fiction may nevertheless enjoy this episode for crafting an elaborate, if somewhat silly, alien world through suggestion alone.
By progressing at a swift pace from start to finish, “Ring Around the Redhead” manages to condense a tremendous amount of material into one standard-length Tales from the Darkside episode. (That being said, writer Theodore Gershuny’s use of exposition as a means of narrative shortcutting may, on occasion, annoy viewers with a limited capacity for imagination).
“Ring Around the Redhead” contains all the ingredients necessary for a poignant science fiction piece. Unfortunately, the implied love angle falls a bit flat given that very little conversation, expository or otherwise, is employed to further develop any tacit chemistry shared by Billy and Keena (such is likely a consequence of the overly succinct approach to pacing outlined above). Also problematic is the corny, neo-noir atmosphere that plagues nearly every interaction between Billy and Adele, thereby undermining the emotionally compelling testimony of an innocent man wrongly convicted and sentenced to die in the electric chair.
Similar to “From Beyond” by H.P. Lovecraft, “Ring Around the Redhead” examines the potential ramifications of utilizing technology in order to tamper with unknown forces. In this case, however, the protagonist is actually rewarded for his scientific curiosity—a decidedly more optimistic outcome than that of Lovecraft’s aforementioned short story and one that can perhaps be attributed to Billy’s cautiousness and longstanding patience while exploring said unknown forces.
As an exercise in off-screen world building, “Ring Around the Redhead” serves an effective purpose. With regard to character development, on the other hand, this episode offers only a taste of what could have been a captivating romance tale under more balanced direction.
Overall Quality: 5/10
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