Director: Michael Gornick
Writer: George A. Romero
Cast: Jerry Stiller, Todd Oleson, Patrick Farrelly, Karen Shallo, Barbara Holmes, David L. Early, and Paul Sparer
Composers: Simon Manses and Erica Portnoy
Air Date: 11/10/1985
Upon arriving at the station for an evening shift, misanthropic radio host Luther Mandrake (Jerry Stiller) wastes no time in disparaging callers who wish to improve their unfortunate life circumstances. As the night progresses, however, Mandrake ends up in a “hairy” predicament of his own.
Despite the simplicity of its premise, “The Devil’s Advocate” will appeal to Tales from the Darkside fans with a morbid sense of humor. Especially worth noting are Jerry Stiller’s mean-spirited monologues, which, in addition to offering a great deal of entertainment value, serve to justify the dismal fate that befalls Mandrake in the final scene.
Though heavy on expository dialogue, George A. Romero’s narrative maintains a captivating atmosphere given the despicable, albeit not entirely monstrous, manner with which Stiller delivered his (admittedly repetitious) lines—an aspect that should prompt a “love-to-hate” reaction from the audience. On one hand, Mandrake derives extraordinary pleasure from insulting working-class callers and will thereby elicit contempt from those of a sensitive inclination; nevertheless, Mandrake’s account of personal tragedy, suffering, and loss provides the viewer with a means of relating to, if not necessarily caring for, a decidedly awful human being.
When addressing Mandrake, the Devil speaks in a cheesy, booming voice that fails to convey an ominous effect as intended.
“The Devil’s Advocate” is an amusing Tales from the Darkside entry. Budgetary limitations aside, this episode avoids a drawn-out or tedious execution while focusing only on one character from start to finish.
Overall Quality: 8/10
If you enjoyed this post, please enter your email address in the subscription box to stay tuned for more updates.