Director: Bill Travis
Writer: Guy Gallo
Cast: Christine Estabrook, John Rothman, Kate O’Toole, Peter Webster, Frank Ammirati, Patrick Farrelly, Catherine Gaffican, Chet London, Karen Shallo, Kit Le Fever, Beth Broderick, and Paul Sparer
Composer: None (Stock Music)
Air Date: 5/17/1987
After purchasing a special radio, housewife Irene (Christine Estabrook) discovers that she can eavesdrop on the conversations of her neighbors. Against the warnings of her husband Jim (John Rothman), Irene continues to involve herself in the private affairs of nearby couples—with a disturbing outcome.
Exploring an important life lesson through a supernatural concept, “The Enormous Radio” operates on an interesting narrative. This episode does, however, fail to expand on its one-note subject matter.
“The Enormous Radio” benefits from the chemistry of Christine Estabrook and John Rothman, who portray the slow-building conflict between Jim and Irene—a troubled husband-and-wife pair—in a convincing manner. Specifically worth noting are the actions of Irene, who, while neglecting her own marriage, burdens her husband with the problems of other apartment residents—a realistic depiction of how misguided altruism, low self-awareness, and an unwillingness to admit personal fault can destroy relationships.
Despite featuring a haunted radio, this episode fails to maintain an appropriate layer of atmospheric tension. The lack of suspense in “The Enormous Radio” becomes especially problematic during the twist ending, which, in addition to being rather predictable, occurs in an abrupt and anticlimactic manner.
“The Enormous Radio” also features a number of anachronisms that may, at times, perturb viewers of an astute nature. Though set during the Great Depression, for example, this offering showcases a radio model manufactured and released in the 1950s—likely an unintentional oversight from the production crew.
In spite of its underdeveloped themes, “The Enormous Radio” rightly indicates that gossiping, eavesdropping, and policing the private lives of other people can corrupt even the most honest, well-meaning of individuals.
“The Enormous Radio” contains a clever premise for a Tales from the Darkside entry. Unfortunately, this episode suffers from weak writing, hackneyed drama, and a poorly executed twist in the final scene.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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