Director: Eleanor Gaver
Writer: Ellen Sandhaus
Cast: Wayne Tippit, Haviland Morris, Katherine Elizabeth Neuman, Gary Lahti, and Paul Sparer
Composer: Tom Pile
Air Date: 5/1/1988
Searching for employment, Sarah McBride (Haviland Morris) accepts a job at Colonial Village—a recreation of Puritan life in 17th century Salem. Though a history buff, Sarah changes her attitude when accused of witchcraft by Magistrate Thomas Brandford (Wayne Tippit) and his future son-in-law Peter (Gary Lahti).
“The Apprentice” benefits from a clever time travel premise, which may intrigue fans of horror and science fiction. Nevertheless, this Tales from the Darkside effort is marred by cheesy music riffs, historical clichés, and unlikable protagonists.
Wayne Tippit deserves praise for his portrayal of Magistrate Thomas Branford, who embodies the religious conviction of a true fanatic. (Of course, “The Apprentice” never explains why Thomas maintains his ignorant, superstitious belief system after venturing to the future and acquainting himself with 20th century technology.)
“The Apprentice” may evoke criticism for its hackneyed outcome. Specifically, one can easily predict that Sarah—a rebellious woman with feminist leanings—will be condemned as a witch upon arriving in the year 1692.
Also problematic is the characterization of Sarah, who, despite suffering a cruel and unjust fate, comes across as too ditsy and unsympathetic for the audience to care about. (In addition, “The Apprentice” lacks an air of suspense or atmosphere to engross the viewer in Sarah’s ill-fated predicament.)
Featuring the Salem Witch Trials through a lens of temporal displacement, “The Apprentice” should appeal to historical horror buffs. Others may, however, wish to avoid this episode in favor of Witchfinder General starring Vincent Price.
Overall Quality: 3/10
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