OK, this hour long anthology series dealing with tales of horror, suspense and science fiction ran ever so briefly on NBC (as a mid-season replacement if I recall correctly) in 1977. I don't know for sure how many episodes made it to air before the plug was pulled, but there are a couple that just live on in my memory like childhood nightmares. The one that is probably the best known by folks other than myself is an excellent suspense piece starring Lloyd Bridges as a man who is re-visited by the vengeful fella' he helped send away to jail years before- and if this is already sounding like "Cape Fear", that's probably because it's pretty much an hour long version of that movie, but still a very good re-telling. The menacing con, Teddy Jakes, launches a campaign of terror against Bridges, his wife and daughter (played by "Brady Bunch" kid, Eve Plumb). At one point he sends them what looks like a box of roses, but what it actually contains is a human arm. Pushed beyond his limits, Bridges kills his tormentor and places him at the bottom of a dry well. Problem solved. However, Bridge's wife just cannot resist the urge to go back and make sure Jakes is still there. Venturing out to the well on her own, she raises the bucket rope from which the body was lowered, and after a spine tinglingly lengthy assent the wrapped body emerges. As she unties the ropes to confirm what she came there to see,
SUDDENLY JAKE'S HAND COMES OUT AND GRABS HER! (fade out and to commercial)
Boy was that intense- and it wasn't even the end of the story! I did see this one episode in stores a while back on video under a title like "The Revenge Of Teddy Jakes", so there must be others out there who also recall this superb little gem.
The other episode that still gives me the willies featured Roy Thinnes as a reporter who is steadfastly opposed to the death penalty. A plan is hatched between Thinnes and a prison official to allow him to go undercover on death row as an inmate. While there though, a guard who knows who Thinnes really is (and bears a grudge against him) switches his prison uniform so that the reporter's clothes now bear the number of an inmate set to be electrocuted. In what must be the performance of his career Thinnes is absolutely "electrifying" as he desperately tries to get everyone to realize the mistake that's been made- but of course, who would believe the ravings of a death row inmate, right? So, he is dragged out of his cell kicking and screaming like an animal and strapped into the awaiting chair. Every single second of this heart pounding struggle is riveting to watch, right to the black cloth mask being placed over his face and the switch being thrown-
and then prison officials and the guard who set him up step out from behind the scenes. They inform Thinnes that this has all been concocted to show him what a condemned man really goes through. They're all opposed to capital punishment and want him to continue in is crusade to end the death penalty. The conniving guard is even the one who unties the straps. But when he removes the death mask, in an absolutely bone chilling moment of revelation the guard finds himself looking into the staring, lifeless eyes of a corpse. Trauma has caused the reporter to die of fright.
This show needs to be released on DVD immediately.