Sunday, October 21, 2012

The Fatal Fortune

I was hoping that would happen, although I wondered if it would be a December release. But January is awesome too! And so close!

But hey, CBS, stop making Andy a brunet! He’s nooot!

Ahem. Not that there’s anything wrong with brunets, of course. I love them! But Andy just isn’t one. What happened? Did the artists get hold of Wesley’s second One Step Beyond appearance and just absolutely latch on to his dark hair after the Pharaoh possesses him? That’s the only time I can think of when he isn’t his natural blond. And honestly, I don't think dark hair works well with his coloring. It looks all wrong on him.

My local station is starting over with Perry again, after having skipped over even more episodes than before. I watched episode 1 on Friday with a new perspective, imagining its original airing and what it must have been like, to see those classic versions of the characters for the first time. It was a very interesting trip, but what I came away with the most was the thought that Perry himself matured as the seasons went on, instead of it just being Hamilton who did.

And it made me realize all the more how much I love and prefer the later seasons. I’m tentatively thinking that even with its cringe-worthy missteps, I might like season 9 better overall than season 1, mainly for the character development in many of the episodes. Season 1 does have amazing plots, and it’s a lot of fun seeing everyone so young and fresh, but overall I prefer the added maturity and wisdom of the characters later on.

And actually praising season 9 is a good lead-in for discussing The Fatal Fortune.

It’s somewhat predictable that when Julie Adams’ character Pat goes to a fortune teller for a laugh, some of the fortune begins coming true. The fortune teller himself is a rather eerie sort, and whether or not they were going for that, the casting is perfect. He details various events that will happen to her, from gaining a promotion to making a decision about a romantic situation in her life. And he implies that her husband will die. He tells her she’ll meet the Prince Charming she wants, but first she’ll wear a bride’s white and a widow’s black.

That’s about when she’s had enough. As she and her friend leave, she’s warned to watch her step. Outside, a car nearly runs her down. She’s pulled back to the curb just in time and remembers the warning with a gasp. And above them, Marius the fortune teller observes with an eerie, knowing smirk.

Although the episode unfolds with the other parts of the fortune coming true, the most unsettling and paranormal-ish part is definitely the opening, including the near-miss with the car and Marius standing by. Every line is delivered very appropriately spookily, and with his expressions he really looks like he stepped out of a horror flick or television anthology.

Pat’s romantic dilemma is heavily explored. Her older boss is in love with her and has repeatedly asked her to marry him. She’s turned him down but cares for him dearly as a friend. He asks again, and despite meeting a younger man whom she starts seeing, she eventually decides to accept her boss Max’s offer after he has a heart attack while waiting for her answer.

I never have liked the younger man, Gordon Evans. He repulses me, especially when he tries to convince Pat that they should have an affair even if she marries Max. Pat is thankfully repulsed too.

After their wedding, Max begins exhibiting strange behavior. He’s always been bitter towards his son after said son disappeared, and now he’s feeling ill and believing that Pat is being unfaithful to him. Perry, a friend of his, is worried about him and wants him to see his doctor.

Another very disturbing scene, albeit not paranormal in nature, is when Perry and Steve rush to the house after Pat calls Perry in terror, saying that Max has become violent. Max stumbles to the top of the stairs, loudly and painfully proclaims that Pat poisoned him, and tumbles to the bottom. Steve examines him and finds he’s dead.

I actually find May-December romances very sweet and cute, when the parties care about each other. I was heartbroken that Max was murdered here. He’s a gruff but kind fellow, before someone starts tampering with his pills and making his personality go haywire.

Gordon Evans eventually shows up at Perry’s office, declaring that he loves Pat and wants to help her. He also reveals that he is Max’s missing son.

During court, Hamilton is utterly repulsed by Gordon too—so much so that he loses his temper and demands to know if Gordon and Pat were in on the scheme together to take Max’s fortune, thinking he wouldn’t live very long. He apologizes immediately, saying he got carried away. But as it turns out, Gordon is very involved.

So is Pat’s friend Beth, who is actually the mastermind. And the fortune teller was led to believe they wanted to pull a joke on Pat when they left him the instructions of what predictions to make for her.

I would love to see Hamilton tear into Beth and Gordon at their trials. What wretched, twisted, disgusting people.

One unique thing about this episode is that when Marius comes to the stand, it’s Perry and not Hamilton who jeers at the idea that Marius can tell the future. We know Hamilton would find it all nonsense himself, but he simply makes objections to Perry’s “sarcastic browbeating”. Ordinarily it might be just the opposite.

Hamilton displays a lot of interesting behavior in this episode, from those objections to his utter repulsion at Gordon Evans. On the latter, the case definitely seems to have struck a particular chord with him. I almost wonder if it’s because, being older himself, and a bachelor, he sympathizes with Max’s plight and imagines himself being set up by gold-digging wretches and how he would feel.

It’s not a very paranormal episode overall, despite the creepy opening. Overall, Marius is probably the eeriest element. And the next episode, albeit much more paranormal, still doesn’t match up to the episodes Samuel Newman wrote. But it does display more of Hamilton being very involved and wonderful.

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