It’s the Halloween season, so let’s watch season one of Friday the 13th: The Series.
“Lewis Vendredi made a deal with the devil to sell cursed antiques. But he broke the pact, and it cost him his soul. Now, his niece Micki, and her cousin Ryan have inherited the store… and with it, the curse. Now, they must get everything back, and the real terror begins.”
The series takes a hard left into science fiction territory in episode eighteen, “Brain Drain.”
A scientist has a bona fide brain in a jar, which he has hooked up to a computer, allowing the two to communicate. He says the brain has developed a childlike intelligence and could be the key to creating A.I. Similarly, he’s working with a man named Henry, who only has a childlike IQ of 60. What’s more, the scientist owns an antique trephinator, a medical device that drains fluid directly out of the brain. This trephinator is equipped with two seats, the idea being that the fluid can be transferred from one brain to another. Henry uses the antique on the scientist, stealing all of the scientist’s intelligence, and then killing him.
Micki, Ryan and Jack investigate the museum of science, where Henry is now posing as a scientist. There, Jack reunites with an ex-girlfriend, Viola, a linguist. They rekindle their romance, with him not knowing she’s working with Henry to teach language to the brain-in-jar. Jack asks Viola to marry him, just as Micki and Ryan learn Henry plans to make Viola his next victim. Our heroes find Viola still alive, but her intelligence gone. They hope to use the trephinator to reverse the process. In the final fight, Henry gets caught in the trephinator and, improbably, the other end gets hooked up to the brain-in-jar, reverting Henry to his original low intelligence. Viola ends up dead, and Jack mourns her loss, saying they’ll meet again in the afterlife.
When the show is smart: After several episodes of the main cast acting as supporting characters, it’s nice to see some real character development for Jack. There’s even a fun sitcom-like scene where Jack comes home late to find Micki and Ryan waiting up for him like worried parents.
When the show is cheesy: Many have already pointed out that sticking a wire into a brain in a jar is not the key to artificial intelligence. It only works if you view the episode as a throwback to wacky 1950s sci-fi.
Devilish dialogue: Jack: “We were apart for most of our lives. Now she’s just gone someplace without me, again.”
– We learn Jack was once married, but he and his wife split up because she didn’t approve his always traveling around the world. Jack and Viola once split up for pretty much the same reason. Jack also references playing football when he was younger (I assume it was as a student, but the episode doesn’t say.)
– The trephinator is next on the list of really big antiques. Again there’s no explanation of where they’re keeping the big antiques, until they get more space in season three. While trephination, a.k.a. draining of spinal fluids, was once a barbaric medical technique in the distant past, this trephinator device was made up for the series.
– Apparently this is also the Christmas episode, with snowy streets and Christmas lights on trees in the background.
Back in the vault: Again, the writers show they don’t want to repeat themselves by coming up with this “Flowers for Algernon but with murder” plot. Combining the show’s usual horror antics with sci-fi is fun, and it’s nice to see some real character work for Jack.
Next: Welcome to the quilt show.
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