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Monday, December 26, 2005

1.16 --- Teacher's Aide

Reviewer's note : many episode guides for the new Twilight Zone, including the one on John's TZ page, list Paladin of the Lost Hour under 1.16 and Teacher's Aide under 1.17. In truth, it is reverse, as both aired together originally and Teacher's Aide opens with the TZ opening credits, which you can check for yourself. So John, when you read this, feel free to fix the listing on your page ;)


Directed by : B.W.L. Norton
Written by : Steven Barnes
Starring : Adrienne Barbeau, Adam Postil, Miguel Nunez Jr.
First aired : 8th of November, 1985.

Miss Peters (Adrienne Barbeau, The Fog, Creepshow) is an English teacher giving lessons at a school which, to quote her colleague, "has more gang fights than graduates". While attempting to stop a tussle between Furies leader Wizard (Adam Postil) and another gang member, she catches the stare of a large gargoyle who stands atop of the school building, an incident which affects her profoundly.

First, she spots changes in her behaviour - she starts to physically confront bullying students, beginning with Trojan (Miguel Nunez Jr., Life, Juwanna Mann) who is pinned to the wall after minor class disobedience. Then, she sets another Fury straight in the hallway, drawing the attention of everyone. At home, her dog growls at her, and she starts to realize something is wrong herself.

When miss Peters crushes Wizard's stereo with her bare hands and shoves him out of the classroom, the Furies leader decides he has just about had enough. At the end of his wits, Wizard packs a baseball bat and goes to the empty school building aiming to settle the score, but miss Peters senses his presence, and lures him to the storage room. A tense little game of hide-and-seek ensues, and Wizard is ultimately ambushed by his English teacher - who transformed into a humanoid gargoyle herself ! She batters him proper and knocks him down on the floor, but before delivering the final blow which was surely meant to kill the hapless gang leader, lightning strikes and shatters the gargoyle which "bedeviled" miss Peters, reverting her to her normal, human form. Realizing that mutual intolerance won't get them anywhere, the teacher and her student make peace and leave the storage room.


Directed by B.W.L. Norton, Teacher's Aide is an unremarkable entry in the colour TZ, bailed out from total obscurity only by a good performance from ex-Ms. John Carpenter, Adrienne Barbeau, who basically reprises her role from Creepshow with menace factor pitched even further forward. Barbeau's effort is only enhanced by a great make-up job by Jack Wilson, who took care of the gargoyle "outfit".

But the basic premise is nothing special, and the ending is far too "deus ex machina". Adding insult to the injury are woeful special effects, the scene of gargoyle being shattered by two lightning bolts looking just comical. Not to mention that those bolts come out of clear sky.

Odd trivia : B.W.L. Norton's most succesful film to date is a made-for-TV horror called Gargoyles. How's that for a coincidence.


On a more personal note, my productivity is somewhat down as my household expanded - we now have a dog in addition to our three cats. Bear with me for the following few weeks - I'll try and make updates as frequent as possible, with at least one review per day.

Comments on "1.16 --- Teacher's Aide"


Anonymous Jed said ... (11:26 PM) : 

“Teacher Aide” is horrendous. The story just doesn’t seem suited for The Twilight Zone. It leaves you scratching your head and wondering, “What were they thinking?”


Anonymous John said ... (6:20 AM) : 

I agree that this was not very suited for a Twilight Zone episode. More like a 'Monsters' or 'Tales From The Crypt' episode. I do like Adrienne Barbeau, but even she couldn't save this one!

Thanks for the heads-up about the order of the episodes. I had actually got a skeleton list of New TZ episodes years ago, and have added it to it over the years. Other mistakes have been noted, and corrected. Some by me, many more by others. Thanks again!


Anonymous Sharon said ... (3:22 AM) : 

I watched this episode in Singapore when I was pretty young. It spooked me and I've always liked this episode.

Back when I didn't know the word " gargoyle ".

The teacher's got a scary manly face.

What I like about Twilight Zone then was how they realistically weaved the bizarre into real-life everyday issues.

I prefer the spooky feel and commentary of this series of Twilight Zone than any later series such as that hosted by Forest Whitaker, although I seldom watched later series.


Blogger MrSinatra said ... (8:13 AM) : 

A truly bad ep that is so bad it's good. Still a bronze tho. Love A.B. And her big... eyes. Also, the black actor was in tour of duty and a great cult gem called dangerously close.


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