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Thursday, December 29, 2005

1.21 --- Dead Woman's Shoes

Reviewer's note : Just like the Teacher's Aide/Paladin of the Lost Hour confusion, this episode is usually listed as 1.22 with Wong's Lost and Found Emporium being 1.21. And again, the truth is they are in reverse.


Directed by : Peter Medak
Written by : Lynn Barker (original teleplay by Charles Beaumont & OCee Ritch)
Starring : Helen Mirren, Jeffrey Tambor, Theresa Saldana
First aired : 22nd of November, 1985.

Maddie Duncan (Helen Mirren, Cal, 2010) is a nebbish thrift store worker, who one day discovers a rather nice pair of shoes. What she doesn't know is that the shoes belonged to the late Susan Montgomery, who was killed by her husband Kyle (Jeffrey Tambor, Life Stinks, Meet Joe Black), but in a way that it resembles an accident. When Maddie puts those shoes on, Susan's vengenful spirit possesses her, and she instinctively leaves towards the Montgomery residence.

Once there, she is intercepted by the house maid Inez (Theresa Saldana, Raging Bull), who is astounded to hear she knows of her boyfriend and a secret fund she keeps. Maddie defiantly waltzes away to the shower, but once her shoes are off - the spirit leaves her body and she is back to her old self. Inez interrupts her and tries to send her home, but the moment poor Maddie puts the shoes back on, Susan takes control, and Inez is quickly dispensed of.

After spending some quality time with the makeup set, Maddie-Susan emerges from the bathroom and starts putting on some finishing touches to her plan. First, she calls her husband at work and manages to convince him she's not dead. Then, after he's home, she coaxes him into a confession (of sorts), and then tries to shoot him. But, Maddie is a horrible shot, so after several misses she gives chase to the fleeing Kyle, and in an attempt to make herself run faster, removes the shoes. With the shoes, out goes Susan as well, and Maddie, back in her own body again, realizes those high heels are bad luck, dumps them into a nearly trashcan and leaves the scene.

Police comes to make a report, but Kyle persuades them into thinking that this was just some stray lunatic. His story didn't fly with Inez though, who overheard the whole deal, and she leaves him - her replacement a young black girl. While putting out the trash, the new maid finds the shoes Maddie dumped. Enchanted by them, she puts them on...and Susan takes over again, but this time, she makes no mistakes.


Dead Woman's Shoes is the first of several classic TZ remakes. Originally scripted by Charles Beaumont and OCee Ritch (Ritch basically ghostwrote the whole script for Beaumont, who was at the time bogged down with other assigments), Dead Woman's Shoes is however significantly altered for the new TZ. Scriptwriter Lynn Barker, who previously contributed Little Boy Lost to the series, swaps the lead character for a woman, and removes the story from the mob environment for something more "ordinary".

Star of the show is English actress Helen Mirren, who excels in her dual role as Maddie and Susan. Also, the "shoes" theme is a nice opportunity for director Peter Medak to showcase his talent - just observe the opening 8 minutes of the episode, with most shots kept at ankle height anr portraying only shoes of various people, the crowning gem being a nicely executed tracking shot of Maddie going to work.

Overall, this is a solid episode, and dare I say, an improvement over the original, which first aired 19th of January, 1962.

Comments on "1.21 --- Dead Woman's Shoes"


Blogger Almqvist said ... (11:05 AM) : 

The best of "Dead Woman's Shoes" episode comes when Helen Mirren dramatically changes from Maddie to Susan right after putting on her shoes and twice changed back to Maddie after removing them. Her lines in Susan fit her grooming. When she looked at herself in a mirror, she saw the Susan that wore her shoes. Kyle defiantly refused to admit his murder. The details of his murder make sense on Susan's account. Her shoes finally do the job in invoking revenge after Susan's death


Anonymous Anonymous said ... (2:45 AM) : 

The actors' selection was remarkable based on Helen Mirren portraying Maddie Duncan's sudden change of appearance. Maddie looks so much like an everyday woman as the show starts until she changes into Susan Montgomery's outfit in her home. Her changes are so striking that it is so difficult to tell that it is the same woman. Her best clips are the ones at the end of the show in her final minute of airtime when she is so puzzled that she drops the gun that she didn't know that she had in her hand and then she disappears. I have not seen an appeearance from Mirren like that one


Anonymous Twilight Zone said ... (4:57 AM) : 

I was also amazed on how much Maddie Duncan changed when she came out w/her black outfit walking down the stairs. W/out any prior knowledge of Helen Mirren, I went to look for more of her shows just to find out that she looked her prettiest in Dead Woman's Shoes. Her glamorous look was so much unlike all her others


Anonymous Eighties said ... (7:57 AM) : 

The best job on this episode belongs to the stylist who groomed Helen Mirren after she changed her clothes. Helen Mirren, Maddy Duncan, changed so much after getting dressed that she didn't look anything like Maddy did at the shop. Susan Montgomery looked like a much different woman


Blogger Almqvist said ... (2:13 PM) : 

I'd love to wear the "Dead Woman's Shoes" if it'll give me the beauty makeover that it did to Maddie Duncan. I'd be so delighted that I'd forget about invoking revenge on Kyle.


Blogger MrSinatra said ... (11:47 PM) : 

An average silver one, buoyed by mirren. Tambor of course was Hank in Larry sanders, hey now!


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