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Sunday, January 29, 2006

1.46 --- Cold Reading

Directed by : Gus Trikonis
Written by : Martin Pasko & Rebecca Parr
Starring : Lawrence Poindexter, Dick Shawn
First aired : 14th of February, 1986.

Milo Trent (Lawrence Poindexter), an aspiring radio drama actor back in the '30s, is invited as a last-minute replacement to a famous weekly show "Dick Noble, the African Explorer". The show is a creation of famous writer Nelson Westbrook (Dick Shawn, The Producers), who often does rewrites on the fly while in the studio with the actors.

But, when Westbrook accidentally wishes for realistic special effects while holding an ancient voodoo artifact, he gets what he wanted - and more ! As the actors in the studio read out their lines, the exact things happen to them - first there is a storm (inside the studio), then african tribesmen appear, followed by monkeys, parrots, rifles in the distance etc. Realizing very well that their safety is in peril, Westbrook feverishly rewrites the show so nothing drastic happens, writing around a plane crash and an earthquake amongst other things.

With all hazards averted, the cast brings the show to an ending and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. The relief turns out to be a rather premature one, as you can imagine what happens when the show host announces next week's episode : Dick Noble and the invaders from Mars !

***

Fourth quarter of first season opens on a high note, with an amusing little comedy directed by Broadway dancer turned TV director Gus Trikonis. The period detail is faithfully recreated, and Dick Shawn's over-the-top character adds extra flavour. The downfall of this episode could have been, again, special effects, but this time disaster is averted - all the gags are rather well executed, including the rousing finale. Job well done, I'd say.

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