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Friday, March 30, 2007

3.17 --- Stranger in Possum Meadows

Directed by : Sturla Gunnarson
Written by : Jeremy Bertrand Finch & Paul Chitlik
Starring : Benjamin Barrett, Steve Kanaly, Laura Press
Fist aired : 14th of January, 1989.

Danny (Benjamin Barrett) is a little boy, living in an isolated home near the woods with his mother (Laura Press). One day, while playing in the nearby Possum meadows, he runs into a middle-aged man dressed in white, who calls himself Scout (Steve Kanaly, Dillinger, Dallas). Scout and Danny soon become friends, and Danny invites him to dinner, an act which somewhat enrages his mother who believes her prepubescent son shouldn't talk to strangers.

Scout appears at their home next evening, and after a brief conversation, Danny's mother lets him in. They enjoy a meal, and Scout reveals that he's prospecting at Possum Meadows, for a large business corporation. He refuses to clarify exactly for what is he prospecting, saying that it's a matter of utmost secrecy. He leaves, and Danny gives him a flashlight to find his way in the dark. Danny and Scout agree to see each other tomorrow so Danny can show him around the meadow, but Danny's mother ultimately vetoes the idea, feeling something is not just right here.

The next day, Danny returns home from school and finds his dog Biff missing. He is greeted by Scout, who tells him he talked with his mother and that it's OK for two of them to go, as his mom - and Biff - will join them for dinner at his place. A bit later on, Danny's mom (she has no name in the script, so really, this is the only term I can use to describe her) returns home to find both Danny and Biff missing - she does see a flashlight Scout returned on the veranda, and rushes to the woods to look for her son.

She stumbles into Scout, who claims he never saw Danny today, and that he was already gone when he brought back the lamp. He sends her downstream to look for him, and makes his way to his makeshift home...which turns to be a spaceship collecting lifeforms for alien investigation ! Scout, in reality, is an alien conducting research for his home planet, and he brought several fine examples to go with him, including a prepubescent boy named Danny. During the conversation with his homeworld, he asks how is his family doing, and learns they miss him a lot.

Danny's mom is meanwhile on a wild goose chase through the woods, which ends once she sees a bright flash of light disappear in the sky. She immediately suspects it's Scout leaving with Danny, only for Danny to suddenly materialize in a cloud of mist surrounding the nearby creek. It seems that Scout is a generous type after all, as his own memories of his wife and child could not allow him to harm a family in most horrid way.

***

Tell you what, this wasn't a half bad episode. A low-key chiller capably directed by onetime Oscar noinee Sturla Gunnarson, this episode shines mostly thanks to some effective acting by all three leads, especially Barrett as Danny, who is one of the best child actors in the Zone this side of Billy Mumy. Steve Kanaly is equally good as Scout, whose behavioral patterns and strange, coherent speech give something away, but you just don't know what.

Special effects also look good here, with the spaceship departure a high point. Pity for that comical scratch on Scout's face, that one looks ridiculous. All in all, well worth viewing, and another alright effort from the Chitlik-Finch partnership.

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