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Thursday, April 19, 2007

3.18 --- Street of Shadows

Directed by : Richard Bugajski
Written by : Michael Reaves
Starring : Charles Haid, Shawn Lawrence
First aired : 21st of January, 1989.

Steve Cranston (Charles Haid, Cop, Nightbreed) is a construction worker out of work, and out of luck. Being unemployed for a while, Steve, along with his wife and daughter, is currently forced to reside in a homeless shelter. To make things even worse, the shelter is due to close in two days, as their mortgage expires at that date and there is no money to renew it. After another session with the social worker goes awry, Steve loses his cool and goes outside to take a walk.

While strolling around town, Steve runs into a fancy-looking house, and, for reasons unknown, decides to sneak in. It turns out that the house belongs to a renowned businessman called Frederick Perry (Shawn Lawrence), who soon discovers that someone is tresspassing. Steve, meanwhile, is calmly exploring the villa - he eventually gets to the bedroom, where he takes a shot of Fred's whiskey, and starts opening the drawers. Just as he finds a wallet full of cash, Frederick appears from the back with a gun, threatening to shoot him. Steve momentarily realises that he was doing something very wrong, so he drops the money and apologises, but mr. Perry is intending to call the cops and let them deal with this. This doesn't exactly thrill Steve, so he throws a bottle at Frederick, who in turn fires at him. As luck may have it, both of them succeed at their attempts, and hit the floor after impact.

After a while, Steve wakes up in a comfortable, spacious bed, and is taken aback when a butler wishes him good morning and serves him breakfast. He is amazed to find out that he is now Frederick Perry, and that he shot the intruder last night ! He quickly phones the homeless shelter, and upon hearing that "his" wife, Elaine, is at the hospital, rushes there. He is met by ugly glares and swearing from what used to be his family, as Elaine informs him he shot her husband ! Steve storms into the room they're standing in front of, and finds Frederick in a state of half-coma, grasping to recover from a bullet wound. Of course, the circumstances are too difficult to explain for Steve's wife, so he just leaves the hospital.

That following night, his business advisor comes to see him, as they (or, well, the real Frederick Perry and him) scheduled last night. When the counselor mentions tax shelters, Steve gets an idea - he announces he wishes to buy out the homeless shelter which his family is in. The decision is met by some disbelief, but Steve really wants to do it, so the sale goes through. The same night, before retiring to bed, Steve has a shot of whiskey...and again, things turn hazy, and all of a sudden he loses consciousness.

This time, he wakes up in a hospital bed, with his wife and daughter next to him. He is back to his "old" self, but the things are not wholly reversed - the shelter buyout indeed came through, and with enough money, the shelter owner is now ready to employ people to conduct works on the building, including Steve. As Steve remarks that it wasn't Perry, but rather him who came up with the idea, Elaine answers that in a way, it might have been him (Steve, that is ) as well.

***

Hmmm...well, we've seen this one before as well, but this time it worked out alright. It's a simple story, with a simple, fluffy resolution, yet I found it strangely captivating. Charles Haid is the centrepiece of this episode, and his performance is admirable - he is especially good in the scenes where he discovers he's a millionaire all of a sudden. I ought to note that I also am a blue-collar worker like Steve, and that I also suffered through periods of unemployment, so that might explain my affection for it.

Street of Shadows was penned by Michael Reaves, who previously made his mark with the absolutely atrocious Nightsong. Those two pieces were Reaves' only attempts at TZ type-fiction, and, needless to say, this one came out better. Director Richard Bugajski, previously behind the camera for excellent Memories, does his best as well - some scenes look rather stylish, and there is a horror-like quality to that first part when Steve sneaks around Frederick's house.

***

For some fun, check out the comments for season 1 episode, Profile in Silver (1.49). Much to my amazement, the man who wrote the script - J. Neil Schulman - chimed himself with a comment, where he explains how a crucial part toward the end got slashed off. I guess I'm getting popular, eh ?

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