Thursday, January 09, 2020

DEE-VEE-DEE REVIEW! WAY OUT (1961 television series on CBS)

If you think that THE TWILIGHT ZONE just might be a little too tame for your own private inner sanctum, maybe you should try this little gem that only the creepiest of early-sixties tee-vee fanatics seem to remember lo these many years later.

Hosted by Roald Dahl (who ain't ever gonna get his mug onna English postage stamp!) in an incredibly strange moosh up of Alfred Hitchcock and Rod Serling complete with lit cigarette which he actually puffs away on (no coincidence that L&M sponsored both WAY OUT and THE TWILIGHT ZONE), WAY OUT lives up to the belated hype making it perhaps the best of the early-sixties obscurities that just didn't manage to make the cut into eternal classic tee-vee mayhem. According to the package this grey area item came in, WAY OUT was doing gangbusters as the lead-in to ZONE in the urban areas but flopped elsewhere else, something which would usually make the show a HIT considering how demographics made large-market urban viewership a primary cause for a television success while the rural and old fogey shows like GREEN ACRES and LAWRENCE WELK got the ax because they were drawing too many fuddy duddies in!

This 'un's got some rally great wrap arounds too, what with the simple-enough shoot into the monitor eternity effect used for Dahl's closeups and his stately Welsh accent giving such a demonic delivery that I'm sure most adolescent kids watching woulda thunk "cool!" The control room setting and the visuals almost remind me of those Ernie Kovacs specials from around the same time, and the entire "aura" sure makes a huge impact in that space age way just like all of the other programs sorta blurring the lines between the show's actual production and the behind-the-scenes doings sometimes confusing yourself as to what is supposed to be happening and what actually is. Especially when you're watching these half-asleep during the middle of the night.

WAY OUT's got the same soap opera-y videotaped look as those TWILIGHT ZONEs that were made during whatever strike it was that hadda make that show switch from film, but other'n that these episodes were (well, for the most part) better paced and creepy enough that I'm sure all those "Golden Age of Television" hacks who cum buckets over things like PLAYHOUSE 90 while ignoring real treats like OZZIE AND HARRIET would run home to the comfort of mom's boobies after seeing an episode or two of this fear-monger. "Fade to Black" shoulda induced more'n a few turdler nightmares what with its downright under-the-skin nerve rattling saga about a young femme walk-on being asked to stay for an all-night television filming that turns out to be a li'l more real 'n expected. Even creepier's the one where this henpecked guy actually falls for this headless sideshow "electric lady" who ain't some plastic fixture like the other freaks around. The old "is this a dream or is this real?" trope is worked again in a way more original way than it was even on THE DICK VAN DYKE SHOW.

Hokay, some of 'em are kinda "well, they coulda done better" like the one where character actor Henry Jones's brain in kept alive after death and his wife has some plans of her own what to do with it. But for the most part WAY OUT really delivers on what alla those other anthology spook shows of the late-sixties on only pretended at, and why this 'un got canned so fast is one of the great disasters of sixties television history along with the cancellations of GILLIGAN'S ISLAND and THE HATHAWAYS when their potentials were still going strong or could have developed into a work of classic stature.

The ten out of fourteen total episodes I saw were more'n enough to whet my appetite. Maybe the rest'll turn up somewhere before I totally wind up blithering.

Still doubting? Here's a good 'un that's once again a twist on an old favorite:

AND IN CONCLUSION all I really hafta say is...sheesh, David Susskind was put on this earth for a reason after all!


MoeLarryAndJesus said...

Not his mug, but there was a whole set of UK stamps based on Dahl's work back in 2012. Are you happy now?

Christopher Stigliano said...


Anonymous said...

lol who ever even heard of this dumb show? lol why don't you write about game of thrones? lol because it's popular lol i'll stick to nexflix lol

Anonymous said...

why don't you write about seinfeld? everyone loves that show lol i guess it's too popular for you to consider lol people actually enjoy it lol it's not some old b/w garbage lol

Charles Hodgson said...

Ronald Dahl was from Cardiff, but that ain't a Welah accent. It's the purest English toff - our lords and masters - he was sent to a private school in Weston-Super-Mare, England where I assume he picked it up.
You need to listen to VU's "The Gift" again, now that's Welsh!
Just watching the "False Face" episode on the yootoobs now. That must be the ugliest mug since Moe, Larry & Jesus got roughed up by his local gay bashers!

MoeLarryAndJesus said...

I've never been roughed up, Hoggy. Ugliest mug I've seen is on Ian Paisley.