Main cast: Sam Waterston (Havelman), Judy Davis (Dr Deanna Evans), Allison Hossack (Kelly Prosky), Tom Butler (Warren Geslow), Robert Moloney (Pierce), Terence Kelly (Goldstone), Garry Chalk (General), Peter Bryant (Dr Gavin), and Stephen Hawking (The Host)
Director: Mark Rydell
Masters of Science Fiction is the less successful companion series to Masters of Horror, probably because more people prefer nudity and gore to preachy anti-nuclear, anti-Republican sermons masquerading as science fiction. Not that there is anything necessarily wrong with the latter, and A Clean Escape, an adaptation of John Kessel’s story of the same name, hovers somewhere in between the two extremes.
Psychiatrist Dr Deanna Evans is dying – her cancer has spread all over her body, so she has a few months left to live. This only intensifies her determination to help Havelman, a jovial man who for some reason is unable to remember anything that happened in the last twenty-five years. The two of them have their sessions while being monitored by what seems like laboratory personnel in a top secret facility. What is going on here? Well, bombshells will be dropped as the episode progresses.
This is one episode that works because of the cast. Sam Waterston is excellent as the mentally disturbed man who veers from gaily carefree demeanor to increasingly stressed and pressed, and it’s fascinating to see his transformation into a more menacing figure as the episode progresses. Judy Davis is also great as a frantic psychiatrist who is barely able to hold herself together. However, the script is also bogged down with hokey, preachy speech points masquerading as conversations, and once everything is revealed, this episode turns out to be another rehash of a played out science fiction premise. The hokey flashback scenes and several scenes of circular conversations further bog the episode down.
In the end, watch A Clean Escape is adequate to pass the time watching, but be prepared to be bowled over more by the cast than the story itself.
Oh, and what’s with the unnecessary and awkward scenes of Stephen Hawking playing the host of each episode, and adding absolutely nothing but cringe into the whole show?