Main cast: Richard Jordan (Charles McKenzie), Jon Polito (Nikos Stano), Richard Herd (Phil Stone), John Capodice (Mike), Rutanya Alda (Mildred), Marg Helgenberger (Vicki), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Walter Hill
Deadline is directed by Walter Hill, who also directed the very first episode of Tales from the Crypt, and just like that episode, this one is all about shady people, and it also has the protagonist breaking the fourth wall by narrating things to the audience.
Charles McKenzie is a freelance newspaperman who has just lost his job. He then tells his story: he would do anything for a story, but that’s a tough one as his alcoholism keeps getting in the way and his career is on a downward spiral as a result. When the episode opens, he meets an attractive woman, Vicki, at his favorite drinking hole. His attraction to her makes him feel like he’s 25 again, he claims, and he soon considers getting his act together just for her. Unfortunately, everyone from his sister to old contacts are skeptical about his claims to have given up drinking, and Phil Stone reluctantly gives him a gig on the condition that he brings in a scoop on any kind of murder case. As the clock ticks and people keep hanging up on him, Charlie becomes increasingly desperate… until the owner of a diner he is in gets into a fight with the wife and apparently kills his wife in anger.
If you can guess the “twist” of this episode just by going with my synopsis, yes, that’s how predictable this episode is. The whole thing takes a long time to get to an eye-rolling, predictable twist, and then, to add insult to the injury, it pulls out a “shocking” last scene right out of its ass in a “Let’s jump from A to Z while skipping all the alphabets in between!” way.
The best thing about this episode is the beautiful noir-like set pieces and atmosphere. Oh, and the Crypt Keeper playing a bartender. Perhaps Marg Helgenberger showing some skin, if you’re into that kind of thing. Everything else is pure snooze.