Main cast: Steven Weber (Dale Sweeney), Rita Wilson (Jess Gilchrist), Ally Walker (Elaine Tillman), Vincent Schiavelli (Robert), Nick Angotti (Copard), Frank Kopyc (Climsky), Starck Pierce (Dancer), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Manny Coto
Right off the bat, it is obvious that journalist Dale Sweeney is a terrible, terrible person. He addresses himself in third person. Also, he callously dismisses the woman he slept with the night before, causing her to scream at him. He treats his colleague Climsky badly, claiming arrogantly that he’s always going to be a superior journalist to that man. But when he misses one assignment too many due to his drunken shenanigans, his editor Elaine fires him. Because he’s an asshole, I suppose he gets what he deserves when his electricity is cut because he didn’t pay the bill, and eventually he is evicted from his home too.
No matter. He is currently covering the mystery of various homeless people turning up dead on the streets. These people are given burial by the charity organization Grateful Homeless Outcasts and Unwanted Layaway Society (GHOULS), run by former homeless folks who eventually had done well for themselves and are now wanting to pay it forward. Dale seduces their spokesperson Jess for information, only for her to find him trying to record their post-coital talk. Boy, this guy is not very slick, is he? No matter, a homeless person named Robert claims to have vital information on whom this killer could be, if only Dale would meet him at the cemetery at a date and time (night, of course) of Robert’s choosing.
Will Dale remember to show up, and if he does, what exactly will he find anyway?
Manny Coto is no stranger to genre TV, and Mournin’ Mess, which he scripted as well as directed, is one of the most enjoyable episode in this series so far. Steven Weber is the perfect guy to play an unlikable, arrogant, smarmy sleazebag – let’s just say his “I’ve stopped bathing since 1973” demeanor is exactly what the role needs – and the episode is deftly paced, with Hitchcock-like build-up (and even music!) all the way to the denouement. I have to say that the denouement feels a little out of place in how cartoon-like it is compared to the rest of episode, but it’s a fine, oh so deliciously wicked way nonetheless to cap off a well-acted, well-directed, well-paced, well… great episode. It has pretty much everything: a satisfying comeuppance of an asshole, creepy villain, some female nudity, and puns galore that nonetheless fit well without making the episode feel too cartoon-like.
If you can only watch a few episodes of this series, make this one one of them.