Main cast: Donald O’Connor (Joseph Renfield), Patricia Charbonneau (Ellen Renfield), Zach Galligan (David), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Kevin Yagher
Joseph Renfield was once a famous puppeteer who had his own show during the days of black and white TV. His time has long passed, and now he is restless and listless, spending his time carving and talking to his puppets, especially Coco, the most famous of his puppets, when he’s not watching his own shows again and again. He has enough money to live very comfortably, but he’s not happy.
Meanwhile, his beautiful and much younger wife Ellen is trying her best to be supportive, although she is not too pleased about how his paranoia and jealousy constantly drives away her friends. She insists on going for her acting classes once a week, saying that those classes are her only means to meet people and socialize, and as you can guess, he stews under the assumption that she’s out there having orgies with younger men during her evenings out.
Things seem to improve when he is invited to be part of a TV show that celebrates the golden age of television. Joseph is eager to get back into business – perhaps he may even get to make a comeback – so he decides to come up with a new routine instead of rehashing his old tricks. Concerned about the possible strain of the effort on his health (Joseph has a weak heart), Ellen recommends roping in a friend from her acting class, David, to help. David is a puppeteer too, although he’s more into animatronics instead of old-fashioned marionettes.
It isn’t long before David and Joseph get along swimmingly. At the same time, however, Ellen becomes paranoid over David’s true intentions towards her husband, while Joseph becomes increasingly convinced that Ellen is having an affair. Will David’s presence only tear this couple apart? Are there truths behind the couple’s suspicions of one another, or will their paranoia lead them into committing all kinds of painful mayhem?
Strung Along is always going to be an episode about moments. There is a laugh-out-loud funny scene of Joseph teaching David on how to manipulate puppet strings, their conversation so heavy-laden with double meanings that, if one listens to them with eyes closed, one could swear Joseph is teaching the younger man how to play with his pee-pee. The final scene towards the end is appropriately gruesome, and, of course, every scene involving that scary-ugly Coco thing can bring on the creeps.
But the episode itself is forgettable, mostly because it is determined to stick to predictable, tired old clichés as part of the “twist”. It’s not really a twist when this episode just rehashes the twists that have already been used in many other previous episodes, is it? Surprise! The “twist” is that Ellen is yet another Tales from the Crypt whore-wife plotting with her lover David on offing Joseph and getting their hands on his money. If the episode had avoided this tired lame “twist”, and resorted to other, less used-so-many-times-already twists instead, Strung Along might have been a fun, memorable episode. As it is, it’s just as okay episode with some good scenes and not much else.