Main cast: David Warner (Dr Alan Goetz), Joan Severance (Rona), Zelda Rubinstein (Nora), Twiggy Lawson (Bonnie), Robert Patrick (Lothar), and John Kassir (The Crypt Keeper)
Director: Peter Medak
So far, the fourth season of Tales from the Crypt has been more meh than yeah, and The New Arrival is going straight into the meh pile. It actually boasts a pretty interesting cast: well-respected TV thespian David Warner, the quirky Zelda Rubinstein, one of the first “skinny” models Twiggy, and of course Robert Patrick. Unfortunately, the script is just an excuse for everyone to screech and scream in a most unflattering manner.
Dr Alan Goetz is a child psychologist whose radio talk show, Good Psychology, sees him abusing the people who call in with all kinds of snippy rudeness. Hey, his bestselling book is titled The Art of Ignoring Your Child, so I suppose that is to be expected.
“Oh, she’s masturbating. Now listen to me: all children rub their genitals for the pleasure it gives them; probably you do too. There’s nothing wrong with it. Ignore it, ignore it, ignore it!”
For some reason I can’t fathom, his show is falling in the ratings and is in danger of being replaced by trashy shock jock Lothar’s show. Heaping verbal abuse on his long-suffering producer Bonnie doesn’t help, and in a stroke of inspiration, he decides to offer his regular caller, Nora, whom he considers “the epitome of the inept parent”, a chance for him to do a sit-in counseling at Nora’s very home. Future episodes will be aired from that place, in something akin to a reality TV show on radio. Nora accepts, so Alan and Bonnie head over there, followed by the radio station manager Rona who is not pleased that Alan may find a reprieve. Rona hates Alan, you see, and she is determined to find any excuse to drop his show.
As you can imagine, given what Tales from the Crypt stands for, Nora and her daughter Felicity are not what they appear to be at first. Nora claims that Felicity’s father is a soldier “currently” fighting the War, while Felicity wears a mask over her head at all times as she misbehaves all over the house. Also the house is booby trapped with all kinds of “harmless” gags and tricks. But Alan is determined that good psychology will beat bad behavior – “any time” – so he’s determined to stay put and prove to the world that he is more than a mere armchair shrink.
The problem with this episode is that there is absolutely no reprieve from the constant absurdity going on. The tone of the episode is off – in many ways, it seems to be aiming for slapstick humor, but at the same time, episode never goes over the top enough to attain that campy vibe to pull off the non-stop absurdity. There is nothing likable or sympathetic about Alan – David Warner plays him too well, perhaps, to the point that the character is just a snarling, blustering mess bloated with undeserved arrogance. Joan Severance’s role is another unlikable, shrieky mess. Twiggy is actually very funny here, but her character remains in the background for too long to amount to anything. Meanwhile, Zelda Rubinstein is hired to basically chew scenery.
As a result, The New Arrival is just an episode of morons running around acting like a drill boring into my skull. The title makes sense after seeing the denouement, but the denouement itself doesn’t make any sense. Therefore, the whole thing is just bleh piled atop of meh.