Saturday, January 17, 2015

TV Terrors: Tales From The Darkside - The Milkman Cometh

It's been a long time since I've reviewed any television episodes.  As a matter of fact the last time was July 12, 2013 when I reviewed The Twilight Zone's classic episode The Invaders!  I think it's time I give some love to the terror tube, considering how much vintage horror/sci-fi/fantasy TV I've been watching lately!  So tonight we're going to take a look at one of it's less talked about episodes:  The Milkman Cometh.  I haven't seen this particular episode probably since it first aired back in the 80's, so it was really quite fun to view it with a fresh pair of eyes.  It was especially fun, as always to see actors that you're familiar with in shows like this. 

The episode revolves around The Cooley Family.  There's the father, Garry (Robert Forster), mother, Ruth (Shannon Wilcox) and son, Sandy (Chad Allen).  One night as Ruth is ironing and Garry is working on his newest ad pitch (apparently he's in marketing), Sandy comes home and asks if he can have a birthday present early because he seems to have lost his watch.  When Ruth replies that he will just have to wait and try looking for his watch, Sandy replies that he'll just ask The Milkman.

 Confused (naturally) Ruth asks him what The Milkman has to do with anything.  Sandy goes on to inform his parents that all over the neighborhood, people are asking The Milkman for things by leaving notes for him in their milk boxes the night before delivery.  Sure enough Ruth scoffs at the idea.  Garry tells his son that he'll buy him a new watch the next day if he still hasn't found it.

Later that night, we see Gary writing a note to The Milkman and putting it out in the milk delivery box.  In the morning, sure as lactose intolerant go-go dancing midgets love chocolate, Sandy has a new watch!  As the episode continues on, we learn that most of the men in the neighborhood are aware of The Milkman's gift giving.  Friends of the family Howard and Edna are over for dinner one night and Howard starts to spill the beans about it.  Garry sends the women to the kitchen and starts to reprimand Howard, until he finds out that Edna knows the deal.  Apparently, Howard has been asking for a new car every week for about two months and the old "I won it in a contest" excuse was running a bit thin.

Everything seems to be going swell for the Cooley's.  Garry's got money coming in (from The Milkman) as well as a ton of great ideas for his novel.  He and Ruth are even expecting the baby girl that they've always wanted.  Ruth is getting a bit suspicious of her husband however and starts to question him about The Milkman.  Garry's been drinking more lately and is a lot more on edge.  One day as he's working on his novel, Howard comes to visit and tells him that Edna is dead.  She died in a car wreck while driving one of his newly won cars. 

I won't spoil the whole thing for you, and will leave off the plot synopsis there.  There's a fun twist to the whole thing and while it's a bit of a slow burn episode, it does have a fun kick at the end that makes it all worth it. 

As I mentioned before, it was fun to see some actors that I recognized.  First of all, there's Robert Forster, whom you may know from a good many different films and shows.  He's been shows like Banyan, Jake & The Fatman and of course Police Story as well as films like Jackie Brown, SuperNova & Me, Myself & Irene!  Even if after looking through these six examples he's not ringing a bell, once you see him you'll go "OH YEAH!  THAT GUY!".

Chad Allen was a popular child star in the 80's, appearing in the show Webster as one of Webster's friends, though I'm sure most people will recognize him more from his roles in St. Elsewhere and Our House.  Though if you're reading this then you're like me and you know him best as Sherman in TerrorVision!  Hell yeah!

Though this was a "slower" episode so to speak, it still had that fantastic Tales from the Darkside vibe that most of the shows carried with them.  To be perfectly honest, this almost felt like it early Stephen King at times, though this episode was penned by Charles L. Grant and Donald Wollner.  Mr. Grant having been a former president and trustee of the Horror Writers that's gotta count for something!

This episode was directed by John Strysik.  Mr. Strysik has not directed a lot of other shows or films, but what he has directed is quite notable:  Six episodes of Tales from the Darkside, one episode of Monsters, three episodes of Land of the Lost as well as several other features.  Most interestingly, a short film in 1980 based on H.P. Lovecraft's The Music of Erich Zann, which I am now on a quest to find and watch!

The Milkman Cometh first aired on January 25, 1987 and is Episode #13 on Season 3. 

*Due to some technical difficulties, I do not have any screen captures of my own right now, so I was at the mercy of the internet to find some screen caps.  Please do forgive me this one time.  I will go back and reinsert my own screencaps at the closest convenience! 


  1. Wow, Matt! Those substandard screen caps just kept pulling me out of the article at hand. lol I think next time you're hard up for some screen caps you should just sketch a few artist's representations as placeholders. I've been hard at work this week making screen caps for an upcoming post on Alone In The Dark (1982), likely a selection for the next Dog Farm live event in May! At last, I'll be taking along my own personal projector - just bought it! Yay!

  2. I know! It's terrible! TERRIBLE! This is not standard of quality that I'm trying to hold Midnight Cinephile to! Of course I haven't been able to post much as of late due to connectivity issues, but here's hoping that February goes a little smoother!
    Good idea with the sketches. I"ll just draw some stick figures to give y'all an idea of what's going on!
    I'll be looking forward to the Alone in the Dark post! That's such a cool flick and I haven't seen it in years!

    Oooh, swanky! What kind of projector did ya get?

  3. A great review of one of my favorite shows. I really enjoy your writing style. Thanks!

  4. Tales is one of my all time favorite shows! So glad you enjoyed!