Sunday, September 16, 2018

Friday the 13th: The Series -- Season 1 Episode 17 (The Electrocutioner)

I sometimes wonder how some older movies and TV shows ever made it to market.  Were audiences less demanding?  Did studios and networks not actually watch what they were letting through?  Friday the 13th:  The Series had some good episodes, but there were a few that required you to suspend disbelief.   I think The Electrocutioner has to be the least plausible yet.

The episode starts in 1978.  Eli Pittman is being electrocuted for a crime he maintains he didn’t commit.  They throw the switch, but the chair doesn’t work.  Since they can’t electrocute the same man twice for the same crime, they let him go.  It eventually turns out that he really was innocent.

In 1988, Ryan Jack and Micki are hunting down cursed antiques that Lewis Vendredi sold to people.  Next up is, lo and behold, the electric chair.  It turns out that a doctor has come into possession of it.  That doctor happens to be Pittman, who has changed his name and now become a dentist.  Ten years have passed and Eli is just now getting around to exacting revenge on those that wronged him.

The chair is now cursed.  It can be used to vaporize a victim, who is then turned into electricity.  When Pittman sits in the chair, he can absorb that energy and go out to electrocute someone, such as the warden of the prison he was held at.   Where does he get the victims?  He happens to be the in-house dentist at a reform school.  Many of the students are runaways to begin with, so it’s likely no one will go looking for them.

This seems to me the oddest way of getting revenge.  It might be more difficult to trick someone into the chair, but I would think it’s better than killing some innocent teenager.  One of the teens even admits to liking the dentist, which gives Pittman a reason to pause momentarily.

It also means having to kill twice the people, half of whom had nothing to do with Pittman’s imprisonment and electrocution.  Yes, a man who didn’t kill anyone now kills twice as much as he needs to.  I would think it would have been more efficient to buy a gun.  For that matter, you’d think Pittman would sue the pants off the state and everyone involved.  He probably could have gotten a nice pile of cash.

I also had to wonder why a reform school would have an in-house dentist in the first place.  I don’t know how many children they could have there that it would be worth the effort.  Even if we assume a relatively high turnover rate, it would probably have been simpler to use a nearby dentist.  If they’re going to have a medical staff, I would think psychiatrists.  This seems mostly like lazy writing.  I think they just needed a way to have a large supply of victims that no one would report missing.

Interestingly, they did seem to do some research.  When Pittman tries to electrocute two of the trio in their car, the current doesn’t affect them.  I was under the impression that the rubber tires would prevent something like this, but that’s not necessarily true.  If you’re trapped in a car during a lightening storm, the correct behavior is similar to what is shown in the episode.

This is an episode that I think was supposed to be serious, yet ended up being more laughable.  If you’re watching it, you could probably skip this one.  If it was airing on TV, I wouldn’t feel bad if you were doing something else when it came on.

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