Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Earlier this month, the actress Patricia Breslin passed away. I only knew of her from an episode of 'The Twilight Zone', but she starred in the series 'The People's Choice' as Amanda Peoples, the love interest for Sock Miller (Jackie Cooper). She also had long-running roles in 'Peyton Place' and 'General Hospital', plus a slew of guest-starring roles.

At the time of her death, I didn't have the proper hook to pay her credit with a Hat Squad tribute. (The days when I had the time to post the full TV output from a recently departed contributor to Toobworld are gone, I'm afraid.) I've only seen clips from 'The People's Choice' as it was a series before my time.

However, Monday was Halloween, and Antenna TV celebrated by hosting a marathon of episodes from 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents'. One of those was "Crooked Road" and the stars were Richard Kiley, Walter Matthau, and Ms. Breslin.

It's my intention to link her two characters from 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' and 'The Twilight Zone' together to become the same individual. Upon first consideration, this may seem like it would be violating the rule of Occam's Razor (the simplest splainin is the best) when it would mean finding a reason why/how a woman could change her name, lose one husband, and gain another in the space of two years. But it's the twist ending to that "Crooked Road" episode that makes it pozz'ble, just pozz'ble.....

In October of 1958, Mr. and Mrs. Harry Adams were on the outskirts of Robertsville, a town in the deep South. This would be a fictional town in Toobworld. There is a Robertsville in Missouri, but that would then make it more a part of the Midwest....
Because of the machinations of Sheriff Chandler, the Adamses found themselves caught in a rigged speed trap which led to Mr. Adams being beaten and to his paying out a lot of money in court fees and repair charges.

After escaping their ordeal in Robertsville, it turned out that things couldn't have gone better for Mr. and Mrs. Harry Adams.


From this point on, there will be spoilers. Be so advised: if you're planning on one day watching this episode, you may want to return after you've done so.

So! On with the show, this is it!

It turns out that Mr. and Mrs. Adams were not from New York. They were not actually married. And "Adams" was not their true surname.
They were two agents from that state's transportation department who were working undercover to expose the level of corruption in Robertsville.

"Mrs. Adams" was actually named Pat, and she was enaged to be married to a young man named Don Carter.

Again, there be spoilers ahead. Proceed with caution. (Although I think it more likely the majority of my audience has seen this episode.)

The Toobworld timeline jumps ahead two years - it's November of 1960 and Don and Pat Carter are in the town of Ridgeview, Ohio, during their honeymoon. This is not their intended destination in which to celebrate their nuptials, but it's just a temporary stopover while their car gets repaired after a blow-out.
But they almost end up never leaving Ridgeview because their booth at the local diner has one of those "Mystic Seer" fortune-telling machines. And it's ambivalent answers soon grip Don's superstitions to the point where he's racked with insecurities and afraid to ever leave until he gets the okay from the Devil's Head predictions.

It takes the full force of Pat's love to finally break Don free of the hold that Mystic Seer has on him and they finally leave the diner to begin their new life together. But after they leave we see that another couple in their later years never did break free of that fortune-teller's power over them as they once again try to get a definitive answer on their fate from the machine......
If someone had seen that 'Alfred Hitchcock' episode first and remembered Pat Breslin's role once they then saw the 'Twilight Zone', maybe they might have thought the opening of "Nick Of Time" was a continuation of her investigations in "Crooked Road". But Ridgeview is no Robertsville - it's a small town of decent people who aren't to blame when a simple novelty penny-waster plays hob with people's lives.

Once the Carters drove out of Ridgeview, their lives could have continued in a long span of wedded bliss.... Or they could have had a fatal car accident that killed them just fifty miles outside of town. Who's to say what happens in the Toobworld timeline once characters exit the view of the audience in Trueniverse?
Maybe Don eventually died, or he and Pat got a divorce. And then one of her other TV characters who appeared after that T-Zone episode was the representative of her new life. It would mean that her name of "Pat" must have just been a nickname. And that new last name? Maybe she reverted to her maiden name after the divorce. Or maybe she remarried after the death of Don Carter and this would be her new last name.

There would be so many candidates for this Patricia Breslin character to continue existence in Toobworld: guest star roles in shows like 'Perry Mason', 'The New Breed', 'Saints And Sinners', 'The Greatest Show On Earth'... even 'The Alfred Hitchcock Hour'.

Shows like 'Doctor Kildare', 'The Donna Reed Show' and another episode of 'Alfred Hitchcock Presents' would make for good candidates because the characters were only addressed by their first names - Marion, Millie, and Margo, respectively. (She must give off an "M"-name vibe.....)

If there had only been a TV show in which she appeared as just "Mrs. Somebody", we could fall back on the excuse that this was her new last name after remarrying and that her first name must till be "Pat".

It could even be a role she played that would fall between her other two roles on the Toobworld timeline. If it played out right, she could have been on another undercover assignment somewhere in the country before she married Don.

But I haven't seen any of these episodes - or did so in the distant past and I just don't remember the details. I'd rather see the episodes again rather than rely on episode guides, no matter how detailed, to see if any of Ms. Breslin's other roles had the right feel to continue the legacy of Pat Carter/Mrs. Adams.

I don't want to take any chances, no matter how much the Mystic Seer encourages me......
But in the meantime, there's this: two-thirds of her requirements completed for entry into the TV Crossover Hall of Fame. And there are so many TV characters, like Jose Chung* of 'Millennium' and 'The X-Files', who may never see their induction become reality.

It's not like winning an Emmy, true. But it would be nice if I could help contribute to her TV immortality in a very small way.

But in the meantime, there is her oeuvre of work that will keep her "alive" to the viewers who discover her long after her passing.

Good night and may God bless.

* An open plea to some enterprising TV producer out there: Please put a copy of Jose Chung's book "From Outer Space" in plain sight in an episode of your TV series so that we can finally get this great character played by Charles Nelson Reilly into the Hall!

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