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'Tales from the Crypt' season 1: A nondefinitive episode ranking

Let’s be real: All episodes of the first season of Tales from the Crypt are solid. But before we begin our journey into its sophomore season, let’s switch things up with an episode ranking on season one. I’ll state my case for each, but feel free to disagree. In three, two, one …

1. “And All Through the House” (1.2)

Tales from the Crypt - And All Through the House
This Robert Zemeckis–directed gem is certainly not the cleverest or goriest, but the simple intruder story resonates. And to horror fans, this Tales from the Crypt episode is a holiday tradition—not unlike the Roseanne Halloween episodes. Seriously, what says holiday horror more than a psycho, axe-wielding Santa Claus? There’s sex, murder, isolation, and thrilling screams from the late, great ’80s mom Mary Ellen Trainor.

2. “Dig That Cat … He’s Real Gone” (1.3)

Tales from the Crypt - Dig That Cat

In truth, this episode is a close second in ranking. While the above scary Santa story is a holiday ritual, “Dig That Cat” sets the standard for the basic structure of a Tales from the Crypt episode. There’s a little comedy, plus a surprise ending where the often unlikable protagonist gets his or her just desserts. While many twists can be visible way ahead of a story’s final scene, this one’s ending actually came as a delightful shocker. Plus, there’s a bit of social commentary for good measure.

3. “Only Sin Deep” (1.4)

Tales from the Crypt - Only Sin Deep

Lea Thompson as a young hooker with zero redeeming qualities? No one is more deserving of the Crypt treatment. So while the twist predictably lies within the loss of her prize possession—her good looks—Thompson is a treat to watch as this horrible person. And let’s not forget about that ’80s-style trying-on-clothes montage. Director Howard Deutch knew how to work that.

4. “Collection Completed” (1.6)

Tales from the Crypt - Collection Completed

While most Tales from the Crypt episodes share a similar feel, this critter-infested story felt a little different—a little off. That being said, Jonas (M. Emmet Walsh) is a close second to Lea Thompson’s Sylvia Vane when it comes to well-deserved retribution. Disgruntled over the affection his wife gives her pets, Jonas kills and stuffs all the poor animals (save for one)! As a hardcore pet lover, this left me uneasy. Thankfully, he gets his own taxidermy treatment in the end. Plus, I still find it fascinating that Mary Lambert directed this and Pet Sematary.

5. “The Man Who Was Death” (1.1)

Tales from the Crypt - The Man Who Was Death

It’s the series’ pilot episode, so it’s going to be a little different—and it’s a good episode—but “The Man Who Was Death” often plays it a little too straight. William Sadler’s prison-executioner-turned-vigilante is all mean, no fun (but Sadler plays it brilliantly). And while there’s a lot of great narrative dialogue, and Sadler’s character sticks to the bad-guy-gets-it-in-the-end Tales trope, maybe this one is just a little too dark and dirty for the first episode—because most episodes in the Tales from the Crypt pool are easy, breezy, gory fun.

6. “Lover Come Hack to Me” (1.5)

Tales from the Crypt - Lover Come Hack to Me

Again, there aren’t too many episodes that are flat-out bad—and this isn’t one of them! It’s entertaining to see Amanda Plummer’s meek Peggy transform into a sexified axe killer. And I totally dig the bit of crazy-angled family feminism thrown in at the end—the tradition of marrying a bad dude; consummating the marriage for a child; and killing the husband. That all works. Maybe I just didn’t need the dream-like flashbacks to reinforce or hint at what Peggy’s family was up to. Either way, it’s still solid.

Tales from the Crypt season one is a wrap! Now, on to the next …

Tales from the Crypt

TV Families | EW.com
Mark Harris
February 23, 1990 AT 05:00 AM EST

The Bradys are back, with a passel of 90’s hassles. Do they represent the typical American Family? Did they ever? Who does? Stare and compare!

Kind Of Family
TheBradyBunch 1969-74: Blended
The Bradys 1990-: Enormous
Married…With Children 1987-: Postnuclear
Thirtysomething 1987-: Extended
The Flintstones 1960-66: Modern Stone Age

Family Pet
The Brady Bunch: Tiger
The Bradys: Alice
Married…With Children: Buck
Thirtysomething: Grendel
The Flintstones: Dino

Typical Guest Star
The Brady Bunch: Davey Jones
The Bradys: There’s no room
Married…With Children: Sam Kinison
Thirtysomething: Carly Simon
The Flintstones: Ann Margrock

Expression Of Joy
The Brady Bunch: Groovy!
The Bradys: Ritual hugging
Married…With Children: ”Oh, great.”
Thirtysomething: ”Of course I’m happy for you. Really. But what about me? Why does it always have to be about you?
The Flintstones: ”Yabba-dabba doo

Expression Of Rage

The Brady Bunch: ”Hmmm…”
The Bradys: ”If you back away from something you really want, then you’re a quitter!” (the angriest any Brady has ever been)
Married…With Children: ”Aaagh, God, take me from this miserable life!”
Thirtysomething: ”I’m not angry, OK?”
The Flintstones: ”Willllmaaaa!”

Typical Problem
The Brady Bunch: Marcia and her rival both want to be the prom queen.
The Bradys: Bobby gets paralyzed.
Married…With Children: Al doesn’t buy his family Christmas presents.
Thirtysomething: Nancy gets cancer.
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney are staying out too late.

Typical Solution
The Brady Bunch: The prom committee decides to have two queens.
The Bradys: Bobby gets married.
Married…With Children: They hate him.
Thirtysomething: If only we knew…
The Flintstones: Wilma and Betty decide to follow them.

House Style
The Brady Bunch: Conservative but mod, circa ’69
The Bradys: Conservative but mod, circa ’90
Married…With Children: Roach motel
Thirtysomething: Enviable
The Flintstones: Suburban cave

Clothing Style
The Brady Bunch: Early Osmonds
The Bradys: Made in the USA
Married…With Children: Flammable fabrics
Thirtysomething: Eclectic earth tones; nice ties
The Flintstones: One-piece

Most Annoying Character
The Brady Bunch: Alice’s cousin Emma, the substitute housekeeper (too strict)
The Bradys: Marcia’s husband, Wally (chronically unemployable)
Married…With Children: Steve (supercilious)
Thirtysomething: Ellyn (goes through Hope’s drawers, babbles, changes hairstyle every other week, generally mistreats her friends)
The Flintstones: Mr. Slate (bossy)

Attitude Toward Sex
The Brady Bunch: Never heard of it
The Bradys: Omigod — even Cindy does it!
Married…With Children: Peg: Yes. Al: No.
Thirtysomething: They didn’t get all those kids by accident.
The Flintstones: Prehistoric

How Spouses Fight
The Brady Bunch: They don’t.
The Bradys: Infrequently, but it happens
Married…With Children: Tooth and nail
Thirtysomething: They stop talking
The Flintstones: Fred and Barney go bowling while Wilma and Betty max out their charge cards.

How Kids Get Into Trouble
The Brady Bunch: Greg takes a puff of a cigarette.
The Bradys: Carol’s grandson steals her business cards and sticks them in the spokes of Bobby’s wheelchair.
Married…With Children: By committing felonies
Thirtysomething: Ethan plays with a forbidden toy rocket.
The Flintstones: They don’t.

How They’re Punished

The Brady Bunch: ”It’s not what you did, honey — it’s that you couldn’t come to us.”
The Bradys ”Next time, ask.”
Married…With Children: By the authorities
Thirtysomething: It blows up in his face.
The Flintstones: They’re not.

What Family Does For Fun
The Brady Bunch: Takes special three-part vacations to Hawaii and the Grand Canyon
The Bradys: Has flashbacks
Married…With Children: Exchanges insults
Thirtysomething: Talks
The Flintstones: Attends showings of The Monster at the Bedrock Drive-In

Unsolved Mysteries
The Brady Bunch: How exactly did Carol’s first husband and Mike’s first wife die?
The Bradys: What’s with Marcia’s new face and Bobby’s blonde hair
Married…With Children: What kind of hair spray does Peg use?
Thirtysomething: Why did Nancy take Elliot back? What do Gary and Susanna see in each other?
The Flintstones: How does Barney’s shirt stay on if he has no shoulders? Where do Fred and Wilma plug in their TV?

Worst Behavior
The Brady Bunch: The Brady children once made Alice feel under-appreciated.

The Bradys: Marcia’s son Mickey watches Bobby’s car-crash tape for fun.
Married…With Children: The Bundy’s kill their neighbor’s dog.
Thirtysomething: Elliot has an affair and talks about it.
The Flintstones: Characters don’t wear under-clothes.

Best Reason To Watch
The Brady Bunch: This is what life should be.
The Bradys: They’re all grown-ups now!
Married…With Children: Terry Rakolta hates it.
Thirtysomething (Tie) This is your life. This isn’t your life.
The Flintstones: This is what life might have been.

Best Reason Not To Watch
The Brady Bunch: Blurred vision from rerun overdoses.
The Bradys: You’re all grown-ups now.
Married…With Children: She has a point.
Thirtysomething: After a while, you think it’s real.
The Flintstones: The Simpsons

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