Thursday, May 15, 2014

Friday the 13th on Almost Tuesday the 13th - Episode 8 - Shadow Boxer

The 13th has come again, who could have seen that coming...

Okay, I didn't. I've been distracted the last week. I was haunted by the idea that there was something I wanted to get done, but nothing clicked. But something needed to dealt with, and I had no bills due. And then it finally hit me Tuesday. ...Which is apt with the story of this episode.

So it's time to move on from bad doctoring to bad pugilism in this episode.

Let's take a look once again at Friday the 13th the Series.

Time to get into the ring with "Shadow Boxer".

Boxing, which gives us a limited number of choices for a cursed item. Evil mouth guard? Sinister ringside bell? Haunted shorts? Ah, gloves, of course.

The cursed gloves of a famed fighter. Something that can give you an edge in taking a guys head off, in and out of the ring.

The show opens on a gym full of boxers...doing boxer things. Hey, I doubt the writer of this episode knows much about boxing either, outside of Rocky and Raging Bull. And to show that, as the camera pans through the gym, we hear a wonderful impersonation of Mickey, from the Rocky movies. He's goading a fighter on to fight harder. This is Manny, of Manny's Gym. He's working with his prized fighter, Kid Cornelius.

"Come on! Punch this bag like it's every writer that's killed off your
character on a show."
Cornelius is played by Philip Akin. Glad to see him here since I've enjoyed him on other Canadian based shows like Highlander the Series, as Charlie DeSalvo, and War of the Worlds, as Norton Drake. He was also in the Swamp Thing show, and voiced Bishop on X-Men: The Animated Series.

Watching all of this is one bitter Tommy Dunn (I don't think Bitter is his fighting name.). He works at the gym, sweeping and cleaning up after everyone. But he wants more. Too bad he's a failed fighter, with lousy fighting skills and more losses than anyone else. He's taken far too many blows to the head.

That might make you think he'd get some sympathy, but no one respects him. You see, he was also muscle for a loan shark for some time. If his lousy attitude wasn't going to turn people off, his history of breaking legs does.

Tommy wants his shot at glory though. He thinks it's due him. But Manny isn't interested in his pipe dreams, which Tommy chooses to read as yet another person not giving him the respect and support everyone owes him.

Tommy goes in Manny's office and picks up some old gloves he has, owned by a former champion fighter (enter the curse object). He wants to use them. They make him feel special when he touches them.

Manny tells him to leave the gloves and get out. But Tommy says that the gloves are special, and will help be the fighter he should be. Seems he is getting a vibe from our cursed item.

He also points out that Manny is just leaving the gloves in a box, unused. That makes me wonder what Manny knows about the gloves. Does he know the trouble they cause, and he's trying to keep them out of use? Has he used them to help out his gym, or himself?

And is what Tommy is feeling unique, or does everyone sense the curse? As I've wondered before, does it call only to those that are corrupt or needy enough to be drawn in? We'll consider that some more later in the show.

Of course Tommy quickly steals the gloves, and tries them out. Once they're on, things start to change. His hands are pulled towards the wall, where he makes contact with his shadow. Sadly, we don't get a Wonder Twins montage now, instead the shadow just steps off the wall and heads out.

"Wonder Mook powers! Activate!"
All of this thrills Tommy. I can't help but wonder what he knows. Does he know what he's set into motion? As the show goes on, at least some of his sense do seem to be tied to what is shadow does. And the shadow will be enacting Tommy's bitter vengeance.

I have to think he appreciates what's about to happen, and doesn't care, as long as he get's his.

So Tommy begins to workout, battering a punching bag. And his shadow? It goes out on the town.

It has one thing on it's...mind? Manny.

So it stalks him through back alleys...and posing a lot behind him. Even his shadow is an idiot.

Look out, Manny! It's Donkey Kong! And he thinks your Mario.
The shadow chases down Manny, and proceeds to beat him. Meanwhile Tommy works out harder and harder, muttering about Manny, as the shadow devastates Manny.

Over at Curious Goods, it's time for the team to be drawn in. For once it isn't a matter of seeing clues in the newspaper. Rather Manny's widow calls up looking to sell some of the memorabilia that Manny had collected over the years. She knew to call them, as he'd bought some of it from the store, back in the good old days.

Uncle Lewis had sold Manny a pair of particular boxing gloves. The gloves of Killer Ken Kelsey. Killer Ken was a champion fighter. But Kelsey killed a man in a title fight, and quit boxing as a result, destroyed by what he'd done.

And seeing as the gloves are in the list of cursed items, they better find them.

They head to the gym to look around. And Ryan comments that he used to box in high school...

I'm not buying it either.

They start looking around, and talk with his widow, but there's no sign of the gloves.

"Well, if you can't find those gloves, we do have some dusty old
sankara stones and arks."
Manny's widow, Sadie, does tell them that Manny did leave a clue to his murder, writing the letters T and O in blood. What is this, Ellery Queen?

"Don't mind me. I'm just getting a shot of your best feature."
With the gloves no where in sight, Micki walks around the gym, snapping shots (It's Micki's thing this episode.) of the boxers...and their gloves. Clever.

As she does this, Tommy decides to hit on her. He's got a lot of new swagger, still no class though. He also has a fight that night,

Before the fight, Tommy talks with a fighter who picks on him, outside the gym. Tommy lets the guy mock him a little, then points and laughs at the guy. (He is really creepy giddy as he walks away from the guy.) I think we see our next victim.

Also, he seems to be picking someone to be murdered, for his own glory.

Inside the gym, Tommy readies for the fight, sending off his shadow, he leaps in the ring.

No, Tommy. You fight that guy behind you...Sigh."
He's amazingly cocky. He let's his opponent punch him repeatedly in the stomach and face, and laughs it off. I'd mock it, but, as I recall, that is Rocky's strategy in all of his movies.

Still, he is seeming impervious. Or, he's taken so many punches to the head in his life, they don't really register anymore. It's 50/50.

But the strategy works, as he's unphased, and he takes down his opponent with a K.O. Outside, Tommy's intended target has been pummeled to death. (It actually is a nice effect of the curse. The murders happen while you are somewhere else, usually with an audience.)

His other glove says LOVER on it.
Also, Micki takes a photo of Tommy's gloves, and sees that he's the one that took the cursed gloves. (And he is TOmmy.) But they are clueless about how he could kill the guy outside while he was in the middle of a fight.

The team decide to search his apartment for the gloves, but he's at home, making that a hard task. Micki comes up with a plan. Lure him out.

"Yeah. Could you not paw me like
your a gorilla?"
So, she calls him up to meet her at a nearby diner. When he gets there he's as creepy as ever. He's eager to touch her hair, grab a hold of her hand, and get her to come back to him place.

"Being threatening isn't charming."
That last one is something she is really not up for, for two really good reasons (Okay, for all the reasons.). Her refusal, sets him off. He looks at her as yet another person who's wronged him.

Yet again, someone hasn't given Tommy what he thinks he deserves. He is whiny, isn't he?

Tommy runs off in a pissy huff. Getting back to his apartment, Tommy finds Jack and Ryan...trying to hide behind a tiny lamp. Guys? Really?

"No way he can see us, Jack. My eyes are closed."
He tosses Jack out of the door, and picks up the cursed gloves, eyeing Ryan.

"Fair warning. I did box in high school."
And as he eyes Ryan, the shadow emerges outside, near Micki. (Guess they didn't need to do a buddy bump this time.) It approaches her, and Tommy approached Ryan.

In response, Micki tries the classic anti-Gremlin ploy. Camera flash attack.

"Have a Kodak moment, shadow!"
The light doesn't do much to the shadow, but once the flash is lit Tommy is left stunned. When he's staggered, the shadow is tripped up as well. (So it is clear he is distinctly tied to the shadow, and shares senses with it.)

As she continues to use the flash, Tommy becomes more disoriented. This gives Ryan an opening to fight back. He isn't able to get the gloves away, but he does get out of the apartment alive.

Micki describes the shadow that attacked her. Based on this, Jack surmises that the shadow splits off the person and acts on the worst desires of a person, killing.

"If I had bigger hair, would it help?"
Now that they have tried and failed to get the gloves, they know Tommy is going to be even more paranoid. So, while at the gym, they talk about how they don't know how to get the gloves now, or how to stop him from killing again.

As they talk about this, Kid Cornelius is listening and hears them say that Tommy killed Manny. Incensed at the idea, he challenges Tommy to a fight that night, so he can get revenge.

The trio decide to take advantage of this opportunity to take down Tommy. Jack goes to Tommy, and tells him that he knows that he stole the gloves. He says he will keep quiet if he gets a payoff. Jack does this assuming it will make him the primary target of the shadow.

So Tommy gets in the ring to fight, and his shadow heads outside to get Jack.

"This is gonna go down like in Rocky." "You know the white
guy lost that fight, right?"
 When the shadow comes at Jack, Micki hits it with a bright lamp, stunning it and Tommy. But it isn't until she gets the car and puts the high beams on the shadow that it's power is thoroughly disrupted.

And inside the ring, the disoriented Tommy gets pummeled by Cornelius.

Tommy's knocked out, and Ryan leaps into the ring to tear off the gloves.

Well, that's an easy end, right? Wait, we have 10 minutes left, and the baddie hasn't been made to pay...more than getting pummeled.

At the shop, Micki is annoyed that Tommy won't face justice for the murders. But there is no way to show he is the killer. Frustrated, Micki heads to bed.

"You know, not all knife wielding
But, somehow, Tommy has tracked them down. He pulls a knife, and threatens Micki.

Tommy demands that the gloves be returned to him. When Jack and Ryan appear, he sends Ryan to get them from the vault, while he holds Micki and Jack.

While they wait, Tommy gets more and more aggressive, threatening to cut Micki, then moving to stab Jack. He keeps growing more agitated, moving towards killing them.

It seems likely he will murder them all.

Ryan races back up, and offers Tommy the gloves. But there is only one glove there.

The other glove is on Ryan's hand, which he uses to immediately sucker punch Jack...

"Not to worry, I have a brilliant plan."
...This is why you never ask Ryan if he has any ideas...

But this sets off the shadow, which attacks Tommy. Ryan continues to punch Jack, and the shadow bashes Tommy.

"Oh! So now even my own shadow betrays me!
Finally, Micki jumps between Jack and Ryan, and pulls the glove off. Jack is half sensible.

"Whatever happens, Micki, never give Ryan any
real power."
And Tommy isn't moving.

So they call an ambulance and take him off.

They're a little vague about what happened to Tommy. Is he dead? Is he in a coma? Is he permanently hospitalized?

All we learn is that doctors had learned he had severe damage from all his fighting, and he was a ticking time bomb.

So they say "it" isn't Ryan's fault.

"Ryan? You better pray I never get my hands on a cursed
But what happened to Jack is his fault. So what happen? Was it all Ryan's idea? Or was there more to it?

Did the gloves call Ryan when he got them? Did they goad him to put them on and take down Tommy, using Jack as a punching bag? Did they take advantage of his fear and desperation?

Maybe they did.

He rationalized what he was doing after Tommy was knocked out, but he was pretty passionate while he was whaling on Jack, screaming at him to get up. He might not have been all there once the gloves were activated. He does seem possessed. (He was also not joking about using them again at the end of the episode. He seemed very bothered for once about what had happen.)

Whichever way it worked out, it was a lesson. Also, it's the first time we see the trio use a cursed item in there work. That's a very slippery slope with some "useful" items they will be acquiring.

Overall, the episode is creepy, but a little flat. It feels somewhat uninspired. Maybe the setting of the gym wasn't used as well as it could have been used.

Still, the gloves sending out a killer shadow was interesting. As is the ending with them turning the cursed item on the villain. It makes for a nice twist.

But like the gym, the impact of being tempted, and using, the gloves didn't get attention or use that would have helped the horror. If Ryan had used the gloves by the 30 or 35 minute mark, then Micki and Jack could have been left to deal with Ryan and the repercussions. Maybe they have to talk him down, or help him fight the lure of the gloves.

Heck, they could have started the show with the Tommy already having the gloves, and be drawn in by the murders occurring around a local rising fighting star. Then they very early on get the gloves. When Tommy chases them into an alley, Ryan is scared and uses the gloves. Thinking he's killed Tommy, and under the influence of the gloves, he flees. Then most of the episode is Ryan's struggle (and a view of how the cursed items affect people), and Micki and Jack trying to find and save him.

This isn't the best of this series. But if you wanted to see some horror/boxing mixture, this may fill a need.

Still, if you want to take a look at this episode...

Next time it's time for some killer...mulch? We'll have to wait and see, huh?

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