Whatcha Watchin'?


Decades is bingeing the Alfred Hitchcock Hour this weekend, and I just saw a marvelously disturbing episode from 1964 called “The Jar.”

Look at the credits!

Director: Norman Lloyd
Writer: James Bridges, based on a short story by Ray Bradbury
Music: Bernard Herrmann

Pat Buttram
Collin Wilcox Paxton
William Marshall
Jane Darwell
Carl Benton Reid
James Best
George Lindsey
Jocelyn Brando
Slim Pickens
Billy Barty

The story is that Pat Buttram buys a jar from Billy Barty at a carnival. The contents are mysterious. Pat Buttram becomes famous in his small town because of his jar. Everyone sees its contents as something different and it tends to make people very emotional. Then things start to get strange.

The jar and its contents is a marvelous prop. It appears to contain something like a head with hair on it, but not quite.

And let’s talk about George Lindsey. I saw him in an episode of Alfred Hitchcock Presents some time ago in which he played a “heavy.” I found him to be very convincing and threatening in that role. Here, in this program, he plays a small-town simpleton and he has a monologue where he describes an episode from his past that will destroy you. In short, he is more than just “Goober,” he has range! He can act.


so very late to this movie (on par for me, really), but i just watched HER. it was good, interesting, and so very messed up. but in a good way, i guess? i mean, if this is our future, we’re definitely in trouble and will be so damaged as humans, but on the other hand, the tech is really cool… so yay?


I saw that probably 25-30 years ago. Your mention of it brought the images right back into my mind. And the name Thedy, which I don’t think I’ve ever seen or heard other than that episode. They made some powerful shows back then.


The tech is cool and mostly plausible. I wasn’t sold on the ghostwritten letters thing, but I could see it being trendy in certain circles – it was more I couldn’t imagine getting into it myself.

Loved the subtle costuming, and the dialogue.


yeah, the ghostwritten letters thing was really strange. i kept saying, “so WHAT does he do, exactly? and people pay them to do that? and he’s paid so well to do it that he has this incredible corner apartment in a high-rise in LA? huh.”

also, related, i was confused how a book of his ghost-written letters could be self-published without some sort of breach of contract with his company, since as far as i know they would own the rights to them since he wrote them while in their employ – but maybe laws have changed by then, or something.

also, the pants were freaking me out!


Thank you! That jumped out at me as well. Even if the company agreed to a release (not bloody likely), I can’t imagine his clients would be very happy to have their “heartfelt” missives become public.


YES, exactly! what in the hell, right?


I’m guessing it must be short for “Theodora.” :thinking:

Yes. Humble television programming was getting quite good by the mid 60s. Then they changed over to color and the writing seemed to decline.


You have to deal with subtitles, but here’s the reason this was so so so good (Season 1 on Amazon).

  1. Major jewelry. Storytelling with jewelry. Some fuckin’ beautiful jewels.

  2. Real life history of some super badass ladies.

  3. Russian history - the inbred simpletons, the crazies, the torture, the spying, it’s all there.

  4. I really like the visual style of this show. They brought something different to the look. I can tell they referenced a lot of art.

There are customer reviews here:

Story telling with major jewelry. Now THAT’S a crown.


Part of the reason may be that, back then, writers who wanted to write for TV had no options but the big networks. Now the most talented have more prestigious choices.

Correlation, causation, blah blah. Certainly you can point to examples such as The Twilight Zone, but I submit for your approval Black Mirror, which is as good or better IMO.

I think the decline happened, or at least accelerated, when Marvel started stealing the series titles from better 1960s shows. :grin: See: The Avengers, The Defenders. (The latter was a CBS series about a father/son team of defense lawyers that explored legal and social issues. Someone should just pick up the rights and show the original episodes again. The issues are still the same.)


It’s actually really, really dark and quite depressing. I won’t say more because spoilers but Mrs Cynical and I were a bit shellshocked after the finale. Bleak.


edited because I didn’t check which post you were replying to


Ah sorry, should have quoted. Black Mirror is amazing (and amazingly depressing) but I was actually referring to the new season of Archer. There are some real world events that set up the central conceit of the season and it’s just hugely sad as a result. Funny as ever (and probably a bit smarter than most of the other seasons) but daaamn.

It’s a bit dusty in here, that’s all. Just dust. Ahem.


In 2010, Christie’s auctioned this broach from Catherine the Great’s collection.



The penultimate episode of Orphan Black.
Holy shit. The writers do like their creepy and bloody hospital/mutilation scenes.




Here is the real thing. It weighs almost five pounds.


I was thinking of the way it seems to float in front of her head in the picture. But then not all crowned heads are the same size, and alterations must be a bitch.


I think they used paste jewelry in the show, because her crown doesn’t really look dead on like the real thing.

There are several low budget effects in the show, which I actually like a lot; I thought they were done in a way that felt like old school Hollywood studio productions, with a Russian twist. A few people in the reviews didn’t like them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did some cutting and pasting for this scene.

Catherine II wore it for the entire 5 hour coronation ceremony. If it were mine, I’d wear it every day. The pearls on it are gorgeous gorgeous gorgeous and the work is just unbelieveably skilled.


Here’s a photo that shows the quality and selection of the stones.