Welcome to the Friday The 13th The Series rewatch. Each day throughout October, we’ll watch one episode of the seminal 1987 television series and tackle the highs, the lows and Micki’s hair (of course). Now step into Curious Goods and peruse our cursed antiques, won’t you?
S01E04: “A Cup Of Time”
Wikipedia Plot Summary: When a series of deaths of homeless people is brought to their attention, Micki (Louise Robbey) and Ryan (John D. LeMay) discover the murders are connected to popular singer Lady Die (Hilary Shepard). Meanwhile, Jack (Chris Wiggins) must deal with unwanted attention from Birdie (Maxine Miller), a social worker with a crush on him.
- Director: Harvey Frost, who eventually won an Emmy for Avonlea and directed episodes of Melrose Place and Beverly Hills, 90210
- Writer: We have our first female writer! This is the sole writing credit for Barbara Sachs, who would later produce Friday The 13th Parts 7 & 8
- Famous Guest Star: Shepard would go on to play villain Divatox on multiple iterations of Power Rangers
Cursed Antique of the Week: A teacup covered in Swapper’s Ivy, which allows its owner to trade for whatever they desire
Setting: A local (wooded) park that is populated almost exclusively by homeless people
Best Death: While the vines that rise out of the cup to strangle its victims are full of stop-motion goodness, the most memorable death is when Lady Die’s corpse tumbles out of her RV in a state of advanced decomposition
Quirkiest Add-On: Tie!
- Birdie has a weird meet/cute all nighter (with heavy romantic overtones) with the homeless man she nearly murders
- Jack wears a terrible looking toupee when he goes undercover to trick Lady Die into giving up the cup
Character Bits: Jack is working on an experimental food supplemental for mice involving ginseng…for no discernible reason
80s Fashion Closet: Sadly Louise Robey’s hair is kept mostly in check, but Lady Die’s voluminous rocker chic – complete with braided red clip-ons (!!!) – is a sheer (shear?) delight.
Kissing Cousins Incest Watch: After clamping down on their socially inappropriate feelings last episode, the cousins adopt a new flirtation technique that involves hurling gendered comments at each other as though they’ve been married to each other for twenty years. Sample dialogue:
- Ryan (when Micki insists on driving): “The only reason I let you drive is because you look better in the uniform”
- Micki: “Chauvinist!”
It’s a weird, new stage of their relationship that I don’t know if I like.
I’m on the record that this is unequivocally the best episode of the show since the pilot.
There’s something so delightfully fun about the retro Disney vibes that “A Cup Of Time” gives off. An old woman discovers the fountain of youth and after adopting a new, youthful appearance, she decides to become a glamazon rock star who murders homeless people in between cranking out hit singles out of appropriated nursery rhyme lyrics. Like, what?!
While Lady Die’s motivation in “A Cup Of Time” isn’t particularly complicated — or fleshed out for that matter — it is reminiscent of Snow White‘s Wicked Witch, right down to the dark robe and the offer of something nourishing to young people in the woods. The use of Kristen (Lisa Jakub), the pickpocketing child, also evokes a fairytale.
Throw in a ridiculously convoluted story that zigs and zags and “A Cup Of Time” feels like it has the episode with the most narrative meat on its bones thus far. With so much going on, the pace also zips along (compared to, say, the slog that was “The Poison Pen“). Unlike other instalments of the series that feature the same repetitive conflict, Sachs’ script repeatedly offers unexpected new developments such as Kristen’s pickpocketing of the cursed object, Birdie’s surprise break-in at Curious Goods and Jack’s toupee disguise after Micki and Ryan are taken out of the equation by the police.
Also: did I mention that there’s a rock version of “I’m A Little Teapot”? Classic!
What Doesn’t Work…
Considering that this is the first episode with a female villain, it’s a tad disappointing that there is not one, but two age-and-beauty obsessed murderesses (or near murderess) at large in “A Cup Of Time.” This is, sadly, reflective of the narratives that Hollywood churns out about women, which suggests that they are all shallow and vain about their appearance. Is it representative of the time? Perhaps. That doesn’t mean it isn’t still a touch reductive.
“A Cup Of Time” also suffers from a string of very forced character introductions. Birdie arrives in the store and is greeted as though she’s a main character whom we’ve never met. Grumpy — and terrible at his job — Lieutenant Fishbein (Richard Fitzpatrick) similarly seems like he will become a recurring character: the group’s foil on the force who they butt heads with on different cases. And yet after a quick search, it is clear that neither character reappears! It’s a very odd decision to write characters as though they will be sticking around when that’s clearly not the case.
Finally, the flip side of the speedy pace means that there are a bunch of plot contrivances that don’t entirely make sense. The most egregious occurs at episode’s end when Micki and Ryan are arrested by Fishbein for Birdie’s attempted murder, but they are free in the very next scene to join Jack at Lady Die’s caravan in time for the final reveal. How did that happen?!
Stream of Consciousness Musings
- Birdie’s introduction finds her literally just walking into the store like she’s there every day
- How are Micki and Ryan able to just walk into the morgue while a body is being examined? It’s almost as preposterous as Micki challenging Fishbein with this line: “We were just wondering why so many people are being murdered in our neighbourhood?”
- It’s disappointing that Fat Eddie is name-dropped, but we only seen his skeleton
- I may have cackled when Kristen, a child of approximately seven or eight years old, pushes Micki, a full grown woman, over and then is nearly hit by Ryan’s car
- Ryan’s exchange with Birdie about age is also pretty funny. Ryan: “I think age is all in the mind.” Birdie: “Too bad you need a young mind to think that way!” Sick burn, Birdie
- I’m completely unsure why the conversation between Kristen and the Lady Die groupie outside of the radio station exists, but it is extremely bizarre. Kristen asks if the woman’s costume hurts to sleep on. Her reply: “Only when I roll on my face”. Ok then!
- Nice touch giving Kristen a Tales From The Crypt comic considering how much Friday The 13th The Series is indebted to the older property
- The slasher POV shots in this episode really work for me, even when it’s used in bait and switch scenes like Kristen being chased by Micki and Ryan
- The Showgirls fan in me almost fell off the couch at the line “Who ate all of the chips?” Who knew that one of the most notorious films of the 90s drew inspiration for ones of its oddest lines from little olde Friday The 13th The Series? (That’s rhetorical; don’t @ me)
- I like the twist that it is Birdie and not Lady Die who steals the cup from Curious Goods, but it is a really odd twist for the kindly old woman to nearly become a murderer. That’s not even the strangest development of this section of the episode, which finds the older woman spend the rest of the night chatting with her would-be victim. SO WEIRD
- Also: the amount of salivating that people have for tea in this episode is confounding. No one in North America likes tea that much!
- Kudos to the makeup team for Lady Die’s progressively deteriorating look. It’s obviously just prosthetics and wigs, but it looks pretty good
- Sachs should be ashamed of ending the episode with such a terrible Dad Joke: “Do you wanna play tea party?” Oh ha ha ha! Ugh
See you back here tomorrow for Friday The 13th The Series episode five: “Hellowe’en” when Uncle Lewis returns (FUCK YES)