The Ray Bradbury Theater 1.4 – The Town Where No One Got Off

Well, the debut episode of this show was a little unpromising, but we soldiered on and I enjoyed the fourth installment very much. The kid thought it was very strange and creepy, and he was absolutely right. In “The Town Where No One Got Off,” Jeff Goldblum’s character gets argued off a train by a loudmouth played by Cec Linder, who says that if bleeding heart small town apologists like him think that rural life is so bucolic, why not get off the train and see what happens. Goldblum has nothing better to do for a couple of days, conveniently, so he does just that, and steps off into the least friendly town in Canada.

I just thought this was really interesting. There might have been a Little Town With a Big Secret trope at play here, but we never learn what that Big Secret is; everybody is just an unbelievably hostile jerk. The installment was filmed on location in the small village of Alton. About eight years earlier, the producers of The New Avengers had semi-successfully turned the town of Vaughn into looking like a mountain range full of stereotypes separated it from Toronto. Alton is admittedly a good deal further out than Vaughn, and I’m sure that thirty-five years ago it was even more isolated, but this feels so far out that I’m reminded of those counties in Oregon so far east of Portlandia that they want to secede and join Idaho because they’re sick of them big city lib’ruls.

This town – and remembering that it’s not meant to really be Alton, but rather a place called – wait for it – Erewhon – is almost totally abandoned, and the producers did a good job shooing the actual residents out of sight so that six actors could take turns snarling at Goldblum. One old guy finally starts talking to Goldblum, who’s grown a mighty eighties mullet since we last saw him in Buckaroo Banzai, made the year before. Then things really ratchet up, and honestly only an actor as unpredictable as Goldblum could make the resolution work. I won’t pretend it’s entirely satisfying, but it certainly was fun to watch.

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