Thursday, March 19, 2009

Must See TV

Submitted for your approval are two ultra-rare issues of television programming magazines featuring the infamous teleplay Spiders Come Back, initially broadcast back in February of 1964 on the syndicated thriller anthology series Mysterious. The episode so horrified the audiences of the day that the U.S. Government itself took an unusual step and interceded, forcing the network to cancel the show or face the possible loss of their broadcasting licenses. Originally scheduled to be shown nationwide, after the east coast debut the show was preempted and not broadcast to the rest of the network time zones. In the annals of broadcast history, the intervention of the government over the content of what would be by today's standards a typical horror show is comparable to the censorship of the classic Judgment at Nuremberg, when the sponsor, a maker of gas kitchen ovens, successfully lobbied to have any reference to 'gassing' removed from the script.

As the new hostess of Mysterious, Hayley Mills gave introductory and epilogue framing sequences to teleplays, similar to those offered by Boris Karloff as the host of Thriller and Alfred Hitchcock for his part in The Alfred Hitchcock Mysteries. The producers of Mysterious also made use of the Hitchcock model, in which the host would appear for a short epilogue to assure audiences (and the censors) that the antagonist did indeed pay for their crimes, even though the actual feature usually ended with the evil-doer triumphant. The use of this device in Mysterious however did nothing to mollify the government censors. They acted swiftly to ensure Spiders Come Back and the then shocking themes of murder, abortion, homosexuality, adultery and the re-animated dead would never be again broadcast. It was possible that hostess Hayley Mills, though a fine and talented actress, was unable to convey the same air of gravitas when winding up a tale as her fellow hosts Karloff and Hitchcock so effortlessly conveyed. Disappointed with the cancellation of Mysterious, Hayley would leave television to star in several blockbuster films for Disney, proving the adage that the best revenge is to live well. A fine epilogue of her own story.


  1. Ms. Mills unable to convey the same air of gravitas as Boris Karloff and Alfred Hitchcock? Preposterous! **hrumph**

  2. While her acting skills are not in question, her adorableness negates seriousness.

  3. I would think that would be of no consequence, as Ms. Mills is seriously adorable.

  4. wow...where can i get this show? i gotta have it now! that little boy with the 8 eyes freaks me out!!!

  5. There are currently no plans to release this show on DVD, and it has never been transferred to VHS.


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