Saturday, July 14, 2012

Nightmare Cafe: The First Three Episodes

I'm not sure how many of you guys remember back in 1992 Wes Craven created a TV show, starring Robert Englund. And no, I'm not talking about "Freddie's Nightmares". I'm talking about "Nightmare Cafe". It aired on NBC and was very short lived. I remember watching most, if not all, the episodes when it aired back in 1992, but now thanks to an awesome hookup, I'm able to relive the show. I've only gotten up to the third episode but only five or six were aired.

The premise, and the pilot of the first episode, revolves around Frank and Fay. I dunno if their names having the same first letter was suppose to mean something or not. Anyway, Fay is about to jump into a body of water when she notices Frank swimming around. She jumps in anyway and soon both Frank and Fay find themselves back on land, but soaking wet. Nearby is the "All Night Cafe" which at times the "All" fades away and the word "mare" shows up. Ooh!

Inside, they find the cafe empty and start helping themselves to food and coffee. I know it's a show about a mystical cafe but this show talked about coffee so many times I was starting to wonder if Coleman Francis wrote this. Anyway, they find a magical TV set that shows them how they were killed. Frank was a night watchman at a chemical plant when he discovered the owner was spilling toxic stuff in the ocean. Ah, early '90s, when that was a major problem. If this is ever remade for modern audiences, I'm sure the problem will be weapons of mass destruction. Or a shipment of Nickelback records.

Anyway, we're not sure what's ever really going on cause the show gets mildly confusing. Despite knowing how they died, we see things happening differently on the magical TV and Frank doing things he didn't do "the first time". Robert Englund's narrator character says the cafe is a place of second chances so I GUESS what's happening is they're redoing the moment they died to give themselves a second chance. So originally they just killed Frank but this second time around, he fights back and THEN dies in an explosion. So much for second chances.

As for Fay, she was dating the owner of the chemical plant (small world) and find out he was cheating on her. She found his secret EVVVVIL plans and threatened to show them to the police. Naturally, the boyfriend chases after her, even showing up at the cafe.

Let's talk about the cafe for a moment. This is a magical place where in the later episodes if you make a wish, it comes true. It's pretty much alive, and can alter time and space. My favorite thing about it is you go through one door and end up somewhere else. Anyway, the boyfriend shows up at the cafe and because he not only cheated on Fay but had Frank killed, decided to do something about him, fucked with his head for a few moments before putting him in jail.

And finally before moving on to the other two episodes, there's Robert Englund's character, named Blackie. I don't recall him having this name in the pilot but whatever. He's supposed to be the narrator/magical guy of the show where his character is a mystery. We never find out what his deal is. The only we know is he become a master of disguise the more the show goes on. More on that in a moment.

At the end of the first episode, through some confusing dialogue, we discover that because they were given second chances, they're not dead...but they are? I dunno, I didn't get it honestly. But they have to stay and "work" in this cafe to help other people that randomly come in and need a second chance. And that's how it ends.

So the second episode deals with a married couple, Angela and Richard. Richard is suppose to be in the mob or something like that and Angela wants to leave Richard. But Angela and Frank fall for each other, like hard core fall for each other. Outside of the cafe, Richard is attacked but he comes in, saying he only got cut.  Later, Frank stalks Angela and soon they're in her house, about to get it on, while Blackie and Fay watches on the magical TV. Wow, the cafe doesn't want you to have any privacy, huh? Maybe in my imagined reboot, the TV is the Patriot Act.

Anyway, a bunch of semi-confusing things happens and we discover that Angela is a black widow, meaning she kills rich men for their money and frame their boy toys for the murders. But then we get another twist...Richard was dead the entire episode! He just was a ghost so Angela gets what she deserved.

The third episode that I've seen involved Fay and her sister Ivy. I guess their mom was in a three-letter-mood at the time of their births. Anyway, Ivy is coming to L.A, where Fay and the Cafe is, to visit after discovering they haven't talked in awhile. Ivy is dating some guy named Jessie, who starts off as kind of a cool guy but the more the episode goes on, the bigger douche he becomes. He starts off small when they stop at a grocery store and he robs the clerk. Then they stop at the diner and here everything stopped making sense.

It's said in the episode that they haven't seen each other in 10 years. But when they see each other in the cafe, neither of them recognize each other. Unless one or both of them gained a lot of weight or got plastic surgery or maybe a sex change, I can't figure out why they didn't recognize each other. At least Ivy didn't recognize Fay. Fay took a few moments but she had help from Blackie. So Ivy is here in the cafe so Fay can help her. Help her with what? Well, like I said Jessie is becoming more and more of an asshole. He talks down to Fay, doesn't accept Frank's help when he offers it, and then to top it off, frames Frank for the robbery and as it turns out murder of the store clerk. And all Frank does in this episode is run around, being chased by cops. This is Fay's episode.

So Jessie makes Ivy get a tattoo, which we never see but we see Jessie's tattoo, which is the most fake tattoo I've ever seen. And for some reason, Blackie is playing the tattoo artist. I wonder if he's using magic ink that causes the tattoo to leave Ivy's body. And that's not the only time Robert Englund gets to flex his acting muscle. There's a scene where he plays an old foreign land lady AND an extremely stereotypical cab driver. If you thought Freddy did some stupid shit, you should see this crap.

Anyway, Ivy arrives at Fay's apartment and turns out Fay was lying about being rich and fucking wealthy men or whatever and this upsets Jessie. Fay asks the cafe to transport her to the apartment to kick Jessie's ass, but Jessie knows to go back to the cafe to not only rob it, but do vague things to Fay! And of course Blackie and Frank isn't around.

Frank ends up getting a ride from Fay and Ivy' mom, who shows up rather pointlessly at the end just so they can have a happy reunion. Blackie transports Jessie into the back of a cop car and this ends the third episode. I will be watching the rest of the episodes I got and report back. If it's anything worth reporting.

So far, this show is a bit slow and kinda confusing. You hear Wes Craven is doing a TV show with Robert Englund called "Nightmare Cafe" and you think "oh shit, shit is gonna be fucked up here!" But this is just a boring version of "Tales From The Crypt" with a cafe setting. I think the cafe is under used in certain episodes and at times it's a bit over used. I'm confused on what their situation is. Are they dead or alive? How long do they have to do this cafe thing? Can they go home at the end of the day? I don't really understand it. And having Robert Englund talk to the camera and give us opening and closing narration just makes me think they wanted to rip off "The Twilight Zone". I guess it just leaves me wanting more. Again, I have to watch the other episodes to see where they went with the whole thing but considering it was cancelled after 5 or 6 episodes, I don't have much hope.


Nolahn said...

I'd heard of this show but somehow missed it. Now I'm not so sure I missed anything.

TheGreatWhiteDope said...

Well, leave it to you to find a show that even *I* never heard of, and I thought that all I watched WAS obscure stuff! Good write-up, pally.

Oh, and by the way, you just won The Liebster Award. Go pick it up!


Bubbawheat said...

I watched every episode of this show when it first aired and I really enjoyed it. I found it somewhere online recently and re-watched a couple episodes but never finished them up. I liked how you're never quite sure exactly what's going on, and I thought Blackie was a really fun character.