Frank Ellingwood (Ralph Bell) does not grieve when his abusive stepmother dies. Everyone that knows him is not the least bit surprised he refuses to attend her funeral.
His being declared the sole inheritor of his late stepmother's estate does come as a bit of a shock to Frank and his wife, Laura (Frances Sternhagen).
Even more shocking are the ironclad terms of his stepmother's will. The only way Frank will get his inheritance is if he and Laura move into his stepmother's house, keep it unchanged, and, no matter what happens between them, do not get a divorce...
The Intermediary was written especially for the Mystery Theater by Fielden Farrington, and starred Frances Sternhagen, Ralph Bell, and Leon Janney.
I am no casual fan of the horror genre, far from it. Since the age of eight, perhaps even earlier, I have done more than simply consume tales of mystery, suspense, dark fantasy, the supernatural, the supernormal, the future, and other, distant worlds. I immersed myself in them. Studied them. Memorized them. Copied them.
Because of my doing so, I am very much aware of the "long conversation" that genre has with itself and its fans.
The Intermediary is an above average part of the genre's "cursed place as contagion" conversation. As I listened, I could follow its story roots down into the creative soil that it had grown from. Soil that, in order of appearance, contained Edgar Allan Poe's The Fall of the House of Usher, H.P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth, Shirley Jackson's The Legend of Hill House, and Robert Marasco's Burnt Offerings.
While this episode might not reach the atmospheric heights of fear and suspense achieved by those works, it does manage to create an admirable amount of tension.
On the downside, Fielden Farrington had to stretch his script a bit to make his story fit the Mystery Theater's one hour running time. He stretched it so much it seemed to take a little too much time to get to the easy to figure out final confrontation.
On the upside, actress Frances Sternhagen gives a rousing performance as the slowly possessed Laura. Her transformations from supportive partner to abusive shrew and back again are impressive. She sounds like two different people, not the same actress playing different parts. Even if the horror aspects leave you cold, her performance makes this episode worth listening to.