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Charlie Boy (1980)

Charlie Boy (1980)
Charlie Boy (1980)

Main cast: Leigh Lawson (Graham), Angela Bruce (Sarah), Marius Goring (Heinz), Frances Cuka (Gwen), David Healey (Peter), Michael Culver (Mark), Michael Deeks (Phil), Jeff Rawle (Franks)
Director: Robert Young

Charlie Boy is pretty noteworthy in that it features nonchalantly an interracial couple – husband and wife – without making any fuss about it. For an episode in an otherwise nearly entirely lily white series, this is probably a milestone of sorts, especially when it features a voodoo doll but does not make the black character, Sarah, into some voodoo know-it-all along the way.

Graham inherits a significant chunk of his uncle’s properties when the man falls off the roof of his castle to his death while trying to fix the TV antenna. The late fellow’s art collection goes to him, which is how he and Sarah, his wife, come into possession of a cute-ugly fetish from Central Africa, whom she calls Charlie Boy just because. (I know, voodoo from Africa, sigh, but then again, we don’t watch these shows for accuracy.) They are told by the curator that one can stick pins into that fetish to call doom and such to befall some poor sod, but still, Sarah likes it and hence the two decide to keep it among the handful of art pieces that they opt not to sell off.

After a weird encounter with a strange man who nearly runs them off the road, Graham playfully curses that fellow using Charlie Boy. He and Sarah are just venting off, but what do you know, that fellow dies as a result.

Things become interesting when a financial dispute with a cousin causes Graham to decide to pin Charlie Boy on that cousin Peter. The problem here is that he only wants Peter out of the way, but he uses a photo that has Peter as well as Sarah, himself, and two other people as a means for Charlie Boy to visualize Peter. Charlie Boy doesn’t get the memo to stop after Peter, understandably, so the rest of the people in that photo also begins to die one by one. Graham begins to believe that Charlie Boy is the real deal, but he has no idea how to save himself and Sarah from it, oh dear.

I have a fondness of stories about hapless fools falling victim to supernatural devices, and I think Charlie Boy looks too cute for words. I also like how Graham and Sarah are actually snooty, snobby upper class people with a huge sense of entitlement rather than likable victims, and the last death scene is solid. But while this episode has its moments, it also feels long-drawn and dragged out with slow, meandering scenes that add little to the overall story. It also has some odd scenes of characters just staring blankly at the screen for a few seconds to the point that I actually wonder whether they are zombies at first, presumably just to fill up airtime. Hence, this episode tends to fall into a dull bog unless someone is dying on screen.

Charlie Boy is alright, but it should have tried to be more than that.

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Charlie Boy (1980)


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