American Gothic e07: Strong Arm of the Law


Guest Star

When I read the mini-blurb on the DVD for this episode, I was mentally prepared for a substandard episode, a one-off with no relevance to the overall arc of American Gothic, a bit of a filler in fact. In one sense, that was an accurate impression, if you consider the story purely in respect of its plot. But it was a thoroughly well-made filler, it put Gary Cole in a position whereby Lucas Buck could be seen as an anti-hero, and it made space for a couple of scenes that subtly amplified the momentum of the series.

On the other hand, it did begin with what’s quickly becoming the show’s own cliche: Caleb and Boone, sneaking about at night, where they shouldn’t be, and coming across something horrific. This time, it’s a man being drowned in his own bath-tub, by a gang of four men in pig masks.

That’s the episode’s most serious weakness. The plot’s about four strangers in town, Northerners, from Flint in Michigan, here to run a protection racket among the stupid Southerners of South Carolina. A straightforward issue: the men are lawbreakers, a disruptive influence in an orderly small town. Why they should have killed off Will Hawkins is never explained. It’s a dramatic introduction, and as Will Hawkins voted for Lucas Buck’s opponent as Sheriff, it gives us a way into the wider picture, which is that Trinity as a whole immediately assumes these strongarm boys are working for Good Ol’ Sheriff Buck, but this is before we or Buck encounter them and no reason is given why they drown this man, or what purpose it serves them.

What we do get is a degree of unrest among the townfolk, and a substantial level of concern from sad sack and generally put upon Deputy Ben Healy, who can’t rightly rid himself of his conscience but who is too much of a weakling to be anything more than ineffectual. He even gets beat up on the street by these four charmers – one heavyweight drunkard, one rapist, the smooth, calculating leader and his shaky, unstable younger brother (played memorably by Richard Edson, whose face will be immediately recognisable even as his name isn’t).

Buck is playing this with his usual coolness. That everyone accepts the Northerners as just another one of the Sheriff’s tentacles is telling, and indeed Buck’s first step is to sound the quartet out on coming under his direction, though whether this is a real offer or just a means to get a close-up look and size them up is never defined.

Certainly Caleb thinks the Sheriff is conspiring with the bad guys, which he reports to Gail for her story. And he’s curious enough to sneak into their room, where he discovers a metal suitcase under the bed, filled with money, jewellery and at least one gun, which he takes.

This results in an invasion of his bedroom, at night, by three of the gang in their pig masks, to get it back. They’ve filled Caleb with fear, enough for him to openly call for Merly. When she doesn’t appear, he summons up his courage and, filled with some supernatural power, directs an animal roar at them that frightens them away. Caleb smiles in relief and thanks Merly, but the clear implication is that what Caleb has done has not come from the White side of the Magic line…

But let’s get back to the plot. I said three of the gang: Lucas has already picked off one of the gang, the drunk, intercepting him in the early morning, being dropped off after a night with one of the local tramps. A little more booze, conning the man into thinking he’s confessed to murder but been so drunk he can’t remember doing so, a little more booze and he falls asleep.

And wakes in a confined space at Will Hawkins’ funeral. Inside the coffin.

Lightweight member two is disposed of more briefly. He’s fixing to rape Gail, who’s already punched him in the balls, but Buck applies the traditional swing of the shovel to the back of the head, and lugs the unconscious body away, never to be seen (or spoken of) again.

This provokes Lowell into marching into the Sheriff’s office and attempting to ‘bail’ Earl and Just Eddie out, nudge nudge, wink wink. Buck provokes an assault, which gets Lowell into the cells, where somehow his belt gets wound tightly around his neck. Fortunately for all concerned, he’s saved at the last moment by the good Sheriff, and rushed to hospital where he recovers. As soon as Buck pushes himself into the operating theatre.

Now there are two, Lowell and Barrett. The Sheriff offers the pair a last chance: they can hand over everything they’ve stolen to him, and go to work under his aegis – as tyre salesmen – or they can go back north. Predictable to the end, the brothers run. South.  There’s a roadblock waiting, Sheriff and Deputy. Lowell attempts to drive round it, flips the car. He’s stuck in it, Barrett’s trying to crawl away. Buck offers them one final chance. He cuffs them together around one of the car stanchions and flips them a knife. No, it’s not an original scene, it wasn’t when Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons used it in Watchmen ten years earlier, but it’s still effective. The knife won’t cut through the handcuffs but it might through a wrist, if they’re motivated enough.

Then he sticks a flare in the petrol tank.

This is all disturbing to DeputyBen, our conspicuous conscience. But he has the pain in his ribs to compete with the pain in his decency. The show suggests the latter is not the worst.

So: a filler, yes, but one that impacts on the overall picture, filling in a lot of unobtrusive background. One other thing does bother me, however, and that’s the boarding house where Caleb and Doctor Matt live. In episode 3, Caleb’s placed in the temporary care of Loris Holt, who runs the boarding house, which is supposed to be filled with African supernatural exotica. Actress Tina Lifford hasn’t been seen since, the statuary has disappeared, and the house currently seems to be being run by a blonde MILF.

Checking imdb reveals that Ms Lifford does appear in other episodes, one of which, according to their episode guide, I should already have watched, in fact last week, as episode 6. It appears very much later on the DVD. I’m assuming that the DVD arranges the episodes in the intended order, that reflects the overall arc, just as my Homicide:Life on the Street DVDs reflect the intended order, not the sometimes asinine placing of episodes by NBC.

Well, although it’s quite obvious that American Gothic is a superb series, it lasted only one episode. With CBS scheduling episodes out of order, and confusing the audience over what’s supposed to be happening when in a season-long arc, we have here one of the reasons why it ended up cancelled…

American Gothic e05: Dead to the World


There are a number of reasons why American Gothic was cancelled after only one season, and I’ll be getting to those further down the line. But I wonder if, underlying them, there wasn’t a certain degree of queasiness at the depths into which the show could sink. There’s a lousiness to Sheriff Lucas Buck, a festering sickness to his machinations. Gary Cole was doing an incredibly good job in letting both aspects of Buck – the external, hail-fellow-well-met, town benefactor and the evil bastard – show simultaneously.

American Gothic is about corruption. It’s about trying to corrupt the decency of a ten year old boy, to turn him as evil, ruthless and conscienceless as his biological father, a man who acts not only out of the desire to do everything he wants to do, but who appears to wish to taint everything and everyone around him, just for the unholy pleasure of him.

I take it back, that’s a phenomenal performance by Cole, and to achieve it it requires some bloody good writing, and a willingness to put sick and twisted situations into play, in a subterranean manner, by implication rather than direct showing.

‘Dead to the World’ was a multi-strand episode, spinning three stories across each other effortlessly. It began with a flashback, ten years, to Deputy Buck picking up his girlfriend, Nurse Holly Gallagher, for the hospital, late at night. Holly G has stolen a file for Lucas, on a new baby, Caleb Temple. Unfortunately for her, she realises just why Buck has been so interested in this baby that has nothing to do with him. She also gets mad at how she’s been manipulated and promises to expose Buck, tell all of Trinity about him. So he drives her car off the bridge, into the river.

That’s confident story-telling for you. There’s no mystery here, the episode makes plain what it’s about. Except in one respect.

We move to Caleb next. He and his best friend Boone are practicing archery for the contest at the fair. Both are using pretty basic equipment, both are good but Boone’s better. Which is where Sheriff Buck steps in. Caleb doesn’t want anything to do with him, he’s naturally suspicious of the man, finds him creepy and a little bit oily in his constant attempts to insinuate himself into Caleb’s life (it’s one realistic flaw in Buck that he, like many people, doesn’t quite know how to talk to children: he comes over as ever so slightly patronising).

Buck’s determined that Caleb will win. He taunts him into killing a crow, which Caleb instantly regrets, he replaces Caleb’s bow with a lightweight, deluxe model, he sets out to drive a wedge between him and Boone. In the end it fails: Caleb wants to win, as does Boone, but the latter innocently as good, and if young Chris Fennell isn’t as good as Lucas Black, he’s still good enough to sell that as natural.

So Caleb, in mid-contest, hands back Lucas’s gear. He can still win it with a bull’s eye off his last shot, but falls short. Boone wins, Buck’s frustrated, the boys are still mates.

The third element of this episode centres upon Deputy Ben Healy. He’s out visiting a family. The implication of domestic violence is laid out immediately, though she’s too scared to confirm it. Or maybe there’s another reason. It’s allowed to slip out in passing but this isn’t any ordinary family: cabinet-maker Waylon Flood is second husband to Barbara Joy, and stepfather to Benji. Ben is Benji’s father.

Waylon’s one of these upfront bastards, a junior league Lucas Buck without the breadth of evil. He’s a nasty, stinking, small-minded little brute, throws his fists around, petty tyrant and always super-confident that he is right and ain’t no-one gonna mess with him. Ben’s not out for a fight but he still gets kicked in the balls, smacked in the face and punched in the stomach.

Ben’s determined to handle this himself, especially after Dr Matt warns him of the psychological damage this could all do to Benji, growing up with this as his role model. Ben rejects Buck’s offer to help and confronts Waylon again in his workshop, openly accusing him of cowardice, prepared to fight. But Waylon backs down. Ben isn’t aware but Buck has pulled up outside. Waylon starts to sweat, promises there won’t be no further trouble. Damn right there won’t. Believing he’s made his point, Ben leaves. Waylon’s still trembling. Buck returns, looks at Waylon. He backs off, stumbles, brings down a heap of stacked wood, knocks him off balance. His arm falls onto the bandsaw…

The speed with which it’s done is another American Gothic trademark. The show’s masterful at the slow creation of tension and the abrupt crash that jerks the viewer out of their seat.

But the main strand tonight is all about Gail, and all about Holly G. Miss Emory is still investigating Caleb’s birth and his Mama’s suicide and visits the Gallagher home to speak to her old schoolfriend, the attending nurse. Only then does she learn that Holly is dead, from ten years past, from mum Janice, a fluttery sort of woman, a beautician, selling makeovers, make yourself perfect.

The Sheriff confirms the details of the tragedy. Despite copious efforts with divers, the body was never found. Gail promptly heads for the bridge, hires two guys to help her. The diver finds the car immediately, only fifteen feet down, and T.J. (a fine bit of continuity from last week) winches it up. There’s no body inside. And the driver’s seat is set too far back for Holly to have  reached the pedals…

Janice is taking Gail’s attempts to find out just what happened as an attack on her. And for good reason. By a slightly dodgy contrivance, Gail discovers Janice is paying for a Sanatorium: Holly G is alive. And well, in body, but not in mind. She doesn’t recognise Gail is concerned only about if her boyfriend is there. Her boyfriend is: Lucas Buck appears out of nowhere yet again. Four minutes without oxygen has led to brain damage. Holly G lives, but all her abilities, all the potential her mother worshipped in her, is dead, and Janice can’t bear to see what’s not perfection.

And then we’re given a perfect example of just how effective Lucas Buck can be. Confronted with Gail’s accusations, and especially that he was driving, he conducts his own version of Show Not Tell. He drives Gail’s car to the bridge, to demonstrate. We immediately fear he’s going to try to disappear her too, but no, Buck’s more subtle than that. He knows the road so well he could drive it blind, and closes his eyes. He starts to go faster, telling Gail about how he broke up with Holly G that night, how she couldn’t take it, how she grabbed at the wheel and he lost control.

Just like a panicky Gail is grabbing at the wheel. On the bridge, the car slews. But this time Buck brakes before going through the fence. Leaving Gail with a perfect cover story she cannot counter. Not to mention a forceful kiss from the Sheriff.

Janice’s refusal to accept her damaged daughter is a final nasty touch in an episode of nasty touches. Gail tries to break through Janice’s shell, remind her that her daughter is alive, and would rather be home, but Janice’s fear surrounds her, she backs away.

Which makes the little scene that almost closes out the episode all the more effective in stinging the audience’s heart. Janice has brought Holly G home to her own room. Holly’s in her nurse’s uniform, Janice is reading to her from a text book, three vital signs. She names two, asks Holly G to give her the third. Smiling happily, Holly says, “Lucas Buck.” After a moment of immobility, Janice beamingly replies, “That’s right, blood pressure.” And she folds her arms round her dughter, telling her that she’s perfect.

And it is perfect. It’s a small moment, there in the dark, a miniature suggestion that it might be possible to get people to be brave, to now allow themselves to fall into the shallow courses Lucas Buck has dug for them. No more than that, not spelled out, for us to read for ourselves.

In contrast to the final scene, Buck in a hot tub, Selena teasing him with hot candlewax. Buck genuinely can’t understand why Caleb rejected the chance to be a winner. Stupid game. It’s not over, it’s along way from over.

American Gothic: e02 – A Tree Grows in Trinity


A boy star

We had all the ingredients last week, now it’s time to start stirring them.

Though it wouldn’t always operate in this fashion, in its early stages American Gothic was a serial, with cliffhanger endings. The Pilot ended with Caleb Temple setting light to his old home to escape being seized by Sheriff Lucas Buck, and running off into the woods in the rain. We resume in the morning, under the sun, with the Fire Brigade just securing the ruins.

There’s a clear focus to the series already. Sheriff Buck, biological father (by rape) of ten-year old Caleb (and a stunning performance by Lucas Black it is, a real ten-year old full of Southern resentment and toughness) wants to raise him as his own, and raise him in his image. Caleb’s cousin Gail, and the awkward non-Southerner Dr Matt Crewer are determined to prevent this: the series is a battle to save Caleb’s soul.

Caleb spends most of the episode on the run, pursued  by dogs and deputies, aided only by his sister Merlyn, the one who’s dead, remember. Everyone’s dead, he don’t need nobody, gonna look after himself. We all know that’s not going to be possible, but Merlyn turns him to, instead, help another, a half-naked man in a dilapidated house in the woods, gurgling rather than speaking, freezing cold and tied by neck and hands.

In order to help his new friend, whose name he believes is Sol, Caleb comes in to Gail and Dr Matt, brings them to assist and save. But they can’t. ‘Sol’ is too far gone. Nor is his name Sol: it is what he seeks, Sol, Sun. Caleb provides a bar of sunlight in which he can die.

But that’s far from all. There is more going on than Caleb’s flight or Merlyn’s guidance, a lot. Sheriff Buck isn’t the spider at the centre of the web for nothing. I’m sorry to have to use such a cliched expression, but this is how Buck is being built. He’s the man in charge, in control, running everything, by precise mixtures of charm and menace, and as the series continues to hint, powers above and beyond the manipulative.

For instance: sexy Selena, all husky voice and desire for pain, claims Dr Matt’s time for a ‘medical emergency’. consisting of no more than a scratch, from a ‘big boy in the playground’ (oh yes, I bet). This gives Coroner Webb time to carry out autopsies on Gage and Merlyn Temple and send their bodies for burial, when in reality all he does is dictate the outcomes dictated to him by, guess who. Investigation’s going to be buried. And when Dr Matt confronts him about why, the Coroner explains that he has a family.

Not that that preserves him from Buck’s wrath at such loose lips: Coroner Webb comes home to find Eli’s severed head in the fridge. Eli may ‘only’ be his favourite goat, but it’s no less a macabre moment for that.

The redoubtable Gail is still full-on challenging to Buck, who obviously fancies yanking her ankle-length skirt down, but who’s settling for now for trying to dictate his public perception to her as much as anyone. His bailiwick is lowest in the state for violent crime. Yes, but it’s highest for missing persons, especially missing reporters.

And nervous Ben is trying to get his lucky but incriminating pen back from Dr Matt, which he achieves by stealing it back.

But the man in the woods could be a problem for Lucas Buck. He told Selena to get rid of him, though she obviously preferred to keep him as a sex toy. Mind you, he won’t speak. Why, did you bite his tongue out? asks Buck. He’s being sarcastic, but her silence isn’t.

Gail and Dr Matt obviously got there first, early enough to ease his final moments, and to identify him as the missing reporter. The web shakes again, but the evidence the man has collected, a satchel containing a hand-held dictaphone and a bunch of floppy discs that look so old, is seized by the Sheriff, investigating the disappearance of a fugitive, killed by his evil partner, Gage Temple…

And the web winds towards this week’s cliffhanger, as the powers that might be underlying everything drifts through the episode. To create a diversion, Caleb snaps off a tree branch, winds his sweater round it, floats it downstream as he heads upstream. When Buck receives it, he fits it to the tree from which it came, ‘sees’ Caleb and Merlyn. He plants it in the graveyard by Merlyn and Gage’s graves. As the father and daughter gravediggers, a pair of Southern grotesques with a substantially underplayed whiff of incest about them, work on the wooden gravestones, the skies boil with dark cloud and the tress grows overnight to fantastic proportions.

Caleb, angry at ‘Sol’s death, who he was supposed to have saved, denounces Merlyn in the graveyard, ordering her away from him. Lightning strikes the tree, toppling it. Onto Merlyn. Caleb tries to rescue her…

And we’ll be back next week to see how further this series shapes itself, and how much deeper its horror goes.

 

American Gothic: e01 – Pilot


In the Nineties, I mostly remember Channel 4’s imported American drama – shows like Homicide: Life on the Street, St. Elsewhere and Northern Exposure – being shown on Monday nights at 10.00pm. The first two of these I was turned onto by my then girlfriend: we would frequently watch St Elsewhere together when I was round at her place. Northern Exposure was my own discovery and fascination (she didn’t understand it’s humour) and so was American Gothic, our subject for the next six months in this slot.

Or was that broadcast on Wednesday night? I honestly can’t remember.

American Gothic, which had nothing to do with the Alan Moore Swamp Thing series in the Eighties, was created by Shaun Cassidy and produced by Sam Raimi, who would go on to successes with first Hercules and then Xena, Warrior Princess, and it starred Gary Cole, now a well-respected actor but then known for the complete undemanding-Saturday-evening tosh of Midnight Caller, in which he payed a cop-turned-late-night-talk-show-DJ who solved crimes every week from his studio console.

And it was an evil little bastard of a horror story, with Cole completely erasing his previous, over-earnest image to portray Sheriff Lucas Black, the dominant figure in the small town of Trinity, South Carolina. Black was corrupt in every way, it simply ran off him like slime pouring off Alan Rickman as the Reverend Slope in The Barchester Chronicles.

American Gothic toyed with evil as a force, with dark magic and ghosts and a screaming horror, and it fascinated me week by week, right up to its shattering conclusion. I looked forward to where the show would go in season 2. Where it went was cancellation.

So let’s see how it looks to eyes twenty years on.

The Pilot episode is stunningly good, packing in an enormous amount of information in 46 minutes, setting up a central cast of seven characters – one of them a ten year old boy who is the joint lead – in a satisfying manner, whilst leaving ample room for those characters to be developed, and for the mysteries hinted at with each one to be teased out.

We begin with a birthday scene in the Temple household. Caleb (Lucas Black) is ten years old but is bringing his chocolate birthday cake, obviously home-made and, we quickly intuit, by himself, to the table where sits his older sister, sixteen year old Merlyn (Sarah Paulson). There’s a strange, intense looking impression on Merlyn’s face. She’s clutching an oversize doll, is silent, and stares across the room. Towards the back of the room, dilapidated through neglect, their father Gage sits slumps in a chair, drinking liquor with intent.

As Caleb tries to catch Merlyn’s attention to the cake, as he prepares to blow out its candles and make a wish, Gage warns him not to set her off. But Merlyn starts talking, repeating, over and over again with slowly growing rapidity, “Someone’s at the door.” This works the drunken Gage up into a fury. He blames Merlyn for their mother’s death. He grabs a shovel, starts swinging it about.

Caleb hurries his sister into a bedroom, jams the door shut. It’s clear this isn’t the first time something like this has happened, but we don’t know how far it’s going to go. Taking a ribbon from Merlyn’s hair, Caleb winds it round his hand to protect him when he smashes the window. Jumping out into intense rain, he runs for help. Behind him, the frenzied Gage breaks the door down, telling Merlyn she has put them all through ten years of hell. He raises the shovel.

There’s lightning and thunder. In the woods, Caleb runs into Sheriff Lucas Buck (Cole) and his deputy, Ben Healy (Nick Searcy). The Sheriff is cool, friendly, affable, clearly a man in control. Back at the house, he tells Ben to stay outside, he’s got things covered. Gage has come out of his frenzy, is repentant. Merlyn is lying on the bed, still clutching her doll. She is still repeating “Someone’s at the door,” but more slowly, dreamily.

Buck sends Gage outside. He lifts Merlyn into a sitting position, talking to her quietly, peacefully. He wraps his arm around her neck, and then breaks it. Ben Healy is standing outside the window and sees it all.

So it begins. The central theme of the series is instantly revealed: Lucas Buck wants Caleb for his own, though we don’t yet know why. And he’s the big man about town: Lucas Buck runs Trinity, as Gary Cole’s voiceover has already implied. We see it reinforced in passing remarks, people owe Buck, he’s done things for them, got things, like jobs and homes. They are beholden. And just a little bit afraid.

Or, in Ben’s case, when he struggles with what he’s seen, a lot afraid. With good reason.

But Lucas is not unopposed. At the hospital, Caleb’s hand wound is repaired by Dr Matt Crower (Jake Weber), a quiet man, not a Southerner, newish in Town and already with a healthy disrespect for the ubiquitous Sheriff. Matt suspects Buck’s insistence from the outset, and appoints himself Caleb’s protector. Matt’s background has a few shades to it: alcoholic, a poor driving record, wife and daughter dad, oh yes, Lucas Buck knows all about him and will use all of it that he needs to.

But there’s a woman elsewhere, waking from sleep at exactly the same moment Caleb, sneaking into the morgue to look at Merlyn, re-ties the ribbon, now bloodied, into her hair, a scene of great effect. This woman switches on the news to a live press conference about the Temple case. Hurriedly, she packs a bag, and heads for Trinity. And Caleb sees Merlyn weep a tear of blood, which coats his fingers when he tries to brush it away, but which disappears, from her and him, when Dr Matt arrives.

There are more strands. Calling for hospital records as to Mrs Temple’s death, Dr Matt learns that it happened only two days after Caleb’s birth. She was brought into the hospital, crazy with fear that someone was going to steal her baby. She was visited in her room by Lucas Buck, who reported that she committed suicide by jumping out of the window. I’m sorry, through the window.

And by then, Merlyn was already severely traumatised. Several months, in fact. Let’s guess at nine.

Meanwhile, the Sheriff’s been down to the cells to see Gage, to get him to sign over sole custody of Caleb. There’s a truly macabre touch that was lost on me first time and only confirmed by a side-trip to YouTube now: Buck introduces himself by whistling a jaunty tune, and tapping a pen against a wall. It’s the Andy Griffiths Show theme, a Sixties sitcom never shown over here, about a warm, wise, respected Sheriff in a small Southern town…

Gage refuses to sign. Later, he will be found dead, the pen driven through his throat. The easily identifiable, monogrammed, lucky pen. Of wavering deputy and reluctant witness, Ben Healy.

Whose loyalty, and stamina, has been tested by Selena Combs (Brenda Bakke). Firstly, Selena swings her hips into the bar where Ben is getting drunk, poured into a deep red dress with a deep pink cleavage indicating the presence of one mother of a push-up bra. Selena is clearly the local version of sex-on-legs.

She’s also the local infant school teacher, and Lucas Buck’s girlfriend and adherent.

The travelling lady turns up at the hospital and introduces herself to Dr Matt as Gail Emory (Paige Turco). She is Caleb’s cousin, his only kin. She used to live in Trinity until two decades earlier, when her parents, the co-editors of the Trinity Guardian newspaper, died in a mysterious fire. The last person to see them before they died was a Lucas Black. Gail wants to protect her cousin Caleb. She also wants to finally know the truth about her parents’ death.

But what of Caleb? Asleep into a hospital room, he is wakened in the night by a strange, eerie dream. Merlyn’s blood is again on his fingers. The doorknob turns icy-cold to his touch. The blood spreads in patters across the back of the door, forms first the words “Someon’s at the Door,” then, “Go Home.” Caleb bails.

Lucas Buck is the first to find him missing the next day. Though the back of the door is clean (or rather, dirty) it’s as if he can see those bloody letters. He sets off for the Temple house. Dr Matt and Gail follow him as it starts to rain again.

Caleb, back home, looks at the ruin of his birthday cake and starts a tear. He retrieves a candle and is about to light it when a strange white light appears. It is Merlyn: whole, entire, smiling, and carrying a proper birthday chocolate cake, teeming with candles. She denies being a ghost, but not being an angel. She’s here to show Caleb the truth.

When he opens the locket containing his mother’s picture, the house transforms itself into what it was ten years and nine months ago, warm, light, well-kept and loved. Mrs Temple is reading a fairy tale yo little Merlyn, carrying her bog doll. Someone’s at the door: it is Deputy Lucas Buck, and, in front of Merlyn, he rapes Mrs Temple. Caleb is his son, biologically.

Caleb refuses to see more. Buck arrives to claim him. Dr Matt and Gail to defend him. In the attic, Caleb pours good moonshine liquor all over the floor and sets it alight. Jumping from the window, he stumbles off into the woods…

American Gothic will turn out to be both series and serial. Among it’s twenty-two episodes are four never broadcast on CBS in America, though I’m sure C4 showed the full set in 1995/6. I will be watching and blogging them all. Care to join me? Thursday is now American Gothic day.