The Hitchhiker (Ep. 07): And If We Dream









Episode: “AND IF WE DREAM”
Names: Stephen Collins, Roberta Weiss. Directed by Mai Zetterling.

Set up: We open on a long, remote rural road cutting through a corn field. So at this episode looks like it will be ‘ear’-ie….  Sorry. Anyway. Perhaps someone will be ‘stalked’…. OK, OK, let’s just get past this. Still, get ready for an a-maize-ing…dammit!!

A Mustang convertible comes along. In the next shot, in what seems to be another part of the country entirely, the car pulls over to side of the road. The passenger door opens, and a familiar figure exits…The Hitchhiker!

The car continues on into an adjacent high school parking lot. We then cut to The Hitchhiker traipsing through the school’s next door cemetery (?), whereupon he turns to address the camera.

Hitchhiker Intro: “Todd Fields (presumably the guy who had just given Our Hero a ride) is a high school teacher. A shaper of young minds, and someone to look up to. But he’s about to meet Temptation. And if he gives in to it, the lesson he’ll learn is one he’s never dreamed possible.” (Wow!)

Inside the school, Fields (Collins) is complimenting a student named Cindy—or, since this was the ’80s, perhaps ‘Cyndi’–on a rather run of the mill looking photo assignment. “But what’s missing?” he asks his charges, exposing himself to be a Teacher Who Cares Enough to Demand the Best of His Students. Since this is The Hitchhiker, which means that Fields’ aforementioned encounter with Temptation is likely to involve one of his young students, as well as a nude shower or jacuzzi scene, I’m going to take a flier and guess the missing component is Passion!

Actually, after strutting about for a while, he provides an alternate answer which indeed touches upon the photo’s generic quality. “Where’s Cindy?” he inquires. Dude! Totally. By the way, Fields is wearing a very skinny black tie featuring a white horizontal pattern suggesting piano keys. If I’m not mistaken, this was part of the Huey Lewis Collection for Men. That, along with his sports jacket and blue jeans, I think is meant to establish him as a ‘hip’ teacher.

After further Breakfast Club-wannabe dialogue, class ends. The age of the various actors playing the students seems to vary by a marked degree, by the way. Some of them actually look like high school kids, but others look quite a bit older. Since Fields is undoubtedly about to embark on (in theory, anyway) a totally hot but ultimately tragic affair with one of his students, I think we can assume that the object of his attentions will prove to be one of the older-looking ones.

Suddenly, we cut to a severe close up of one of the students’ moms…. No, wait, I think she’s supposed to be a student herself. (Ding, ding!) Suddenly, a gust of wind begins billowing in past the horizontal blinds over a nearby window. Maybe the girl is a witch or something. Sometimes the show dealt with the supernatural, sometimes it didn’t, so it’s difficult to know. Oops, no, I guess it is her. She seems to be using the wind to blow away the stack of photos sitting on Fields’ desk, until what is presumably hers now lies on top. This is a picture of an empty bed (gee, subtle), and sure enough Fields soon leans over to pick it up.

We learn that the name of the *ahem* ‘girl’ is Roseanne. Despite the seemingly mundane quality of the picture, Fields is inevitably transfixed by it. (Hmm, a photograph with Informed Attributes©. Can’t remember one of those before.) “There’s ambiguity in this,” he gushes, “and yet it’s strong!” What, both at the same time?!

Despite there being no one in the photo, he continues, “You feel a presence, and it’s powerful. You feel…Roseanne!” (Wow!) “Chris [a fellow student] wants to ‘feel Roseanne,’ too!” one young wag japes. Hey, if you were a sixteen year-old boy and there was a fairly hot 28 year-old woman in the room, you’d probably want to feel her too.

The bell rings to signal the end of class, and the students shuffle from the room. “Let’s not forget the assignment for tomorrow!” Fields calls out. Which is exactly the kind of a thing a high school teacher might say. Wow, whoever wrote this really knew their stuff.

Needless to say, Roseanne lags behind. Fields compliments her work again, but manages to mistakenly call her “Rosanna.” (Well, it was the ’80s.) Roseanne not only corrects him, but uses light bouncing off the shiny sparkles on her blouse to—I guess—begin hypnotizing him. (!!) This proves she is a witch, because how else would a man possibly find himself hypnotized by a woman’s blouse region?

I have to say, I assume from the nature of the program that Fields will pay a horrible price for sleeping with Roseanne. (Oops, sorry). However, if she’s literally using witchcraft on him to make this happen…I don’t know, it just seems to reduce his culpability quite a bit. I mean, jeepers, he didn’t even know her name at this point, so it’s not like he was all pervy about her in advance.

The two exit the building, with Fields looking a little dizzy. This is presumably due either to Roseanne’s hypnotism, or the fact that he’s being played by Stephen Collins. Outside, he stops her to again compliment her photo. (Seriously, dude, it’s not that great.) This gives her the chance to importune him for a ride home. Uh, yeah, that’s a good idea for any young male high school teacher, I’d think. She explains that she’d like to show him some more of her photos. And etchings, too, I’d guess. If you know what I mean. That’s right, by ‘etchings,’ I mean ‘breasts.’

As they ride back through the corn field, they converse. Sadly, the scene where Roseanne explains why she’s spent a good ten years in high school must have ended up on the editing room floor. She does explain, however, that she and her mom have moved here to Kansas—hence the corn—from San Francisco. In response, Fields admits he’d like a job actually doing photography in some big city somewhere. From this I can only surmise that the scriptwriter thought naming him ‘Fields’ was a witty way to tie him to his reluctantly rural surroundings.

Presumably highly bored by this conversation—heaven knows I was—Rosanne hands over her portfolio for him to look at. Given that he’s still driving at this point, it’s possible that she considered the possibility of a painful but quick death preferable to listening to him ramble on about his hopes and fears. Sadly, this happy eventuality is forestalled when he instead tucks her portfolio in the backseat. This is accompanied by a ‘suspense’ music sting, so apparently it ties in to his eventual screwing-over at the climax of the show.

We cut to Fields arriving home, where we meet his wife. She’s pretty, and from what I can tell, in her mid-20s, and thus actually younger than Roseanne. Fields opens what is apparently the latest of a series of rejection letters regarding his photography. Suitably depressed, he then wanders into his home photo lab. Since we’ve gone over seven minutes without seeing any naked boobies—and remember, this is a Hitchhiker episode—presumably wifey will be along to…nope, how about that?

I assume the continuity director was absent from the set that day, but in any case, Fields is now carrying Roseanne’s portfolio, which he clearly didn’t have when he entered the kitchen a minute ago. This somehow—ooh-eee-ooh—drops to the floor, prompting him to examine its contents. To the accompaniment of further suspense stings, he finds the contents are all surreptitiously taken pictures of himself.

Cut to the School Fair, which it appears the production staff was afforded several tens of dollars to realize. This basically involves the aforementioned teenager Chris and his band…rocking, I guess…on a small platform before an audience of, and I counted, seven extras. Even including Roseanne, who’s around but presently off-camera, that means there are two people watching for every person actually in the band.

Fields arrives, walks past another maybe another five extras—wow, it’s like Ben Hur or something—and approaches Roseanne. Noting that he’s hungry, he walks her over to the food tents and hand feeds (!) her a French fry. Maybe next he’ll get her started on the opposite end of a strand of spaghetti he’s eating. Again, he does this in the middle of what is meant to be the entire school’s student body and faculty. Way to keep a low profile, moron.

The two continue to flirt, sadly to the ongoing accompaniment of the band, which is all too realistically an ensemble of Kansas teens. Eventually he wanders off into the corn field. Maybe he heard a voice: “If you build it, she will come…and take off her shirt for the edification of our cable TV audience.” Oh, and maybe the voice was ‘husky.’ (Crap! I can’t help myself!) Roseanne, naturally, follows after him.

They end up in a tobacco-drying barn (!), lounging in some hay. As stagehands reflect romantic, if internally mysteriously-sourced, beams of light offs their faces, they begin to make out. Maybe the light is meant to represent her casting her spell on him, but frankly, that’s at best a guess. And again, since the show is undoubtedly planning to ‘punish’ him in some horrific fashion, shouldn’t he at least be morally responsible for his transgressions? Somebody really needed to think this witchcraft angle through.

Anyhoo, off comes Rosanne’s blouse, and she’s not wearing a bra, so there we go. I guess I should have been keeping track of this in my earlier Hitchhiker reviews, but it’s probably time to start noting The First Appearance of a Gratuitous Naked Boobs™ (as formally defined by the appearance of a nipple) in each episode. This vital stat will appear in the wrap-up section following each future review. Unless I forget.

Anyhoo, for all those 7th Heaven fans who have longed to see Stephen Collins suckle a nipple and fondle a woman’s ass cheeks, here’s your chance. In the (in this case) literal afterglow, and with actress Weiss’ right boob still on prominent display, Fields notes, “You should have told me it was the first time.” Seriously, how many women wait until they’re nearly thirty to have sex these days?

Anyway, with the show’s primary justification being fulfilled—we’ve seen naked boobies—yet with still 17 minutes of show left, I can only assume we’ll have another nude scene later. This may involve either Roseanne again, or perhaps Fields’ still unnamed wife. I mean, heaven knows, there isn’t even ‘plot’ left to eat up that much time.

Cut to that night, to Roseanne’s oddly huge-ass house, where we see her dancing on the veranda amidst an array of hanging white sheets (?). She’s not naked, but she is in a nightdress that is, er, highly diaphanous. Her mom pokes her head out, and asks her to come in. “Whenever you get worked up like this,” Mom comments, “there’s always trouble.” Not to mention whenever she appears on an episode of The Hitchhiker. In any case, after further intimations of the supernatural, we move on.

The next day, as Roseanne enters the school’s hilariously oversized and ornately designed photography wing (!), Fields pointedly avoids her. Roseanne attempts to follow after him, but another teacher runs interference. Still, Rosanne won’t take no for an answer, and Fields is forced to talk to her. As the other teacher looks on (do I detect a Red Shirt character?), the two quietly have it out. Fields, naturally, wants to end things, and insists on this over Roseanne’s objections.

That night we see Roseanne murmuring over a picture of Fields, with spooky music playing lest we don’t ‘get’ it. Fields arises from his sleep in an apparent trance, either because of Roseanne’s spell, or, again, because he’s being played by Stephen Collins. He meets with her in what I guess is a dreamscape, or maybe not, but anyway. She explains how she should be in San Francisco with her dad and he says it’s not her fault, and he gives her a ring.

Then he pulls down her nightshirt, because as I noted, there’s no way this program is going to go 17 straight minutes without some further Gratuitous Nudity. Even here, though, we still have like 11 minutes of running time left, so we’ll see if they go for a third round.

We cut back to Roseanne’s bedroom. It was all a dream. OR WAS IT?! Because she’s wearing the ring he gave her. Bet you didn’t see that….Oh. You did? Never mind. Anyway, she’s pleased. Fields, however, is less than delighted to wake up and find his ring gone. He’s even less thrilled when he comes to class and, sure enough, Roseanne is wearing it on a chain around her neck.

Fields understandably begins to freak out a bit. Not only has he slept with a high school student—albeit one older than his wife—but now his lover is sporting jewelry he gave her in a dream. And the one other teacher guy, you know, the possible Red Shirt, is hanging around, obviously suspicious. Or, perhaps, waiting around for the next time Roseanne flashes her goodies.

At this point we are just burning off running—well, limping—time until Fields is dealt his fate. He pleads with Rosanne, asking her to forget him, but she refuses. That night, she brings him into another dream. This one involves a merry-go-round, for no apparent reason other than, presumably, that the production manager had one available. Dream Rosanne is in the same see-through gown, and Dream Fields reaffirms his love for her. We can’t tell, however, whether he says this because he’s been freed from his conscious constraints, or if she’s willing him to say it.

Fields wakes up, all sweaty and weirding out his wife, and then we cut back to Roseanne. This time she emerges from the dream with Fields’ Huey Lewis necktie (why would he have that in a dream he appears shirtless in?). Moreover, and I hope you’re sitting down, she is shown with her breasts again hanging out. At this point, however, we’re finally down to less than six minutes, so…goodbye, ladies. It’s been nice meeting you.

Cut to a haunted-looking Fields entering his classroom again, where he and Rosanne exchange Significant Glances. Again. Yeesh, was the Hitchhiker drunk when he told this tale? I mean, he seems to be covering the same ground over and over. Meanwhile, Fields, perhaps experiencing the same sense of déjà  vu I’m feeling, is starting to lose it. When Roseanne again refuses to leave him alone, he nearly attacks her, and kicks her out of his office.

That night, Roseanne once more summons Fields, this time into the bedroom from the photograph earlier. Fields finds himself trapped in the dream room. “Together, forever,” Roseanne is heard saying.

The next day, the Other Teacher enters the photography class. He explains that Fields will not be in. Roseanne greets this news with the sort of expression that indicates she’s suffering from mild constipation, although presumably it’s meant to indicate cat-eating-the-canary satisfaction.

LAMEST…ENDING…EVER.

The Hitchhiker Wraps Things Up*: “The world of dreams. Anybody can get lost in it, but none so hopelessly as Todd Fields, who yielded to temptation with the wrong girl. [If you say so.] A girl whose dreams, were stronger than he was.” [Lame!] [*Actually, for whatever reason—budget or time constraints, presumably—the Hitchhiker doesn’t come back for another appearance, but instead delivers his wrap-up via voiceover. This really is the lamest episode I’ve yet seen.]

Gratuitous Naked Boobage? Well, duh.

First Appearance of GNB: At the 11 minute, 26 second mark.

Loads of ‘Adult’ Language? Not so much. I seemed to remember a lot profanity in these things, but maybe not.

Whatever Happened To…:

  • Steven Collins is easily the most famous actor seen in this episode. For nearly a decade now, he has starred as the patriarch in the WB’s (now CW’s) highest rated show, 7th Heaven. Other prominent credits include his role as the captain of Enterprise who is pushed aside by James Kirk in Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and his lead role in the short-lived Indiana Jones knock-off TV show Tales of the Golden Monkey. Jabootu fans know him best as the insipid and seemingly retarded male lead of the gooftacular chick flick The Promise. However, more pertinent might be his lead role in the TV movie The Babysitter’s Seduction, in which he again assays a man getting involved with a kid (Keri Russell, later TV’s Felicity) under his supervision.
  • For those who think I was overplaying the jokes about the age of actress Roberta Weiss (Roseanne), well, she was reportedly born in 1958. That means she was indeed 27 (!) when she starred in this episode. I mean, why not set the show in a community college if you’re going to cast a 27 year-old in the pivotal role. What the hell? Isn’t the ‘trangressive’ nature of sleeping with a high schooler somewhat undercut by casting a person ten years too old in the part? And again, some of the actors playing her classmates do indeed look to be 16 or 17.
  • Although I can’t find any age info on actress Mitch (!) Martin, who plays the truly thankless role of Fields’ wife—unnamed at any point in the show, although listed as “Lynn” in the credits—it does seem quite possible that she was in fact younger than the actress playing her husband’s purported high school-aged lover.
  • The role of Quinlay is credited to actor Nicholas Kilbertus, and Catelyu to one Brian Dooley. I guess Quinley was probably the Other Teacher, since that is the biggest role left unaccounted for. Catelyu must have been one of the kids. I guess. I don’t know. Roseanne’s mom, seen sticking half her face out of a door jamb for about twenty seconds, was played by Bronwen Mantel. In any case, each of Roberta Weiss’ breasts should have gotten their own credit, since they appear onscreen more than any of those three.

  • Patrick Coyle

    I remember more than one writing teacher telling us in high school to *never* end a writing assignment with “and then he woke up.” Maybe whomever wrote this thought they were making a brilliantly clever twist with “and then he never woke up again.”

    Lamest ending ever, indeed.

  • Chris Magyar

    The writer could have paid some more attention to the maxim “never put your audience to sleep” as well.

  • Why the hell does Stephen Collins always pop up when I least expect and/or want him to? (Not that I ever want him to.) I hate that moment where I’m going merrily along, then I have to pull to a screeching halt: “AUGH IT’S REVCAM WHYYYY.” It’s a shame you don’t review books. He’s written an “erotic” “thriller” or two; I read one out of sheer boredom and it was almost as erotic and thrilling as Body of Evidence. Yes, almost. Come to think of it, I don’t even recall if I finished it or not.

    I’ve never seen this show, but your episode recaps consistently crack me up. And now that I can comment in a blog instead of doing anything so time-consuming as opening an e-mail, I can finally tell you that. ;) How many more are left?

  • Ken HPoJ

    I’m glad there’s at least one other fan of my Hitchhiker pieces (the other is me, sadly enough). I just love this show, and I can’t help it. I think most people just kind of ignore these and wait for the next Challenge of the Superfriends review. However, while Challenge is starting to run out out (seven episodes left–and what will take its place? Ark II? Captain Planet?), I’ve years worth of The Hitchhiker episodes, so I could be doing these for some time to come.

  • The Rev. D.D.

    You’ve got one other fan.

    I actually saw the show, but sadly I saw it on USA, which hacked out the only good reason to watch it. “Shattered Vows” always stayed with me, just because I could not believe what I’d seen at the end there. Plus I recall the daughter being quite easy on the eyes.
    One other one stays with me as well, as I recall it being the only episode of it I ever saw that was almost decent. You haven’t reviewed it; I recall it starting with a guy being set up for the murder of a prostitute, and the ending featuring a root cellar and a bulldozer. That ring a bell? (I hope I didn’t splice two episodes together in my head…)
    You’ve reviewed a couple I don’t remember seeing, but most of them I can nod in understanding as I read them.

  • Patrick Coyle

    If infinite monkeys on infinite typewriters could theoretically reproduce a Shakespeare work, I figure it would take a half-dozen monkeys fighting over an Etch-a-Sketch to scribble out an adequate episode script for Hitchhiker.

    I don’t know what made me think of that analogy, but maybe Ken chould institute a Theoretical Monkey Gauge to rate a movie or episode script.

    Anyway, I’ve never seen the show, but I love to read the Hitchhiker pieces because this show is a great practical lesson in how NOT to write compelling and thought-provoking stories. It’s also a sad reminder that there’s always been a market for schlock screenwriting, which just seems unfair…

    And Ken, I sure wouldn’t mind if you decided to tackle Captain Planet next. There’s at least six whole seasons of that for you to take on. :)

  • Jimmy

    Count me as another fan of your Hitchhiker pieces, they’re possibly my favourite feature on Jabootu in recent times. I’ve recently watched some episodes I found on old ex rental VHS tapes and your reviews are on the money. Keep ’em coming.

  • Eric M

    I had completely forgot about this show until I stumbled upon these reviews here. I actually watched the show quite a few times. Admittedly, it was in my teen years, so of course the show was the epitome of artful storytelling, and just coincidentally happened to feature nudity in each and every episode(!).
    With the rosy tint faded, they’re obviously pretty awful – I believe even “Tales From The Darkside” had better storylines (another show I absolutly loved).
    Thanks for the refresher, Ken. Think I might have to track down some sort of anthology for this show.