Short lived dramatic anthology series. This episode proves that the so-called Golden Age of TV had its tarnish. This is just awful from start to finish. The acting is over the top, especially by Patricia Bruder as fourteen year old Barbara. She’s almost impossible to bear. The cast includes Phyllis Thaxter, Walter Matthau and Patty McCormack.
The episode is based on Judith Merril’s first novel “Shadow On The Hearth” (1950). It’s about a typical New York suburban family and an H-Bomb attack on New York.
It’s a typical breakfast in the Mitchell home. Dad John is off to take the train to the city, Fourteen year old Barbara is headed for school along with younger sister Ginnie (Patty McCormack). Barbara needs some things ironed for school. Too bad it’s on the maid’s day off.
Gladys Mitchell (Phyllis Thaxter) is doing her suburban housewife thing with the laundry when it happens. Sirens go off and the wind kicks up. She knows something’s going on. The radio with announcer John “What’s My Line?” Daly informs her that H-Bombs have been dropped on twelve cities.
The kids are brought back from school. Looters are running around the neighborhood. Ginnie isn’t taking any of it seriously while Barbara is screaming her head off every five seconds. The air raid warden stops by and sets up a Geiger counter test for the kiddies. Dr.Spinelli (Walter Matthau) says the girls are okay. Earlier Barbara’s science teacher, Dr.Garson Lee, stopped by to see how Barbara was doing since she was on a field trip with the class when the bomb hit.
Some people who have been wandering around are brought in for shelter. They’re Mrs.Harvey and her young daughter who stays in bed, Mrs.Moore insists she’s dying and proceeds to drink up all the booze.
Later Dr.Lee sneaks back. He’s a pacifist and that doesn’t win him many friends. He also has done research on atomic bombs and that makes him have even less pals. He’ll stay in the basement. Gladys gets a phone call that confirms hubby isn’t coming back.
Ten days or so later Dr.Lee has to fire a gun out a window at some people trying to break into the house. He goes on a guilt trip. There’s talk through the whole thing that the radiation from the rain will disappear in a couple days. Not to worry. Just stay inside. Meanwhile we’re taking it to the unnamed enemy (We know who it is).
Gladys is combing Ginnie’s hair when it starts to come out. She left her toy stuffed horse out in the rain but that didn’t stop her from playing with it. She’s got radiation poisoning. Dr.Spinelli says it’s okay to treat her at home. It will take a long time.
Before the show ends Gladys assures everybody that we will win.
Patricia Bruder didn’t do much acting. No mystery why.
In 1956 Patty McCormack stepped into cult history as Rhoda Penmark, the title character in the 1956 classic “The Bad Seed.” She made the difficult transition to adult actress and appeared as Anne Brookes in “The Ropers” (1979-80). She remains active.