Ozzie and Harriet Nelson are surprisingly well cast as a scientist with some out-there theories he struggles to prove and his forgetful wife in the Night Gallery story “You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan,” reviewed here.
Season 3 Episode 5—aired 11/12/72
“You Can Come Up Now, Mrs. Millikan” **1/2
Teleplay by Rod Serling • Story “The Secret of the Vault” by J. Wesley Rosenquest
Directed by John Badham
Ozzie Nelson as Henry Millikan
Harriet Nelson as Helena Millikan
Roger Davis as George Beaumont
Michael Lerner as Dr. Burgess
Don Keefer as Dr. Coolidge
Margaret Muse as Dr. Steinhem
Lew Brown as Detective Stacy
Stuart Nisbet as Detective Kimbrough
Henry Millikan (Ozzie Nelson) is an aging inventor/scientist with a string of failures in his career. Persistently cheerful and optimistic despite the setbacks, he’s invited a group of colleagues to witness his latest experiment, which blows up in his face. Literally. And also in the faces of his assembled guests. The most vocal and negative of them, Dr. Burgess (Michael Lerner, obese even in his early 30s), vows never to attend one of Millikan’s experiments again.
The start of the experiment was delayed a few minutes due to the late arrival due to forgetfulness of Henry’s wife, Helena (Ozzie’s real-life and tv wife Harriet Nelson). After the debacle of the explosion and his guests’ abrupt departure, Henry, undeterred, retires to his basement laboratory to work on something new. He asks Helena to tidy up and to come for him at 1:00 a.m. if he hasn’t yet come back upstairs.
Somehow this Helena cleans up the huge mess by herself, lies down on the sofa, forgets about checking on her husband at 1:00 and falls asleep.
Some days later, Henry invites is nephew George, who is physician, to visit and examine Helena, who is a ghastly shade of pale. She is dying and George cannot get her to respond to treatment, nor can he diagnose the cause of her illness.
Surprisingly, Henry seems unconcerned about this grave diagnosis and almost cheerfully asks his nephew how long he thinks she will live. “She’s been late with everything in her life. I suppose she’ll be late with her dying, too,” Henry adds.
George begins to grow suspicious and when Helena briefly comes to and he speaks with her, she informs him that she willingly took poison at Henry’s request. The reason: “Henry’s going to bring me back to life.”
Not long after, Helena dies. Henry invites George over to observe what he hopes will be his greatest professional triumph—that of reviving the dead. Henry injects Helena with the serum he’s been working on and waits…and waits…but Helena’s body remains lifeless.
Before he arrived, George phoned the police and asked them to meet him at his uncle’s house. Utterly dejected, Henry retires to his room to await their arrival and his arrest.
George remains downstairs, devastated at what has occurred. After he swallows down a glass of brandy, he hears a creaking noise from the basement. Then, footsteps from there as he becomes paralyzed with fear. Suddenly there is a hand on his shoulder. “George, where’s Henry,” asks the reanimated corpse of Helena, looking even more pallid than she did on her deathbed. Smiling, she adds, “as usual, I’m late.”
This is another near-miss, made interesting by the casting of the Nelsons, whose Eisenhower era bland optimism plays off well against the horror of the story, as well as some fine direction by Night Gallery veteran John Badham.