"I ought to warn you, if you haven't read any of my stories, that you may be a little disturbed by some of the things that happen."
March 22, 2011 2:56 PM   Subscribe

Though Roald Dahl is better known in this day as the author of stories for children, he had a parallel career as the author of short stories with more adult, macabre sensibilities. Some of those stories became part of a short-run series to fill the slot of to not one but two ill-fated Jackie Gleason shows. But instead of another game show or talk show, CBS wanted something to pair with the Twilight Zone. That show was Way Out, though it didn't rate well and only ran for 14 episodes (and 5 episodes are on Archive.org). 18 years later, Dahl returned to TV with his sinister stories, but this time it was in the UK, where Tales of the Unexpected lasted 9 seasons, 112 episodes in total. You can view 23 or so episodes online, split into parts (YT Playlist).

Random Bits and Pieces
* The above linked YT playlist features clips uploaded by starman2110, who might have some clips not included in that playlist.

* Like many of Dahl's macabre short stories, The Landlady found new life in various forms. First, it was first published in the New Yorker in 1959, then made into an Alfred Hitchcock Presents epsidode in 1961, and later as an episode (complete ep on YT) of Tales of the Unexpected in 1979, the show's first season. Oddly, the story is used as part of an English learning program, wherein you can read the whole short story in PDF or listen to someone read the story in 4 MP3 clips. You can also read the story in plain HTML, also part of an English learning course.

* There were a couple of US openings for the show, beyond the original Roald Dahl opening from the first two seasons, and the opening featuring John Houseman as the new narrator when Dahl was no longer involved in story writing or introducing the show.

* The Peter Cook & Co special on London Weekend Television (LWT) featured a segment called Tales Of The Much As We Expected, which spoofed the Tales of the Unexpected, and it's host, "Ronald Dahl."

* Roald Dahl, previously
posted by filthy light thief (27 comments total) 63 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks so much, FLT.
posted by bearwife at 3:01 PM on March 22, 2011

I wouldzzz likezz to commentzzzz on thizzzzz butzzzz fearzz it'll juzzzzzt devolve intozzzz a converzzzation about how much the Timothy Wezzzzzt Epizzzzzode zzzzzcaredzzzzz youzzzzzzzzzzz.

posted by seanyboy at 3:02 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

/takes out seanybee with a frozen leg of lamb, eats it.
posted by Artw at 3:05 PM on March 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

Having watched all of "Tales of the Unexpected" I have to say Peter Cook is right on target - you pretty much know what's going to happen in the first five minutes.
posted by me & my monkey at 3:06 PM on March 22, 2011

You are entering the vicinity of an area adjacent to a location. The kind of place where there might be a monster, or some kind of weird mirror. These are just examples; it could also be something much better. Prepare to enter: The Scary Door
posted by Mister Fabulous at 3:07 PM on March 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

/sells commode to Artw, chops it up.
posted by Hoenikker at 3:16 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

... he had a parallel career as the author of short stories with more adult, macabre sensibilities

And as a spy?
posted by kingbenny at 3:18 PM on March 22, 2011

Mmmm... pig's flesh... or maybe some of the human stuff.
posted by infinitewindow at 3:27 PM on March 22, 2011

A couple of years back I rewatched the first series and the classic stories still stand up (taking on board the cheap sets and that) but there were some real clunkers too that have rightly been forgotten now
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 3:31 PM on March 22, 2011

short stories with more adult, macabre sensibilities

MORE macabre sensibilities? Dahl's 'kids' books are still some of the most fucked up stories I read. much scarier than King or Bradbury
posted by Lovecraft In Brooklyn at 3:38 PM on March 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

Dahl is one of my favorite authors whose work I don't read enough of.

My aunt had a chance to host him when he was visiting Hong Kong (and he ended up doing a spontaneous book signing in her bookstore there), and said that while he acted completely intolerable and miserable then, apparently his time in Hong Kong was his favorite part of that trip (sometime in 1989).

Also, I got a signed copy of Fantastic Mr Fox from him as well.

I imagine him writing stories to scare adults with as much glee as he wrote his stories to scare bad children, something he was quite fond of according to my aunt.
posted by mrzarquon at 3:45 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

People say the same thing of Gaiman's childrens work - I see it as being the sign of a really good childrens writer.
posted by Artw at 3:47 PM on March 22, 2011

And then, there's My Uncle Oswald, which explains snozzberries.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 3:51 PM on March 22, 2011

I agree with Lovecraft in Brooklyn. MORE macabre than crushing your aunts to death? Your aunts who were your guardians after your parents were eaten by an escaped rhinoceros?
posted by plinth at 5:34 PM on March 22, 2011

God, they deserved it though.
posted by Artw at 5:40 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Pardon me... it's time for my royal jelly.
posted by Multicellular Exothermic at 7:41 PM on March 22, 2011

As an adolescent, I remember cracking open some Dahl fiction for adults. "Neat!" I thought, and the very first story I proceeded to read was about rape.

I was quite startled, and remembered thinking "WHAT THE FUCK, AUTHOR OF CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY?!?"

And thus ended my experience with Roald Dahl's adult fiction. So very abrupt. Maybe the other stories didn't have such a...queasy subject matter?
posted by The ____ of Justice at 11:05 PM on March 22, 2011

enjoy this fabulous reading of "taste", read by John Lithgow.

Click on the play button. Story starts at 3:20
posted by spacediver at 11:06 PM on March 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Man From the South

(the accent is a bit... questionable, but it's still a classic)
posted by Artw at 11:08 PM on March 22, 2011

Hey, hey, you linked to my Roald Dahl Fans.com site in the OP! That's me! Dammit. What do I have to do to become MeFi's Own Dahl Expert®? :)

Yeah, I'm kind of a Dahl freak. I don't update the site anymore, but it's been in operation for a looong time. (I used to have the roalddahl.org domain. Liccy Dahl invited me to her house for lunch to ask if I'd mind terribly transferring it to the official estate so they could finally launch an official site? Uh, sure!)

Interestingly, I recently had some correspondence with Rick Smith, the guy who put the 5 "Way Out" eps up on archive.org. He's on a mission to track down the missing 9. He wrote: "The Paley Museum in NY wont respond, and apart from CBS, I think they may be the only source." I've only got those 5 in my collection as well. If anybody knows of a likely source for them, please let me know and I'll put you in touch with Rick.
posted by web-goddess at 2:54 AM on March 23, 2011 [5 favorites]

"Parson's Pleasure" has always stayed with me -- and nobody gets physically hurt. Spoileriffic synopsis.
posted by rory at 3:25 AM on March 23, 2011

For less-spoileriffic-ness, Google turns up something a bit more than a synopsis...
posted by rory at 3:27 AM on March 23, 2011

Sweet post. Dahl's one of my favorite writers, and I appreciate learning more about his tv work.

It's interesting to think about Dahl in competition with Rod Serling, Twilight Zone opposed to Way Out.
posted by doctornemo at 9:15 AM on March 23, 2011

Awesome post, thanks for all the link goodness. I adore Dahl's adult short fiction (particularly anything about Uncle Oswald) and have been tracking down every bit of it that can. I had no idea that he'd been so involved in television.
posted by devnall at 9:58 AM on March 23, 2011

web-goddess: Hey, hey, you linked to my Roald Dahl Fans.com site in the OP! That's me! Dammit. What do I have to do to become MeFi's Own Dahl Expert®? :)

Apologies to the goddess =) Thanks for the great site, and for the info on those odd 5 episodes, interesting to know how they got on the Internet Archive.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:06 AM on March 23, 2011

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