Tales debuted on HBO, to the delight of many. Steering away from commercial network television allowed the creative minds behind this iconic brand to really let loose. There were no concerns over graphic depictions of violence, nudity or harsh language. It opened things wide up, and if anyone had any doubts about how far HBO was willing to go with this one, a single episode put those uncertainties to bed. This show is rugged as all hell, complete R-rated material, and it is glorious I tell you, glorious!
The inaugural episode, The Man Who Was Death features genre familiar and wildly sundry performer William Sadler. Sadler’s been an integral part of the horror genre for years, portraying a wide array of personalities in a sizable load of pics and television projects, including numerous Tales from the Crypt pieces, Disturbing Behavior, The Mist, The Hills Run Red and the new From Dusk Till Dawn series. In this instance Sadler portrays Niles Talbot, the sadist who throws the prison switch that sends thousands of volts coursing through the inhabitants of death row. Talbot loves his work, so much so in fact that when the death penalty is suddenly abolished, and he loses his job, he takes it upon himself to hunt down those he feels wrongly eluded the electric chair, dishing out plenty of voltage on his own, courtesy of his own contraptions. But how long can Niles serve as the one man judge, jury and executioner before the law catches up to him, and the chair comes calling Talbot’s name?
A brilliantly creepy episode in which Sadler constantly breaks the fourth wall, addressing home viewers and offering some disturbing insight into his twisted train of thought on a regular basis. The structure of the tail allows Sadler to shine bright, and the story, though formulaic and quite predictable flies right on by, never a dull moment to absorb. Despite the general lack of ingenuity, this is a terrific series opener and a must-see for anyone who supports the Tales from the Crypt brand or Sadler (the man is a monster I tell ya!) himself.