Original Airdate: November 29, 2014
Director: James Head
Writer(s): Billy Brown & Dan Angel
This is it, ladies and gentlemen! We are at the final episode of The Haunting Hour! That's right. Not only is this the final episode of season four but it's also the final episode in the entire series. I don't know about you guys but it seems kind of odd to end a series with a holiday themed episode. Oh well, maybe it will be good.
The Jordans, an extremely wealthy family, are preparing for a Christmas Eve party at their country club. Lyle Jordan (Tobias Slezak), Mrs. Jordan (Ingrid Torrance), and their son Henry (Jeffrey Ballard) are spoiled, selfish, and elitist while the family's daughter Missy (Joey King) is the only person who shows any kindness to Jake Donaldson (Iain Belcher) and his parents Pete Donaldson (Aaron Pearl) and Mrs. Donaldson (Anne Marie DeLuise), their hired help who handle the yardwork. After Missy offers Jake cookies and invites him into the house, Mrs. Jordan scolds her and Lyle fires the Donaldsons. Later that night, Jake returns to the Jordans' home and gives Missy a present explaining that someone placed it in his hands at the mall and told him to "give it to his sister". The present turns out to be a beautiful angel statue which Missy keeps on her nightstand after her family ridicules it. Late that night, the statue comes to life (Carly Bentall) and marks Mr. and Mrs. Jordan's and Henry's doors with large strings of fire.
When Missy awakens the next morning, the Jordans find themselves in an alternate reality where the Donaldsons own "their" house. After being kicked out by the police (Michael Adamthwaite) that were summoned upon being in the neighborhood, the Jordans wander the streets until they come across a group of homeless people living in an abandoned barn. Mr. and Mrs. Jordan and Henry continue to be selfish, while Missy tries to make the best of their situation by paying for food (Colin Foo as the food truck owner) and offering a sandwich to a starving woman (Sharon Van Duk). After the family falls asleep, Missy discovers the angel standing on the roof of the barn and begs her to put things back the way they were.
A brilliant light shines and Missy finds herself back in her bedroom on Christmas morning. But reality has permanently shifted where she is now the daughter of the Donaldson family while the Jordans are their servants. This is a positive as the Jordans are much kinder and nicer than they previously were while the Donaldsons are generous with their extensive wealth where they even gave the Jordans a day off. The episode closes with the angel narrating that she spared the Jordans more torture because everyone rich or poor deserves Christmas cheer.
If you're put off by me summarizing the whole episode, I apologize. But there is a reason for this, which I'll elaborate more on later in the episode.
Now one of the things I liked about this episode were a couple of little touches. For example, in the scenes that take place at the house, the place is flooded with reds and greens, which feels reminiscent of other Christmas films like Home Alone that also filled its settings with reds and greens. The other small touch I appreciated was how every once in a while, a narrator would pop up telling the audience various things in rhyme, which feels like a nod to films such as How The Grinch Stole Christmas.
One of my gripes with this episode is the story. Now as is, the story is kind of weak. It's not the worst but it's not anything that great either and I feel like it could be a lot stronger. Remember when I said I'd elaborate on why I summarized the whole episode later in the review? Well, it's later! So the reason why I did that is because I feel like the plot of this episode could be much stronger and carry more emotional weight through a rewrite. Here's how that would play out.
For the first part of the episode where nothing too crazy happens, I would keep it mostly the same, though I would make the comments regarding how Missy doesn't fit into the family a bit more subtle.
After the angel comes to life and makes symbols out of fire, there's a flash of bright light and the episode cuts to a scene where all of the members of the Jordan family (except Missy) wake up and find themselves lying in an alleyway wearing nothing but their pajamas. The family panics and wonders where they are and what's going on. Then the father calms everybody down and says he can whip out his phone and pull up a Google Maps-esque app to figure out where they are.
The rest of the family likes the idea and the father goes to pull out his phone, which he keeps on his person, even when he's sleeping. However, when he fishes through his pockets, he finds that his phone is gone and asks the other family members if he can borrow one of their phones. However, their phones are also missing and the family comes to the conclusion that their phones must've been stolen. Because of this, the son suggests that they ask someone if they can borrow their phone. The father rejects his suggestion and says that he doesn't want anybody to see them in their pajamas. The son counters this and says that they can't just stay here, as someone might try to rob them again. However, the father is still reluctant to try the idea. That is, until his wife kisses him and says, "Please Lyle. Can we just give it a try?" Lyle then loosens up and agrees to give it a shot.
They wander around the streets until they find a business man waiting for the bus. The mother begs the man to use his phone to just do one thing and one thing only, which is figure out where they are. The man agrees and the mother eventually figures out their location and tries to call the family's personal driver to come pick them up. However, the businessman tells the mother that she is going back on her promise of borrowing the phone for one thing. The mother gets super upset and goes off on the businessman. He tries to take the phone back but the mother pulls on it roughly and claims that they need the phone more than him. Lyle eventually restrains his wife and the businessman runs for his life in the opposite direction.
The family then argues about the ordeal and wonders how they're going to get home now. The mother decides that they should wait for the bus like the businessman was doing. However, the idea is shot down by Lyle and his son, claiming that buses are nothing more than moving buckets of crime, disease, and filthy homeless people. All of a sudden, their stomachs starts to growl and the family decides that getting something to eat is more important than getting home and head on over to the nearest grocery store to pick up food. When they're done shopping, they discover that they have no money and decide to sneak out of the store in the hopes that no one will notice.
However, a store detective follows them out and calls to them to come back with the merchandise. The family makes a break for it with their fully loaded shopping cart in tow. The chase ends when their shopping cart crashes into a tree. During the chaos, all but two cans of beans and some plastic spoons were lost. The family is distraught and angry about this as they collect what's left. But surprisingly, they have a faint sense of hope as they at least have something to eat. While they look for a place to sit down and eat, they come to a street corner and wait for the signal to change. As they're doing so, a bus comes speeding down the street and runs over a giant puddle of water that splashes them and makes them feel really cold.
By the time they find a safe place to eat in a local park, the sun begins to set and the wind grows chiller. They pass around one of their newly opened bean cans and try to figure out why they're running into misfortune everywhere they go. By recounting their actions prior to this moment, they figure out that for every greedy or selfish deed they do, they are punished for it. After figuring out this pattern, the father comes to the conclusion that performing a generous and selfless deed might grant them with good luck. However, the mother asks how they would go about doing that and the father says that he doesn't know how. He then wishes Missy were there to help them, as she would've given them about five ideas by now.
The family then goes quiet as they continue to eat their beans. As they do so, a disheveled middle age woman comes up to them and asks them if they have any food to spare, as she's very hungry. The mother notices that she has a grocery bag full of food and asks her why she can't take something out of there. She says that she could never do that, as it's food for her family. The father apologizes and says that they don't have much food to spare. The woman politely says, "Oh that's okay. I'll just ask someone else," and walks away. A few moments later, the son feels terrible for the woman and wishes there was some way to help her. Then, something dawns on him and he frantically searches for the other can of beans. He eventually finds them and runs after the woman, yelling for her to wait up. He soon meets up with her and hands her the can of beans, to which the woman is very grateful for. She then hands the son a piece of paper with her address on it and says that if his family needs a place to stay, she has a bedroom to spare.
The son comes back and tells his parents about the incident with the woman and how she offered them a place to stay. At first, his parents think he's lying but are eventually convinced when the son shows them the paper he was given. Later that night, they arrive at the woman's home and are greeted by her at the door. She tells them that they can stay there on one condition. They must help around the house, as everybody else, like her daughters Lilly and Alex, has a set of chores they need to do like cleaning different rooms of the house and putting away the clean dishes. While the son eagerly agrees, his parents accept the condition nervously, as they weren't informed about it ahead of time. The woman kindly tells the son to set the table, tells the mother to help her with the cooking, and tells Lyle to help chop some wood for the fireplace.
They eventually eat dinner and are surprised by how delicious everything tastes and thank the woman for her hospitality. The woman then shows they family to the empty bedroom and the woman gives some of her late husband's old clothes to them. After that, they retire for the night. The next day, Lilly, Alex, and the Jordans are at the table eating a small breakfast while the woman is taking care of other things. While they're eating, the woman asks if one of them if they can get the newspaper for her and the mother agrees to go. When she is bringing the paper back to the house, the mother discovers something interesting. She sees an ad in the Help Wanted section for a group of gardeners at their former address and also notices that the pay is rather generous.
She tells her family about this and they're all very happy about the news. The mother spots a phone number in the ad and asks the woman if she has a phone they can borrow. The woman says they can make one call and the mother says that she won't make any other calls. The family eventually finds out that the people who put up the ad feel like they're a good fit for the job and want them to come to the advertised address. The mother happily agrees and hangs up. The family thanks the woman for her hospitality again and head on out.
They get to the address via bus, which they find out is surprisingly clean. Once inside, the family finds Missy in the kitchen baking cookies. The family excitedly greets Missy and tells her how much they miss her. However, Missy doesn't recognize them, much to their dismay. She also tells them that her name is Kristy Donaldson. Lyle apologizes to Kristy and tells her that she looks a lot like their daughter Missy. Thinking that Missy is deceased, Kristy tells Lyle that Missy is up there looking after them and that she is always with him in their hearts and memories, which brings a tear to his eye.
After their encounter with Kristy, Lady Donaldson enters the room and greets the Jordans, asking them if they're the family who got the job and introducing herself as Rachel in the process. She also introduces her daughter Kristy and offers to introduce the rest of her family. After that, some calm Christmas music plays and the narrator gives a speech to the audience about the value of kindness and generosity towards other people. The credits then start to roll.
Now is this a perfect rewrite? Obviously no. But at the same time, I feel like it fixes a few of the issues I had with the original story. For example, one of the issues I had with the original story was that most of the main characters, especially the rest of the Jordan family, don't really change until the very last minute, which cheapens the emotional impact the happy ending is supposed to have. I get that this show only has a half an hour for each episode but even then, I think you could've still worked in a bit more character development.
Another problem I had with the original story is that Missy shouldn't have been dragged along with the rest of the Jordans. In the original, Missy showed nothing but kindness and respect yet she is forced to join the rest of her family, who are selfish as hell, in their punishment. To me, I feel like her involvement isn't warranted and besides the fact that she's part of the family, there doesn't seem to be a reason why she's dragged into all of this. Now you could argue that when the angel marked the doors with flames, that was a sign that the person behind the door would be forced into some sort of punishment. However, from what I've seen, the only doors that were marked were the doors to her brother's and parent's room so her involvement still makes no sense.
Overall, Goodwill Toward Men is an episode that does a good job giving off a Christmasy vibe but its story leaves a lot to be desired.
Overall Grade: C-
Overall Season Grade:
I apologize if this review was a little long but I did have a lot to say about this episode. Anyway, much like season three, the forth season of this show has more Studs than In-Betweeners or Duds. Despite this, season four feels like more of a mixed bag. While I do think the quality of some of the episodes plays a big part, I also think the season's ridiculously short length plays a role in it too.
So on that note, I'm finally done with the Every Haunting Hour Ever marathon and honestly, it feels rather bittersweet. I've been doing reviews of The Haunting Hour since August of 2015 and along the way, I thought I would only make it up to a certain point and stop altogether. But time and time again, I've proven myself wrong and eventually made it all the way to the end, which is something that makes me feel really proud. However, I also feel kind of sad that this marathon is over because I really like this show and talking about what elements in an episode work and don't work.
While The Haunting Hour may have its fair share of Dud and In-Betweener episodes, I definitely think you'll find a lot more gems in this series. Speaking of gems, when an episode shines, it shines brightly and doesn't apologize for it. The Haunting Hour is also a show that almost never talked down to its target audience and for that, I respect it.
Oh and in case you're wondering, no. I'm not going to be doing anymore reviewing marathons in the near future, as I have other projects that I need to focus on right now. Though if I did want to do another reviewing marathon, I would do one focusing on the television series called The Facts of Life. I would call the series one of two names. The first would be "All The Facts of Life Marathon" and the second one would be "The Facts of Life Reviewed". While the series is much longer than The Haunting Hour (clocking in at about nine seasons), it's still an interesting series to talk about. However, I would probably make a separate website for this marathon.
With that said, this has been Azu reviewing an episode of The Haunting Hour for the final time.