Episode #1 “The Dead We Leave Behind” (September 15, 1972)
Plot: Ranger Elliot Brent (Jason Robards) is frustrated with his bored wife (Stella Stevens) who spends all day watching TV in their isolated home. During an argument, he accidentally kills her and buries her body in a backyard shed. Afterward he begins to see her and other strange visions on their TV set
I like Jason Robards and Stella Stevens but I didn’t think they had much screen chemistry as an unhappy married couple in the second episode of Ghost Story. The plot takes some interesting twists and turns, particularly when it incorporates an old folk legend about the dead having to be buried right away or they’ll return to life worse for wear, but it lacked focus and atmosphere. There was also a comical aspect to the storyline that left me cold. For reasons I can’t explain I’m really particular when it comes to horror comedy and it rarely works for me unless its done extremely well (as in Shaun of the Dead or Strigoi).
This episode was written by TV writer Robert Specht and directed by Paul Stanley’s whose filmography mainly consists of TV shows as well. There combined credits are impressive and include episodes of Outer Limits but Stanley’s direction felt static and flat and Specht’s script failed to develop the more intriguing aspects of his story.
Complaints aside, “The Dead We Leave Behind” does contain a couple of genuinely creepy moments that involve corpses clawing their way out the ground and if you appreciate the Twilight Zone episode “What’s in the Box” (1964) you’ll see some obvious similarities. Overall, not as compelling as the pilot but it definitely made me eager to continue watching the series.