I first saw "The Sisters" at the tender age of 8 years and 2 months. My mother warned me: "'Way Out' is a scary show and it will give you nightmares." I thought it might, as it came on after "Twilight Zone" and I'd had a nightmare or two from that program. (Flashback: Previous summer: Do you remember Twilight Zone's "After Hours" with Anne Francis? Mannequins -- and their clones, i.e. mimes, clowns and marionettes -- are monstrosities I still find seriously creepy. For that matter, hot summer nights are still a Lorelei to my love of horror novels.)
But I wanted to show I was too big to be frightened of a made-up story, so I blinked hard to stay awake, and watched it.
We were at Grandma's apartment, an old 4th floor walkup that HAD to have ghosts, although I never saw any. It was an hour later than my usual bedtime when I watched the show and even later when we drove home through empty streets in the dark. I guess I was in suggestive mode. My imagination was twisting the trees on the avenues so they looked liked gnomes and witches out of an Arthur Rackham drawing.
Little did I know that the creepiness of "The Sisters" would haunt me for the next 46 years. I think, but I am not sure, that it was this episode that Dahl introduced as a play about how people can find that "for them there is no 'Way Out." Yes or no, there's been no escaping this one for me. (If anyone knows where to find the script or the program itself, please write to firstname.lastname@example.org!)
I did not get along with my own younger sister. I was plain, a workaholic perfectionist, the kind of kid who got terrific grades and never got into trouble...in other words, the kind of kid other kids like to hate, and definitely very Harriet. Kids in the neighborhood called me "Know-it-all," "Goody-Two-Shoes" and other names that still aren't used in polite society. So, Kathy/Harriet the neatnik brainiac dud.
My sister, on the contrary, was a classical beauty,popular because she was so vivacious and fun to be around, skilled at achieving "The Gentleman's 'C'"and had dozens of suitors ("Pauls") hanging around. It seemed I dreamed a version of "The Sisters" every time we had an argument, which was seriously often. ;)
Harriet spoke to Paul on the intercom: "Louise is not home to you." I can still hear it, and remember how unkindly I would remind my sister that her name was Louise, and I could do the same to her "Paul". Not that I'd ever have let HER fall off the cliff!!
Sis used to blame me for everything she did and everything we did together. In the end, I finally got even by sweeping orange peelings under a throw rug and blaming her. Ha! For once, the Golden Girl got the beating. (When we reached our fifties, we came clean to our parents. They were not amused.)
Roald Dahl is a genius. I sure wish a cable network like SciFi or AMC would pick up these programs for a holiday marathon. Halloween would be appropriate.moreless