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Traumafessions :: Reader Jodi on HBO’s “The Hitchhiker”

March 11th, 2010 by aunt john · 9 Comments

Our family was fortunate enough to have HBO in the early ‘80s, but as a sheltered little girl I was never allowed to watch it past 7:00 pm, for that was when the BAAAAAD stuff started, like a showing of FAST TIMES AT RIDGEMONT HIGH. However, on weekends, I could sneak in some late night programming, sometimes as late as 9:00!

One show that I was forbidden to watch was called THE HITCHHIKER, a half-hour thriller series that featured a vagabond host before and after each episode (think Crypt Keeper, but cute). I don’t really know much about the series to this day except that it had violence, sex, and cursing on a much more hardcore level than the prime-time “A-TEAM” crap that I was used to.

I freaked out easily as a kid, but I also had a morbid curiosity, so I’d try to watch this adult program, only to have my Mom send me to bed forthwith. Only once did I *almost* make it through an entire episode, an episode that I remember to this day, but could not tell you the name. My memory’s a little fuzzy, but I distinctly remember two criminals, one violent and mean, one reluctant and soft, breaking into a family’s house late in the evening. The family was a Mom and Dad, a teenage daughter, and a little boy.

As I recall, the really bad guy proceeded to take hostage and terrorize this poor family, while the softer guy wanted to leave them alone and (I think) teamed up with the daughter to get rid of the bad guy. This episode really terrified me, as I’d never before seen a grown man threaten to murder a little boy or such violence shown toward people who did absolutely nothing wrong. Like I said, I didn’t finish the episode, because my Mom made me go to bed, but I could still hear the show loud and clear from my bedroom.

So I’m lying there under the covers trembling as I hear yelling and gunshots, and I run from my bedroom to the living room because I HAD to see what happened. Sure enough, the bad guy had blown away the whole family and there was blood all over the walls. I believe it turned out the girl had actually lived, but whatever! That vision of the blood on the walls and hearing the bad guy’s friend begging him not to kill the family has haunted me ever since.

I hope you guys can help me out with the name of the episode. I’d like to watch it again to see if it was really THAT bad.


AUNT JOHN SEZ: Jodi, fortunately for you I am all too familiar with the painted on dungarees of PAGE FLETCHER, the second actor to raise his thumb in the air as the titular host of this, dare I say, adult-themed anthology series. (Admittedly, it’s pretty tame by contemporary standards, but back then… HUBBA-HUBBA!) The show you are talking about is the fifth episode of the fourth season, and it’s called “Homebodies”:

P.S.: For fans of drifters with tousled hair in way too tight jeans, THE HITCHHIKER, in its entirety, is streaming on HULU.

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9 responses so far ↓

  • 1 JergyNo Gravatar // Mar 11, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    Don’t leave us in suspense Auntie, who was the other ‘Hitchhiker’?  I know I could look it up but I’m impressed by your Hitchhiking knowledge. 🙂
    Man all this great cable memories from youth. I’m liking it!

  • 2 aunt johnNo Gravatar // Mar 11, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    @Jergy: Nicholas Campbell wore the jeans for the first three episodes in Season 1 before Fletcher took over.

  • 3 NiNiNo Gravatar // Mar 11, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    I, too, remember watching this show as a kid. How on earth did he get his pants so tight?

  • 4 micksterNo Gravatar // Mar 11, 2010 at 10:27 pm

    Thanks Aunt John! I found the episode from season one (Shattered Vows) I watched at my sister’s house in the early 80s. She had HBO, so I would sneak a peek at naughty stuff after she went to bed. I remembered this one vividly for the “naughty” scenes (featuring a young Bruce Greenwood) and the ironic ending.

  • 5 Amanda By NightNo Gravatar // Mar 12, 2010 at 2:56 pm

    Page Fletcher is a brunette Rutger Hauer. I swear to it! He’s gorgeous and hasn’t done much lately. Too bad.

    I loved The Hitchhiker. It was so odd and different. I didn’t have pay cable back then so I had to hope a friend would have it, I only got to see a few, and love that they are on Hulu now.

  • 6 JergyNo Gravatar // Mar 12, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Ah so that’s why I really only remember Fletcher. I read your response too quickly at first (I have that problem) and though you said Campbell wore the jeans for the first three SEASONS.

  • 7 JergyNo Gravatar // Mar 12, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Also an interesting note I just read: “In order to preserve continuity during the syndication runs, Campbell’s scenes in the first three episodes were later re-shot with Fletcher. But because the character of the Hitchhiker initially had more interaction with the people in the stories, this caused certain scenes to appear very choppy.”
    Anyone watch the Hulu eps? I assume they are the  edited syndication episodes and not the uncut HBO ones.

  • 8 micksterNo Gravatar // Mar 12, 2010 at 5:37 pm

    Jergy, I looked up the episode I mentioned and it was not edited!

  • 9 theverysmallarrayNo Gravatar // Mar 15, 2010 at 12:39 am

    I rember nothing of the episodes, except for the Hitchhikers bits, but that main theme is just killer. When I was a kid I always attempted to watch it with an open mind, waiting to be scared, and getting let down every time by all the complex, adult, mooshy bits. But of course one always had the end credits to look forward too, when the screen went black and the last tone of the theme went: “WuuhmWwooareerHummmmmm>” Just a killer creepy stab that  I locked up still for in anticipation. UUhhh…freaky. Didn’t they adapt a Conrad Aiken story for one of the episodes?

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