|Episode no. Season 3
Written by Harlan Ellison
|Directed by Paul Lynch|
Original air date April 1, 1989
"Crazy as a Soup Sandwich" is the sixty-third episode and the twenty-eighth episode of the third season (1988–89) of the television series The Twilight Zone. The episode was written by author Harlan Ellison, who also wrote for the original 1959 series. The episode's script would later be adapted into a segment of the NOW Comics' comic book in the 1990s.
A petty con man named Arky Lochner fumbles and stumbles down a dark alley with something following him. A demonic creature, in the shape of a cloud, claims in rather colorful language that Arky is a fool and shouldn't have tried to outwit him. Arky claims he still has two days before the demon has the right to do anything to him. In the demon's moment of indecision, Arky runs off and into a building housing Nino's Toys and Imports. He runs into the office of Mr. Nino Lancaster and begs Nino for help from the demon, even though he owes Nino a great deal of money. Arky tries to explain that the money lent to him by Nino was spent to make a deal with a demon named Volkerps to pick horse winners in exchange for his soul. The only problem is the horses all died as they crossed the finish line, either packed full of dope or of other maladies, which caused Arky to not win a cent despite the fact the horses won.
Nino, oddly enough, doesn't appear surprised and decides to help Arky. First, Nino wants to know how Arky found this demon. Arky claims a woman named Cassandra Fishbein, who runs a beauty shop, located the demon for him. When she refuses to help, Nino finds a way to persuade her and demands a meeting with Volkerps immediately. Cassandra calls on Volkerps, but he kills her and then turns his eyes to Nino. Arky runs out of the shop with one of Nino's goons. They go back to the Toy and Import building, thinking that Nino is dead. But Nino shows up, dusting himself off and smoke coming off him. Apparently, Nino managed to get away but just barely. He sends his goons to get a hundred gallons of lead paint and cover every inch of the office, ten times over. Nino then leaves to presumably get something to help him defeat the demon.
Nino returns with a small stone box and waits for Volkerps to arrive around midnight. As midnight rolls around, Volkerps appears in the office with a flash of light. Nino tells Volkerps to cancel the contract with Arky and give him a million dollars, so as to avoid a severe punishment. Volkerps laughs at this, but Nino has Arky and his secretary close the door. Then Nino pulls something out of the stone box and uses it to strike Volkerps with bolts of energy. It damages Volkerps and then Nino uses the bolts of energy to drive Volkerps into confinement within the stone box. Apparently, Nino had dealt with Volkerps' father and trapped him within the box too. Now, all Arky has to do is make a deal with Nino, whose eyes now start glowing, revealing to Arky that Nino is also a supernatural being.
Reception and adaptation
The episode's teleplay later appeared in Ellison's short story collection Slippage. The New York Times described the screenplay as "whimsical". K.C. Locke gave "Crazy as a Soup Sandwich" a mixed review, stating that it would have been better represented in comic-book form as opposed to screenplay form. However, Locke also commented that the story does keep with the theme of the collection, and that "the teleplay...is almost as much, and in some cases more, fun than Mr. Ellison's more-traditional presentation of the story."
In 1991, the screenplay was adapted into a segment of NOW Comics' Twilight Zone comic book, illustrated by artist Neal Adams, whom Ellison personally asked for. In an interview, Ellison said that working with Adams was difficult. Ellison stated that the two would often argue over which minor details to include in the comic, describing Adams as being "even more obstinately singleminded" than he is. However, he would still work with Adams again if given the chance.