Review Welcome to Paradox (1998) - episode 3 "Alien Jane"

How much of a star is Alien Jane? More like Jane Fonda or a Plain Jane? Grade it now.

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Member: Rank 5
Aired Sep 28, 1998 on Syfy

In an asylum sick, tormented Jane suffers the constant abuse of her cell mate. Only when Jane is taken away to be experimented on does the cell mate and a sympathetic doctor realize Jane's true worth.


Mayim Bialik ... Rita
Gabrielle Miller ... Jane
Lochlyn Munro ... Young Doctor
Michael Philip ... The Host
Lisa Bayliss ... Madge
Colleen Winton ... Dr. Novak
Shelley Owens ... Terry Louise
Lossen Chambers ... Suze
Yolunda Heinen ... Woman
Peter Graham-Gaudreau ... Jane's Father (scenes deleted)
Erick Kaffka ... Beta Cop


Jeremy Lipp ... (developed by)

Lewis Chesler ... (created by)

Kelley Eskridge ... (from the short story by)

Rick Drew ... (written by)


Jorge Montesi


Member: Rank 3
The most noticeable thing about this episode was that it wasn’t really a science fiction or even futuristic story. At its core, it was the tale of a relationship between two women who start as strangers and end up friends, and how it changes their lives. With minor tweaks, it could have been presented on one of the many anthology shows from back in the 50’s. Replace the term “Rage Clinic” with “Psych Ward”, the special glasses with hypnosis and you have a basic psychological tale with no real need for fancy gizmos. Believe it or not, the most science-fictiony element in the tale was the solution that injected into the neck produced almost instantaneous unconsciousness. Even though you see that on medical or spy shows, a recent article about medical falsehoods from current TV stated that one of the most common ones is that there’s some solution you can inject into someone’s neck and they pass out within seconds. It doesn’t exist in real life. If it did, Michael Jackson might still be around.

The story centers on two women Rita (Mayim Bialik) and Jane (Gabrielle Miller) both confined to a Rage Clinic. Jane is seen cutting herself with a knife and clearly not the first time. She is shipped off to the clinic and roomed with Rita, who is very anti-social and wants her gone. Lochlyn Munro plays the doctor trying to help both of his patients; since he isn’t identified by name I’ll call him Dr. Locke. Interesting casting all the way through. I’m familiar with who Mayim Bialik is even though I never watched BLOSSOM or THE BIG BANG THEORY. When she did some radio commercials for BLOSSOM, she made some snarky comments about then VP Dan Quayle. Deep down I know it was just in the script and I shouldn’t blame an actor for just saying lines that were written for them, but in her case I just never could like her after that. I give her credit that she gives a good performance here. I’ll also note that she’s one of the few actresses who is a Plain Jane and yet has had a long and successful career. Usually if Hollywood wants a plain Jane, they take a pretty girl and ugly her up – most famous case in point: UGLY BETTY. The show was supposed to show that an “ugly” girl could be successful and not to judge a person by appearance. Nevertheless, to star in the show they got a pretty actress named America Ferraro and she stuck phony braces and bad hair and such on her and portrayed her as being ugly. Other times, producers aren’t even that creative. When they made a show called RIZZOLI and ISLES based on a series of novels, the character of Rizzoli (named Jane) was described as a Plain Jane in the novels. Who did they cast to play her? Angie Harmon. She is anything but plain, and they never even tried to ugly her up. Even now, when I read the novels I can’t help but see her playing the part because of the show. I actually liked the show and the characters, but they are different from the books and I can’t help but wish they’d made more of an effort to be more true to the character of a plain woman trying to prove herself to her brothers and her co-workers.

Okay, ironic that I got off track by talking about plain Janes when in this story the Jane character was the pretty one. The actress who played her looked familiar but even though she had a long list of credits I didn’t see any role she had that would have stuck in my mind. I think she just reminded me of another actress – Bellamy Young. As for Lochlyn Munro, it was a treat to see him so young and playing a good guy when I’ve been watching him in RIVERDALE playing an older much more sinister character.

Anyway, though Rita seems very anti-social, we later learn that she had a rough life and was beaten by her stepfather (or maybe it was her real father). She set her doll on fire in retaliation and when being examined spit on the judge or the doctor and got sent to the Rage Clinic, where’s she’d been every since – just getting used to the idea of being there. When she comments that she’ll have forgotten about Jane 2 weeks after she leaves, Doctor Locke challenges her with, “Maybe you’ll be the one who leaves first.”

Rita continues to get upset especially when Jane somehow invades her safe space in her private thoughts. The last straw is when her friend Suze comes to visit her and when she tries to shake Jane’s hand, Jane pulls back. Rita chastises Jane for dissing her friend so much that Suze decides to leave. As Rita yells at Jane, she suddenly sees that Jane has bitten her lip clear through. She calls for the orderlies and later finds out that Jane has a condition where she cannot feel any sensation of pain. This is a very real condition which few people have. It may sound great – never feeling any pain! But pain has a purpose in our lives. I remember Tampa Bay football coach Tony Dungy has a daughter with that condition. He wrote that they have to be extra careful with her. For instance, when they baked cookies, she would grab one fresh from the oven and start eating it, not realizing it was still hot and she was burning the inside of her mouth. In Jane’s case however, the problems are more psychological than physical. Not being able to feel physical pain makes her feel like she doesn’t belong. She cuts herself to try to bring out that pain and be like everyone else. When Rita finds out about this, she becomes more sympathetic to Jane and stays with her. Jane admits that she was jealous seeing how much Suze cared for Rita and wishing someone cared for her the same way. She actually felt unworthy to have Suze reach out to touch her. Rita realized what she perceived as an insult to her friend was actually an act of humility on Jane’s part. She begins to think of Jane as her friend.

The story goes downhill somewhat here, though. Dr. Novak – a female – persuades Dr. Locke to let her do some tests on Jane. Jane volunteers willingly, but then when the initial treatment doesn’t work Novak spirits her off to her lab in the dead of night. Rita persuades Locke to sneak her into Novak’s lab where she has been burning Jane severely trying to get a physical reaction. Since Jane’s problem is not psychological, this treatment is idiotic and Novak must be a quack to do it. Unfortunately, she ends up killing Jane with Rita being by her side to comfort her as she dies. Locke says that Novak will face charges (as she should), but the punchline of the episode is that Rita finally leaves the facility cured and determined to keep the memory of her friend alive in her private space, so that she’ll never be forgotten. A tender, heartwarming conclusion.

I guess I see Mad-Pac’s reason for delaying his ratings on the episodes until he gets a better feel of what the show is like. It’s hard to compare anthology stories which have nothing in common except the same narrator and the same city location. If they had found some way for both girls to cure each other’s ills I might well have given this a ten. But overall, I liked this better than the first one, but not as much as last week’s segment. So I’ll give it 8 special viewing glasses, which were the most futuristic-looking things in this tale.

On the bright side, next time I think of Mayim Bialik, I’ll remember her in this episode. Maybe I can start to actually like her. I don’t like disliking people, unless they really do something to deserve it. If someone prods me, I’ll tell you a couple of amusing stories about liking/disliking certain actresses.


Member: Rank 5
My first reaction was that this episode was the weakest of the three we've seen so far. After some consideration I feel my opinion has improved a little, but I still think it leaves to be desired. Let me approach a few points.

- The title - In the DVD order the episode is listed as "Alien Jane." But in the episode we see a caption which reads "Rage Clinic," but I'm not sure whether that was indicating what that place was, or the original episode title. Personally, I think that would've worked as a title better.

- Conformity forbidden - The Narrator starts by saying, "If Betaville demands one thing is conformity. And if you're different, rebellious or troubled, they'll demand you enter a clinic that deals with your rage." Methinks the writers used this narration to make things look more sinister than they actually are. According to the narration it's a totalitarian regime that forces people to enter a clinic to deal with their rage in the name of conformity, when, in fact, the episodes we've seen so far are full of non-conformists who do all sorts of different things and that's how we have stories. And the two girls did seem to have problems that would warrant at least medical observation. Besides, who is "they" who demand things? A dictator? A ruling elite? A super computer? Not even the writers seem to know that answer.

- Expectations - OK, so this is a sci-fi anthology series, so I was expecting something sci-fi-ish. Maybe Jane was an android programmed to draw empathy from patients originally incapable of showing such feeling? Or Jane would undergo a therapy that would cure her but brainwash her until her personality no longer existed? Maybe Jane was Rita's other personality ad she suffers from multiple personality disorder? No, instead the writers dropped the gimmicks and went for "the human touch." And it fell short of what we would expect from a true Betaville story. Basically this could'be happened in our reality or so many others.

- The actresses - So we have another story focused on women. When I saw a few episodes in the 1990s, I hadn't realized this show was so progressive int his aspect. I've seen Mayim Bialik in "The Big Bang Theory" and I agree she's the plain Jane. Maybe I'm too used to seeing beautiful women on TV, but I've never liked her very much. However, youth is a great beauty treatment, so she did have a sort of interesting look at that age. I her she a very high IQ and is some sort of genius. At least she has reached considerable success as a TV actress nowadays. Gabrielle Miller, on the other hand, never had a big hit. And Lochlyn Munro is someone I've seen in a million episodes and movies; he never got an Oscar, but has always had work.

- What's in a sign? - Something weird. I noticed the Young Doctor had what looked like an infinity sign on his tunic, and Rita specifically mentioned that. When something like this happens, we have the classical "Chekov's Phaser," I mean, "Chekhov's Gun" and that seemingly insignificant element the writers made so conspicuous should play an important role in the story later. Yet, that never happened. What I find interesting is that after Rita was knocked off by that "Vulcan pinch serum," she talks to the Young Doctor and the sign is gone! And suddenly he's very cooperative and they even plot together a way to enter Doctor Novak's lair to figure out what was going on with Jane. Could that mean that everything after she was rendered unconscious was a hallucination? Well, maybe... But I went back and watched the beginning of the episode and initially the Young Doctor was wearing a tunic without the sign, so I guess that meant nothing, as was just a waste of my time.

- Location, location, location - Welcome to Paradox is a low-budget show. But I like the way they creatively use ordinary buildings that just suggest some futuristic aspect. So far we've seen that plant with a swimming pool in the first episode, and the enormous room where the board of directors met. And there were some locations with equally unique features in episode two. And now we have this Rage clinic, which looks quite unusual as a clinic, but the place certainly exists and has some other purpose.

- Grade - Unfortunately, I wasn't amused this time. It wasn't painful to watch like the Catweazles and Star Cops that we come across in life when we least expect, but I guess I was feeling a little like Jane: unable to feel pain, but feeling no pleasure either. The good thing is that now I can start grading. So, Alien Jane/Rage Clinic gets 6 toy pistols that deliver a Vulcan pinch right into your nervous system and you drop like a sack of potatoes.


What an excellent day for an exorcism
For me this was one of the better episodes. I connected more with this story than the others. But the story did loose its focus towards the ending. And again, this episode would have been better without the host segments.


Member: Rank 5
For me this was one of the better episodes. I connected more with this story than the others. But the story did loose its focus towards the ending. And again, this episode would have been better without the host segments.
It's interesting to see what appeals to some people and not others. I'm glad someone liked this one better.


Member: Rank 3
I was quite a fan of Blossom when I was younger. I think there is something about the fast talking kid who always has the answer that appeals at a certain age. Once you get pass that age you stop rooting for Bueller and start sympathising with Rooney.

Once the setup for the episode became clear I must admit I was thinking this one would be a dud. Young women in a mental institution, the hard bitten one, the overbearing medical staff and the friendships that slowly develop, it's been done so often that it has lost most of the interest for me.
Also there was very little in the way of sci-fi which can be used to put a bit of a twist on otherwise well worn stories.
Having said that I think the performances did win out with the episode. I initially found Rita a bit one not "I am angry at everything and everyone" and found the initial scenes a bit eye rolling. Once we got passed this it turned into a more nuanced performance.
We got to see Rita gaining more insight, more control and more empathy.
Jane didn't do much except lie there and look glum but it was more about Rita's story and her development.

It was nice to see Lochlyn Munro. His face looked very familiar and looking at his listing there is loads of places I have probably seen him. I think I even remember him as Meat in an episode of Blossom. He gives a decent performance as the concerned doctor who becomes an ally to Rita. He has a permanently concerned expression which seems to fit his role.

The other 2 medical staff were fairly interchangeable, concerned more with using their power and advancing the research than helping Jane.
The experiments seemed a little crude. I understand they wanted to see if they could get Jane to feel pain but the mess they make seems unnecessary. There are many ways they could test this with far more control and without leaving her with dried blood smeared on her and what appear to be burn marks on her arm.
In the end they bungle it and end up killing her.

Believe it or not, the most science-fictiony element in the tale was the solution that injected into the neck produced almost instantaneous unconsciousness.
Rita was knocked off by that "Vulcan pinch serum,"
Yeah it's one of those strange tropes that I think we are stuck with. Rendering people unconscious and the implications of it are always oversimplified in media. Need to get past a guard, a quick choke and he is out for at least 10 minutes. In reality he would start to gain unconsciousness almost immediately after you released the choke to raise the alarm, unless you had done serious damage in which case he wouldn't be getting up for some time. Either way it's not the humanitarian, no kill option presented in movies, tv and video games.

There are drugs I use at work which can render people unconscious very quickly, we usually administer them in the arm so they take 1 arm brain time to work (the time it takes blood to carry the drug from arm to brain) usually around 15-30s. To speed this up you could administer it in the carotid artery thus ensuring it goes directly to the brain, but that is not something you could hit reliably without having a feel first and even then there would be a bit of bleeding depending on the needle size.
The other problem and it is what Michael Jackson ran into, is that anaesthetising someone comes with a variety of problems that need to be managed. Suppressing the consciousness can lead to loss of airway maintenance, you see this to a degree in people who snore when they sleep after drinking alcohol. If complete there is no oxygen getting in and unless the airway is restored damage can occur quickly.
Add to that the side effects of the drugs and there is a reason I have a job.

There is developments on using needleless administration of drugs but they are much slower as they rely on the drug diffusing through multiple layers. We do have them now in the form of patches and creams, including nicotine patches. But they are good for slow continuous release of a drug rather than rapidly rendering someone unconscious.

- What's in a sign? - Something weird. I noticed the Young Doctor had what looked like an infinity sign on his tunic, and Rita specifically mentioned that.
Did the sign only turn up for that scene? In which case could it be that was when she was wearing the goggles. Perhaps they sometimes use it in tandem to do therapy and she projected the sign.

- Location, location, location - Welcome to Paradox is a low-budget show. But I like the way they creatively use ordinary buildings that just suggest some futuristic aspect.
Yeah that's one of the nice aspects of the show. It was something Doctor Who would also do, finding interesting or advanced looking building as locations. It works better than the CGI which is limited at this point.

In the end this episode did have a lot to do with Anaesthetics. The futuristic methods to render people unconscious and the girl who cannot feel pain. As our Royal College motto is "Divinum sedare dolorem" It is divine to alleviate pain.

Overall I thought this was going to be a dud but it turned out ok, not what I was looking for in this type of show but ok none the less.
6 ways the experiments did not conform to ethics committee standards out of 10.