“That’s a joke. I like to joke around.”
Now this is the sort of thing I want to be getting from this show. While last week’s “Hole” was totally apt at emulating a classic Twilight Zone structure, this episode does it all the better. To begin with, Tim and Eric are purely behind the camera this week, and using this show to showcase the large stable of actors they’ve gradually accumulated lends itself quite well to the anthology format.
So here we get the always-reliable Bob Odenkirk as Dr. Stork, a toe doctor stuck in an episode where everyone agrees that toes are pretty gross. We see him administering toe snips (the action) with his toe snips (the tool) and we linger on the incredibly graphic, rudimentary nature of this, as airy patients thank him for it. There’s not a whole lot to this outing, but they make a meal out of this very basic setup.
There’s something kind of fascinating of just following this anti-toe human (but still has his own, in spite of this; he’s old-fashioned in that way) as he tries to connect with his son, living this very solitary life. His dreams are full of toe snips because his life is so miserable and it’s the only way he gets control, but even still he’s reduced to shame-eating these toes and hating himself even more for it. The episode taps into a very pleasant Dr. Giggles, The Tingler riff at times too, with the delight Stork takes in working on his patients with the feeling that something much more sinister is going on beneath it.
This idea is even built up more as we see glimpses of unpleasantness skirting around the edges that we never get an answer on. Dr. Stork is with his son, boat shopping, and he sees a man walking in a peculiar fashion in the distance, as if he had no toes, or perhaps, even had extra toes on his heel. The event clearly shocks Stork to his core, causing him to vomit on the spot and greatly affect him mentally, but that’s all we get on the matter. This man doesn’t wrap things up in the end. We don’t know if Stork shared a connection with him, or if he was just disgusted at the prospect of him having too few or too many toes. Life doesn’t always give you answers. Sometimes it just takes your toes.
Some really solid casting helps round this episode out (with a delightful Gillian Jacobs appearance), and once again it’s nice to see that Tim and Eric don’t feel the need to include themselves in every installment, and maybe that’s why they went with “Hole” to begin with last week; perhaps it’s one of the few episode that actually just have the two of them in it. The real standout in “Toes” (other than Odenkirk) is M. Emmet Walsh as Detective Miller, who, in a very “David Lynch presents Columbo” sort of way involving waste weight, deduces that Dr. Stork has been eating the toes that he should be turning over.
All of this is punctuated with the very wonderful ending that gives you everything you could have hoped for from this episode, ranging from a belly full of toes to the declaration that “I’m your dad now.” It’s been so interesting to see Tim and Eric progress as filmmakers and storytellers through the years, and this vehicle could really be a great opportunity to show everyone what they’re capable of. “Toes” is a disturbing piece of nightmare comedy that succeeds with everything it attempts. More of this please.