Okay gang, this one’s been puzzling me for about 30 years.
When I was a very young girl, in the mid-to-late-1970s, I was traumatized to the point of hysteria by a scene from a TV episode, or possibly a movie. Now I’m curious to know just what the heck this thing was.
The scene begins at night, with a husband and wife. The husband, either a senior citizen or middle-aged guy, has a heart condition and is hooked up to some kind of audio monitor / EKG that “beeps” along with his heartrate. All of a sudden, or possibly due to his having taken some kind of spiked medication, we hear the machine beeping faster and faster. His heart’s accelerating. He staggers into another room and tries to take more medication (I think) but it doesn’t appear to be helping. The wife is present during all this, but I don’t remember if she’s watching in horror or satisfaction. I also have the impression that someone is purposely fiddling with this machine, perhaps an old-fashioned pace-maker? In other words, someone is deliberately speeding up his heartrate. This method of murder sounds ridiculous but I’m not saying this was a scientifically/medically accurate drama!
Anyway, long and the short of it, the guy’s heart finally gives out and he dies. I don’t know how the rest of the movie/episode went because I was busy having a crying / screaming fit. No joke.
This would’ve been on a Friday or Saturday night. My parents were out at a party, and my teenaged sister was babysitting.
Again, this was in the mid- to late-seventies, and it was on network TV; almost certainly ABC, NBC or CBS. Considering my age, I don’t think this was late at night; probably primetime.
This could very well have been a TV mystery series, like Quincy, Columbo, or Rockford Files. It was, I believe, at the start of the episode, and I think we knew the identity of the murderer right off the bat. I seem to recall seeing someone fiddling with that machine dial. This format indicates that it might’ve been a Columbo, since that was the show’s shtick, right?
Pointless personal reflection in spoilers so you can ignore it:
[spoiler]This frickin’ scene made me freak. the. hell. out. I was trembling, horrified, crying, the whole shebang. My sisters had to call my parents at the party and ask them to come home, I was so traumatized! Admittedly I was always an easily creeped-out little kid. My worst night terror ever was induced by the ‘Tevye’s Dream’ scene in Fiddler on the Roof conflated with the book cover of Agatha Christie’s Evil Under the Sun.
But this particular scene actually affected my whole life, to the point where I’ve always been skeeved out when leaning on someone’s chest and hearing their heartbeat, or when lying on my ear and could hear my own pulse. I’m still like that and I’m 43! Crazy. The sad irony is that now I have tinnitus, which sort of pulses with every heartbeat. Every time my heartrate increases, for normal reasons, I start panicking a bit. It’s like a Twilight Zone punishment – being unable to get away from my childhood terror!
Anyway, I’ve been dying to know what the hell this bleedin’ show was, out of morbid curiosity for the show that’s led to my heart-o-phobia.[/spoiler]
Seems hopeless with so little info, but maybe this will jog the memory of some Doper with a penchant for cruddy old TV mysteries.