A reformed alcoholic is visited by his young son. Unfortunately, he doesn't have a young son.
- Vic Tayback as Alan Coombs
- Chris Hebert as Jerry
- Kelly Jean Peters as Sharon Coombs
- Paul Jenkins as Brad Johnson
- Billy Jayne as Petey Coombs
- John Jacobs as Roger
- Paul Sparer as Narrator
Act I Edit
Alan Coombs is a recovering alcoholic at work at a real estate agency. He gets off the phone with a buyer and his boss comes over and offers him a drink to celebrate the sale of a house. Coombs is adamant that he does not want a drink, but his boss keeps putting pressure on Alan, including saying "Waste not, want not." Alan looks as if he is considering it, but he continues to turn down the drink. Eventually, his boss drinks both drinks.
On the way out of the building, a little boy comes in and asks where his dad Alan Coombs is. Alan's boss directs the kid over to Alan. Coombs seems very confused when the boy tells him that he is Alan's son. The child has no idea why Alan doesn't know him. Alan assumes it is a joke and threatens to take the boy to the police if he doesn't leave. The boy insists that Alan is his father and Coombs is irritated and takes the boy to the police station.
Act II Edit
Mrs. Sharon Coombs answers the phone. The police are on the phone and tell her that Alan took their son Jerry to the police station. Alan's other son Petey comes downstairs and when his mom tells him that Alan took Jerry to the police station, Petey starts to worry. His mom assures him that things are going to be different. The police bring Jerry home and Alan is yet again surprised that this boy is there. Both Alan's wife and his son are surprised that Alan does not recognize Jerry. They demand he apologize for taking Jerry to the police department.
What follows is constant disagreement in the family. Alan insists that he has not been drinking, but his family does not believe him. Petey is annoyed, insists that he does not want to live through "all of this" again and leaves the table.
When Allan, Jerry, and Mrs. Coombs sit down to eat, Alan questions Jerry to figure out who the kid is. Alan and his wife argue, and she ends up sending Jerry out of the room. She tries to remind him of how bad things were back when he used to drink. He insists over and over that he has not been drinking and has no desire to start up again. Still, Alan refuses to believe Jerry is his son and as soon as he asks for a birth certificate, his wife yells at him and leaves.
As the kids are sleeping, Alan goes up to Petey's bedroom and looks around. He tries to wake up who he assumes is Petey, but it is Jerry who turns around and looks at his dad with a huge grin, informing his dad that he is Jerry.
Act III Edit
In the morning, Alan wonders why Petey is gone and his wife informs him that Petey spent the night at a friends. Alan sits down and starts to interrogate Petey again, but his wife is fed up with it and forces Alan to leave for work. Alan gets home and apologizes for being late. Alan looks very unkempt. His boss is annoyed, stating that Alan is not late. Alan has, in fact, not been to work in two days.
Alan's wife calls him at work. She tells him that she cannot go through all of this again. She is taking the boys over to her sister's house. She wants him to see a doctor, but Alan keeps insisting that he is sober. Sharon gives the phone to Jerry, whose apology for what is happening irritates Alan into calling him a little monster. He demands that Sharon get back on the phone, but she hangs up on Alan.
Alan comes home and his family has moved out. He keeps calling for his wife and continues crying, wondering why his family is doing this to him. He has a vision of his wife and Jerry sitting at the table. Jerry is concerned about his father, but Sharon tells Jerry that Alan is just a mean old drunk who keeps letting his family down.
Alan loses his mind. He goes up to Jerry's room and starts ransacking it, screaming that Jerry does not exist as he starts breaking things. As he is ripping Jerry's clothes out of the dresser, he comes across a bottle of whiskey. Feeling defeated, he opens the bottle and drinks the whole thing.
Looking even more unkempt, Alan wakes up in the bed with the bottle still in his hand. He looks down at a broken picture of Jerry. At that point, Alan repeats his boss's earlier words of "Waste not, want not."
The final scene shows that there is a new man working at Alan's old job. He sells a house and his boss brings over two drinks. The new employee, Roger, insists he is on the wagon and refuses the drink. The boss drinks both drinks and as he is leaving, he almost runs over a boy who asks where his father is. As the boss leaves, Roger looks up as Jerry, smiling, informs Roger that he is there to pick him up.
"A New Man" is considered by many to be the most confusing episode from "Tales From the Darkside." There are many different ways it could be interpreted.
- Alan actually accepts the drink from his boss, but is hiding his relapse by denying reality. Jerry is an imaginary scapegoat to rationalize his actions. For example, Alan is at the police station for public intoxication, not because he took Jerry there. When Alan's family leaves him and he begins drinking openly, he repeats his boss's line of "Waste not, want not." This means he has stopped denying reality, beginning when he took the drink from his boss. The repetition of his boss's words echoes what convinced him to take that first drink.
- Jerry is an allegorical scapegoat representing everything that a relapsed alcoholic blames his behavior on when he lies to his family about not drinking.
- Jerry is a personification of booze, trying to make Alan lose his mind so that he'll start drinking again.
- Alan's whole family, Jerry included, isn't real, and Alan is dreaming them up while drunk.
- Alan's boss is behind the whole scheme and sent Jerry to bother Alan. Jerry also looks like a younger version of Alan's boss.
- Jerry is some sort of monster that feeds on the souls and minds of alcoholics.
- Jerry is an allegory for all the torment Alan caused his family.
- Jerry is Alan's imaginary friend come to life and now wants to be part of the family.
- Sharon wants her marriage to Alan to end, so she and Petey hired Jerry to drive Alan crazy.
- Jerry is a drunken hallucination.
- Jerry is Alan's conscience come to haunt him.
Laurel Productions has never confirmed that any of these theories or stated what Jerry is supposed to be.