I Re-Watched Friends and Have Some Final Thoughts on Friends

And that’s that! We sped through the entire run of Friends on Netflix in a time frame short enough to make me feel a wee bit upset with myself. It was weird to enter a world where throwing on an episode of this show wasn’t the immediate go to activity when we had some down time. With that, I have some closing thoughts on the remaining seasons, as well as a couple of thoughts from previous seasons that I forgot to include in the last couple iterations of this. Onward!

1)     The Friends are all real nosy

This is something I meant to put on the last breakdown but it certainly hasn’t gone away so it is just as relevant here.

I get that this is a very tight knit group of well, friends, but wow are these guys ever up in each other’s business at every single turn. Anytime anyone enters a room the first demand is to know what everyone is talking about/doing/etc. “Hey what are you guys laughing about?” “Hey what are you guys talking about?” “Who are you guys talking about?” And don’t even think about not telling them as they are not going to let it go. “Oh nothing.” “No who were you talking about?” “Come on guys tell me what’s so funny.” Dude, ease off! Maybe this isn’t about you! Mind your shit!

2) Rachel calls a lot of people bitches and whores

I don’t even know if I mean this as a criticism but has anyone else noticed just how many punch-lines involve Rachel, almost always undeservedly, calling another girl a whore or a bitch? It’s just odd is all.

3) Everyone actively hates Ross’s career

I am still no fan of Ross but this is one area where I do genuinely feel for the guy. Career wise, he has accomplished a lot. However, a recurring theme of the show is that nobody else could care less about this dude’s job in any way. They tell him it’s boring and often try and put him in his place by saying he’s lying about being a doctor (which he technically is. A doctor I mean. Not lying.). So while I still think Ross is just the absolute worst, any scene involving his life’s work being disparaged does bring me a little closer to being a teensy bit on his side. Though he almost always goes on to immediately destroy any and all good will he has achieved. Case in point…

4) Why can’t they just let Ross be an asshole?

The character of Ross is largely a condescending asshole, but often the show has to throw in a little aside to make sure he doesn’t go too far in that direction. I know this has happened a few times in earlier seasons as I recall making a mental note about it. Unfortunately I didn’t actually make a physical note about them so the specific examples have largely escaped me now. I guess stuff like having Ross be so ridiculous about believing Mark wants to sleep with Rachel, only to have it end up being true later on. Things like that.

For this run of episodes, I actually did make note of one example of this. Rachel is late to go somewhere with Ross, I forget where exactly. Before allowing her to explain why exactly she was late, he goes on this long tirade about how she was probably at a sale or off doing something selfish. It’s so unprovoked and out of nowhere that it’s jarring and of course they undermine his prick behavior with the revelation that although she was late because she found out her dad had a heart attack, she would have been late anyway because she was indeed at a sale at the time she found out. Just let Ross be an asshole! You don’t need to throw in “ahhhh he was right! She’s so selfish!” Be bold and let your prick character actually be a prick.

5) Joey shouldn’t even be able to get dressed at this point

From the very beginning, Joey has certainly never been a smart character. At the very least he could be called “dim”. By the end of the show however, this character has gone so far past stupid that he shouldn’t be able to function on any level. In the early seasons he would say stupid things and every now and then it would take him a few extra seconds to sort out what was happening around him. By the later seasons, he can’t do simple math without a calculator, it takes him 20 seconds to process Chandler and Monica had twins after seeing them each with a baby, and he apparently no longer knows how to use air quotes despite using them correctly earlier in the series.

The worst though, is where he needs to speak French for an upcoming audition. Phoebe is fluent and offers to teach him. This leads to a relentlessly unfunny piece of business where Joey spouts gibberish and assumes he’s speaking proper French. At one point all he needs to do is repeat the words Phoebe is saying and he can’t do it. Anyone can repeat words! What is this?! What makes it even worse is that Joey firmly believes he is in fact speaking completely fluent French. That’s insane! I don’t care how dumb you are, you can tell when the sounds you’re saying don’t match the ones you’re hearing. It would be slightly more tolerable if the joke was funny, but it is certainly not and they spend about 5 minutes of the episode devoted solely to repeating it again and again.

In the end, instead of actually convincing Joey he cannot speak the language, Phoebe makes up this elaborate back story so the casting agent thinks he’s mentally handicapped (which let’s face it, he really is at this point) and Joey learns nothing. I mean why risk temporarily hurting your friend’s feelings when instead you can allow him to continue on misguided and have him potentially put his career at risk countless more times. All of this leads a little into my next point…

6) I would argue this show makes a case AGAINST having a close group of Friends

I believe a large goal of this program is to have the viewers watch and think to themselves, “wow, I wish I had a close group of friends like this. All of these guys are so lucky!” I had the exact opposite reaction when watching through it this time around. This often feels like a shining example as to why there are many, many downsides to having this tight of a group.

Yes it would be nice to live this close to your friends and be able to hang out often. Sure, I don’t deny that. But look at all the sacrifices these people have to make as a result of having each other. Phoebe doesn’t like spa chains so Rachel can’t use her gift card. Phoebe doesn’t like pottery barn so Rachel can’t have this table she likes. Monica is insane and refuses to allow anyone to have alternate plans outside of eating Thanksgiving at her place. Rachel refuses to allow anyone to leave her one-year-old’s birthday party, no matter how solid their reasons for doing so may be. Everyone is always guilt tripping each other into doing what they want them to do and everyone is always begrudgingly going along with things. They are also of course ridiculously co-dependent and completely incapable of doing anything unless one or more of the rest of the group is involved as well. These people are all miserable aren’t they?

7) The Phoebe wedding episode is infuriating to watch

Wow. You know, I remember this episode being a tad irksome when I first saw it, but it made me full on angry during this viewing.

So Phoebe is getting married to Mike. Here is a character who a few seasons ago likely wouldn’t have even entertained the idea of marriage, but she is now about to walk down the aisle. You would think her close friends would be supportive and eager to make this is a terrific day for her right? Oooooo wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.

It’s no secret I am not a fan of what they do with the Monica character in the later seasons. Her shrillness is played up to an ear piercing level that eventually becomes hard to take. This episode completely kills the character for me. You see Monica is Phoebe’s wedding planner and because she’s such a bossy and terrible person, she has ran things completely her way and left Phoebe completely out of the equation. She has not abided by any of Phoebe’s wishes and has even gone so far as to completely ignore them, including removing the vegetarian menu option, even though Phoebe is of course a vegetarian. It all comes to a head when Monica pressures Phoebe to finish her speech faster, even loudly protesting when Phoebe mentions her dead mom.

Naturally, as any of us would do, Phoebe loses it and fires her as she is ruining the wedding and not allowing Phoebe to have the day she wants. You would assume Monica would then apologize and all would be well right? Noooooope. Instead Monica sits by and smugly gloats as Phoebe’s big day gets worse and worse, insinuating she could help but won’t. Phoebe then apologizes to her which is fucking outlandish. I don’t know if the episode was trying to defy our expectations or if maybe they really did think Monica was the victim in this situation, but no matter what, this is not an acceptable outcome. If there was any justice, instead of apologizing Phoebe would scream at Monica to get over herself, stop being a bitch and watching the day get ruined, put her petty stupid shit aside and help out or she isn’t coming to the wedding cuz fuck her. But nope, Phoebe grovels to Monica’s shitiness and gives her authority again. It’s crazy.

Meanwhile, Ross and Chandler are all upset because they find out the night before the actual wedding that they don’t have a role and aren’t actively part of Mike’s side of things. The rest of the episode is them whining and competing for a spot instead of you know, helping or not being total pains in the ass when there’s a billion other things to worry about instead of their petty bullshit. I don’t even understand why they thought they would have a role to begin with. They aren’t friends with Mike at all. In fact, they devoted an entire episode to how Ross and Mike have nothing in common and can never hang out without things being excruciatingly awkward. So why did they think they would be asked to be in his wedding party? And why didn’t they clue in earlier that “hey holy shit, the wedding is 12 hours away and they haven’t asked us to do anything. Perhaps we don’t have a role.” It’s not nearly as painful as the Monica stuff, but it still provides a solid dose of anger.

Finally, Joey is asked to take on the father’s traditional role and walk Phoebe down the aisle since her birth father is missing or dead or I forget. I can’t keep track of Phoebe’s insane upbringing. Joey agrees and then takes the role so seriously that he begins to act as though he is in fact, Phoebe’s father. He lectures Mike and even goes as far as to talk with Mike’s parents about how fast their kids are growing up. I suppose they could write this off as him being an actor and wanting to be method with the “role”, but mostly it lends more credence to my above thought that by this point Joey is barely a mentally functioning human being.

Mike must absolutely hate all of these people right?

8) Chandler was absolutely in the right about the wedding budget

This goes back to an event in a previously covered season, but I forgot to mention it then and writing that crazy Phoebe’s wedding rant reminded me about it. Before Chandler and Monica got married, they got into an argument regarding the budget for the wedding. Upon discovering that Chandler had saved up a good chunk of change in his years of working (they don’t give an exact number but the internet figures it’s over 100 grand easily), Monica insists literally all of it be spent on their wedding. Chandler refuses and apparently that’s not ok. I have never agreed with a fictional character more than I did with Chandler during that argument. Again, maybe it’s just because I’m a dude but to be asked “hey all that money you worked for? Guess what? We’re spending literally all of it because I want a giant ass wedding and you are the bad guy if you say no” would not go over well with me.

Also opening all the gifts without Chandler is terrible and he should have left her immediately.

I think that about does it! I may remember a few extra tidbits and that could lead to scraping together a final one of these with those odds and ends, but for the most part I think that’s the end of it. I should say that despite all of these complaints, I did largely enjoy the time spent going through this show again. It is genuinely funny with some solid writing and even in the later seasons they managed to crank out a lot of good content. It has admirably withstood the test of time! Except for the theme song. Oh how I have grown to loathe that theme song...

I'm Re-Watching Friends and Have Some Further Thoughts on Friends

Ok it took me way too long to finish the first round of observations. When I started writing it, we were right at the end of the third season. When I posted it and then moved on to this next one, we were just starting the eighth season. So either I’m writing way too slow or we are watching way too much of this show. It’s possibly a little bit of both. Either way that now means I have a looooot more episodes to talk about than I did in the first one so I best get going on this now before we hit the end of the whole damn thing.

1)      These people steal money from one another a hell of a lot

It’s another one of those things I likely never would have noticed had I not been watching so many episodes in a row but my God are there ever a lot of beats where a character takes money from another person’s jacket/wallet/purse. Is that a thing friends typically do? Am I just not good enough friends with my friends because we don’t blatantly steal cash from one another? It’s so odd that even the studio audience never seems quite sure what to make of it. They laugh but it honestly sounds like an uncomfortable laugh where they’re not really sure what else to do.

Yes it has been established that a few of the characters, at this stage primarily Joey and Phoebe, are in a rougher place financially than the others. But the two characters who seem to do this the most are Rachel and Monica, who by this point in the series are both very well off. It’s a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things but it’s such an odd recurring bit that I had to touch on it.


2)      The writing is largely natural, making the one-liner set-ups far more noticeable

I do have to give Friends credit for largely having conversations that feel pretty natural. Yes all of the characters are constantly firing jokes and quips back and forth, but there’s a genuine flow to everything that helps it all work. Every now and then though, there’s a line you can tell the writers really wanted to cram in there and so they had to do some weird verbal gymnastics in order to force it into the scene. For example, we have the following exchange:

After leaving the bathroom, Rachel asks “Hey do I have any messages?”
Chandler – “You just thought of that while you were in there?”
Monica – “Sure. Nature called, she wanted to see who else did.”

Not an awful line but the whole exchange feels so forced and strange in order to get to it. That’s just one of many examples and while yes many sitcoms are nothing but set-ups for one-liners, I feel this show is largely more successful with avoiding that trope. As a result, moments like this are made far more jarring.


3)      Boy Monica your catchphrase sure is overused and irritating

To which she would no doubt respond, “I KNOW!”

Wow do the writers ever seem determined to force that down our throats. It started as an occasional thing but there was a spurt there where I swear we were privileged enough to get a dose of it every single episode. Lucky us, each time she does it seems louder and shriller than the previous time. What’s strange is that I don’t remember her ever doing this in the earlier seasons. I think it sprang up midrun of the show, around the time that the Monica character started to become a lot more shrill (more on that later). Yes other characters have phrases they go to a lot, such as Joey’s, “How you doin?”, but in the context of the show they make a lot more sense. Monica just seems like she is repeatedly saying this because she knows the audience expects her to.

4)      Rachel is a far worse person than I remember

In the last breakdown I went into the specifics of why I wasn’t a huge fan of the Ross character. He was my least favourite member of the core group when I first watched the show, and it would appear that opinion was to be retained during this revisiting. However, in this last batch of seasons it seemed Rachel was really giving it her all to steal that title away from Ross. You guys, I don’t think I like Rachel that much either.

Her character of course started out as the spoiled one but I thought she was supposed to be moving away from that as the series progressed. During this span of episodes, she seems to be getting worse and worse.

This downward spiral started right around the time she convinced Ross’s new girlfriend Bonnie to shave her head so that Ross would no longer be attracted to her. I realized in that moment just how many times during the course of the show, she makes Ross choose between her and another woman. There was Julie, now Bonnie and soon after it will be Emily. At this point in the show, almost every season ending cliffhanger has centered on whether or not Ross will pick Rachel, or his current girlfriend. He always picks Rachel and then things immediately go to shit. Every time. Eventually you would think he’d lean the other direction.

Of course we also have the whole business of Rachel going to London with the sole intent of fucking up Ross’s wedding to Emily. Sure she doesn’t go through with it in the end but that was her initial purpose so I can’t fully wipe the slate clean on that one.

Then there’s the whole thing with Tag, which never bothered me until now. Rachel hires an assistant who she finds attractive in place of an older woman who is ridiculously qualified for the position. She puts her job at risk cuz “oh my god so cute!” Knowing she can’t actually date him, she still then proceeds to threaten women who want to ask him out and also tells everyone he’s gay. Rachel Green may in fact be an actual crazy person.

Eventually they do start dating and it’s not long before she dumps him because he’s too young for her all of a sudden. We never hear from him again but we know this led to him presumably quitting his job at Ralph Lauren as Rachel doesn’t see him again until the following season. So poor Tag gets boned over pretty good in this whole situation.

If you take away the canned studio laughter and played it straight, I’m pretty sure Rachel Green would be the villain of this show.

5)      As I suspected, Monica and Chandler become less interesting once they get together

As separate entities I quite like Monica and Chandler but once they bring the two of them together they lose a lot of their appeal. Before they are officially a couple, Chandler is of course the sarcastic quippy one of the group and most of his humour comes from him being a smart-ass. We know Monica is a clean freak and ridiculously competitive, but it’s all at least within reason. Once they get together, Monica largely becomes an overbearing insane person who Chandler is completely terrified of. Yes they still have quite a few effective moments as a couple and I definitely like them better together than Ross and Rachel, but wow are there ever times where I can’t help but feel immensely sorry for Chandler. So many jokes revolve around him being afraid or Monica nagging and insulting him. Could all of this be a horribly biased opinion since I am a dude? Oh almost definitely. But I still think the writers go back to this well far too often. It doesn’t help that around season 6, the direction for Courtney Cox seemed to be, “Going forward, can you just shout all of your dialogue?” Also the rest of the group have some surprisingly mean comments about how Chandler doesn’t deserve to be with her and how she is slumming it. Not fully related, just something else I noticed.

6)      I miss Winona Ryder

That’s pretty much it. She’s in an episode and I was thinking man, haven’t seen too much of her lately. What the hell Hollywood? I need a higher dose of that Ryder.

7)      Soooooo many nipples

I’m certainly not alone in this observation but my god the nipples on this show! How cold was that set?! A few episodes in we debated started a drinking game where you take a drink upon each nipple sighting but it became real clear real fast that was a bad idea. We’d be drinking far more than not because hardly a sign goes by without some heavy nip action. Thanks to HD and lack of bras, I no longer need to wonder what any of the cast looks like topless as there is now no mystery left there.

That should do it for the second round of these things! We only have a few seasons left to go so one more of these and oh my god will I ever be ready to move on to a different show!

I'm Re-Watching Friends and Have Some Thoughts on Friends

Re-watching the entirety of Friends has been an idea floating around in my head for quite some time. I watched the show when it first aired and enjoyed it well enough. I’ve also caught a good number of reruns and gone back to a few of the seasons on DVD. However, in recent years I’ve found myself bizarrely inclined to dip my toe back into that world. When Netflix announced the entire series would be hitting the service on New Year’s Day 2015, I knew this was my chance to dive in. I would honestly love to know the numbers for how many hungover people just fired up this show and didn’t stop Netflix until it was time to go to bed.

It’s now a few weeks later and we are almost at the end of the third season. During this rewatch, I’ve picked up on a lot of things that had eluded me during the show’s initial run. I thought it could be fun to put some of these thoughts and observations down on paper. We’ll see if I end up being right about that! There won’t be much rhyme or reason to this whole thing, just a few topics I want to touch on about this show. I have quite a bit to talk about so we’ll have to do this over the course of several installments I’m sure. Here we go!

1)      All the Friends are assholes to each other

I remember back in the day, Friends was often referred to as the “anti-Seinfeld.” On that show, the characters were known to be assholes who treated one another, as well as just about everyone around them, as complete garbage. Friends was generally viewed as the opposite, where all the main characters were nice people who treated their fellow group members with the upmost kindness and respect. No. Oh god no. These people are all the absolute worst to one another.

I always remembered Chandler as being the quippy character who shat on everyone in the group because he had been using humour as a defence mechanism ever since he was a child and his parents got divorced. But it turns out that all six of the Friends are constantly making jerky comments at one another. Every statement and question posed by any one of them is greeted with a snarky remark. It actually gets exhausting after a while. Of course friends give each other good natured shit, it’s expected. But I don’t even think these characters have real conversations. It’s instead all a series of sarcastic and catty responses.

It goes far beyond just word play though. These people do awful, AWFUL, things to each other, most often because one of them is only looking out for themselves. In the almost three seasons I have rewatched, these “friends” have done the following:

-          Chandler completely breaks Monica’s spirits and forces her to tears in order to get out of jogging

-          Chandler harms Joey’s acting career by insisting he use Joseph Stalin as a stage name, costing him at least one audition, perhaps more

-          When Rachel’s boss tells Phoebe she can no longer play her music in Central Perk, she refuses to stop angrily playing outside even though this cannot be good for Rachel’s job

-          When Rachel accidently loses Ross’s monkey, he tears her down as a human being in a way that is quite frightening (this one may fit better in a later sub-category actually.)

The list goes on as I imagine I could probably find an example from each episode. The truth of it is, this group seemingly doesn’t even like one another, let alone are bestest buddies. They are constantly looking out for themselves and will gladly throw anyone else in the group under the bus if it means they will get what they want.


2)      All the Friends are assholes to everyone else as well

The core group’s shitty behavior isn’t exclusive to how they treat each other. Oh no. It extends to how they treat everyone else too. Often they have no regard for the well-being of others, just as long as things are working out ok for them. Examples!

-          When it’s revealed that Monica’s boyfriend is only fun because he’s an alcoholic, he starts to clean up his life. As a result he becomes far more dull, much to the disappointment of everyone in the group

-          While on a double date, Joey and Monica conspire to break the other couple up so they can date them instead. I believe this plan is also successful in the end.

-          Rachel sleeps with her ex-fiancée even though he is now dating her friend. She then makes a big speech about herself when attending their wedding. Sure they antagonize her but it’s still kinda weird.

-          I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole Eddie roommate situation. Yeah I don’t blame Chandler for wanting him the hell out of there, but they did send a clearly mentally unhinged man out into the world with a bunch of pent up rage. In some universe there is an episode of Criminal Minds that follows-up on the Eddie character after those events.

Once again I could continue on with this list for pages and pages but it feels unnecessary. The truth of it all is that we are in fact watching a show about six sociopaths who are burning a trail of broken hearts and ill feelings everywhere they go.

3)      Ross is far worse than I remember, and I remember him being real bad

Even back in the day I remember everyone would quantify their approval of this show with some variation of “I just like all of the characters…well except for Ross.” It was such a wide spread opinion that when a friend suddenly revealed they thought Ross was mostly ok (they didn’t even actively like the character, they just tolerated him), we were genuinely aghast at the revelation. Nobody liked Ross. That was simply how it worked.

Going into this rewatch, I expected these negative feelings to hold true. What I did not expect was for them to be significantly magnified. Ross was not only as bad as I recalled, but I was finding myself even more irritated by him. He was still the whiny, sad sack character that I remembered and he also starts out as far more of a Chandler clone than I thought. These were the characteristics that used to bother me but what stood out more this time is that the dude is actually creepy as fuuuuuuuuck, at least when it comes to the Rachel stuff.

It’s made clear almost immediately that Ross has had the hots for Rachel since high school. It’s a crush that has been ongoing for approximately a decade. I believe in the very first episode he mentions to her that at some point he would like to ask her out and she seems ok with the idea. Then he doesn’t do anything about it. He stands to the side and whines about how he wants to be with Rachel but does dick all to actually make it happen. This is the same stuff I remembered being bothersome but I was taken aback but how creepily possessive he is of Rachel. Even though he hasn’t made a move, he still seems to believe she is his.

Take for example the arrival of Paulo about halfway through the first season. Once he and Rachel start seeing each other, Ross is immediately openly hostile towards him. Yes eventually Paulo is revealed to be an asshole, but before that happens, Ross is making fun of his accent and calling him “crap weasel.” I think we’re supposed to be on his side about it but what the fuck man? Stop being an asshole about this. It’s not just the Paulo stuff either. He gets all pissed when Rachel has a sex dream about Chandler and I believe there are lots of other moments too. Basically he spends the entire first season getting all worked up about Rachel as though he has claim over her.

Things don’t get any better once they actually get together either. While Ross remains irritating in his usual way throughout most of their relationship, his shit really ramps up once Rachel lands a new job at Bloomingdale’s. She is given the job by this guy Mark, and Ross immediately cranks up the jealously to alarming levels. There is absolutely no basis for his paranoia, though in all fairness they do later discuss how Carol and the divorce really messed him up. Still, his behavior here is infuriating to watch. He is a dick to Mark right to his face and becomes possessive of Rachel in a way that would make a serial killer go, “You’re being a bit intense right now dude.” He shows up at her office unannounced, even when she specifically tells him not to do that. He sends a barbershop quartet, a bunch of flowers and stuffed animals, and countless other things to her office to make it clear to everyone that she is his. He also whines whenever she tells him not to do unsettling shit like that. It’s also worth noting that one of the times he shows up uninvited is on their anniversary. Yeah it sucks she is working on their anniversary but did Ross forget what he ended up doing on the night of their first date? Going into fucking work!

Perhaps his worst moment in that relationship (I’m not going to get into the “we were on a break” nonsense but I do think everyone was in the wrong there) is when Rachel tells him that she is going to attend a fashion seminar with Mark. Ross whines about it and says he wants to go instead. Rachel abides. How does Ross repay this gesture? By falling asleep during the seminar, then later telling her it was boring and that his job is way more important than hers. I know it’s a sitcom and hey I shouldn’t take it too seriously, but oh my god man. Ross is an asshole, there is no way around that. The studio audience laughs it off but if you took away the canned laughter and played this scene completely straight, I think it would work perfectly well. Though you may have to cut the “Jurassic Parka” bit which at least does alleviate some of the awkwardness.

I could keep going but I think I’ve made my point. Ross is a gargantuan prick and he and Rachel together are absolute poison. Anyone putting them on their “Best TV Couples Ever of All Time” list needs to go back and see how toxic their relationship truly was.

4)      Susan and Carol are surprisingly mean

I know I just spent several paragraphs railing against Ross as a character, but this is one area where I do feel some sympathy for him. Ross is going through a divorce right when the series begins and it’s because his wife Carol has come out as a lesbian and is dating Susan. The divorce alone would be devastating as it’s quickly made known that Carol and Ross have been together for years and years. These are young characters so Ross has been with Carol most of his dating life. So to not only have that relationship end, but to find out your wife is gay and has been cheating on you with someone else, would naturally be pretty devastating. On top of all that, she is pregnant with your child. This last area is what I take the most issue with.

Almost immediately upon meeting their characters, Carol and Susan are treating Ross like garbage. They treat him as little more than a glorified sperm donor and seem often annoyed that he keeps trying to interfere in, you know, the birth of his own child. They chose a name without him and also don’t want his last name anywhere near the kid. All this while almost constantly rubbing the whole “our marriage failed and I’m dating a woman” aspect directly in his face.

You would think Susan would feel awkward about the whole thing and take a walking on eggshells approach to the situation. Nope. Right from the first introduction of her character, she is treating Ross like garbage and pushing him out of the situation. She seems insistent that Ben is just as much hers, if not more hers, than he is Ross’s. Maybe she knew people would judge this relationship so she felt the need to be aggressive but it’s not the best approach for a character that I believe we are supposed to sympathize with. She loses me almost immediately and several seasons later, has not gained me back.

5)      My god that sure is a lot of gay jokes

I definitely recall there being at least a good amount of gay jokes on this show, mostly revolving around Chandler having to occasionally assure someone that he is not, in fact, gay. But wow there are levels of gay panic going on here that I did not recall. Yes the show did a lot of progressive things at the time, like feature a lesbian wedding. But man are the guys ever quick to freak the fuck out if a dude touches them or hugs them or looks at them. It’s particularly noticeable watching so many episodes back to back that they fall back on this trope waaaay too often.


6)      You know what? Ross is right, you should all be fucking ready!

I have to side with Ross for one more thing, though only partly. The One Where Nobody is Ready is a famous episode and it’s certainly solid but I found it far more stressful to watch as an adult because I kind of agree with Ross that everybody should be ready long before there is only 20 minutes before they all have to leave for an event that is hugely important to him. That’s pretty shitty across the board. Chandler and Joey’s childish fight over the chair is still funny but at the same time would you assholes stop quibbling about stupid shit and put some fucking suits on?!

Of course leave it to Ross to fuck it up and lose my sympathy for him before the whole ordeal is through. His freak-out at Rachel in the third act is….troubling. It goes back to what I was talking about earlier, when he lost it at Rachel when they believed she had lost Marcel. Yeah it’s a sitcom and yeah it’s all in good fun but shit gets daaaaark for a moment when Ross berates Rachel in front of everyone. That is an outpouring of rage that is a tad alarming and Rachel forgave him for that one way too quickly.

I could keep going but let’s save some of these for a further installment. I should point out that I still am enjoying going through the show a lot. The cast is terrific and the writing found its groove very early on, managing to avoid the initial uneven season that many sitcoms fall victim to. With an already existing familiarity with the material, what else is there to do but nitpick the hell out of it so this won’t be the last one of these!

I Gots Goosebumps Episode 11 - The Headless Ghost

Season 2! I didn’t even realize I had made it this far until Netflix told me so. Milestones! Anyway I have no memory whatsoever of this episode which leads me to believe that during the show’s original airing I never made it past season 1. That could definitely make it more interesting going forward as I won’t have any pre-conceived notions of what I should expect from episode to episode. Though I’ve heard the show started to go downhill in subsequent seasons and considering how weak I found season 1, this idea completely boggles my mind.

Wait headless ghost? This is just going to be the story of Sleepy Hollow isn’t it? God damn it. Well here we go I guess.

We open with blatant stock footage of a lighthouse which I believe is going to set the appropriate standard for everything going forward. After that the camera pans across the front of a house and they must have been really proud of this same panning shot because they then proceed to repeat it three times in rapid succession. I thought Netflix was glitching up on me but no, it was an intentional and baffling stylistic choice. Ok seriously is this jittery editing going to be prevalent the whole time? It makes everything look like a shitty slideshow. No shot is lasting more than a second before we cut to the next thing. It’s terrible. Stop this!

Oh god this one is going to be a slog. So we’re in the past I guess and this Andrew kid is searching around for presumably a ghost. His Mom comes in and tells him fuck you, there aren’t ghosts, go to bed. Oooo but Mom is way wrong and just a few moments later the “ghost” appears. I use the quotation marks because the ghost is actually a poorly rendered CGI blob of nothing. It looks like something out of Reboot. The ghost then turns into a silhouette that I swear looks EXACTLY like Beaker from The Muppets which immediately makes it impossible to find him a threat.

For the record, my favourite part of this entire sequence is when Andrew hears what is clearly a cat meowing beneath the bed but still hesitantly checks only to discover that yes, that meowing was indeed his cat. I think maybe it was meant to be a jump scare but when the cat is sitting there motionless it doesn’t really work.

Anyway it turns out this all was just a story being told by the leader of a ghost tour who is rockin’ some sweet mutton chops. The story does conclude with the ghost ripping off Andrew’s head and hiding it somewhere in the house which I admit is pretty gnarly. Suddenly a clearly fake arm reaches out from below the table and grabs one of the kids on the tour which immediately made me give a lot of credit to the tour because man that is commitment. Turns out though it wasn’t part of the official tour and the guide gets angry at the kids for making his tour more effective.

So I guess these guys are our heroes, Dwayne and …Girl. I don’t think they’ve said her actual name yet. I’ve started noticing that the kid actors in this show are terrible at pretending to laugh. It’s one step away from being a straight up “ha ha ha ha I am laughing” delivery. So I guess these two call themselves The Twin Terrors and they run around scaring little kids. Wow, our heroes are assholes. They plan to come back the next night and sneak away from the tour to look around for the headless ghost. Then we get lots of the standard “What are you scared? You’re scared aren’t you?” dialogue that seems to make up 80% of every episode of this show.

The next night at the tour we spend a whole lot of time listening to the guide actually give the tour. I admit he is selling the material pretty well but the tour itself sure doesn’t look very scary. It’s a brightly lit house with a group of people around. There’s no atmosphere at all. Hopefully these people didn’t spend too much on the tickets. The twins successfully sneak off which shows this is the most inattentive tour guide in history. There were like 6 people in the group, you didn’t notice that two are missing? You sir are a lawsuit waiting to happen.

They explore the house for a while in what starts to feel like live action Scooby Doo, complete with mysterious paintings and everything. They sneak into a room that’s off limits and find a bunch of shark jaws and such. We then get a sequence that once again goes on far too long as the sister (who it turns out is named Stephanie and seems to be just the worst person) starts looking around for the head as Dwayne stands in the corner looking terrified. She then reacts frightened to something off camera to psyche out Dwayne not once, but twice! Come on guys you only get 20 minutes to tell your story, let’s get on with it.

Right after that they hear somebody coming towards the room so they duck into the closet to hide. Then begins another drawn out sequence as we wait for this person to very slowly work their way to the room they are in. They then open the closet door and oooooooooooooo shit! It’s just the tour guide. Wah waaaaah. All that for nothing. It actually reminded me of how misleading some of the chapter transitions were in the actual Goosebumps books. “And then a hand came out of the ground and snapped my leg in half”. New chapter. “Oh wait, it was just the dog’s tail and my leg is fine. Cool.”

The tour guide throws them out and bans them there for life, something they seem upset about but come on did they really not see that one coming? Seems very justified. Immediately they run into a pale dude in old timey clothes named Seth who asks them if they want to see some real ghosts. Yeah this dude seems on the up and up, absolutely. Seth tells them that they need to sneak in after the tours are over in order to see the real shit. Seth says they should sneak back in that night and Stephanie being a fucking idiot is way into the idea. I mean I’m sure there is absolutely no way this Seth character is going to turn out to be a ghost. Nope, no way.

I think 20% of the run time of this episode so far has been comprised of establishing shots of this friggin’ house.

So that night they all sneak in and start poking around which of course leads to another sequence of people looking around at stuff and not much happening. When they find a dumb waiter, Seth launches into a story about a young kid who used to live there that I’m sure is absolutely not him. Nope, because there is no way this dude is a secret ghost. He just seems so normal and legit. Anyway the kid in the story ate ice cream all the time and the dumb waiter was used to send it to him. Then one day he fell down the dumb waiter and died. The end! Though I will give credit to the final line about how the kid’s face was so fucked up and mangled that you couldn’t tell it apart from the strawberry ice cream. That’s some good grisly shit Goosebumps, you need a lot more of that sort of stuff!

Stephanie though says fuck your story; show me some real ghosts damn it! Seth takes them upstairs to the Captain’s secret room. I guess I missed the back story about the captain but it’s too late, not rewinding. We continue forward! Once they get to the room, Seth locks the door behind them and tells them they can never leave. What?! This dude is a bad guy! Oooooooo man! What a surprising turn of events. So yeah Seth is Andrew and he says the reason he has a head is because he borrowed it and now he is gonna get him some of that Dwayne head. Wait you know what? This fucker is lying isn’t he? He’s not a ghost, he’s just an asshole. Or he’s lying and he is still that ice cream kid because otherwise why even tell that story? Let’s see! Lots of threats about how he’s going to take Dwayne’s head which are actually quite funny. I don’t think there’s a threatening way for this kid to say “I’m gonna take your head Dwayne” but kudos to him he certainly keeps on trying to make it work. I will say I legitimately enjoyed Dwayne’s attempts to logically explain why his head is bad because it has allergies, bad hair, etc. That was pretty good right there.

They make a move to escape in the dumb waiter and holy shit there’s an actual ghost head in there! The effect isn’t very good but I admit that I didn’t expect that. Nobody reacts appropriately to this development, which is to say none of them immediately start crying and urinating. If anything Dwayne is just relieved because if they found the original head then that means he gets to keep his. It turns out though that Seth is indeed full of shit as Andrew’s ghost body shows up to reclaim his head. Wait…you’re telling me that after something like 100 years of searching the house for his head, he never looked in the fucking dumb waiter?! Seriously?! It’s not like the head was stuck in the shaft or anything, it was right there as soon as you opened the door! His ghost body wasn’t even trying to look. Typical lazy child ghost body.

It turns out that Seth is a former employee of the house who just likes fucking with people. The tour guide tells Dwayne to go on ahead as he wants Stephanie to stay behind so he can have a word with her. They see no issues with this. I hate to say it but Stephanie is going to end up murdered before she turns 20. She has absolutely no qualms of going with strangers into any situation no matter how blatantly messed up it is. “Hey Stephanie. You don’t know me but will you join me in this back alley so I can kill….you with awesome presents and gifts?” “Ugh, what’s the matter Dwayne? You scared of sketch bags in dark alleys with hunting knives?” She never stood a chance.

The tour guide is a ghost by the way. The captain in fact. And yes Seth is in fact the kid who died in the dumb waiter, once again surprising nobody. Though it turns out Andrew knows all these people. The Captain starts painting Stephanie’s portrait which I know means something but I already forget the significance. I guess they plan to trap her there. Why are they just targeting her and not Dwayne as well? I don’t get it. Sexist assholes. Dwayne comes back and saves the day by….I’m honestly not sure what he did. He threw something on the painting which caused it to melt and disappear. They get chased by the captain ghost who keeps letting out the exact same scream on loop.

In the final scene, we see the tour guide, now disguised as a realtor, selling the home to a couple we’ve never seen before. He then looks directly into the camera which isn’t so much intimidating as it is silly, and we cut to the credits.

I have to admit, that one wasn’t bad. Yes many of the scenes went on too long and some of the plot twists were insanely easy to see coming, but there were some moments of true potential which is especially impressive considering the weak opening. The backstories for the various ghosts were appropriately grim and some of the humour genuinely worked. It didn’t all come together as a whole but the effort was there and I can appreciate that. Also they did away with the shitty jumpy editing pretty quickly and thank God for that. It actually gives me some hope going into this second season that maybe some of the kinks have been worked out and we’re in for some truly good stuff.

I Gots Goosebumps Episode 10 - Say Cheese and Die

At the end of the last episode review I said I was excited to watch the next one but I couldn’t have been that excited as here I am three months later finally sitting down to watch it. I do indeed remember this one being a good one though so fingers crossed time has treated this one decently.

We kick things off with a riveting 20 seconds of a group of people looking at a door through a fence. Just…looking at that door. Finally someone comes out of the door looking like Ozzy Osbourne. I guess this is actually…Spider-Head? Is that what the kid said? They go on about how creepy he is though he just looks like a pretty standard dude, I don’t get it. It’s not….holy shit that kid is Ryan fucking Gosling! I knew he made the Are You Afraid of the Dark rounds but I didn’t know he popped up here too! This must be amongst his proudest works I imagine. It’s probably Drive, then this immediately after, then Breaker High. My new goal in life is to sit down to interview him for his latest picture and immediately kick things off with “Now in Say Cheese and Die…”. I will be the first reporter to be punched in the jaw by Ryan Gosling, it will be glorious.

So Spiderhead is creepy I guess though I think it’s actually just Spidey. I guess he maybe eats cats or bats or rats or I don’t know he runs off and they go inside this factory where he apparently lives because none of them own a video game system or something that would occupy their time better than doing dumb shit like this.

This dialogue feels improvised and not good improvised. “I scared you. You were scared.” “I wasn’t scared.” “Yeah you were, you were scared”. I can’t accept that sort of conversation ended up on paper. Nobody would willingly write that dialogue exchange.They’re ragging on Spidey’s living situation even though it looks like the dude has his shit pretty good here. They then accidently stumble upon a huge camera that looks like something Batman might have used in the 60’s. Gosling uses the camera to take a picture of his friend standing on a staircase. After the picture has been taken, said friend immediately falls through the side of the staircase and into a conveniently placed pile of boxes. Thankfully he said “Cheddar” instead of cheese otherwise he would be way dead.

They go to leave and run directly into Spidey who I think I recognize from one of the Cube movies. He somehow also falls through the side of the staircase and the kids take off. You know I’m starting to notice that this show likes to film kids running away at weird angles. I don’t get it. Is it supposed to make it more intense or maybe artsy? Does the camera keep falling over and nobody is bothering to go and pick it back up? You can’t fool us into thinking this is something more than it is Goosebumps. You can’t make young Ryan Gosling running through a door in the middle of daytime spooky, you just can’t. The heart pumping music isn’t working either.

Gosling accidently took the camera with him and checks out the picture he took. The picture shows his friend falling despite the fact that Gosling took the photo before that happened. His friend tries to Jedi mind trick him into thinking he took the picture during the fall despite the fact they all have functioning eyeballs and were standing there when the camera went off before the fall took place. Also at least five seconds passed between the picture taking and the fall. Oh and the picture physically printed before the fall happened. And the guy getting his picture taken had dialogue acknowledging the picture had been taken right before he fell. Come on you idiots, it doesn’t take Sherlock Holmes to put this all together. Fuck you guys, pay attention and stop spouting bullshit.

Gosling (no I will not be using his proper character name) takes the camera home where he and his older brother start drooling over their Dad’s new car which seems to be just a standard Ford. Not something a teenager would get super psyched about at least. His brother asks to have his photo taken and Gosling refuses to show him the photo once it is printed. I really don’t get why. If something strange is indeed happening then wouldn’t showing his brother the photo immediately get somebody else on his side? He’s essentially guaranteeing the “you’re crazy Ryan Gosling! That camera isn’t evil!” scene later in the episode. Also why does his brother want to see the picture so badly? He comes barging into Gosling’s room a few minutes later demanding to see it. Is this the first picture anyone has taken of him? Is that why he’s so eager? Anyway we finally see the photo and sure enough the front of the car is completely dented in.

That night at dinner Gosling tries to convince his Dad not to drive the new car and to take it back which would be far easier to do had he just shown his brother that photo right away! You get one son acting weird then whatever but if both of them were insisting you can’t drive your car because a haunted photo said you would get in an accident? You may just listen at that point. It does at least create some suspense as the dad insists the whole family take a ride and we the audience know that camera is up to some shit and that that is a terrible idea.

In the car, Gosling finally decides to show them the photo but it is immediately blown out the window. I assume that’s the camera’s doing as well because who the hell loses their grip on a photo in a car that’s going 35 miles an hour? Sure enough they almost hit a truck but then they don’t hit the truck. *shrug* Not much more to say about it than that really.

Then a slow motion barbecue happens where Gosling takes a photo of his whole family and then they show up as weirdly fake looking skeletons. Seriously they look like they are drawn on the photo. So bright and cartoonish looking. Was it seriously that hard to just take a photo with some fake skeletons in it and then show that? Probably would have been faster than this doodle they concocted. Also this is a dream. No surprise there. That camera really does look like a Batman toaster…

The next day Gosling is with his juggling friend who tells Gosling he is out of his god damn mind about this whole evil camera business. They point out though that no matter what this camera is pretty fucked as it has nowhere to open it or change the film. Then some 90’s bullies happen though unlike a lot of these shows, I can totally believe these guys are actually huge assholes. Oh and holy shit one of them is the guy who stole Zeebo’s nose on Are You Afraid of the Dark! They really busted out the all-star cast for this one. Ok then I definitely buy these guys as assholes because fuck Zeebo Thief. As expected the bullies start messing around with the camera though I was a bit surprised that the bullies actually don’t end up with their picture taken. Instead Gosling and his friend run away and that’s the end of that. Kinda pointless actually. Unexpected, but pointless.

They end up at their friend Sherry’s house and proving once again that this is a time when having your picture taken was a rare and special occurrence, she immediately bullies Gosling into taking a photo of her. He caves surprisingly easy considering he is convinced this thing is evil and all. The picture comes out and he wisely shows everyone this time. Sherry is completely missing from the photo and proving these kids aren’t destined for greatness, her first accusation is that he missed her in the shot. Don’t you remember standing exactly where the camera is pointed five fucking seconds ago?! Gosling at least points out that she’s an idiot. Before he has a chance to retake the photo, his brother shows up (how did he know where they were?) to report that their Dad did indeed get into a car accident.

That night Greg is visited by a female detective and a male cop trying to act tough but coming off as a fucking goofball. Sherry has gone missing and I guess they think he’s responsible? What is this cop’s problem? I do like when he breaks the news he says “She’s gone. Vanished. Disappeared.” Yep, those are all synonyms, well done sir! I wish he had kept going and listed off at least 6 more words. Anyway this scene goes on for a while and they really do seem to think Gosling had something to do with this. He says he took a picture, they want to see it, the picture is fucked up, etc. It’s just of running around in circles really. Oh and Spidey is outside the house, completely forgot about that guy.

The next morning Gosling’s idiot juggling asshole friend STILL doesn’t believe there is something wrong with this camera. Dude, does the camera have to bite you or something? What is it going to take to get you on the anti-camera team? As a prank, someone needs to take the moment where Gosling yells “Stupid photos” and angrily tears them up and put them in an acting montage at an awards show. Put some slow motion and swelling music in there, it would be tremendous.

Gosling decides the best thing to do is to take the camera back to that weird factory and return it to Spidey. Outside the factory he runs into Sherry who says she doesn’t remember anything from the time she was gone and suddenly reappeared in her backyard. It turns out this was around the time Gosling had that awesome dramatic moment with the photo tearing. So the two of them team up and go inside the factory. “I don’t see Spidey”, Gosling says immediately upon entering the room and before looking around in any way. Sure enough, Spidey appears almost immediately. Wow that is a terrible fucking wig the poor Spidey actor has to wear.

Spidey reveals that yes the camera does reveal the future but it also makes it shitty. Also he invented it. Also he can’t destroy it. Why did he invent an evil camera that you can’t break? I would love to see the blueprints on that one as clearly things went very, very wrong. Oh and he says they know too much and they can never leave. As cool and dark an ending as that would be, they take his picture which causes him to….blink out of existence in a bright array of colour. Oh he was sucked into the camera. ….Why? They didn’t say it could do that. Why would he include that as a feature? Man Spidey, you really shouldn’t have built this thing.

Oh and the bullies from earlier come into the factory and take the camera, saying “those jerks thought they could hide it from us.” What? They actually went looking for the camera? So maybe they weren’t being assholes, maybe they really did want that camera. Also how the fuck would they ever think to look here?! Anyway they take a picture, Spidey appears behind them laughing but not really laughing because his mouth isn’t moving so it’s just a part of the soundtrack. So he was trapped for like 4 hours, not a bad deal.

The end!

I guess not a bad episode? It has an interesting concept that they could have done more with for sure. They got a little bit of suspense out of the car crash but there wasn’t enough of that and as with many of the Goosebumps episodes I’ve watched so far, it’s just not scary. Also a lot of it makes absolutely no sense, such as Spidey being the inventor of this insanely evil product. They make no mention of it being possessed or anything so yeah, he either intentionally did this or fucked up real, real bad. Young Ryan Gosling is always an interesting oddity as well. It’s better than the majority of the episodes I’ve watched so far but still pretty meh. Again, I wonder if this show was ever good or if I’m currently taking off the rosiest tinted glasses I’ve ever worn.

These things just keep getting longer and longer don’t they?

I Gots Goosebumps Episode 9 - My Hairiest Adventure

I’m writing this introduction before actually sitting down and rewatching this episode but I’m reasonably confident this is one of the Goosebump stories where somebody becomes an animal. I remember one where a guy became a bee, another where at least two people turned into chickens, and I’m sure this one involves a kid turning into a dog. They went to the “dude becomes a _____” well quite often and I don’t remember it working out too well any of those times.

Now I don’t know about you, but turning into a dog doesn’t sound like a horror story to me. It sounds like the best shit ever. Seriously, I can’t be the only one who sits at home staring at their pet (in my case it’s two cats) and thinking “You lucky son of a bitch, you have it so good.” Here I am stressing about work or what to make for dinner and the cat’s only stress is “Hmm, should I eat before or after my six hour nap? Or both? Oh decisions!” It’s a pretty great arrangement so the idea of turning into an animal (unless it’s like a turtle or some shit, now THAT would be a scary story) is more amazing than terrifying.

But let’s see how they spin it here!

Our first scene we have our lead running away from a pack of dogs while very unconvincingly telling them to “go away you dumb dogs.” You see it turns out this happens to him every single time these dogs see him. Dogs hate this motherfucker. He also has allergies so he isn’t supposed to be running. He eventually hides in a tree, hoping all the while that nobody sees him because he must look “like such a jerk.” Would anybody really think that if saw him? “Ha, look at that asshole, about to be torn apart by those dogs. What a jerk.” The people in his neighborhood must be pricks. He also starts mentally taunting the dogs and I really hope his speaking voice is a better actor than his thinking one.

Oh well, it’s safe up in the tree at least. But oh shit no! The branch is snapping! So he falls to the ground and the dogs do….nothing. They seriously just sit there and stare at him. It’s like in grade school where the girls would chase the boys around during recess, or vice versa, and then if you actually caught one you had no fucking clue what to do next. These dogs have finally caught up to their prey and they seem baffled about the next step.

His best friend Lily shows up and….saves the day? I don’t know she tells the dogs to leave and they do but I have to believe they would have left on their own about 10 seconds later. So Lily always wears a gold coin around her neck and also each of her eyes is a different colour. Both of those points are mentioned in the voiceover so they are obviously going to come back and play an important role at some point.

I finally looked this guy’s name up since I don’t think the episode has said it yet. Larry. The guy’s name is Larry. So Larry and Lily are in a band with their other two friends and they are so shitty that the actors can’t even convincingly pretend to enjoy their own music. They have an audition coming up for a gig to play at some kid’s birthday party. Lord I hope their competition is even slightly better or else that poor child is in for the shittiest birthday party in existence. Even The Omen birthday party where the maid kills herself in front of everyone would have a leg up.

After band practice, Larry finds this bottle of “Instant Tan”. The product label clearly wasn’t well thought out as it reads “Instant Tan Gives You an Instant Tan.” Gosh bottle, thank you for that explanation. The title wasn’t quite clear enough and I was seconds away from putting it on this Caesar salad so thank god you added that second part. If only all products would be so courteous. “Peanut butter cookies are cookies made of peanut butter.” “Windshield washer fluid is fluid you can wash your windshield with.” I joke, but give it five years.

None of the group, except Larry, seems to mind that they found this bottle on a shelf in a random garage and so they immediately start applying it liberally. Larry though calls them out and makes the rational statement that the bottle could have come from anywhere and maybe they shouldn’t rub that shit all over their bodies. They call him a chicken and everyone knows that once the chicken card has been played, you have to do whatever the task is. So Larry throws that…it looks kind of like shaving cream….all over his body.

One of the friends, who I’m pretty sure has not been given a name, does the smart thing and reads the label AFTER they have all already applied the stuff and discovers that it expired in 1991. Even considering this episode was made in 1996, that’s some really old instant tan. Larry plays a prank where he starts screaming “My skin! My skin!” while his friends look on in horror. Then he reveals “awww it was just paper towels” and they laugh it off. Wait what? Paper towels? So they thought your skin had turned whiter? We don’t actually see the skin he’s yelling about so we’re never sure what the prank is but if the answer was “awww paper towels” it was definitely a really shitty one.  To get him back his friends are going to I think spray paint him but Larry gets out of it by promptly fainting.

He wakes up back in his room where his doctor is chastising him for running again. Larry is given a shot, something we find out happens frequently, and the doctor departs but not before sharing a grim look with Larry’s parents. So we know they’re hiding something.

Later that night Larry is talking to his adorable kitty Jasper (who should probably hate Larry based on where I think the plot of this episode is headed) about his stupid allergies and about how his parents will kill him if they find out he used some old tanning lotion that he found in a garage. I don’t think they would kill you but holy hell would they ever lose respect for you, and probably never trust you to make rational decisions ever again. Also remember before when I was hoping that speaking voice Larry was a better actor? Yeah no such luck there it turns out.

Suddenly Larry has hairy-ass hands. Like, Robin Williams hairy. Actually, and I’m not even joking, based on a photo I just reviewed of Robin Williams, this kid still may not be on par with what he’s got going on there.

God remember when I wrote these as just quick reviews and not beat by beat plot summaries? Those were the days.

Anyway, Larry heads to the bathroom and shaves all the hair off while his parents harass him. Man, this kid is not a good actor. Also how did he discreetly dispose of that giant mound of hair? They cut away before they show us. Maybe the book explained it more.

The next morning Larry quizzes Lily about whether she has seen any bizarre side effects from the instant tan. Do I need to capitalize it even if it’s not a real product? It seems to piss MS Word off when I do so I’m not going to bother. It turns into a weird, not very thinly veiled conversation about puberty as they both awkwardly talk about growing hair in strange places. Also it turns out everyone calls him Hairy Larry and he hates it. I don’t know why they call him that. He does indeed have hair but not an extravagant amount by any means. I think his friends actually rock more hair than him. I guess it must have been the only rhyming nickname they could think of.

After some more horribly stiff voiceover from Larry, they arrive at their friend’s house (turns out his name is Manny but I still don’t know which friend it is) and find that the entire place has been abandoned. Larry asks Lily if Manny (so many names) had mentioned moving and she says no but “you know Manny.” I guess that means Manny is a shitty friend and also a sketchbag who wouldn’t mention something as monumental as “oh by the way, leaving town in like 6 hours.” They search the home and find that Manny’s room is completely untouched. A creepy suited guy appears from Manny’s closet and says that the house is for sale.

These voiceovers get even more useless as Larry explains “that night at Lily’s we talked about Manny’s strange disappearance” which immediately cuts to them sitting there and discussing Manny’s strange disappearance. Thanks voiceover, I think we could have connected those elaborate plot pieces on our own. Between that and the instant tan bottle label, redundancy seems to be a recurring theme here. Lily’s parents don’t seem all that concerned, they too chalking it up to “well, you know Manny.” Seriously who was this Manny kid? I want to know more about this dude’s backstory and see why everybody seems to think so little of him.

During the dinner, Larry once again notices his hands are covered in hair, even shedding some of it onto the corn he has passed Lily’s father. He swats it out of his hand’s and gives some bullshit excuse about corn worms. Lily’s parents accept this instead of calling him a weirdo and demanding he leave their home, as most rational parents would do.

Larry runs upstairs to their bathroom to find a razor to shave off the sweater he’s wearing that’s meant to look like arm hair. Lily starts asking him immediately if he’s ok, not even giving him enough time to actually use the bathroom normally. Imagine closing a bathroom stall, locking it, only to then have someone knock two seconds later demanding to know what you were up to. Give the man a few minutes at least! Anyway he figures fuck it and leaps out the window and bails. Well at least he tries to but there’s a bunch of dogs waiting down below. He decides it’s better to deal with them then eat tapioca for dessert so he leaps down next to the most uninterested looking collie on the planet. I get that they couldn’t put this kid next to actual angry dogs but couldn’t they have just kept them out of the shot then? That dog looks sleepy at best. Instead of actually showing us a chase scene, Larry assures us through voiceover that there was a chase and he lost them. No need to actually show it, we can trust him. “Then I raced home”. Cue him running and then arriving home. This voiceover makes the shit in Dexter look like crucial information. Stop narrating pointless shit!

He finds a bunch of hair on his legs and I guess doesn’t care about being discreet anymore as he lets out a huge scream. His parents call over the doctor again and he gets another shot. The doctor says it’s likely a skin irritation as a result of stress because of the whole band audition thing. It’s clearly a bullshit line fed to him by his parents and at least Larry seems to realize that.

The next morning the hair is gone and as he walks to band practice he finds a dog wearing the same necklace as Lily, and she also has the same eye colours. The dog runs off and Larry goes to talk to Lily’s mom who says Lily doesn’t exist and to forget about her, the second thing being a bit of a conflict with the first thing. The parents drive off, luggage in tow, clearly skipping town. Larry runs back and tells his own parents who do the absolute worst job of lying ever. First they pretend to not hear him, then say the Lily dog was probably just a coincidence, then when that fails they just say “Well you must have imagined it”, before finally settling on “How about some roast beef?” Larry doesn’t want any god damn roast beef so he takes off running, all the while his narration telling us shit we already know.

He goes over to Jared’s house (I guess that was the other friend’s name) and finds another dog. This part I don’t get as he assumes the dog is Jared because “it sounds like him.” The fuck are you talking about? Did Jared bark a lot as a human as well? How could the dog possibly sound like him? Then Larry’s arm hair/thick sweater is back, the narration informing us of this in case we don’t have functioning eyeballs. By the time he gets home his face is completely covered.

Anyway so Larry is a dog now. The next scene plays up the reveal even though the foreshadowing couldn’t be more fucking blatant as Larry’s POV is from ground level and we can hear a dog panting! Oh and yes dog Larry still has the same terrible narration, don’t you worry about that. I will give some credit for the next shot which is the same image of the dog from the opening credits and the narration actually says “Well this is familiar.” Kinda meta, fine, I’ll take it. Anyway so I guess the doctor can turn dogs into people via those injections we saw Larry getting. It’s odd that amongst the things Larry lists as being awesome dog only things is “scratching in public.” Is that really something people aren’t supposed to do? The doctor shows up and has turned the family cat into a baby with fucking terrifying cat eyes. The end.

Well that was fucking stupid. This was a horror show whose entire premise was “uh oh, sometimes hair appears on my arms.” The resolution is completely rushed through, giving us no plausible answers as to why this guy was turning dogs into humans to begin with. What’s the point of doing it? Just to play God? Who would want to participate in this experiment? Were they compensated? Why did they let all of the dogs hang out together as humans? Wouldn’t they be scared they would all start to figure something was up? What’s the deal with that fucking cat baby? Why the narration? Seriously, why the fucking narration?

This one is easily the worst of the Goosebumps episodes I’ve watched to date but I have to say I’m pretty excited to watch the next one as I remember it quite well.

I Gots Goosebumps Episode 8 - Night of the Living Dummy II

What in the hell is the deal with doing the sequel episode before the original?! Again I don’t remember the books so I can’t say whether the second Dummy book was significantly better than the first, but couldn’t they have dropped the two in the title no matter what? I get that’s the book it’s based on but in this format it’s just confusing and looks silly.

Ventriloquist dummies are the worst though so this episode admittedly has some potential.

Also I didn’t know that if you watch several episodes in a row of something on Netflix, it will skip the opening credits for you. The computer brain knows I hate sitting through that shit!

A family is having I guess their weekly show and tell night which is both nice and kinda strange at the same time. The obviously pretentious daughter shows us a painting she made, which I have to admit is pretty impressive looking. The son shows a home movie which is basically a series of shots that get the other members of his family in shit which is a dick move but he also has sunglasses on the top of his head despite being indoors so clearly fuck this guy. The younger daughter Amy puts on a comedy routine with a ventriloquist dummy, or at least she tells one awful joke and then the thing’s head falls off. She complains that she was promised a new one, making her perhaps the first pre-teen girl in history to whine about her lack of a quality ventriloquist dummy.

Her dad tells her to look behind the couch and there is a giant ass trunk with a creepy ass dummy inside named Slappy. She finds a card inside his pocket with some strange words on it so naturally she reads them all aloud. She hugs the dummy and it shifts its eyes over to give her a mean look, which based on the layout of the living room I think her siblings should have gotten a perfect view of. They probably shouldn’t have played their hand so early since I assume most of this episode will feature Amy trying to convince everyone the dummy is causing shit, not her. Now we know immediately she’s telling the truth. At least build up to the reveal guys.

Later that night, Amy is practicing her routine with Slappy who a couple of times, talks completely on his own. This doesn’t phase Amy in the slightest, only prompting a bored “That’s weird.” Wouldn’t you be freaking the fuck out if this happened to you? Does she think maybe she did make him say that and that’s why she’s not setting the thing on fire and screaming? I don’t get it. Also Slappy shoves her old dummy Dennis off of a bench cuz that motherfucker is hardcore.

Later that night we are in Slappy’s perspective as he runs down the hall and into Sarah’s room. Turns out he drew five stick figures representing the family members on Sarah’s painting. That’s….an odd thing to do. Couldn’t he have just drawn a bunch of lines over it? Why take the time to do that? Anyway Amy is of course blamed so we are indeed going the Child’s Play route with this. Just once I want to see this trope done where the family is immediately on board. “It wasn’t me it was the dummy!” “For real?! Ooooo fuck we need to decapitate that fucker immediately!!”

Oh and Amy finds red paint on Slappy’s hand and again is hardly phased by this at all. She doesn’t even put 2 and 2 together. The dummy is making it so obvious for you! It’s like he doesn’t give a shit about getting caught!

Back to family show and tell. Holy shit do they do this daily? I can’t accept a week or more has passed since the last one. Those poor poor kids. The dad is singing “If you’re happy and you know it” which would perhaps amuse a four year old but these kids have to be 12-14 at least. There is no way they would put up with this shit but they legitimately into it, I don’t think they are faking. Maybe it was a different time back then. Amy is once again going to do a dummy comedy routine and you know exactly how this will go. Slappy will insult them, the family won’t realize that the daughter is in no way talented enough to pull this off and get mad, you know the drill. Also who the fuck is playing the rim shot after each one of her jokes? Stop it soundtrack, you’re overstepping your boundaries! The dummy’s insults are actually pretty good, and appropriately insulting, especially for a family whose values belong firmly in a 50’s sitcom. Amy should really try talking at the same time as the dummy to prove it’s not her speaking as him, not sure why she just sits there and lets him finish each insult without protest.

We flash forward to Amy and her friend making a poster for a dance. The friend’s younger sister finds Slappy in a closet and he promptly starts insulting everyone around him, and hurting the younger sister’s hand. Not sure how they thought Amy was at fault for that last one since that’s not how ventriloquist dummies work. Slappy is laughing about it the whole time and again it seems to me the smart thing to do would be for Amy to drop the dummy and see if this shit still continues. Boom, rock solid alibi. I get in the last scene she couldn’t get her hand out of his back but here she is simply holding on to him so there’s no reason she couldn’t let him go. The mom comes in and Slappy stops, Amy is once again blamed for all of this.

The family sits her down to have a chat about her blaming things on the dummy. She insists the doll is haunted and we’ve all seen Child’s Play before so you know the story. They mention her going to see a doctor, she gets pissed, etc. The scene is capped with the younger brother asking “Can I watch TV now?” showing he doesn’t give a shit about his sister’s situation and that my earlier assessment that he can go fuck himself was indeed accurate.

That night while everybody is sleeping, Slappy sneaks out of Amy’s closet and stabs her parents to death with a steak knife. Nah nothing like that but he does make an attempt at murder when he raises the dad’s guitar above his head and is about to smash him with it. Can’t say whether or not that would have actually killed him as I’m not certain of a dummy’s arm strength, but it definitely could have taken this episode down a much darker path. Instead, Amy tackles him and breaks the guitar, once again causing her parents to yell at her. I’m not sure if this guitar is particularly meaningful to the family but the mom reacts as though Amy stabbed the family cat.

More stuff with the family giving Amy shit. Then she runs into her former friend and she gives her shit and man I am really feeling sorry for this girl. She just wanted to do lame comedy bits and her life is now fucking ruined. Anyway she abandons Slappy in the sewer so we just have to wait for the inevitable reveal that he is back in her house. That reveals comes about 20 seconds later so we don’t have to wait long.

This time Slappy doesn’t give a fuck and just starts full on conversing with Amy. He confirms that the words she read earlier brought him to life and as a result Amy is now his slave. No further explanation is given as to why that is a thing but he seems to believe it. What’s weird is that he seems to believe she’ll go along with it because her family thinks she’s crazy, then he immediately reveals to Sarah that he is in fact alive. Now they know she’s not crazy so you lost the mental battle and since you’re a god damn ventriloquist dummy I’m guessing you’ll lose the physical battle so this was an odd choice. My only guess is that Slappy knew there was only 5 minutes left in the episode and wanted to move things along.

I do like that Sarah apologies to Amy saying “I believe you now”. I sure fucking hope so! Evidence doesn’t get much more irrefutable than this!

The two sisters start searching their suddenly very dark and smokey house for Slappy. Seriously why did all the lights go out? Amy grabs a mop for protection which is an odd choice since the kitchen is right there and I have to believe they own knives. Amy is ambushed by Slappy who makes some threats (he is just standing there! Somebody fucking hit him!) and then holy shit. Did her old dummy Dennis just tackle him? It sure looked like it. Slappy hits the floor, his head smashes (proving he is no threat at all and is incredibly easy to defeat) and a green cloud floats out of it. Yep, no way we’re getting an explanation for what the hell that was. We also never get an explanation for why Dennis is somehow alive as well. Instead he says “It’s good to be back in the family again” to everyone (this family is damaged beyond repair at this point) and chuckles. I can’t tell if the chuckle is meant to be good-natured or threatening as there are hints of both. The end!

Eh. I’ve complained a few times that Goosebumps episodes have too much back story but here’s a case where they could have used a little more. Who the fuck was Slappy? Why was he so pissed? Are all ventriloquist dummies secretly alive? Are they all evil? Why in the fuck was the brother still wearing sunglasses on his head in the dead of night in a house with no lights on? So many unanswered questions.  Perhaps it’s all explained better in the book which I am not incredibly tempted to read. Actually this feature may have made more sense had I read the books as well and then done a compare and contrast kinda thing. Ah well, next time!

I Gots Goosebumps Episode 7 - The Return of the Mummy

It seems odd to have a “return” episode when the mummy hasn’t even arrived yet.  I know there was a Curse of the Mummy in the book series that came before this so why would they skip immediately to the follow-up? Was it just that much better than the original? I don’t think I even saw this episode as a kid so this will be interesting.

The episode title is laid over top of a stock image of a pyramid, not the best way to kick things off. Wait….where I do this main kid from? Oh holy shit its Tucker from Are You Afraid of the Dark?! Worlds are colliding! Anyway he is playing Gabe and he is in Egypt with his uncle and his cousin exploring the tomb of an ancient prince. He says it’s spooky but also that he ain’t scared of shit. We then promptly cut to the next morning where they enter the tomb and he is immediately afraid. He also gives a bunch of information about this Summoner hand that he bought at the airport and how he was told it had the power to raise the dead. Having seen a TV show before, I’m guessing that will come into play in a major way soon.

Gabe goes to grab a Polaroid shot of his uncle and cousin together. He fails to notice that he drops the Summoner hand, and then somehow everybody fails to notice that the thing starts crawling along the ground. I’m pretty sure the uncle even looks directly at it at one point. The picture takes fucking forever to get as there is lots of unnecessary back and forth. “Haven’t you taken a picture before?” “Gimme a second.” “It’s easy, just push the button” etc, etc. Finally they get the damn shot and then Gabe notices the hand is gone, though he doesn’t give it even a moment’s thought before moving on.

He and his cousin are talking about some of the drawings on the wall when Gabe looks away for literally two seconds and his cousin is suddenly gone. He then walks around yelling their names for about 2 minutes. Not a great use of your 20 minute run time episode. It goes give us plenty of time to drink in the mediocre pyramid sets though. Finally something happens and he falls down through a hole. He then sees a close-up insert shot of a spider crawling across someone else’s hand and freaks out, with the spider being nowhere in sight in the wide shot. More name yelling. Sphinx head on the wall. Fake snake pops out of the Sphinx head, decent attempt at a jump scare but that could also be my starvation for something to actually happen.

His cousin and uncle (not sure why I’m so determined to not use their actual character names) appear above him and lower a rope for him to climb up. Apparently the hole Gabe fell into is actually the entrance to the mummy tomb they’ve been searching for. Then Gabe suddenly discovers the Summoner hand is gone. Wait…didn’t he figure that out earlier? When he looked around and said “Weird” after it fell? I guess that explain why he didn’t seem to give a shit but it’s odd that he’s only noticing its absence now. What weirdness was her referring to earlier then? I don’t get it. Anyway, he quickly gets over it when his uncle gives him a necklace with a scarab stuck in amber. Again, I’m pretty confident that will play a role quite soon. Is the young cousin drinking coffee? Seems a touch irresponsible to give her that but then it also seems a touch irresponsible to drag your young daughter through a bunch of ancient unexplored tombs that are clearly structurally unsound so we may not be dealing with father of the year material here. Oh also a scarab means you will live forever.

We are then introduced to a female reporter who just suddenly walks into their tent and is 100% a bad guy without any doubt. She wants to come with them on the search for the prince’s tomb as she is totally a bad guy. Why doesn’t anybody ask to see her credentials or her ID or even ask her what her god damn name is?! These people are right on the verge of a huge discovery that you would think they would want to keep on the down low. Yet here is some stranger who wanders in and says “Hey I wanna come too” and they figure “Sure, you seem like you’re totally not the villain, why not!” But guess what everyone? She’s gonna totally be the villain. She also has an amber necklace, but hers doesn’t have a scarab in there.

To continue their foolish decisions, the group just starts sharing all of their information with this woman they haven’t even verified is a real reporter. A guy shows up with her luggage but his sole purpose is to give us the standard “You can’t go in there! That place is cursed!” warning and then run off. The reporter can read the writing on the tomb entrance and says it reads “Let me rest in peace” to which Gabe asks “What does that mean?” Kid what the fuck do you think it means? It’s not a riddle, the dude make a pretty blunt statement. Either way the uncle explains how it’s a warning for people to keep out and Gabe should feel very bad that he needed that explained to him. Also in the past people have disappeared after attempting to rob the prince’s grave. Also also, there are some ancient words that you can chant three times to awaken the mummy. We’re over halfway done the episode and it’s all either been Gabe yelling out names or ridiculous exposition. It better all pay off in the second half.

Another stock photo of Egypt brings us into the next scene as the group is making their way into the tomb. They open the door, which takes about an hour to slide open, and enter the tomb, the first people to see it in 4000 years apparently. There ain’t shit inside. Don’t worry everyone, I’m sure something will finally happen eventually. The cousin, who up until this point has been smart so I’m not sure what happens here, starts chanting the words they just found out about and actually godes Gabe into doing it as well by calling him a chicken, once again proving that is the absolute worst thing you can ever call a human being and they will immediately cave to pressure every time.

Gabe then sees his Summoner hand in a hole in the wall, which grabs him around the wrist when he goes to get it. He starts screaming for help and everybody instead just stands there staring at him.  At first I thought they just didn’t give a shit but I guess they simply didn’t believe him. Not sure why, he hasn’t been shown as a practical joker up until this point and he’s screaming like he’s being murdered. The cousin grabs him and the two of them fall through a secret passage in the wall. The uncle hilariously knocks himself out by charging head first into the wall. Also inside this secret room with them is a very clean skeleton that looks borrowed from a classroom, not the corpse of someone who has been walled up for thousands of years.

They start looking for a way out and stumble upon the prince’s tomb almost immediately. Inside they find tons of riches and of course a sarcophagus. They open it but ain’t nobody actually inside. Finally, FINALLY, something actually happens as the mummy comes around the corner. It’ a pretty standard looking mummy but it doesn’t matter because mummies are pretty fucking creepy man. Suddenly the reporter rounds the corner, dressed as Cleopatra (where was she hiding all the pieces of that outfit?) and reveals she is actually a princess and the sister of the prince. You know, I didn’t fully notice it until right now, but she is not a very good actor. Also out of all the fucked up stuff that has happened in the last 60 seconds, the only thing that gets a rise out of Gabe is that the princess is holding his Summoner. He didn’t react to anything up until right there. Like wow, she is seriously just a really bad actor.

She orders the mummy to kill the two kids but the prince steals the princess’s necklace and over dramatically yells some stuff before breaking the necklace. I guess the princess lived in the necklace or something I don’t know she is saying a lot of things. It’s so weird that they are both speaking almost entirely in exposition. They’re just explaining their motivations and back stories to each other but within the fiction of the story there’s no reason for them to do that. The two of them already know all this shit and they don’t care if the kids know it. Obviously it’s there for our benefit but was there really not a more natural way to present this information?

Anyway after he smashes the necklace the princess turns into a scarab because of reasons but the mummy himself is still alive. Gabe throws his Summoner into a nearby fire which I guess kills him. Did I miss that explanation somewhere? With all the backstory they laid out I certainly don’t remember that key piece of information. So the prince is dying and the tomb is collapsing again because of reasons I’m not clear on and the three of them escape. Cue stock photo of Egypt.

Gabe is packing his shit to go back home and we see a mummy hand making its way into his luggage. Then the end episode ends with the line “Can I give you a hand?” Get it? Because she’s asking if he needs help carrying his luggage but she doesn’t know there’s actually a damn hand in there! That’s some awesome ass wordplay right there ladies and gentlemen.

Well that was dull. I guess the title did technically make sense as the Mummy returned from the dead but he sure took a long time to do so. I wish he had shown up sooner so we could have had a little less aimless wandering. There was one attempt at a jump scare with the horribly fake looking snake but for the most part I’m really not sure what was supposed to be scary here. I’m starting to worry that Goosebumps may in fact not be a good show and that I’ve made a horrible mistake by deciding to do this feature.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Ep #12 - The Tale of the Prom Queen

Fun fact – this is the first episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark I ever saw. It came on after another show I had watched and I figured what the hell, may as well check this out. I don’t remember anything about my thoughts on the episode but I guess I must have enjoyed it well enough as I continued to watch the show. Strangely enough I think I remember a lot about the actual plot of the episode, including how it ends. So this could be interesting.

We open with a figure in a white dress and veil making their way through the woods. It’s clearly a member of the Midnight Society and I already judge everyone else in the group for inevitably being scared by this. They all acknowledge Kristen is late, confirming she is the only one of them not present. Nonetheless, she emerges in the dress and scares the shit out of everyone, even prompting a frightened asking of “who are you” even though you can make out Kristen’s face beneath the veil. She gives her intro and it cuts to a shot of Gary who has his head on his hand and looks fucking bored. Isn’t this supposed to be when everyone shares that look of dread because the story sounds so terrifying? Was this shot a mistake? The dude looks ready to fall asleep.

Anyway, story begins.

We see a girl at a grave site and my god, Kristen telling the whole story in this wispy, dreamlike voice must get really really irritating for the people who have to hear her tell the whole story herself. Thank god we the audience get visual accompaniment. This girl then proceeds to wander the graveyard for a while. Like, a couple of minutes at least. Soooo yeah. Finally some dude jumps out and scares the shit out of her while another guy assures her “we’re not ghosts, relax.” Then the first guy responds in a douchey tone “Or maybe we are. Ever seen Night of the Living Dead?” Yeah idiot I have which is why I know it was about zombies, not ghosts. Have you fucking seen Night of the Living Dead?

What’s kind of nuts is that these aren’t her friends which would be the reasonable assumption. No these two are literally meeting this girl for the first time right now. So before they were just dicks but now this revelation makes them huge assholes. I can’t believe after they introduce themselves to her (their names are Greg and, no lie, Jam) she doesn’t tell them to fuck off and eat a dick before unloading a full canister of pepper spray on them, but instead she says her name is Dede and they all become buddies.

Continuing to use his fucking douche spooky voice, Jam tells the legend of the prom queen. Seems many years ago a girl was waiting by the cemetery gates on a foggy night for her date to pick her up and got hit by a drunk driver. Then every year on prom night the ghost waits to be picked up. That’s it. Jam takes like 2 minutes to tell the story and adds in lots of pauses and unnecessary details (“they found her body………then…………….they buried her……………”) but that’s the gist of it. Standard ghost story shit really.

Turns out Greg and Jam are there to find her grave and Dede is weirdly into it. Jam says “boys and ghouls” in case we dared to forget he’s a fucking douchebag. We are thankfully spared the search for the gravestone and it cuts to them eating lunch later in the day. They couldn’t find the grave and Greg wants to be sure there really was a car accident in case this is all a big waste of time. Even though this is the pre-Internet days where info like that was harder to find, it still takes them just a little too long to realize “Oh shit! Newspaper report on things that happen! Why don’t we check those?!” Even then, Dede asks “newspapers?” and Greg actually proceeds to explain how fucking newspapers work. I…why was that needed?! Did they think the audience wouldn’t know? How dumb do they think kids are? They didn’t have to explain the term “bombed” which they use to say the driver was drunk, why did they have to explain “newspapers kids are items where you find stories about the news.” Christ show, give us some credit.

They hit the library and find an article about the crash from 1956, detailing it exactly the way Jam told the story earlier. We also find out the victim’s name was Judy Larson and her boyfriend’s name was Ricky, who drove his Chevy off the bridge and killed himself when he found out what happened. Are you going to explain suicide to the kids watching or just the concept of newspapers? Just newspapers huh? Well you have to have your priorities.

This scene tries to create some suspense out of three people reading a newspaper article so it keeps cutting to the door behind them as the knob slowly turns and the door creaks open. A shadowy figure approaches them annnnnd it’s an old lady bringing them tea. Weeeeee.

Later on, Judy says they should help Judy by communicating with the spirit of Ricky and telling him to go pick her up at the graveyard as he didn’t get the message originally. Also Judy uses the word “keen” and a big deal is made that it’s a weird choice of words, confirming that I do indeed remember how this episode ends.

That night the three of them take a boat out into the water where Ricky’s car crashed after going off the bridge. Dede seems to know way too much about séances and leads them all through it. I guess I misunderstood what they were saying earlier as she goes through the events of what happened and says Ricky actually just lost control of his car as he was angry and driving too fast. Around the time you’re wondering why the hell this scene has been going on for so long, some bubbles hit the surface of the water. Dede yells at them to keep concentrating and scolds Greg for opening his eyes which is creepy because she never opened her eyes to confirm that he did. Then the bubbles chase them so they row to shore. The bubbles stop but not before letting out this weird mechanical grunt that is probably the creepiest part of the scene. Greg is appropriately freaked out but Jam seems incapable of turning off his douchiness, continuing to talk as though he’s narrating a 70’s horror movie trailer.

Later they are back at the graveyard and we open on a close-up shot of Judy Larsen’s grave, which looks like someone stencilled the name on a sheet of cardboard. It looks terrible. It’s made even worse when they cut to a wide shot of the three of them standing by an actual headstone and it looks completely different from the close-up! Wait, did I miss something? How come this time they were able to find the grave? Did they just not look hard enough before? Is the cemetery really that gigantic?

Some time passes and we see the three of them sitting together. The fact their heads are at the bottom of the frame and we can see almost the whole cemetery behind them is a way too obvious give away that something is going to walk around behind them. Sure enough, after Dede hears some rustling, Jam points out that a figure is walking around. The figure is clearly wearing a robe and not a prom dress, is clearly a dude, and is clearly carrying wind chimes, so I have a hunch this may not be for real. Sure enough, Greg goes to investigate, grabs the “ghost” by the shoulder, and sees it’s actually Jam’s cousin Chuck. It’s weird because Jam makes fun of Greg for being scared but Greg was a total badass, immediately marching over to grab the ghost and see if it was bullshit. It seems like this prank really didn’t work but Jam still seems pleased with himself because he’s a piece of garbage.

Somehow they all missed a ton of fog that rolled in as they look over and see a Chevy slowly pull up with 50’s music playing. Then a plot twist happens! Dede is really June! She couldn’t leave the cemetery unless someone brought her with them and then from there they were able to crack the mystery together as to why Ricky never came and got her. Also Ricky appears to be played by the same dude from the Sorceror’s Apprentice episode which taints this a little as I immediately don’t trust that fuckin’ guy. I also feel really bad for Greg as he clearly had the hots for Dede and now just looks all sad when she drives away with her ghost boyfriend in their ghost Chevy. It’s kind of funny to think that cousin Chuck doesn’t have any of the back story so that guy must be fuckin’ lost right now. Anyway the two of them drive through the cemetery gate on their way to heaven I guess and that’s the end!

Strangely there’s no bullshitting around back at the campfire. We cut back, Kristen says the end, Gary puts out the fire, and then credits.

That episode is not the best and I’m a little surprised it hooked me enough to keep watching all that time ago. The story is ok but pretty standard ghost story stuff and the Sixth Sense twist is pretty obvious. Plus fuck Jam, fuckin’ asshole. Talk normal! Prick.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Ep #11 - The Tale of the Dark Music

Here we have another episode that was on my aforementioned childhood VHS tape. I do remember this one being quite good although my primary memory is that this episode blew our minds originally because the main character looked EXACTLY like our friend and we used to give him a hard time about it which seems really stupid in retrospect but then so do most things I did at that age (except watch this show, that was a good move on my part). So anyway it’s time to see if this one holds up or is another episode to file in the disappointment column!

We begin with Frank screaming at Eric because they were supposed to come to the camp site together. Because Eric is a twat, he immediately reveals that the reason is because Frank lost his flashlight and is afraid of the dark (so the answer to the titular question is yes, yes he is). Eric is telling tonight’s story which is about a kid who is afraid of the dark so presumably he set all this up to have a lead in to his story. God, what an asshole. He also has the most painfully generic intro to his story you have ever heard. “Well we know there’s nothing in the dark to be scared of………………..most of the time.” Oooooo spooky. Fuck you Eric.

Let the tale begin!

Our hero is Andy and it’s quickly established his life is currently shit. His parents recently got divorced and they are poor, forcing him to take a paper route just to have money to buy lunch at school. Thankfully they live in a Scooby Doo cartoon and his Mom inherits a big house from an uncle that she doesn’t even remember existing. Situations like that always lead to terrific things.

Holy shit I remember the bully in this episode now! He’s one of those 90’s bullies who aren’t terrifying in the slightest, though perhaps a step above your normal fare. He’s supposed to be a metal guy I guess, sporting a black t-shirt with a flaming skull on it. The problem is that he’s super scrawny and has a baby smooth face. His idea of metal is probably Aerosmith so I’m not taking this guy too seriously. He tells Andy everyone hated his uncle and was glad when he died (harsh) but now he’s all pissed because his family is there? I don’t know, his reasoning is flimsy and his threats sound like they are coming from a 12 year old on Xbox Live. The music seems to think he’s pretty badass though, giving him some crunchy guitar riffs to walk off screen to. Man, in this moment I am now remembering a lot of what’s to come in this episode and I have to say I’m quite excited, and also stunned at just how well I remember this show.

Later that night, Andy is helping his Mom set-up the house while his younger sister sits by and watches like an asshole. His mother asks him to head down to the basement to try and find a ladder and Andy ain’t having it. His sister gives him shit though and off he goes. Slowly. Very slowly. Seriously like the next 2 minutes of the episode is just devoted to him walking down into the basement, which seems reasonably well lit to me.

He completely ignores the task his Mom gave him and instead of bringing up a ladder he starts messing around with an old radio he finds. When he starts to play music, an old wooden door behind him starts to rattle. The rattling stops whenever the music does. Andy finds some super generic rock and seems satisfied. The door eventually flies open though, where inside the darkness we see a pair of glowing red eyes and a deep voice tells Andy to “come on in.” No kid wants a glowy eyed low voiced dude in their basement so this is a pretty effective moment. Andy naturally freaks the fuck out and tears off out of the basement, knocking the radio to the floor in the process.

We cut back to the campfire so the characters can remind us about how scary the story we’re watching is. Also Frank has vanished and everyone assumes it’s because he’s a huge pussy.

Back in the actual story, Andy brings his family to the basement to show them what’s behind the door. Wouldn’t it be amazing if there actually was something there and Andy was immediately validated instead of the predictable route they will go instead where he looks crazy? It would be, but alas there is nothing there. It’s strange that before opening the door his mom suggests it might be a rat, a theory Andy immediately dismisses, only to have her open the door and again suggest it was maybe a rat as though this was the first time she was presenting that idea. So once again we have the tired old idea of a family not believing someone even though they have no history of lying and there is no clear reason to disbelieve them. His Mom finds the broken radio and concludes that’s what he heard and Andy seems to buy it, completely forgetting I guess that he also saw something, it happened away from the radio and also that there’s no chance it was the fucking radio.

The next morning we show the bully at home cleaning his front steps where his fat, shirtless asshole father who might be wearing a wig berates him. I guess this is supposed to make us feel bad for him? I don’t know, it never comes up again. Andy accidently knocks over the bully’s water bucket with a newspaper and the water defies the laws of physics, somehow rocketing up into the air and completely covering …Bully. I don’t know they haven’t given him an actual name yet. Bully chases him back to his house where the front door is locked and apparently Andy can’t be trusted with keys because he is unable to get in. He runs around back and opens a cellar door to get into the basement. The bully makes a few more unconvincing death threats and takes off.

Again we get about a minute of Andy looking around the basement which is almost completely lit as it’s the middle of the day, making his use of a flashlight completely redundant. His sister sneaks up on him and scares him and that’s that scene. *Shrug*

That night Andy is asking his Mom questions about his uncle who previously owned the house even though she has established at least twice at this point that she doesn’t remember anything about him. Something in her memory must have jostled loose however as she does have a few tidbits about him to pass along. Apparently he never left the house but was somehow still able to become rich. Andy is then sent back into the basement to get the laundry as his sister is busy poorly pretending to be playing a video game.

In the basement, Andy is listening to the exact same radio I used to have when I was 10 (no really, same exact one, maybe that’s why I liked this episode so much) when the door opens again and out steps…Jesus Christ!....out steps a fucking 6 foot tall doll with terrifying dead eyes and a menacing grin. Fuckin’ hell! At this point that kid is mentally destroyed. Even as a 29-year-old, if I saw that shit I would never be normal again. Man. I don’t like lookin’ at this fuckin’ thing at all. Anyway this thing asks Andy to come and play with it and reaches out its hand. Andy seems transfixed by it and is about to reach out when his Mom flicks the switch upstairs that is powering the radio. The music shuts off and the doll flies backwards screaming, going back the door which promptly shuts and locks. Man. Now THAT’S how you do creepy in a kid’s show. Normal sized dolls are scary but you make one of those fuckers 6 feet tall and it’s just nightmarish. Well done show!

Andy snaps back out of it and clearly doesn’t remember what just happened. Though in case we’re complete idiots, the show has Eric explain in narration that Andy snapped back out of it and clearly doesn’t remember what just happened. Thanks Eric, I have fucking eyes so I was able to piece that together already. This is their way of explaining why Andy would ever venture back down into the basement again instead of just setting the whole house on fire and fleeing off into the night.

He ends up back down there after school the next day where the door once again opens and this time nothing pops out, but instead inside Andy sees a carnival barker and a roller coaster. He seems pretty into the whole thing and starts to head towards the door. He hesitates before stepping through and that’s when the barker turns into a skeleton, grabs Andy’s arm and starts screaming about having fun and cackling. The skeleton looks too puppet-y to be freaky, though that same concept actually worked in the giant doll’s favour, with its unnatural movements making its presence more unsettling. Here you’re just looking at something you’d see in your biology class and the mouth just flaps randomly, not even matching what he’s saying. He tries sucking Andy inside the door but he is able to unplug the radio and make the whole thing stop. This time he remembers that this all just happened (and doesn’t seem phased in the slightest) and pieces together that it’s the music that causes the door to open. He heads off on his bike to “tell Mom”. Not sure why he can’t just wait until she gets home since showing up at her work and spouting this nonsense isn’t going to do him any favours where at least at home he has indisputable evidence.

None of that matters though as he is quickly stopped by 90’s Bully (how the fuck did he not notice him standing on the sidewalk waiting for him) who delivers the fakest fucking punch you will ever see in your life. Not only does he clearly miss Andy’s face by several inches, he delivers it slowly and it’s accompanied by a WHAP sound effect straight out of 60’s Batman. He delivers a second punch that’s slightly better only because they obscure it more. He then goes the extra mile and throws Andy’s bike under a moving truck. At this point I think Andy could call the cops on him but what the dude does is actually way better. We see him setting a bunch of stuff up in the basement and then he caps the whole thing off by delivering a one-liner (“Howdy neighbor”) to nobody. Not really how one-liners work kid.

He throws a piece of wood wrapped in newspaper at the bully’s head (which hardly phases him at all when it should probably knock him out cold) and provokes him into giving chase. He leads him back to the house where 90’s Bully finds the cellar door open and heads inside presuming that’s where Andy went. That’s a pretty big assumption that he can just enter the kid’s house and beat the shit out of him without anyone else being home. Seriously that’s what, 3 or 4 felonies he’s committed this morning? But again that doesn’t matter as Andy locks him inside the basement and starts taunting him through the door. Turns out Andy has set up a crazy speaker system in the basement so he flicks the switch and turns it all on. Eventually the door flies open where we see nothing but a glowing red light. We hear growls, the bully screams, we cut.

Apparently the bully’s name is Coda? No wonder they weren’t flaunting that one.

Andy heads down and instead of 90’s Bully (I refuse to call him Coda) he finds a new, shiny bike. This does reveal his plan isn’t as cool as I thought as he didn’t know the door would do anything too severe. He just figured the loud music would bug him I guess. The door starts glowing blue and a voice tells Andy he will give him anything he wants, just as it was for his Uncle. All he has to say in return is feed the thing. I like how when the door says “feed me” there’s an echo that had never been there before, which I have to believe the door did itself for dramatic effect. At this point his sister comes home and starts giving him shit upstairs. The door starts cackling and Andy looks at the camera (how does he know we’re here?!) and gives an evil smirk.  Boom! Done!

The impact of that potentially dark ending is lessened when Eric confirms that Andy in fact did not feed his sister to the door, he just made sure she didn’t bother him again. So presumably he did spread the word about the door and mentally scar his sister for life, so that’s something. Frank still hasn’t returned with Eric’s flashlight so after the fire is put out, Eric sticks around and waits for him. But Eric is totally scared of the dark too! Oh irony, you cruel bitch. Frank grabs Eric and scares the shit out of him, he too looking directly at the camera (seriously how do they all know we’re watching this?!) and saying paybacks are sweet.

End of episode!

While this one may not have been the classic episode I remembered it being, it’s definitely still a solid one and easily one of the best up until this point in the show’s run. It’s got a good set-up and a couple of genuinely creepy moments, mixed it up with a few misguided elements, such as the not at all intimidating Bully with the not at all intimidating name. I’m glad to say that for the most part, this one holds up well!

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Ep #10 - The Tale of Jake and the Leprachaun

I remember being very excited when this episode was first going to air because the commercial revealed that one of the main characters was going to be named Shawn and I was eerily psyched about that. Unfortunately the dude spells it “Sean” which is unfortunately the way my name is usually represented so all of that excitement was for naught.

Also this episode isn’t very good, so there’s that working against it as well.

Frank was supposed to tell this week’s story but because of the passing of Eric’s grandfather (of which nobody else in the group offers any sympathy) he gets to tell the tale instead. His grandfather was from Ireland and so Eric wants to tell one of the stories that his grandfather used to tell him. He hints at another awesome story about this waterhorse who would fool kids into hopping on his back so he could then lead them out to sea and eat them, but instead we’re going to get one about a fucking leprechaun because those guys always make for terrific storytelling. I mean there are six movies in the Leprechaun series because they’re so damn awesome right? Also Kiki doesn’t know what a leprechaun is which I know is only there in case the audience needs an explanation, but it also reveals Kiki as kind of a dummy. Couldn’t Eric have just explained it without provocation?

Good lord this tale requires a lot of set-up. So Eric has this hat and he says his grandfather got it through a trade as if you offer a pixie a trade, they can’t refuse it even if the deal is completely shitty. All you have to do is say “yours be mine and mine be yours”. What a raw deal for pixies. “Hey pixie I’ll trade you my peanut butter and jelly sandwich for your brand new Porsche.” “Get the hell out of here with that non….””Yours be mine and mine be yours.” “FUCK! Here are the keys…”

After all that, the story finally starts.

Our hero is wandering through the fakest forest set you’ll ever see in your life where he encounters…maybe a troll? Or just a villager with really bad teeth maybe? Something not very scary anyway. So this guy is all “time to eat some liver” but then an old dude shows up in a tree and has a really terrible sword fight with him. Jake goes to leave and has one of the worst fake trips an actor has ever done, and then we find out that this whole time we’ve actually just been watching a shitty play! Thank god, I was not ready to accept that the budget on this show had gotten so low that they could stand back and say “Yep, two plastic trees and a fake rock, we got ourselves a forest set!”

So Jake has always wanted to be an actor and starring in this play is his first major break. We also find out that the guy who was playing the dude in the tree is named Aaron and drinks a ridiculous amount of herbal tea (his own recipe). Hmmm, having seen a TV show before, I’m guessing that information is going to come back in a relevant fashion before we’re done here. The production assistant gives Jake the tea recipe as he hopes it can help with his own acting though it seems like not tripping over absolutely nothing should be his first new strategy.

In order to get some of the ingredients that he needs for the tea, he goes to see Sean O’Shaney (Christ is that ever an Irish ass Irish name) who I guess runs a garden or something? They don’t really say. Also this is probably a good time to mention that the Irish accents on display in this episode range from quite bad to absolutely terrible. When Sean sees the ingredient list he loses his fucking mind and demands that Jake leave.

We then see a mysterious figure lighting some candles and speaking some sort of spell or chant. He also has a bunch of bottles and potions and a frog. They clearly don’t want to reveal who this is supposed to be but I guess they forgot we already heard Aaron say words out loud like 3 minutes ago so it’s pretty easy to recognize his voice here. A little too obvious there show.

The next day we see another scene being acted out from the play and further confirmation this is not a play that anyone would ever pay money to watch. In this scene, Jake (don’t know his character name within the actual play) is asking Aaron (also don’t know his character’s name) to turn him into a leprechaun to protect him from the goblin. No they don’t bother to explain why that’s a thing. Aaron has Jake repeat several passages after him (when moving around the set, a branch on the fake tree wobbles, seriously what is the budget on this play?) and also drink from some mysterious canister. After taking the drink, Jake immediately hits puberty as his voice drops down several octaves. Aaron pushes him to keep going but Jake wants to stop. Oh and despite the fact that a bunch of people were watching, none of them registered that something kinda fucked up just happened. After Aaron says that Jake has “the glamour”, something Sean also said earlier, Jake goes back to talk to Sean.

Sean listens to his plight and also teaches him about the whole “yours be mine and mine be yours” business. After hearing Jake’s story, Sean clearly knows something isn’t fucking right and yet doesn’t actually tell him or fill him in on anything which seems kind of mean. Also he makes a reference to Dublin, just in case the name and accent didn’t beat you over the head enough with “this dude is Irish as fuck everybody!”

The following afternoon Jake is going through the final play rehearsal before it opens that same night. Sean watches from the sidelines and in order to prevent the scene from finishing up, he pulls a rope backstage that causes one of the fake trees to very slowly fall down. This doesn’t stop everyone from scattering and jumping out of the way like the roof was collapsing though. Seriously if that tree had hit Jake, it would have lost all forward momentum and Jake wouldn’t have budged an inch. It’s a fucking flat plastic tree background people, relax!

When fleeing the set, Jake finds Sean hiding under a desk beside a bright light (master hider!) and yells that “you nearly killed me!” Jake at worst he almost gave you a bruise, and even then only if you’re really partial to bruising. Sean quickly shuts that shit down when he tells Jake to look in the mirror and he sees that he now has pointy leprechaun ears. He screams like a motherfucker and presumably nobody bothers to come and make sure he’s ok, proving even further nobody on this production gives a shit.

Quick cut back to the campfire to reiterate how fucking terrible Eric’s Irish accent is.

Sean explains to Jake that every time he takes the oath he is a step closer to becoming a “changeling” and once he takes the oath during the final performance, he’s completely boned. The two of them head off to Aaron’s room to break in and find proof that he is indeed who Sean thinks he is.

Once again the episode isn’t confident in our abilities to realize that Sean is in fact Irish so they have him make references to both four leaf clovers and…I can’t even fucking believe it…lucky charms. It’s as though the writers just had a list of Irish clichés and were determined to cram each one of them into this episode. Anyway he’s psyched because he sees a smoke alarm which he activates, causing Aaron to flee from his room.

Inside the room they find the stuff we saw earlier (potion bottles and such) and Jake proves that nothing gets past him as he points to his picture on the wall and states “That’s my picture”. He doesn’t even seem scared or off put, just stating that this is in fact his picture. I like that Jake reaches for the picture but Sean tells him to keep his hands off as then Aaron will know they’ve been there and yet immediately the two of them start pawing at everything else in sight. Sean starts going through the various potions, taking the time to name each one aloud and then smell the one he’s looking for despite how big a hurry they are in. Because they fucked around too long, Aaron returns to the room and they are forced to hide under the bed.

Then as though Aaron is aware they are there and wants to prove to them that something is up, he proceeds to remove his human ears (revealing messed up pointy ones), do an evil cackle into the mirror, kick off his slippers to show his hairy goblin feet, take off his robe to show a huge patch of hair on his back, and then start chanting. So yeah I guess there are no doubts now! Thanks for clearing that all up!

So Aaron is actually a banshee who feeds on human souls every 7 years. The toad we saw earlier is actually the result of one of the soul eatings from the past. It’s a changeling, which I guess ties into the glamour? I don’t know they’re throwing around a lot of terms. So much of this episode is just spent explaining shit that it’s really not very engaging. Jake can’t simply bail as the process has already started so something must be done and a plan is hatched off-screen.

It’s now opening night of the terrible looking play and somehow they managed to wrangle in a sold out crowd to come and watch this thing. They even seem into it as the first thing we see is them wildly applaud during a scene change. I…I don’t get it. Perhaps I just don’t have a proper appreciation of the theatre but this looks like something you would watch in high school drama, not a professional piece you would pay money to see and spend an evening at. Backstage, Sean gives us even more backstory on banshees which involves Jake needing to swallow some spiders and get some sparkles thrown on him and a bunch of stuff I don’t really feel like breaking down anymore. The fucking Matrix sequels had less exposition than this!

We then get to the big scene where things are going smoothly in Jake’s plan until Aaron goes off script and turns into the banshee, which is really just some bad teeth prosthetics and a little make-up. Banshees are apparently very lame. He cackles and makes some idle threats while the producers stand by confused, refusing to intervene. Jake even starts screaming that this is really happening but nobody seems too pressed to act.

Sean appears in the fake tree and reveals that he knows the banshee and the banshee’s name is actually Gort, like the robot from the Day the Earth Stood Still. Odd. Anyway, Gort turns Jake into a frog even though I thought he didn’t complete the process but with all the shit going on I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed something in there somewhere. Sean reveals he has Gort’s tail and has had it for years. He trades the tail (the whole yours be mine and mine be yours thing), Gort disappears, Jake is no longer a frog and I have no fucking idea anymore. Jake wins though! Yay? Oh and Sean is a leprechaun. Naturally.

The end!

Yep, just as I remembered, this is not a very good one. It’s all just exposition, laying out all the different creatures and rules and terms and even then it seems like a complete mess. It’s not scary in the slightest and is full to the brim with terrible Irish accents and blunt remembers that hey this is all way Irish! Not a very good way to honour your grandfather Eric, I’m sorry.

Thankfully I have pretty fond memories of the next episode so hopefully the streak of mediocrity is about to come to a close!

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Ep #9 - The Tale of the Sorcerer's Apprentice

Going into the last episode I watched, The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors, I was actually pretty excited as I remembered the episode quite fondly from the show’s original run. As I write this, I am not so excited about going into this next episode, The Tale of the Sorcerer’s Apprentice, as I remember it quite well but don’t have particularly glowing memories of it. Maybe time has healed that but the pattern so far has been that if I remember it fondly, it’s still pretty good. If I don’t remember it fondly, it’s even worse than I remember. So let’s get this one over with it I guess…though I just looked ahead and I definitely remember not caring highly for the episode after this one either. Alright, it’s gonna be a bit of a slog for a while here folks!

For a change of scenario, we don’t open the episode with The Midnight Society already sitting around the campfire. Instead, Frank has led the group to what appears to be a freshly dug grave. He says there’s almost definitely a maggot riddled corpse in there and the group seems bizarrely intrigued about this. They approach it and suddenly a skeleton pops out holding what looks to be a fake flower. Everyone freaks the fuck out (I gotta say, Eric’s reaction is pretty awesome, complete with frantic above head arm waving) and runs off. Turns out it was just a prank set up by Frank and Kiki. They don’t ever explain how these two managed to rig such an elaborate set-up or the potentially dark backstory as to where they found the surprisingly realistic skeleton head.

Betty Ann is once again telling tonight’s story and once again a reference is made to how her stories are “gore fests”. I’m not sure these kids understand what gore actually is. The Nightly Neighbors story she just told talked about people’s blood being sucked by vampires but it never happened on screen or anything. Is that really all it takes for one of these tales to be labeled a “gore fest”? Just the sheer mention of blood existing? Never show these guys Evil Dead 2, it will melt their brains. Betty Ann says her story will be about an ancient wizard’s good luck charm and Gary and Kristen react like this is the most fascinating shit they have ever heard. But the charm is gonna fuck your shit up, etc, etc, throws the shit on the fire and our actual story begins.

The opening narration is…just confusing. “The story takes place now….but it started years ago….actually centuries ago….but I’m jumping ahead….but here we are in the 60’s.” Wait so when the fuck does this story happen? Is she about to make up a story off the top of her head and is just spit balling ideas? I guess its 1966 and we’re in a school that sure does look like a school from the 90’s but whatever, budgets are low, I get it. A girl is hiding a basket with some weird stuff in it underneath the floor. She rolls up her sleeves to reveal a mysterious snake tattoo (the music sting makes absolutely sure we know that it is mysterious), something she has absolutely no reason to do within the fiction of the story but it’s good she showed us the audience the tattoo so we know what’s up. Some inept security guards are looking for her, they fail, she escapes, and we cut to the same school in the present day.

We meet our main character Dean, who is like a lot of AYAOTD protagonists in that he is an outcast who doesn’t really fit in anywhere. Apparently he’s also dumb as the first thing he does is sleep through class and fail a test. Dean does have one friend Alex, but we know shit is about to get raw for them as Betty Ann says their friendship is going to be put to the ultimate test. Oh we’ll see about that! Some banter happens about how Dean is dumb and his luck sucks, blah blah blah, whine, whine, whine, maybe next time don’t fall asleep.

A guest archaeologist, Dr. Oliver, is giving a speech in Dean’s next class about priests and blood sacrifices and all getting grossed out reactions that likely no high school student would ever give unless they have been remarkably sheltered.  She brings out this snake staff that she said was recently excavated from an ancient Babylonian sorcerer’s temple. This was an evil ass sorcerer named Goth who would reward people with good fortune if they followed him and did evil things, and crossing him would lead to your destruction. Solidifying Dean’s status as an idiot, he seems very intrigued by this idea. Dr. Oliver then ominously says that of course nobody believes these things anymore while giving a dead eyed stare to Dean, so right away you know this bitch is evil.

After class, Alex is making fun of the whole thing but Dean clearly continues to be intrigued at the concept of being the slave of an evil ancient sorcerer (fun fact, I have spelled sorcerer wrong every single time I have typed it so far) and he goes back to talk about it more with Dr. Oliver. He ends up staring into the eyes of the snake staff, which start to glow, immediately putting him into a zombie like trance. This apparently gives him the power to easily open locks as he makes his way down into the school basement. He eventually finds the not well hidden at all basket from the opening scene and removes its contents.

The next morning in biology class, Dean enters and we know he’s evil now because he’s wearing a black turtleneck as most evil people are known to do. He hands his teacher a blank test and when she calls him out on it, he puts the stare down on her and she backs off, giving him a passing grade. Somehow Alex is the only one to notice this happening despite them doing it loudly in front of the entire classroom. Alex confronts Dean about this after class and he continues to be a dick, insisting she thinks he’s dumb (which he clearly is) and that he’s going to prove to everyone that he’s actually super awesome.

Some time passes and we learn Dean has completely ditched Alex for a new group of friends. One day in the biology classroom, Alex sees Dean (who has upgraded from evil black turtleneck to lame leather jacket) stealing some mercuric acid from one of the cabinets. She follows him down into the basement where he is participating in some sort of ritual where he throws several ingredients into a barrel that will apparently summon Goth, which I don’t think I’ve mentioned until now is a really lame evil sorcerer name. Her spy skills aren’t strong and she drops her backpack (it might have been on purpose, I legitimately can’t tell) alerting everyone to her presence. Despite getting barely any head start and not running particularly quickly, she manages to evade them and get back down to where Dean is. It turns out the thing he recovered from the hidden basket is some sort of orb. He places it in the snake staff’s mouth, the shit lights up, and Goth appears, looking a lot like how the Mummy looks when he is in human form in the Brendan Fraser movies. He tells Dean that there is one more task to be completed before he can be freed. It’s a bunch of stuff about nightshade and vapors, I don’t know, sorcerer shit, you know how it goes. Goth closes all of this out with a very forced sounding evil laugh, though his face makes him look like he is scared.

Once again Alex proves herself a stealth master and knocks a bunch of stuff over while backing away from this horrible vision of a shiny bald guy forcing an evil laugh. Goth tells Dean to stop her and Alex takes off, eventually running into their biology teacher. Alex tries to explain what is going on but her teacher quickly reveals that she too is under Goth’s spell, letting out a far more convincing evil laugh than Goth himself. Alex continues her escape attempt but is cornered in the hallway by some burn-outs who are either under Goth’s control or just really stoned and confused.

She winds up at the gym where Dean greets her like a James Bond villain. Dean gives her this big speech about how his luck is finally turning around and how he is no longer being dumped on and is finally in control. You know, this would probably mean a lot more if we actually saw examples of the bad luck he’s always referring to. All we got to see is him fail a test he clearly wasn’t prepared for. That’s not bad luck man, you should have fucking studied for your biology test. Outside of that all we have to go on is Betty Ann assuring us that he totally gets dumped on and has bad luck. It makes it really hard to feel anything for this asshole.

Dean keeps going on about how Goth has given him all this power and shit but again, what powers have we really seen him use? We saw him tell some people to chase Alex and I guess they did listen but that’s about it. We need some more details story! This feels like the Coles notes version of a much bigger tale. “This dude was totally being dumped on at school and wanted power so this evil wizard give him hella powers and it was rad.” Dean assures Alex that she will be one of them soon enough and then scampers (no I’m serious, it’s a total scamper) out the door. There’s a pretty funny shot where after this whole bad ass speech, it shows Dean and his cronies ride away on bicycles. It makes it even harder to take this fucking guy seriously, and I was already struggling.

Stealth Master Alex heads to the school that night to attempt to stop the ritual to bring back Goth and is captured almost immediately by Dean’s cronies. Dean tells them to put Alex “in the van” despite the complete absence of a van since we just saw them roll up on their bikes. Alex, along with a bunch of barrels of mercuric acid, are taken to a closed off area of the school containing a large empty swimming pool. They put the orb back in the snake staff’s mouth and start filling up the pool with the acid. Also Dean starts jumping in and out of this bizarre accent, as though the actor is trying to make his character even more ridiculous. I can’t accept this was an honest attempt to play badass but then the 90’s were a very different time.

Alex removes the orb from the staff but it’s too late as Dean has a garbage bag full of leaves that I guess is the last step needed to have Goth rise out of a swimming pool with a tiny amount of acid in it. Ancient rituals are fucking weird man. Goth is successfully summoned and begins very very slowly ascending out of the pool, all the while spouting generic threats about how he’s gonna fuck up all the shit out there and how he has a wrath and all that stuff. Alex throws the orb into the pool which snaps Dean out of Goth’s spell because reasons. Dean tries to intervene but Goth freezes him in place. He tells Alex to grab a nearby barrel of chlorine (they sure got fucking lucky that barrel was conveniently still there in a room that has been sealed off for decades) and pour it into the pool. She does, with Goth making no attempt to stop her despite revealing the power to freeze people only seconds ago, and Goth explodes. Everyone wakes up confused and the day is saved! Oh and the reason Dean knew the chlorine would kill Goth is because of the biology test we saw him fail earlier. Call backs! Everybody leaves and we don’t get to see the horrible traumatic aftermath that these students will now have to deal with for years to come.

Oh but we’re not done yet though! The camera knows enough to stay behind at the pool and not follow everyone out the door so it knows something is about to go down in here. Sure enough, Dr. Oliver comes in and reveals she is way evil and is also the girl we saw at the beginning with the snake tattoo who hid the orb in the first place. She says she has hidden orbs at tons of other schools and that they’ll just keep trying to pull of this whole Goth business until they are successful. She unfortunately also says the ultimate clichéd line of “To think when I was a young girl, they thought I was mad!” and lets out like the third or fourth evil laugh of the episode. Her evil laugh is better than Goth’s by a mile, but I would rank it below the biology teacher’s.

The end!

Yeah I remembered right, that wasn’t a great episode. It just feels so slight. We know nothing about Dean’s plight so we don’t really give a shit that he goes through what he does and everything is wrapped up a nice convenient package. Goth himself is just goofy looking and not intimidating in the slightest, and this is a show that has a fair share of creepy antagonists so I know they can do it. Overall, blah. My memories of the next episode are even worse so get ready!

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Ep #8 - The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors

When I was a kid I had a horror themed VHS tape which contained a handful of episodes of Goosebumps, Are You Afraid of the Dark, Freaky Stories (god that show sucked) and likely a couple of others that I’ve forgotten about that I taped off TV. I used to watch that tape constantly so the episodes on it are completely burned into my memory forever. The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors is one of those episodes. I remember this episode well enough that this repeat viewing probably isn’t even necessary but to avoid most of the write-up being “I think his name was like…Darren? Or Jake? I don’t fuckin’ remember” I figured I should probably fire it up to be safe.

We begin of course at the campfire where the group ponders why scary things are scarier at night. Cuz it’s dark guys. That’s why. Shit’s dark. End of conversation. So Betty Ann is telling tonight’s story and she catches some shit because apparently all her stories are the same, “kind of gross, but everyone gets a happy ending”. I don’t remember that MO at all from any of her stories but I guess the show would know better than me. She gives the patented way too dramatic intro and we’re off and running.

Our leads here are Emma and her unfortunately named little brother DayDay (what cruel parents, kid doesn’t stand a chance). Emma immediately comes off as kinda bitchy, scaring DayDay while he is watching the original Night of the Living Dead, before turning the TV off on him and saying he’s wasting his life and he sucks. Then she dumps a bowl of popcorn on his head and walks off. Gotta say, not diggin’ on Emma too much so far.

They spot new neighbors moving in across the street and are a bit thrown off by their all black clothes and the fact they’re moving during the middle of the night. There is a Dad, a Mom and a young boy and they immediately get themselves a creepy moment when they all turn to look at Emma and *sigh*, DayDay simultaneously. I know if it were me I would right away know these fuckers are up to something and that I should never ever interact with them ever and DayDay seems like a smart dude because he has the same mentality.

Oddly this thinking is immediately discarded as we cut to the next morning where the two of them are heading over to the neighbors’ house to introduce themselves. A disgruntled mover is dropping off two giant ass boxes and he informs us that the family is from the Ukraine and that they are the Braun family. He gets no answer after knocking on the front door so he leaves the boxes and takes off. Emma points out that the family has to be home because their car is parked in the garage. Apparently the notion of legs existing and humans having the ability to walk has escaped her.

After returning home they run into the mailman who says he is coming down with something as he has absolutely no energy. He’s also sporting a cartoonishly large bandage that takes up 60% of his neck. He says he met the new neighbors and that it’s a night he will never forget as that’s when he started feeling sick. “Never forget” seems a bit dramatic since he seems only think he has the flu. You pretty quickly forget days where you got the flu. If it was the night a wolf took his eye or he accidently cut his fingers off or well, a fucking vampire bit him then yeah, you remember that shit. But the flu? You forget about that about 12 minutes after it goes away.

I give Emma credit because she doesn’t dick around trying to connect the dots. You got pale, creepy neighbors who are gone during the day and who visited a guy right before he got sick and needed a bandage to cover a huge neck wound. Even the most skeptical amongst us would think something is up here and to her credit, she becomes suspicious of these people immediately.

One night when Emma is taking out the garbage, the creepy boy approaches her silently and immediately asks if he can come inside and play. Emma don’t play that shit and tells him to piss off. So you got the earlier evidence, this incident, and then we find out that every single person the family visits develops the same symptoms of being crazy weak and needing a huge fucking bandage. Why are the bandages so big?! They’re two bite marks, a normal sized bandage will easily do the trick! Is this the only kind available in this town?  How did the makers of Huge Ass Bandages manage to corner this market? Were the makers of this episode scared kids wouldn’t get it unless the bandages were fucking gigantic? It’s just so unnecessary and strange.

Emma does lose some credit though because it’s made clear that despite all that evidence, she hasn’t yet figured out “Oh fuck vampires!” She only knows something is definitely off about all this. She doesn’t fully figure it out until she has a dream where the dad comes through her bedroom window sporting a fog machine and some vampire fangs. Once she sees a vampire she concludes that vampires are indeed happening here.

She wakes up DayDay and presents him with the ridiculous amount of evidence that these people are in fact vampires, including that the huge boxes likely contain their coffins, however DayDay ain’t having it. Is there any reason why he should be this dismissive? Clearly Emma is the straight-laced one so it’s doubtful she has tried to pull some shit like this in the past. Plus the evidence is pretty staggering. It also bothers me how quickly people in horror shows and movies are to dismiss the claims of people they have known for years.

Emma plans to break into the Braun house that night and confirm that the boxes did indeed contain coffins and not refrigerators. First though we get one of those cuts back to the campfire where it is once again confirmed that these stories would absolutely not be scary if you were just listening to someone tell you them. “Emma didn’t know for sure that they were vampires….so she had to investigate….and that night….she did.” Come on now! That makes me think that the entire break in sequence is only for us and that the people at the campfire only got “she did”. These stories at the campfire must be 4 minutes long and just the worst.

Emma breaks down a few more vampire rules for, ugh, DayDay, like their hatred of garlic and how they can’t come into your home unless you invite them in. The kind of stuff his character would clearly no but the writers are scared that the audience might not so we have to listen to it anyway. She sees the Braun family leave and heads over, breaking in through a basement window. While this is happening, the Braun family shows up at DayDay’s door. He tries to shoo them off but his Mom steps in and fucks it all up by inviting them inside. I didn’t notice until right now that DayDay’s shirt goes down to his knees and he looks really fucking stupid. Not only does the Mom not recognize obvious vampires but she can’t even buy her kids clothes that fit right. Shape up Mom who I don’t think gets an actual character name!

So the Braun family sits and has a cup of tea with them, talking about their jobs following around paramedics to learn techniques they can bring back with them to their home country. Mama Braun comments that the work can get a bit “bloody” and even wipes her lip when saying it like you know, a vampire wiping away blood would do! They aren’t even trying to hide that shit!

Meanwhile, Emma’s rather uneventful and padded out basement search does eventually end with the discovery that there are in fact no coffins, but instead refrigerators. They’re padlocked though so she has to crack these shits open which apparently she knows how to do for reasons that are never explained.

Back at the….I’m not sure they ever gave them last names….household, the Brauns are preparing to leave when the Mom gives them an open invitation to return anytime they want to. DayDay attempts to stall them to no avail and Papa Braun gives him a creepy look, telling him that they will definitely be back now that they have been invited. Again, no attempt at all to hide that they’re up to some bad shit. If I were that boy’s parent, I have to believe I would quickly pick up on that. If not “oh shit, you’re a vampire” then at least “oh shit, that’s a really bizarre thing to say to a boy, maybe don’t ever come back to my house again!” Cheerful 50’s sitcom Mom here does not register this however so DayDay is looking to be in a pretty bad spot. Then again, this Mom was clearly ok with giving him the name DayDay so her decision making skills have been in question for years.

Emma manages to crack the padlock on the fridge when suddenly DayDay scares the shit out of her as he has snuck into the basement to warn her that the Brauns are coming home. Wait. The Brauns live across the street from them and were just in the same house as DayDay and left through the front door. How the fuck did DayDay not only exit his house and cross the street without them seeing him, but also beat them there?! He also beat them there by quite a bit as he and Emma have a good bit of time to dick around before even opening the fridge door. Inside they discover dozens of bottles of blood, not quite the damning evidence they needed but still enough to keep the idea of the Braun family being vampires alive. Because there two are masters at stealth, before they leave they make a bunch of noise, forget to put the padlock back on, and also cover up the fridge in a way that still leaves the cracked padlock perfectly exposed. Well done!

Emma and DayDay realize they can’t go to the police or their parents but that they have to do something before they get all their blood sucked out. Emma decides the best course of action is to murder the Brauns during the day time so they can’t get them that night. It’s pretty intense actually that a young girl who decide she’s justified in a triple homicide for evidence that, in the real world, is really rather flimsy. I mean, what if she’s wrong? Can you imagine if an Are You Afraid of the Dark episode ended with a pre-teen murdering two adults and a child for reasons she largely invented in her own head? It would have been the ballsiest ending…I guess in anything ever right? Sadly they don’t go that route but let’s carry on anyway.

The next day the two of them load up with crosses and wooden stakes and head over to the Braun house, once again sneaking in through the basement window. You know, they seem pretty determined to sneak over and kill them in their coffins despite not actually finding coffins the night before. There is a locked door however that I don’t remember them mentioning. Emma breaks the lock but suddenly the door to the basement opens and someone comes down to investigate. Perhaps it’s because they were yelling at each other when breaking the lock, who’s to say, I’m not master thieves like these two. They blatantly hide under a table (seriously, unless the Brauns don’t have eyeballs, they are going to get caught) but at least have the sense to put the lock back in place. Though I don’t think the latter action will do them much good since Emma is essentially crouched down in front of the door and is barely under the table at all.

Miraculously they are not caught and instead of going through with their goal they instead get the hell out of there where they are promptly greeted with Mama and Papa Braun, out about in the sun! But vampires can’t do that shit so what gives?! They explain the blood is from the hospital as they have a surplus and the Brauns have agreed to store it for them. The Mom says that their Son still isn’t feeling great and asks DayDay if he can go over to his house that night and play some video games. Seems there’s nothing to be worried about at this point so DayDay says sure. He gives Emma shit about the whole thing and off they go.

Meanwhile we cut back to the Brauns, stocking the blood into their freezer. They are indeed aware Emma and DayDay were in the basement but don’t care as “tonight is the night”. They open the door to the room Emma broke into and we find oh shit there really is a coffin in there! The Mom tells the “master” to wake up as the sun is gone, although we can see a window behind her proving that this is in fact not true. Also isn’t this like 2 minutes after we just saw them outside in the sun? Unless they waited until many hours later to actually move the blood into the freezer and talk about Emma and DayDay which seems odd. Inside the coffin is their son and they make it clear that he will in fact be murdering our main characters later that night. There’s also this really bizarre laughing sound coming from the kid when he opens his mouth to show his fangs. Clearly he isn’t laughing so it’s just strange and out of place.

Back at the campfire, the midnight society puts out the fire with this blood covered juice they have been drinking (which seems kind of mean since didn’t Betty Ann take the time to make and bring them all that juice) and we go to the credits.

The end!

I gotta say, that’s a pretty baller ending. Not only are there indeed vampires, but our heroes are completely fucked. On top of that, they were so damn close to the truth! I’ve mentioned before that a handful of AYAOTD episodes end quite unhappily but this one is definitely amongst the darker conclusions in the series’ run. Good stuff show, good stuff!

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Ep #7 - The Tale of the Captured Souls

Man I got so focused on all of these other features that I forgot how long it has been since I’ve done a proper Are You Afraid of the Dark or Goosebumps review. I need to get back on track with that right away so here we go with the next one on the list – The Tale of the Captured Souls.

We begin our episode at the campfire where everyone is waiting for Kiki to arrive and Gary is boring everybody by rattling off how old they are to the exact second. Anyway so Kiki arrives with one of those awesome instant Polaroid cameras because her story is a play on that whole “ahhhh no don’t take my picture or the camera will eat my soul” scenario.

In our tale, Danielle and her parents are arriving at either a hotel or a bed or breakfast, I forget which one now. Either way the place immediately gives them a whole host of reasons why they shouldn’t stay there. First of all it looks pretty rundown to begin with, with a lot of chipped walls and a pretty bad colour scheme. It’s not stated how much money they are paying to stay here but if it’s any more than some pocket change and a lollipop then they are getting severely ripped off. The front door is locked so they can’t actually get inside, and then Danielle is electrocuted by something when searching around for a potential door key. The biggest reason to book it out of there however is when they meet the guy who works there – Peter. Here’s this guy with a ridiculous haircut that looks like a barber was feeling particularly spiteful, clothes from maybe the 1920’s, a frighteningly pale exterior, and the kind of soft spoken voice that only belongs to serial killers and maybe Michael Jackson. He’s like Norman Bates but without the charm, just all of the creepy.

Oh and they are the only family staying there this week, another sign that perhaps this isn’t the place you want to be. I can’t be the only person who finds an empty hotel incredibly off-putting. It’s the kind of thing I immediately associate with a manager thinking “Excellent! Nobody is around to stop me from ritual sacrificing this family to my Pagan gods!” I want a good crowd or I ain’t staying there.

To further add to the incredibly unsettling atmosphere of the place, there are mirrors covering just about every surface of every room. Peter says it’s because his family has been collecting them for ages but I’m willing to bet he’s bullshitting us. The Dad says he digs the mirrors as he looks up at one above the bed. Is it strange for a kid’s show to make reference to a Dad liking the fact that he and his wife can see themselves as they have sex? Perhaps, but it’s something I didn’t pick up on until this viewing so good for them for slipping that one in there (I don’t accept that it was unintentional for the record).

Also for some reason the mirrors also shock people when they touch them. Peter deliberately dodges answering why that is, the kind of thing real life people would never let the son of a bitch get away with. It reminds me of Lost where characters would ask each other completely reasonable questions like “what the fuck is any of this?”, be given a cryptic answer in response, and then just accept it and move on. No! You tell them to piss off and actually answer your question! Who would ever accept these answers in real life!! Also we’re only five minutes in and Danielle has already given Peter shit two times for calling her that instead of just Danny, so we know that is going to come into play later, presumably in one-liner form.

Peter is questioned about his parents and he says they aren’t around but are actually on a cruise. “So you’re all alone?” *creepily smiles “Not anymore.” Come on people! Punch this pale fucker in the face and get the hell out of there right now! They do all admit he’s a weird guy but apparently not weird enough that they aren’t willing to stay alone in a house with him for several nights.

Later that day Danny and her Dad are playing catch outside (where Peter once again angers her by calling her Danielle, so we’re already up to three instances now) and Dad invites Peter to join. He says he isn’t much of a sports guy and immediately backs that up by being worse at catch than anyone has ever been at any sport ever in history. Mom then comes out to take a picture of everyone and Peter immediately screams and goes fetal after seeing the camera. He says nothing is wrong (again, something real life people would never ever accept) and offers to take a picture of the three of them instead. Unfortunately for them they don’t notice the evil smile and chuckle he does immediately after the picture is taken.

Peter and Danny end up having a conversation in his room (she ends up there when following a baseball that comes randomly rolling down a staircase, another thing she is completely accepting of it would seem) and Peter continues to be the most outwardly creepy motherfucker in existence. He talks about how his parents are never around and how he “admires a girl with great physical strength” when Danny suddenly decides it’s chin-ups time. Danny quizzes him about some flowers which he says is an experiment his grandfather used to do involving energy transfusion. Basically he’s sucking the life out of some roses and giving it to some geraniums. Huh, I wonder if that will play a bigger role in the proceedings.

Peter gets way close to Danny’s face and just starts staring. She tells him not to be such a “dweeb” instead of the appropriate reaction of saying “stop being a gross pervert weirdo” and then mercilessly macing him. It turns out that he’s staring at a large zit that has appeared on Danny’s face. After she leaves to go check it out, Peter hits a big red button (because all buttons are always big and red) and his room transforms into a laboratory. It seems to me like he probably should have waited a little longer to make sure Danny didn’t immediately come back into the room and see this happening, but whatever, TV logic. The transformation is surprisingly elaborate and also really fucking loud so there’s no way everybody else in the house wouldn’t hear all this machinery grinding around upstairs. Also, I call shenanigans on some of this stuff fitting inside the walls and ceilings. A giant human sized-tube is lowered down at one point. Where the fuck was he storing that before?! I see the ceiling, there’s no room for that beast up there! Sure it’s not the most realistic lab on the planet since its being used to monitor the family through mirrors and suck out their life force energy in order for Peter to stay young, but still.

We then take a brief interlude back to the campfire where everyone asks questions they know damn well will eventually be answered in the story if they would shut the fuck up and stop interrupting! “Well, what do the mirrors mean?” “What’s that kid up to anyway?” Bitch be patient and I’ll tell you that shit. God!

The next day or later that day or sometime I’m not sure, Peter is once again playing baseball with Danny and her Dad. This time however he is destroying the Dad who is looking older and more sluggish. I do like when Danny goes to pitch and boldly claims “Try and get a hold of this one!” and then proceeds to throw a very slow and weak underhanded pitch. I don’t think statements of “Get ready for this shit!” work when pitching underhand. The Dad leaves to take a nap, saying that he feels completely worn down. Then Peter throws a shit fit when Danny goes to grab the ball that he hit out into the woods, so he goes to get it and she figures fuck that noise and goes inside to see her Mom.

Mom is looking the same as Dad, like she has aged decades in only a few hours. Mom declines to go swimming as she is also too tired and tells Danny she may need some medication for her skin as she has completely broken out into some pretty gargantuan pimples. After once again electrocuting herself on one of the mirrors, Danny smashes it in a fit of rage and immediately finds a camera situated behind it. She calls in Dad who couldn’t give less of a shit that they are undoubtedly being spied on, instead demanding Danny clean up the mess and then promptly departing.

Danny once again decides fuck that noise and starts roaming around in the nearby woods where Peter didn’t seem to want her to go. It’s there she finds a grave with Peter’s name on it, dated 1907. Naturally she assumes there’s no way it could be that fucking guy (spoilers – it just might be) and moves along. There she discovers something far more unsettling – several lumps of dirt featuring cutouts of a dog, a child and an adult, each featuring a series of ticks, clearly indicating the amount of each one that are buried there. She does seem to take in this discovery a little too casually for my liking. I would have preferred to see more “What the fuck is this!?” but I understand it’s a kid’s show and real world, curse laden reactions can’t be done properly here.

Her parents meanwhile continue to act out the parts of naïve horror movie characters, with the Mom chalking up her rapid aging to “the years catching up with her”. Come on now, really? For everyone out there who has parents, do you really think that’s how they would realistically react to this fucked up scenario? I have to believe that no, they would be rightly freaking out and would almost definitely take their child’s request of “maybe we should get the fuck out of here” completely seriously. But not these two. Clearly their daughter just has a wild imagination and everything here is completely on the level. They go to sleep and Danny continues to explore the house.

Not surprisingly when she enters the attic, she quickly discovers Peter’s terribly hidden secret – the giant-ass red button that is barely hidden from plain sight. She pushes it and sees his laboratory emerge in front of her, complete with his camera monitoring system. She spots an old man on one of the monitor screens in the same room as her parents and runs off to see just who in the hell he is.

She gets there and asks her further decrepit parents if there is a new guest staying there with them. Peter then turns around and reveals that oooooo shit, he’s the old man she saw. He clearly knows that she has pieced this together, and yet doesn’t really seem to care. Seems he would be a bit more peeved at his big secret operation being uncovered, but he seemed more interesting in giving himself a creepy reveal. Strange priorities I would say.

Danny runs back out to the grave site she saw earlier. Peter follows her and then goes completely Bond villain on her, revealing his evil plot in meticulous details. He does indeed use all of the mirrors in the house to steal people’s life energy, which Danielle has managed to avoid by not looking in any of the mirrors. I can buy more into the idea of an evil old man using elaborate equipment to steal people’s energy than I can a teen girl who doesn’t ever look into a mirror. Also I’m pretty certain they showed her looking in mirrors just as much as her parents, if not maybe even more. Peter tells her that once her parents are dead, she is free to stay there at the house with him and they can be together. That’s a pretty weak pick-up line dude, can’t see that shit working out too often to be honest. You might want to try a different angle in the future. Danny distracts Peter by taking his picture and runs back to the house to save her parents.

They don’t have the strength to get up and go anywhere so Danny grabs one of the mirrors and runs upstairs to the lab. Somehow Peter has not only managed to beat her back to the house, but up to the attic and into the tube where he steals the energy. Can the old fucker teleport? How did he pull this off?! We would have seen him go running past everyone downstairs so there’s no way he just sprinted there. It’s not explained so it’s only for plot convenience I suppose. Danny begins just hitting random buttons on the machine and when Peter tries to stop her, she holds the mirror up to him which he refuses to look in and then starts giving him all kinds of shit about what he is doing here. I have to admit, this is a pretty good scene. The acting is solid and Danny is appropriately badass, ending with the exchange “You’re a twisted old man!” “I’m a scientist!” “You’re a MONSTER!” She slams the door to the tube, trapping him inside. I guess. Not really sure why he doesn’t just open the door from the inside and leave. Again, plot convenience I suppose.

Oh and yes, Danny does indeed have a final one-liner of “Don’t call me Danielle” before she turns a knob that reverses the whole process, causing her parents to become young again. How in the hell did she know that was the knob to turn to make everything all better? Actually nevermind, I went back and looked and it’s probably because it’s labelled with giant minus and plus signs, making its purpose pretty clear. Also, I can now tell that the knob is cheap plastic and the meters are all drawn on with marker, so that’s pretty incredible.  
So her parents are fine however they don’t seem to remember anything that just went down. They do finally listen to Danny’s pleas to bail and promptly start loading up the car to travel somewhere far away from this place. Danny has one last final exchange with Peter, now an old man, who is somehow perfectly audible despite talking to her through a closed front door with her many feet away. Peter says he will be going out back to the graveyard to join his family, which either means he knows he’s going to die soon or is planning to kill himself. Either way, not a very happy ending for this guy. The voiceover confirms that Danny never told her parents about this, and that they all lived happily ever after! Except for the no doubt buried psychological trauma this causes Danny, but they don’t get into that. Story over!

The final piece at the campfire is pretty uneventful as everyone poses for a picture, the picture is taken, and then we see the picture. That’s it. The picture isn’t fucked up or anything, it’s just a regular-ass picture. End of episode!

This is another pretty good entry in the series. The premise is promising, the acting is often quite good, and Danny is a good, strong, central character. You have to do some of the standard stretching of believability, but I would say that’s to be expected. Overall, solid stuff.

Are You Afraid of the Dark? Ep #6 - The Tale of the Super Specs

Yeeeeeeeeeees! Now we’re really getting started here. This is one of the episodes I remember best in this series. This is the one that really fucked me as a kid and stayed with me. This viewing (I am writing this before watching the actual episode, I’m also drinking a pumpkin spice ale which yes, is fucking disgusting) will be my first in nearly a decade and I will be absolutely crushed it doesn’t hold up so the pressure is on you hardcore The Tale of the Super Specs.

Also this episode made me realize my DVD is completely out of order with the episodes. I have nothing more to say, just it was a mild inconvenience that I thought I would share.

We open with further proof Kristen is either way too jittery or not all that bright when Gary does a very obvious trick where he “cuts off his finger” with a tiny guillotine and even though I’m reasonably confident she saw him set the trick up, she completely falls for it and screams. Then she calls him a “toad” which is funny because at that age in real life, there’s no way she wouldn’t have just called him an asshole or a fucker or an asshole fucker.

So I guess Gary’s Dad owns this magic shop they’re hanging out in and then Kristen tells Gary that the group is saying that Gary’s stories have not been scary recently. Gary stops just short of demanding “who said that?! I want names!!” before introducing us to the titular super specs.

That night at the campfire, Kristen’s statement is confirmed as everyone is sitting around saying how Gary has indeed lost his touch. I’ve said before how tame just about all of these stories would sound if you were just listening to someone tell them, and yet they always go over great with this group. Can you imagine the stories they would think are lame? I genuinely can’t. Unless he is telling them stories about how he was nervous he was going to be late for class that morning or about how he made a turkey sandwich only to discover that he was out of mustard. But Gary promises he’s gonna really bring the shit tonight and everyone gives their patented “ooooo man I’m worried” face before the story begins.

We meet our heroes, Weeds (Eugene Byrd, who goes on to do a ton of shit like Bones and 8 Mile and Heroes) and Marybeth (who goes on to do nothing sadly), who are an interracial couple, something which I will actually give this show some credit for. Weeds is all about magic and pranks, and he’s also the one person on the planet who gets crazy excited over April Fool’s Day. They’re in Sardo’s magic shop and…oh shit wait. Is this the first time we’ve talked about the Sardo character in one of these write-ups? Oh man it is. Ok let me talk to you guys about Sardo as we’ll be seeing a ton of this character throughout the rest of the series.

Sardo is played by Richard Dumont and like the Vink character we saw in the very first episode (Phantom Cab), he spouts the same catchphrase in every single one of his appearances. Someone will call him Mr. Sardo (pronounced like Sar-dough) and he’ll respond “That’s SarDO. No Mr., accent on the do.” Every single god damn time he says this. I don’t know if the writers thought it was legitimately funny or they used it twice and then felt forced to keep it going, but get ready to hear it a lot. Sardo is basically a prick who knows nothing about magic or the dark arts but fronts like he does. He’s a scam artist and never really gives a shit about the main characters, something that admittedly does work well at times in providing some laughs. And that ladies and gentlemen, is more than you’ll ever need to know about the Sardo character.

Weeds buys a bunch of crap but he also happens to buy some magical dust made out of crushed monkey bones. He uses it to cast the spell of second sight, which little does he know affected some pairs of “super specs” nearby. One of these pairs is part of his purchase, though I’m confused about why he buys them since he first tries them on and they clearly don’t work for him. Whatever, not my allowance. I used mine for awesome shit like Yoshi’s Story on Nintendo 64. Actually maybe I shouldn’t be judging anyone else’s allowance usage.

Before leaving the store, Marybeth puts on the glasses and spots a creepy looking guy dressed all in black (head covered as well) inside the store. Now, when I first saw this episode as a kid, those guys absolutely scared the shit out of me. As an adult, the impact is lessened since the “monsters” are clearly just guys in black turtlenecks and ski masks. Still though, that would be some unsettling shit to see when looking through fake novelty glasses, so I respect it nonetheless.

The next morning at school we get further evidence that maybe this monkey bone dust is the real deal as Weeds puts it inside a girl’s yoghurt which then causes her voice to sound like a chipmunk. Weeds misses the transformation as he takes off a few seconds before it happens, convinced the dust doesn’t actually work. I’m not sure why he wanted this girl to have a chipmunk voice, and it’s not clear if now she’s doomed to talk like that forever, in which case this episode is really super sad.

We also get further evidence that despite his love for it, Weeds might be kind of shitty at this whole April Fool’s Day thing. One of his “tricks” is that he just puts a huge fist in his friend’s locker so when he opens it he gets punched in the face. He didn’t really fool anyone there did he? I mean, I guess in the sense that his friend probably didn’t expect a big fist to punch him in the face when he opened his locker and then it totally happened it’s sort of a trick? I don’t know though, it feels slight.

Marybeth continues to put on the glasses and see freaky people dressed in black everywhere, including a woman in a black veil who is clutching a book. In perhaps the creepiest moment of the whole episode, on one sighting the woman raises her hand and points right at Marybeth, proving that these things can see her as well. That’s some intense shit. She rightly throws the specs in the garbage and moves on.

We then get a somewhat pointless scene of Weeds and his friend playing basketball (I’m not sure his friend is even given a name). Weeds uses the dust on the ball in order to make the shot. He misses, but once again we see it takes the dust a few seconds to take effect as when he throws the ball backwards over his shoulder, it goes right in. But we already know the dust works after all of those other times it totally worked, so I’m not sure the point of this. Then they proceed to walk away without either of them taking the ball with them, which seems odd. Whose ball was that and why did they suddenly decide they don’t give a shit about it?

Marybeth finds the specs she threw out back in her purse and then we kick off a very long scene of her walking around her house while wearing them. She sees a lot of differences when wearing them, such as kettles that aren’t there normally, active fireplaces, and of course the creepy turtleneck men and women. They start to advance on her, she screams and runs away while the camera suddenly spins upside down like Alfred Hitchcock shot this shit.

Marybeth runs up to his Weeds and his friend, who are back playing basketball, where she then immediately puts the specs back on and sees the turtleneck men playing a game in a nearby court, complete with a black basketball and everything. They begin to advance on her again so she screams and runs off. Again, not a completely necessary scene but they did use the image of the basketball group walking towards her in damn near every commercial for this show, so it definitely served a purpose at least.

Marybeth (fourth paragraph to kick off with her name if you’re keeping track) returns to Sardo’s to try and take back the specs. It’s there she learns that what she is seeing through the specs is actually a parallel universe, the window to which is located in Marybeth’s house. I’m still not entirely clear as to why it’s in her house since she had nothing to do with casting the spell or buying the glasses, but I do give her credit on how well she handles the news. She hardly bats an eye whereas I would immediately burn my house to the ground in order to shut that window. I also appreciate that clearly Sardo is pulling most of this information out of his ass. He also tells her that these beings could in fact cross over to our dimension and take over, a fact to which again Marybeth has almost zero reaction to. Clearly this is a girl you want in your corner during a crisis as she is evidently the most level headed human to ever exist.

She makes a deal with Sardo for him to come over to her place and help her and Weeds close the dimension window. This is another solid scene. Granted there is a little too much time devoted to Sardo casting the initial spell, but again it’s pretty good because he is obviously just saying random shit with no real sense of what he’s doing. Turns out it’s all for real though (Sardo is either really lucky or really unlucky when it comes to these things he says ending up being true, not sure which) and they are quickly surrounded by the turtleneck men, who can be seen by everyone now without the use of the specs. Sardo continues the spell and eventually all of them vanish, with everyone assuming they have won. However we know there’s still a few minutes left in their episode so they clearly have not won.

Sure enough, a giant ass pair of eyes appears above them and begins talking. Sardo yells “take the children” and hides under the table, a great example of how he doesn’t give a shit about any of the kids in these stories. The eyes inform them that two universes cannot exist on the same plain, and that balance must be restored. We then cut to look a likes of Weeds and Marybeth inside what looks like Marybeth’s home and the woman with the black veil walks out, veil lifted and face all visible. Here we get the first truly fucked up ending in an Are You Afraid of the Dark episode. Turns out the other universe was also trying to do away with our universe…and they totally did! We fucking lose! The end!

I remember that ending really fucked with me as a kid. How did we lose?! Plus the voice the lady uses is really creepy, so that didn’t help. So yeah, that’s The Tale of the Super Specs, which turns out is still pretty good despite some scenes which don’t feel needed. Is it a bit of a cheat for Gary to just give his story a really dark ending in order to spook everyone? Yeah maybe, but it works.

Are You Afraid of the Dark Episode 5 - The Tale of the Hungry Hounds

You know that bizarre phenomenon where you will go months or even years without watching a certain show, and then when you finally sit down to watch, it’s always the same episode every time? Throughout the years, The Tale of the Hungry Hounds was that episode for me when it came to Are You Afraid of the Dark?. I wouldn’t see the show for a long stretch of time, I’d see some random channel was running it, get excited, tune in, and find out it was this damn episode again.

It doesn’t help that I don’t feel this episode is particularly good.

In our campfire opening, the group makes fun of Kiki and….Brunette….because they think they heard an animal (I totally heard it too you guys, don’t worry) and then question if they heard an animal. Calling them chickens doesn’t really seem fair since they simply asked “hey did you hear an animal” in a calm and collected manner. Had they gone the opposite route and got all “Fuck you hear them wolves?! I pissed my pants and now I’m crying!” then the obnoxious chicken noises would be fitting. Here though, it’s a stretch. Oh and Gary is all up his own ass and angry that Kirsten (Clueless TV show girl’s actual character name) is late. Also there’s further evidence that this group of people actually don’t really like one another as Kiki assumes Kirsten late because she’s prissy and doesn’t want to do any of the work, the work being lighting a match and throwing it into a campfire pit.

Anyway it turns out all these events are related as Kirsten is late because she is walking a hound dog named Elvis, who of course is also the cause of the aforementioned animal noises. Also Asshole kid says “He ain’t nothing but a hound dog”, further reminding us that it might be ok if he “accidently” were to fall into the fire. I did get a bizarre laugh out of Brunette’s random mention that “my dad says Elvis is king” and how literally nobody acknowledges she spoke.

Let’s begin our tale!

This is another episode starring a familiar actor before they actually became famous. Here it’s Mia Kirshner from The L Word, The Vampire Diaries, and Not Another Teen Movie. She plays our lead Pam, who spends her time going through her attic and trying on old clothes that belonged to her ancestors. She’s up there with, Amy, whose shirt is the single best representation of the 90’s I have maybe ever seen. The two of them find a locked chest they are unable to open, and then they have to go feed the dogs. Sooooo it’s a pretty uneventful opening scene, though we do also learn that Pam looks identical to her deceased Aunt who used to ride horses. That may or may not come heavily into play soon, I don’t want to say too much.

We then learn that Pam is a total badass and rides a horse without permission. Or spends time with a horse and maybe rides him? It’s not made clear whose horse this is and whether or not they are actually cool with Pam just showing up like this. Either way Pam’s Mom conveniently shows up and does not want Pam to have anything to do with horses. So in order to make the situation safer, she slams on her car horn so that the horse gets spooked and rears up, knocking Pam to the ground. The irony seems to be lost on Mom as she chastises Pam for being in a dangerous situation, tells Pam she can’t have riding lessons (clearly still haunted by the Aunt’s death) and then makes everybody go back home. Good thing Mom was here to prevent something exciting from potentially happening!

Suddenly there’s a Ouija board in play, and those always lead to positive situations. The two of them try to talk to some dead people, and the dead people don’t take long to respond back, immediately spelling out “LET ME OUT” (I did find it kind of funny that at first Amy pronounces it all as a single word). So right away we know it’s related to that locked chest they found in the attic, and if any doubt remained, the very next thing the board spells out is clearly the combination to the lock.

They go back up to the attic, try the numbers, and sure enough the chest opens. The fact that the numbers given to them by a dead person were in fact the numbers needed to open a locked attic chest doesn’t upset them nearly as much as it should. They hardly seem fazed at all by it. Inside the chest they find Pam’s Aunt’s old riding gear. Pam tries on the riding jacket and immediately becomes possessed and time travels, which is exactly the reason I don’t ride horses.

A door in the attic opens, leading to a floating staircase placed in the middle of a field outside at night, when it was daytime just minutes before. Amy follows Pam as she zombie walks through the field and a forest, convinced that this is all just Pam fucking with her. That’s some pretty intense denial there Amy. Even if the zombie walk were a put on, how do you explain Pam moving the physical location of the attic, defying the laws of physics by creating a suspended staircase, and finally shoving the sun around so that it has suddenly become night? It would absolutely be the world’s best prank, but most likely out of her capabilities.

So Amy continues to follow Pam as she wanders through a graveyard. All of the headstones belong to family members and eventually they find the Aunt’s grave where Pam picks up a bone and starts talking about a fox who leaves her gifts. Once again, Amy is not nearly as affected by any of these events as any rational human being would be. Any normal person would have either run away or climbed a tree and hid by this point, or at the very least acknowledged that Pam has undeniably been possessed by the spirit of her dead aunt, but Amy seems pretty certain that Pam is just messing around.

Pam tells a story about how on the day of the hunt she saved a fox from her hungry dogs. She chased after the fox on her horse to ensure the hunters didn’t get him, and then something spooks her horse, who then throws her off. The whole thing is kind of dull (most everything since they arrived in this place has been) but THEN A GHOST HAPPENS!

An old dead guy shows up and starts telling Pam/Dora (let’s call her Pora from now on) that she should have fed the hounds while they were alive and how they were starving and I’m not honestly sure what is happening anymore. He lets out a final bellow of “Why didn’t you feed the hounds?!” before making a very weak attempt at chasing after them. I’m reasonably confident they could crawl away from him and he would still never stand a chance of catching them, but they take off running regardless.

They wind up at a barn where they are locked inside by presumably the ghost, who it’s revealed was Giles the stable keeper. Amy finally connects that the riding jacket Pam put on is the reason Dora has possessed her. She tries to get the jacket off of her but Pora ain’t having it, she is completely set on feeding the hounds. The hounds are in the next room and sound like they are ready to tear them up some humans, so Amy is not overly excited at the prospect of letting them out. She locks Pora in a stable or a cage or something, and then they try to get a suspenseful scene out of Amy trying to locate some kibble to give to the hungry dogs, while Pora breaks her way out of the cage or whatever she is locked up in. Then Amy struggles to carry the kibble over before Pora can open the door to the dog room. I don’t want to blow your mind, but it isn’t too effective of a scene when it comes to the suspense.

Amy is not successful in her attempt to carry dog food a few feet in a reasonably time and Pora opens the door. Out pour a whole bunch of adorable beagles! How am I supposed to take these guys as a serious threat, they’re so cute and awesome! Make them bark all you want, I know they’re only barking because they want to catch a Frisbee and just generally be awesome beagles. Anyway they “chase” Amy onto to a stack of hay, then that fox shows up so all the dogs chase off after him and Amy is saved. So the ghost fox rescued her I guess? Amy goes outside the barn where she sees Pora ride off on a horse. She chases after her, goes back up the floating staircase to the attic, and promptly winds up back in her own time period. Pam is no longer possessed by Aunt Dora, but she also doesn’t remember a single thing that just happened. It clearly really happened though, as Amy finds a handful of kibble pieces in her pants pocket .The end!

…..the fuck was any of that?! I remembered this not being a very good episode but I didn’t remember that it doesn’t really make any god damn sense. At the end of the story, Kirsten says the spell has been broken and the Aunt is no longer haunted by the howling of the hungry hounds. But the hounds weren’t fed! The door was opened and then they ran past the kibble and chased that fox. Did they eat the fox? What the fuck was that fox’s deal anyway? So he was friends with Dora and then she died protecting him, ok. So is that why he saves Amy at the end? Is it a pay it forward situation? Is the fox Haley Joel Osment? Did he really leave her presents? Is he just really smart like the Fantastic Mr. Fox? Why is this Giles guy such an asshole? Couldn’t he have just fed the dogs himself? How did he die? Who locked them in the barn? What the fuck do hungry dogs have to do with anything?! What actually spooked her horse? It doesn’t sound like the dogs have anything to do with it so why does that matter? Why does any of this help Pam’s Mom with the memory of her sister’s death? What are you talking about episode?!

So yeah this isn’t a good one. The plot doesn’t seem to make much sense and the whole thing is quite boring, with the board spelling “LET ME OUT” being the only moment that comes close to being effective. The only creepy thing here is knowing I’ve seen the main girl naked as an adult. That really gives me the jibblies.

Stay tuned though because oooooo man the next episode is a goodie!

I Gots Goosebumps Episode 6 - Piano Lessons Can Be Murder

Now here’s an episode I was curious to watch again. Piano Lessons Can Be Murder was one of my favourite titles in the Goosebumps book series back in the day, and I remember how excited I was when the TV adaptation first aired. I also remember taping it and watching the VHS more times than what would probably be considered normal. So it’s time to find out whether or not childhood me was out of his god damn mind, or whether this actually is a solid episode.

We meet our hero, Jerry, and I immediately remembered that girls in my class thought he was cute. I find it a wee bit strange to think that at some point we were having classroom discussions about the cast of the Piano Lessons Can Be Murder TV episode, but we were like 11-years-old so it was probably either talk about that or fucking Full House or whatever. Should I go back and review Full House episodes? Are they are still just the worst? Maybe that can be next.

Anyway, when we first meet Jerry, he is running around the basement of his new home, playing pretend games with himself where he imagines he is a scientist or an alien and such. We immediately feel bad for him because clearly the dude has no friends and also maybe seems just a wee bit too old to be running around pretending to be a space alien. Space scientist is fine; you’re never too old to pretend to be a space scientist. The alien is where I draw the line though; this kid needs to grow up.

Shit gets real pretty fast as during his alien scenario; he starts to hear the sound of Moonlight Sonata being played on a piano in the next room. Now of course you and I know that Moonlight Sonata is the creepiest piece of music a human being has ever concocted and most times you hear it it’s a clear sign that you need to get the fuck out of wherever you are immediately. Nobody ever seems to play it because hey, it’s a beautiful piece of classical music. It’s almost always being played by a ghost trying to mess with you, which I assume was not Beethoven’s original intention. Oh and the piano is playing the song by itself, because of course it fucking is.

Dad comes in and scares the shit out of Jerry, and then he proceeds to get far too excited at the idea of a player piano being left in the house. He wants to polish it up, give it a coat of wax and, well, have a piano I guess. He wants to make it a project for he and Jerry to work on but Jerry doesn’t want any part of it, goes the complete dick route and states “I have a life”. Clearly you don’t asshole! You’re wearing a pasta strainer on your head and pretending to be a space alien! Stop being a fuck and fix that haunted piano with your father! At least the show acknowledges what a lying prick this kid is by having him immediately go back to his alien dream scenario and his Dad just looks on with a face showing clear thoughts of “where the hell did I go wrong with this kid?”

You know, maybe horror movies have just ruined me, but if I moved into a new house where a piano was still sitting there abandoned, I would immediately assume that shit was haunted and have it destroyed it promptly. I would not consider for a second the possibility that maybe the former residents simply didn’t want it, or perhaps it was just too heavy for them to get out of there so they chose to leave it behind. Nope, my only thought would be “fuck that, a ghost is going to be playing this tonight so this thing has got to go!” I think I would make for an excellent episode of any renovation show. “No closets! Ghost kids pop out of those things all the time and I won’t have it!” “I want this basement door made of steel in case my wife gets possessed and I have to hide behind it. That ax she has won’t cut it against pure steel!” Give me a call W Network, I’m here all day.

The next morning Jerry overhears his parents talking about what a loser their son is, and how he should be going out and making friends instead of running around playing make believe. So he goes out and pretends to play baseball before he meets his new next door neighbor Kim. Jerry wants some of that Kim action so he spur of the moment decides to take piano lessons to impress her. Clearly he lucked out as he ended up living next to the only girl in the country who would be impressed by someone taking piano lessons.

That night, ghosts happen. Jerry once again hears Moonlight Sonata playing from the piano downstairs and instead of doing the smart thing of hiding under the covers and crying, he instead goes down there to check it out. There he sees a poor special effect of a ghost playing the song. Actually, for some reason the lackluster effects made the ghost way creepier. I think it’s the bizarre way she moves. The ghost tells him to “stay away” and Jerry freaks out.

Now we see where all this “our kid is a weirdo” stuff has been leading when the parents think he’s making up the stuff about the ghost because of his active imagination. I’ve always felt that parents who do this are assholes. Again, maybe it’s just my movie warped brain, but if my son came to me and said he saw a ghost playing our piano, I would at the very least check it out before telling him “fuck off liar”. But these parents ain’t having it and completely dismiss Jerry’s claims.

His Mom drops him off for piano lessons at Dr. Shreek’s School, a school you would never ever let your child go to because look at that name! Not to mention the fact that it’s out in the middle of nowhere and looks more like the kind of place you’d score cocaine than learn to play a musical instrument. Then further evidence continues to pile up as to why Jerry should never set foot inside this place. There’s a robot security system at the front door, the piano music inside is Moonlight Sonata, and Dr. Shreek himself looks like Santa Claus if he were an eccentric painter and liked to jovially murder people. He’s played by the same guy, Aaron Tager, who plays the recurring role of Dr. Vink on Are You Afraid of the Dark? Clearly Mr. Tager has the market cornered on playing eccentric guys on 90’s horror themed kid’s shows. Also in case there was any remaining doubt that this place may not be quite on the level, Shreek starts to rub Jerry’s hands and tell him how perfect they are, in front of his Mom no less! I hope she at the very least had a moment’s pause when she saw that.

The first piano lesson is relatively uneventful, with Shreek once again complimenting Jerry’s hands before saying that his no longer work as they used to. Gee, I wonder if those two ideas are in some way connected. Because Jerry sucks, he leaves the lesson room and immediately starts pretending he is a world famous explorer, venturing through a door marked Do No Enter as a start to his “adventure”. At this point I am fully prepared to admit that there is something the matter with this kid. I have trouble relating to a protagonist who is clearly out of his god damn mind.

He winds up down in the basement where he is promptly chased by a robot, creating another checkmark in the “hey maybe this piano school is fucked” column. It turns out though that it’s just a cleaning robot, created by what is apparently the smartest janitor on the face of the planet, Mr. Toggle. He tells Jerry that Shreek was talking to him about how amazing his hands are, which is strange because I don’t think Jerry ever left Shreek’s presence in the time he was at the school.

That night Jerry has a dream he’s playing the piano before a ghost possesses him and makes him play worse for whatever reason. He wakes up, once again hears Moonlight Sonata, and once again makes the foolish decision to go down and check it out instead of screaming and jumping out his closed bedroom window. The ghost is once again down there and this time lays out her message far more clearly, flat out telling Jerry to stay away from the Shreek school. Where was that message the other night before he physically went there? Come on ghost, that’s not how you do it. Your cryptic message delivery skills are weak.  

Once again Jerry tries to convince his parents about what he saw but they don’t believe him this time either. In fact, this time they take things a step further and flat out tell Jerry he probably needs help since he just told them he can’t continue to take piano lessons because a ghost told him not to. Granted, that would be a pretty hard pill to swallow.  So Jerry decides to take at least one more piano lesson since I guess he isn’t even convinced he isn’t a complete lunatic.

During this second lesson, Shreek once again starts screaming about how amazing Jerry’s hands are, only this time Shreek seems to have a complete mental break and this is where the episode gets truly amazing. Shreek starts running and stumbling after Jerry, constantly screaming “Beautiful hands! Hands! Beeeauuuutiful haaaaands! Beautiful hands!” The fact that Tager was able to get through this without laughing, quitting or crying means he deserves an Emmy because oh my goodness. Seriously, this clip is on Youtube and you need to stop whatever you’re doing (actually no because clearly you’re reading this, so maybe wait like two minutes and then go check it out) and see this because it is glorious. Though at the same time, I’m not going to say that experiencing this in real life wouldn’t be the scariest shit on the planet because it absolutely would be.

Shit continues to get bonkers when during the chase, Jerry bursts into a large room featuring a whole bunch of pianos that are being played by pairs of floating human hands. We don’t get a lot of time to process this before Shreek bursts in all “haaaaaaands!” Then Toggle busts out a remote control and powers Shreek down. Shreek was a damn robot! But he has been shut down and it looks like everything is going to work out just fine.

But wait! Toggle starts molesting Jerry’s hands and talking about how lovely they are. So he’s a bad guy as well! We then quickly and awkwardly cut to Jerry running out of the school and getting into his parent’s car. We cut back to a view of the front door of the school as we see sheets of music flying out through the doors because wind I guess? I’m really not following what is happening at this point. Then Jerry is suddenly back at home and playing baseball with his neighbor, who we haven’t seen since her first introduction. She comments he has good hands, and the episode concludes. The end? That finale felt incredibly rushed and as I sat there watching the credits, nothing about this was sitting right with me. I started to remember scenes, both from the book and from my initial memories of watching the episode, that were nowhere to be found here.

Sooooo it turns out I was watching a heavily censored version of the episode. I don’t know if since its initial airing they decided that a lot of the content was just a little too intense for kids, but there’s a whole lot of stuff missing in a few of the versions I was able to track down. Finally I found the full version and just had to see what scenes I missed out on in my first viewing. So at that point, I became the first human being in history to sit down and watch the same episode of Goosebumps twice in a row. It turns out the episode is way better when it’s fully in tact!

For starters, the scene where Jerry first discovers the piano playing by itself is longer as here we get the first view of the old lady ghost as she appears behind Jerry and stands behind him for a few moments as he watches the piano play. The first time he comes downstairs and sees the ghost is far more effective as we can clearly hear the ghost tell him to “stay away” multiple times. The effects on the ghost are still quite poor, and it certainly doesn’t help that here we are getting a far better look at them, but I maintain the janky effect quality makes the ghost way creepier.

The ending though is completely different from the weird censored version. After the amazing “BEAUTIFUL HANDS” scene (and a much longer view of the severed, floating sets of hands playing the pianos), we get the same revelation that Shreek is a robot created by Toggle. However after the follow-up twist that Toggle is also interested in Jerry’s hands (which I don’t get the big deal over, they don’t look very special to me), we get some additional details. Turns out robot hands are nearly impossible to replicate so Toggle has to sever the hands of children instead. Pretty dark shit for Goosebumps actually. This time instead of a sudden jump cut to the front of the school, the ghost from Jerry’s house appears and starts berating Toggle about how he never practiced piano enough? So I guess it’s his Mom? It’s never really said explicitly. Then we see the same shot of Jerry running outside and the flying sheet music, only this time the ghost comes screaming out of the front door. There’s no reason for her to do this other than to prove to Jerry’s parents that he’s not actually crazy, which is a nice gesture on the ghost’s part I suppose but I’m reasonably confident this family is never going to recover from this.

Perhaps the creepiest moment though comes after the aforementioned scene of Jerry and his neighbor playing baseball/hockey or whatever it is they’re doing. They’re throwing a baseball against a bouncy net thing and then catching it. Seems they could get the same effect by simply throwing the ball to one another but then again, I don’t know sports. Anyway, after this scene we cut back to the school where we see that Ghost Mom is going to force Toggle to play piano for the rest of his life. That’s a pretty terrible way to go, but the Bible makes it pretty clear that that’s what happens when you sever the hands of children in an effort to get their flying hands to play piano music for you so you can relax and listen to Beethoven.

In its full form, Piano Lessons Can Be Murder is still a surprisingly dark, effective piece of storytelling, especially for Goosebumps. Sure the character of Jerry is pretty annoying and the “BEAUTIFUL HANDS!’ scene is completely ridiculous, but the clear murder of children and the ghost lady with stumps for hands, screaming at everybody make for a handful of pretty unsettling moments. Easily the highlight of the series so far and I’m quite sure it will remain in the top tier of episodes even as I make my way through the rest of these.

Are You Afraid of the Dark Episode 4 - The Tale of the Twisted Claw

Although I remembered the basic premise of this episode, the details were hazy and I found I could only remember a handful of things about it overall. Here I thought my mind was like a steel trap when it came to this show. Once I started watching it, everything started to come back and a memory was triggered that this episode got kind of fucked up and good lord did that ever turn out to be the case. The Tale of the Twisted Claw is probably the best piece of evidence so far that Are You Afraid of the Dark is more than ready to go to some pretty messed up places.

Fun fact – the opening scene of this episode where a kid is lying in bed as a ghost/tall dude in robes creeps up behind him, used to be shown in every single promo ever for this show. I was amazed how quickly I remembered that and then became so nostalgic I almost needed to shut the show off and cry. Did you know I have almost my entire childhood recorded on cassette tapes? Pretty weird huh? Anyway what? Yeah so ghost creeps up on kid and he wakes up only to find out HOLY SHIT THE GHOST IS STILL IN HIS ROOM AFTER HE WAKES UP! SCREAM! Then it cuts to the Midnight Society sitting around the campfire shrieking so kudos to asshole kid (one day I’ll learn his name) because he is clearly telling this story like a boss.

Asshole kid then reveals he doesn’t have the ending to his story yet because he sucks, so quiet kid steps in to tell a story he’s been working on for a long time. Pressure’s on Quiet Kid Whose Name Might Be Dave But I Refuse to Rewind and Find Out For Sure.

So our story starts the night before Halloween and a bunch of punk kids are toilet papering houses and spraying stuff on peoples’ cars. Its stuff I could maybe appreciate back then but now as an adult just makes me mad because I know the clean-up work involved there. I can’t relate to these hooligans anymore. I’m now the guy who runs out and doesn’t do anything besides yell “hey what are you kids doing?!” even though it’s a well-lit area and they are 10 feet away from him and he can clearly see what they are doing. A better approach is to give no warning and bust out the door full tilt with an axe just screaming “GOTSTA CHOP THEM HEADS!” Your house will be left alone every subsequent Halloween, I guarantee it.

We meet our two leads, Kevin and Dougie, and in typical AYAOTD fashion, one is a coward and the other is kind of a pompous dick. Kevin goes to spray this old lady’s door but she opens it and he sprays her in the face so she is blinded and breaks a bunch of shit and he runs off. So we know immediately it’s probably ok if Kevin has his legs eaten before the episode is through. The old lady ain’t fazed though and delivers an amazingly over the top cackle after they leave because witches.

So Kevin and Dougie head out trick or treating (not before Kevin scares some little kids with the idea of poison candy, we get it Kevin you’re an asshole!) and Kevin wants to go back to the lady’s house to get candy, believing she won’t recognize them as the kids from the night before. Kevin must have forgot about that part where they stood there staring at her for 10 seconds in plain view, or the fact that his current costume in no way covers his face! Anyway, Dougie knows what’s up and says no, but Kevin threatens to tell everyone he’s a coward if he doesn’t. It’s hard to believe there was a time in our lives when dumb shit like that mattered; being an adult is kind of awesome actually. 

The lady invites them in and seems like a swell old lady, being genuinely nice. Oh and Dougie decides to take his mask off, just in case there was a slight chance this lady hadn’t figured out who they were yet. The lady gives them a vulture’s foot that will grant them each three wishes and as anyone who has accepted a severed appendage from an old lady witch knows, there is absolutely no way this situation will go poorly for anyone.

Nah just kidding, shit goes bad really fast. Dougie wishes they were back home and done with trick or treating. So then immediately, a bunch of unconvincing 90’s bullies try to steal all of their candy. Though somehow they made it so that the area they hang out in is perpetually foggy, and they seemingly can alter their voices to sound more robotic and scary, so they are a cut above your standard bully. Though also in typical TV show bully fashion, they are all terrible, terrible actors, though could anyone really call someone “snotball” and make it sound badass? Except Jason Statham and maybe Robocop of course.

So yes it’s your typical “be careful what you wish for” scenario where all of the wishes get turned around on them. It’s been done a hundred times, but the premise is so sound that it never gets old, and it’s always fun to try and guess in what way their wishes will be used against them. Though the bullies aren’t successful in getting their candy and they ride off into the night…so I’m not really sure why they have to stop trick or treating. The claw may have just gotten lucky with that one.

Kevin wishes he could beat another guy in some super important track meet. So how does the claw do it? Give Kevin super speed? Rocket legs? Make his opponent’s legs disappear or turn into chickens and thus he can’t run because the chickens won’t agree on which direction to go? Nothing that elaborate sadly. A dog runs across the finish line and even though it doesn’t look like this guy is in much risk of running into him, he dives to the ground and really hurts himself, allowing Kevin to win the race. So an innocent kid’s dreams of being a future track star are crushed so this asshole could win a race that doesn’t seem to hold much significance at all in the grand scheme of things. Our heroes!

We then have a very unnecessary break to jump back to the campfire and have the characters summarize what we’ve already seen. Yeah guys we saw them make wishes that went bad, we were all there! Why are you telling us this?! It’s just another reminder that these stories would be incredibly lame if you were just sitting there and listening to someone tell it.

It’s time for shit to get real! Kevin and Dougie are hanging out at Dougie’s where Kevin has convinced himself he earned the gold medal for the race. Then after Dougie calls his parents his “folks” about 8 times in rapid succession, you’re on board with Kevin when he wishes Dougie would “just lose his folks.” The claw doesn’t have to stretch his imagination too far with this one, so he kills Dougie’s parents in a car accident. Fuck! That’s heavy shit right there Are You Afraid of the Dark! It’s interesting that the police decided it was best to call him on the phone to deliver the news and not come to the house and actually tell him in person. It’s pretty nonchalant of them to just pick up the phone and say “Yo this Dougie? Remember how earlier today you had parents who were alive? Welllll check this….”

Dougie wishes his grandfather was there to tell him what to do. But oh man you guys, his grandfather is way dead! How could that work?!  Well the claw isn’t going to let that detail get in the way so not only does zombie grandpa show up (we never get a truly good look at him so I’ll assume he looks like a zombie) but he arrives in his old car in what is a pretty creepy little moment. Actually the creepiest part is the noises we hear grandpa making as we see him approach the front door of Dougie’s house from his POV.

So they solve the problem in the exact same way everyone ever solves this problem – they wish the initial problem (in this case causing the lady to break her vase) had never happened. And all is well! The grandpa skeleton zombie is gone, Dougie’s parents are alive, Kevin never actually won the race, etc. The story ends with a knock on the door and they find the now in tact old lady vase with a note reading “Trick or Treat”. Nice touch old witch lady. The End!

This was another pretty good episode. Sure the story is old but it’s always entertaining and one nice twist here is that unlike most evil wish stories, they don’t try and beat the system. Most of their wishes are actually by accident, with only one being made intentionally. My one complaint is that I really wish stories like this would make the claw really work for it. I want to see it really have to get creative with some of these wishes. People always wish for the same shit. “I wish for a million dollars!” “Ha the money was stolen and now you’re in jail. The Claw bitch!” But what if someone just went simple with their wish? “Aw I wish we weren’t out of ketchup.” What’s the claw gonna do then? “Ha I replaced all the food in the kitchen with ketchup! How inconvenient of me!” A pain sure, but you can easily get around that with a quick trip to the grocery store. Maybe the claw would just give up and decide “fuck, I don’t know, here’s your ketchup I guess.” I may go write that story right now actually. And eat this Kit Kat. Probably just the second thing.

Are You Afraid of the Dark Episode 3 - The Tale of Laughing in the Dark

Now, in my opinion, this is where things start to get really good. Are You Afraid of the Dark clearly knows what’s up because it only takes until the third episode for them to bust out creepy clowns. It won’t be the last time they do this, and it won’t even be the scariest time that they do this, but I feel it’s the first time the series really shows its true potential.

After a quick prologue where we learn that Clueless TV Show girl is deathly afraid of clowns (and we are also given further evidence that Kiki is kind of a bitch) the story begins and we meet our leads. We have main guy, Weegee (god I hope for his sake that’s a nickname), who is established as the coward of the group, his little sister Kathy , and their asshole friend Josh . They are spending their Friday night at Playland, aka the most boring name ever invented for an amusement park. Playland has a spookhouse called Laughing in the Dark which is rumoured to be haunted by a clown named Zeebo. At the end of the ride, you get to a room full of doors and they say if you pick the right door you can leave, but if you pick the wrong door a dummy of Zeebo comes out and laughs at you, and nobody wants that shit.

So Josh refuses to go into the funhouse after the man taking tickets talks like a maniac and acts as though murdering these people would be his favourite way to spend the evening. We find out the next day that Zeebo was in fact a real clown who stole a bunch of cash way back in the day. Cops chased him into a funhouse, where apparently Zeebo threw away a cigar and burnt the whole place down, killing himself in the process. It wasn’t intentional; Zeebo was clearly just really fucking dumb. I like that the articles with the information are clearly photocopies from the library. Pre-Internet y’all, these kids had to do some damn leg work. My favourite weird touch in this scene though is that the entire bedroom they are in (presumably Weegee’s) is painted to look like a hockey rink. There are red circles on the floor and even a crowd painted along the wall, which makes it look like a bunch of shadow people are watching you sleep. It’s creepy. It’s never even mentioned that the character likes hockey, and I never picked up on this until now, so good job set designer. Way to go above and beyond.

Also worth noting is that this scene ends with Josh chasing Kathy to try and tickle her, so she smashes him in the face with a trash can lid. Extreme, but satisfying because fuck Josh.

This scene also ends with one of my all-time personal favourite ways to transition a scene. It’s when a character asks a question or makes a statement, then it cuts to hours later, and the other character responds. Here, Weegee (fuuuuuck I hate that I have to keep writing that name) accuses Josh of being too scared to go into the funhouse. Josh grabs Weegee, then it cuts to that night in front of the funhouse and Josh says “you’re going to eat those words”. Wouldn’t Weegee be confused since he made that statement like 10 hours ago? Unless it was brought back up immediately before Josh made that statement. Either that or nobody has spoken a word to each other since Weegee made his initial accusation. Either way, I love when movies/shows do that, and it happens way more often than you would expect.

So Josh accepts the challenge and enters the funhouse. The deal is that he not only has to go in, but he has to steal Zeebo’s nose in order to prove that he made it all the way to the end. If he does it, Weegee has to wear the nose to school for a week, which would likely ruin the kid’s life for years to come so to me, this wager doesn’t seem worth it. Weegee is a spiteful guy though, so he accepts.

Josh does in fact make it through to the end, though he spends the whole time inside making unfunny jokes to himself and laughing. Also at one point in the ride, a giant dragon head comes out of a side wall, breathing actual fire! If a kid was moving a little too fast, they would be dead! Jesus Christ Laughing in the Dark, I applaud your commitment but you may want to ditch that part of the attraction.

Josh steals Zeebo’s nose and then spends the next chunk of the episode being a huge asshole to Weegee and Kathy. It’s at this point you realize just how much Josh sucks and how it might be kind of ok if Zeebo were to set him on fire. Josh does keep smelling cigar smoke, but he is not lit ablaze which is a little too bad.

That night Josh is home alone and this is where shit officially starts to get real. Things start off small, with noises of someone moving around inside the house, and a clear indication that someone was inside his closet. Then a minute later, Zeebo decides there’s no more time to fuck around and calls Josh, demanding “Give it back!” That’s creepy stuff right there man. But hey maybe it’s just Weegee messing with him right? Perhaps, but then holy shit why did the spaghetti he was microwaving turn into a bowl of cigars?! Ain’t no way Weegee did that shit! There’s a dead clown in that house! There’s also a giant footprint in some pudding he spilled earlier because clowns have no respect for pudding.

The creepiest part of the episode though, is right after that when Josh locks himself in his room and calls Weegee. Zeebo picks up the downstairs phone, and tells Josh he is on his way upstairs to get his nose. The idea of a ghost calling you to tell you they are on their way is something that has fucked with my head ever since a story I heard as a little kid about eating a monster’s tail or something, I forget the details now. It’s such an unsettling idea that a dead person would get a hold of you and say “well, I’m on my way!” How would you deal with that?! I would cry and roll around in a ball, which would likely not help things.

It’s worth noting that you never actually see Zeebo during this sequence, which I feel is for the best. It’s far scarier not getting a look at him since who knows, it could look really silly if he were actually on camera. Though this also leads to the theory that it’s not a dead clown, but instead the guy who runs the actual funhouse who is doing all this (he is shown smoking a cigar and laughing in the very final shot). It’s still pretty creepy to think that a middle aged man with a murderer face was running around in this kid’s house trying to get a fake nose back, but I still prefer clown ghost.

So Josh returns the nose and everything works out fine. Clueless TV Show girl was able to sit through the entire story, though at the end the prankster kid scares her by putting on a clown mask that she clearly must have watched him put on right in front of her, so there is no way that should have ever worked.

And thus concludes the first truly solid episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark. The middle is a little slow but Zeebo’s final assault on Josh at the end is still pretty creepy, even if the circus music that plays through most of it does take away from some of the tension. Good stuff and it only gets better from here!

Are You Afraid of the Dark Episode 2 - The Tale of the Lonely Ghost

This is the first of several “ghosts who want shit” episodes. This is where the main character continuously encounters a ghost, and in the end discovers the ghost was only kicking around still because there’s this one thing they are after like a coat or a bike. It’s a formula Are You Afraid of the Dark is going to bust out quite frequently so you best get ready now.

This episode also introduces one of the most awesomely cheesy aspects of the show. It’s when the person telling the story (in this case it’s David who we learn has a crush on the girl who took over Alicia’s Silverstone character on the Clueless TV show) gives their over-dramatic introduction to the story and all the other characters look at each all worried like “ohhhhhh shit we are in for a scary ride you guys! Hang on!”

So our lead in this story is Amanda, played by Laura Bertram who of course also played Amanda on Ready or Not, so you automatically know that the quality of acting is going to be way higher than in the last episode. Because her parents are “some kind of scientists”, she is forced to spend her Summer vacation at her Aunt’s place. Why is this so terrible? Because her cousin Beth is a gigantic stuck-up bitch. Oh and because there’s totally a ghost next door, but Amanda doesn’t know about that shit yet.

However, the ghost is not the most far-fetched part of the episode. No that would be the character of Beth. She is treated as the ultra-cool, hip girl, but she wears loud, awful clothes, has this terrible looking flip in her hair, giant awful earrings, and her face looks like two Conan the Barbarians kicked each side of her head at the same time. Also I hate to sound mean since she’s a young girl and all….but she’s just a wee bit dude-ish. I know it sounds harsh but come on man, look at this picture!

Are you seriously going to tell me that she is the cool one? Also they don’t really establish why these two don’t like each other so I assume it’s because Beth is just an unholy bitch. As soon as Amanda arrives, Beth is all over her about wanting Amanda to clean her room, and putting her stuffed animal collection back to where they were (that’s badass shit right there), and how she can’t hang with her friends until she proves she’s not a “zeeb”. Is Beth cool because she makes up dumb words like “zeeb” maybe? Is it because Amanda has the audacity to read books that we’re supposed to think Beth is cooler? “Further expand your intellect somewhere else nerd!” we all say! Also Amanda has to be initiated into Beth’s group by spending the night in the haunted house next door. That kind of thing seems to happen constantly in these stories, does any real group of friends make people do that? Or are real humans sensible enough to say “fuck your friends, I don’t need this shit” and not do it?

That night, Amanda meets “Nana”, who Beth is also inexplicably bitchy to. She says it’s because Nana is weird and has some strange connection to the house next door. Beth wants Nana the hell out of her house, and she loudly says this stuff with Nana standing right there. Seriously, fuck this girl! Why is she such a bitch?! Is she angry because of how much she looks like Carrot Top? She even has Amanda doing her laundry! Nothing would make me happier than for some “The Help” action where Amanda just starts shitting in all of her food, but alas we don’t get that satisfaction.

The night of the initiation arrives and Beth tells the story of the ghost, who was a little girl whose Dad was injured in the war, so her Mom left to take care of him and the little girl was meant to go and live with her Grandmother. However, before that could happen, the girl was harassed by a group of bullies who locked her in her bedroom inside of her empty house. Nobody knew she was there (they seriously didn’t think to check her house when she went missing?) and she I guess starved to death? That part of the story is glossed over. We also learn that Beth is also a huge bitch to her friends, so we have a Mean Girls “Queen Bee” type situation going on here.

So Amanda goes into the house and into what used to be the little girl’s bedroom and OH SHIT YOU GUYS THIS PLACE IS ACTUALLY TOTALLY HAUNTED! The words “Help Me” appear backwards on the wall (Amanda is kind enough to point out to us that the words are in fact backwards) and then the ghost of the girl appears in the mirror behind her and reaches out to her. It’s a decently creepy moment, especially when you compare it to the previous episode that had nothing even close to scary within it.

The next morning Amanda and Beth are sent by the Aunt to go clean the walls of the room, which they discover is now completely covered in “help me” instead of just the one piece of writing. Because the episode is almost over and there’s no more time to fuck around, the ghost quickly makes itself known to both of them in broad daylight. It lures Beth into the mirror by showing her a bedroom full of dolls and stuffed animals, ultimately proving that Beth is not at all a badass and is also a fucking idiot.

The ghost emerges from the mirror but don’t worry everyone, she doesn’t want to hurt Amanda! She really does want her help. She shows Amanda a locket that indicates Nana is actually the girl’s mother. Amanda goes and gets Nana moments before Nana leaves in a cab (she’s finally had enough of Beth’s shit) and brings her over to the house. She and the girl/her daughter are reunited, the Mom saying she had no clue the girl was over here. The two of them go into the mirror together to I guess live happily ever after in the past? It shows the Mom younger so either they’re in the past or dead, the story never makes that clear. Then Beth is put in her rightful place when all her friends show up and hear her shouting for Amanda’s help to let her out of the “mirror”. But to her friends it just looks like she was inside a closet and is a huge pussy. The friends tell her they are sick of her shit and presumably Beth has a nervous breakdown moments after the camera fades. The End!

While not a great episode by any means, The Tale of the Lonely Ghost is a huge improvement over Phantom Cab. The acting is way better, the initial reveal of the ghost is well-done and the story is a step in the right direction, though it contains quite a few plot holes. Seriously, how did nobody ever think “hey maybe the missing girl is in her room” at any point ever? The concept that a bunch of kids locked her in there so she died is actually a pretty dark idea for a kid’s show, so kudos on that one I suppose. Also the resolution of the whole things feels rushed as too much time is spent establishing just how huge a bitch Beth is. All in all, decent, but things still haven’t gotten real good yet.