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Welcome back to the Eerie, Indiana 2017 rewatch. This Friday, give your dog the side-eye and pray that doorknobs will be enough to save us. Ladies and gentlemen, keep the Canine Arrest Team on speed-dial, because it's time to watch... The Retainer!
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Summer Club Reading - Eerie, Indiana

Back in 1991, Eerie, Indiana premiered on NBC. It was created by Karl Schaefer and Jose Rivera, who had two tracks of mind in creating the series. One, to create a show for children that didn't pander to children and secondly, to have a fun and scary show. And you know what?

They succeeded.

Eerie, Indiana takes place in the titular town. We first meet Marshall Teller on his paper route. He's relocated from the dank, rotting Big Apple. He misses it. His father, Edgar is an inventor for a company in Eerie called "Things, Incorporated," and his mother, Marilyn is a party planner despite having lax organizational skills. His sister, Syndi is a regular, normal teenage girl. Marshall is the odd one out in his family it seems. But he notices that something is amiss in this 'burb. He sees an older, fatter Elvis on his route. He knows Bigfoot eats out of his trashcan. The town's population is 16,661. Gulp. He shares this with the only person that'll hear him out, Simon. Simon is a younger kid from his neighborhood who is ignored by his parents, so Marshall takes him under his wing. They know that something spooky is afoot in Eerie and they seem to be the only ones to do anything to try and stop it.

Originally, reviews for the show insisted that the show's true relation was that great masterpiece, "Twin Peaks." But I don't buy that, personally, I see it as more of a "Blue Velvet" type show. You know, a town with a darker undercurrent. Marshall and Simon are predicating Fox Mulder in the hunt for the truth and the idea of a town under duress from outside sinister forces is something that "Buffy the Vampire Slayer will run through for seven years. Eerie was ahead of it's time and it only lasted 19 episodes. I personally think that in 2012 this show would've lasted a longer life. Or at the very least gathered a cult following. But I digress, let's start this thing off.

Read more... )
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Check out the radness that came in the post yesterday! A doorknob scarf, perfect for both all my canine uprising needs and for making people in the street do a double take as they register that yes indeed, it really says knob. A plushie Weremarsicorn complete with key-shaped cutie mark. And a knitted Bill Cipher, ready to hand out horror and deer teeth at a moments' notice!

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Also seen here: FunkoPOP customs of Simon, Mars and Dash by JaDisArt, crochet Sparky by Pixelkei and altered beanie baby Sparky (aka Sprite or Sparky Lite) by Erik237.
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The story structure for “Eerie, Indiana” takes an interesting twist in this second episode, which is a story relayed to us by lead character Marshall Teller. In the introduction, told in the present time, Marshall’s parents are confused when Marshall is terrified of getting a retainer. As we soon learn, it has nothing to do with the fear of pain, or the fear of being made fun of, but rather because of what happened to the last friend of his that got one…

That friend was Steve Konkalewski, whose teeth refuse to straighten after five years of visits to a mad dentist. The evil tooth-doctor makes for him a “special” retainer, one that gives him the “gift” of hearing what dogs are thinking. In a rather interesting twist, dogs only appear to be friendly on the outside, a front because they are eventually planning to take over the world, something Steve figures out thanks to his newfound ability.

Marshall and Simon, his closest friends, quickly put two-and-two together after a series of odd occurrences, and develop a hunch that he can read the mind of dogs. To test this, Marshall uses a rather absurd experiment: He places a paper bag over Simon's head, then flips a coin and shows it to a dog. Once Steve is able to accurately read the outcome of the coin flip—via the dog's eyes—they are convinced of his superpower. (Would a dog really have an understanding of “heads” and “tails”? Am I putting way too much thought into this?)

This is a minor breakthrough, but Marshall is more intelligent than most kid's show heroes: He understands the absurdity of the whole situation, and realizes that no one will believe them without proof. And so he creates a recording device so that he can capture the sounds that Steve picks up via his retainer (the scenes of them trying to move him around like an antenna to get better reception is pretty clever stuff, despite the obvious outdatedness of it all). Well he also inadvertently picks up some nearby chatter, which leads him to a dog pound known for a high rate of euthanasia. (This is a show for kids?)

Earlier in the episode, an evil kennel warden is attacked by a lone dog who doesn't take kindly to the way the man treats the mutts (he even threatens to “toss them into the chamber”, which looks eerily like a cremation chamber). When our heroes arrive to find the source of the chatter (which are chants of “Freedom!”, by the way), there is a lone bloody bone propping open the door...obviously the bone of the warden, who was picked clean by the dogs. This is a show for kids?

Anyway, the canines don't appreciate Steve being able to monitor their thoughts, so they demand he gives them his retainer. The only problem? It's stuck to his face and he can't get it off. The flashback ends with the dogs chasing him out into the streets, at which point they presumably attack him, kill him, and forcibly take the retainer for themselves. I arrived at this conclusion because we flash back to the present, where Marshall has his own retainer, and calmly explains to a familiar dog that his retainer doesn't allow him to hear the dog's thoughts...and the dog responds by coughing up Steve's old retainer, leading Marshall to contemplate the possible fate of his friend.

It's not a very good episode overall, mainly because it lacks the joyful absurdity of the premiere. There are precious few laughs, and none of the off-the-wall fascination from the first one, making this one feel like a complete dud. Steve just isn't really all that fascinating of the character to center an entire story around, and the retainer idea—while it's clearly going for the offbeat—never gets its feet off the ground. On the flipside, I'd say that Marshall's blandness is already starting to grow on's a welcome change from the over-the-top characters in most such shows.

Regardless, I'd file this one under “sophomore slump” for sure.

RATING: 4/10
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The sound of gunfire echoed down the quiet streets of early-morning Eerie. Sat at the Teller’s kitchen table, Simon and Marshall turned as one to stare at the toaster that sat on the kitchen counter amid a sea of crumbs. The toaster, for it’s part, continued turning two halves of an English muffin into two blackened lumps of carbon.

“Mail’s here,” said Syndi, spreading butter on a ragged square of charcoal. She rose on tiptoe to peer over the greenery that half-obscured the view from the kitchen window. “And that big dog’s come back again.”

Marshall choked on his juice.

Read the rest of the Trusted Associates series here )

Read the rest of the Teller Family History here )
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So we know from the start of the episode that Mars going to the orthodontist and telling us the story of the Retainer takes place on Marshall's 45th day in Eerie. It might be fun to try and put together a timeline for all the events in EI.

From what I remember, not all of the episodes have a day # attached to them - the only one I can name off the top of my head is that Reality Takes a Holiday is marked day zero, for obvious reasons - but I know there's a few. As the rewatch progresses, I'm going to try and look out for them.

This is the second episode and the intro also serves as a kind of "previously" by referencing the ForeverWare ladies (oh my God, that horrible laughter - there's no need to get that excited about a pickle lifter, ladies), as well as what would become the standard for EI, Bigfoot and Elvis, before setting up this episode's foe.

Also, Fluffy, what are you going to do with that gun? You don't have opposable thumbs, you can't pull the trigger, it is of no use to you whatsoever, and it never appears again in the episode.

Could it be Betsy, Grungy Bill's long-lost gun? Did he bungle his twelfth/thirteenth bank robbery because dogs stole his firearm in preparation for the day they rose up humanity?

"It's probably wherever you left it" has got to be the least helpful parental non-response in history. Yes, it most likely is wherever I left it, but I don't know where that is, which is why I'm asking if you're seen it. I would have made the exact same face as Syndi. Don't be that parent, Marilyn.

Loving the drama chords that play and the dramatic close up of Fifi, the man-eating poodle. Oh Syndi. You are more right than you know.

Looking back on it, it's weird how much emphasis there was on you to have lots of friends when you were a kid. Edgar and Marilyn are all, "you don't seem to be making a lot of new friends", ignoring the fact that he's already become really good friends with the kid next door.

Later in the episode, Mars mentions that Steve isn't his friend, but still lets him come over to his house anyway. You gotta wonder if there's an element of pleasing and/or shutting up his parents concerns about his lack of friends in him hanging out with this kid that he doesn't even seem to like all that much in his own home.

Like, Simon apparently doesn't satisfy the criteria, maybe because he's younger, so he brings Steve by and is all, look, look, kid my own age, stop getting at me and making me feel like an isolated reject just because I'm not surrounded by a crowd of classmates the whole time.

Or maybe I'm just reading way too much into this. Anyway.

Dog, you're sleeping in the middle of the pavement. Don't get snippy when people need to walk past. You're the inconsiderate jackass here, not the random pedestrians.

Ugh, can we take a minute to talk about how horrible it is that Steve has to go over that the house of some kid that he's not even friends with, just so he can have a fucking sandwich, because his mum doesn't like watching him eat? Fucking Eerie, centre of shitty parenting for the entire planet, more like.

Second episode in a row that Simon mentions the Eerie Library. Last week it was old yearbooks, this week apparently their research is a little more esoteric.

Now I really want to know who had checked out the Sorcerers Bible before Simon could borrow it.

Also, Mars, get your own library card.

I really want a t-shirt with that aerial map of Eerie on it. That, or the one from the start of the episode with Normal and Schafer as some of the surrounding towns and a massive bright red WEIRDNESS stamped across it.

"Oh baby, yeah baby, oh, in my mouth baby" is literally me whenever I'm starving and sit down to a delicious meal.

Fifi, stop spying on the Tellers!

Are we all speaking Dog? I think more likely, the retainer lets Steve (and later Mars) read the dogs minds, and then their brains translate it to terms they can understand, ie, English.

I just realised how boring and frustrating this adventure must have been for Simon - he can't hear any of what's going on.

I am 100% certain that the dogs and cats in Eerie are waging a secret war against each other (secret from humans, I mean). Fluffy proved dogs can read when Mars shows him that magazine, and the pound has massive barrels labelled poison stacked outside it, coils of razor wire on top of the chainlink fences surrounding it, a sign that says no barking, the death chamber is in full view of the cages the dogs are kept in, and the dog catchers themselves are called the Canine Arrest Team. That level of psychological torture, it's gotta be a cat masterminding it.

also, the way Mars says "dogs check in, but they don't check out" makes it sound like thats the pounds motto, rather than Mars making an off the cuff remark.

I can't tell if that's supposed to be a real cat watching through the windows at the pound, or if it's a stuffed cat attached to the fishing lines used to lure the dogs to capture.

Whelp, Mister Dithers is dead. Or at least missing a leg. To be fair, he was in league with the cats, and being eaten by dogs pales in comparison to what the cats would have done to him in punishment for his failure to keep the dogs in line.

Ugh, the dogs chanting. The vehemently whispered chant of "Freedom!", "bite the hand that feeds us!", "doorknob!", "smash the chamber!" and the increasingly loud and menacing "metal mouth!" at the end of the episode - so scary when I was a kid, and still pretty creepy now.

And Steve panics, and runs, and the dogs chase him down and kill him and eat him and then Fluffy delivers his mangled retainer to Mars as a warning to keep his mouth shut if he wants to live.

Edgar tells Marshall at the end of this episode that he "lived to tell the tale". The fortune cookie at the start of No Brain No Pain gives Mars the same prediction. I like to think that the whole series is actually narrated by an adult Marshall, who sends his stories out into the world disguised as fiction, after getting increasingly frustrated and jaded about getting anybody to believe him about the centre of weirdness for the entire planet.

They probably believe him about the centre of shitty parenting, though. Jesus.


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Eerie Indiana

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