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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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Rock out your fifties hairstyles, make sure your lids are sealed tight, and enjoy vacuum-fresh food, because the 2015 Eerie Indiana rewatch kicks off tonight with the pilot episode that made half of us afraid of packed lunches... ladies and gentlemen, fire up your DVD players, and let's watch: Foreverware!
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[personal profile] friendof_dorothy
I didn't have a very good writing week this week, mostly due to stress, but I did finish this. This story is moving very slowly.  Hopefully next week will be better haha.

The Great Vanishing Act of 1994
by miss_nettles_wife
Chapters: 2/?
Eerie Indiana
Rating: Teen And Up Audiences
Warnings: No Archive Warnings Apply
Relationships: Marshall Teller/Dash X, Edgar Teller/Marilyn Teller, Simon Holmes/OFC
Characters: Simon Holmes, Dash X, Marshall Teller, Marylin Teller, Edgar Teller, Melaine Monroe, Sara Sue, Syndi Teller
Additional Tags: Time Travel, Angst, alcohol consumption, Supernatural Elements, WIP, relationship dynamic changes, happily married couple, Burns, Disabled Character

Chapter Summary:
Marshall is awake. Dash and Simon fight. Simon meets an old friend on the bus.

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"What do you want?" "I just want to know that it's, it's really happening." Sony has released a full-length trailer for the upcoming 40th anniversary theatrical re-release of Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The classic sci-fi film first hit theaters in December of 1977, two years after Jaws. This re-release was first teased with a "mysterious" air traffic control video that didn't explain what exactly it was teasing, but that was quickly solved. Now we know the film is returning to theaters again September 1st and if you've never seen on it on the big screen before, now is your chance. Don't miss it! Starring Richard Dreyfuss, Teri Garr, Melinda Dillon, Bob Balaban, François Truffaut, Warren Kemmerling, and Cary Guffey. This trailer definitely makes this movie seem like a true classic - feast your eyes on this.

Here's the full re-release trailer for Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, from YouTube.

You can also still watch that first ATC teaser for the Close Encounters of the Third Kind re-release here.

After an encounter with UFOs, a line worker feels undeniably drawn to an isolated area in the wilderness where something spectacular is about to happen. Close Encounters of the Third Kind was the sixth feature film directed (and written by) Steven Spielberg. It was first released in December of 1977. At the time, Columbia Pictures was having trouble and pushed Spielberg to finish it faster. They later let him go back and add more scenes to make a special edition "Director's Cut" of the film, which was then re-released in late 1980. There's no confirmation yet on which version of the film will be re-released this year. Visit the official website for updates. Close Encounters of the Third Kind will be re-released in theaters for the 40th anniversary for one week only starting September 1st, 2017 later this fall. Who is excited to revisit this?

So... do you guys think Marilyn and Edgar will actually get to see the whole movie this time?
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If there’s one thing “Eerie, Indiana” has, it’s a penchant for imaginative ideas that are specifically skewered toward younger viewers, and “Who’s Who” is no exception. In it, a little girl in a family full of hyperactive boys (all with the last name “Bob”, herself included) learns that she can bring her drawings to life simply by signing them with an “Eerie” brand no. 2 pencil (initially at Marshall’s urging). Wanting a quieter, calmer family, she sits down to draw her ideal one…which consists of Marshall’s mother! Can he convince her to return his mother to him, or will the Teller family permanently be short one member for the rest of time?

This isn’t one of the more memorable installments in the “Eerie” pantheon, but it does introduce Harry Goaz as Sgt. Knight, which is basically a slightly more functional version of his character in “Twin Peaks”. It also paints a rather bleak (though watered-down) view of her life, featuring Sara using drawing as a means to escape the dysfunctionality of her home life. It will be an all-too-realistic portrait for some kids, but “Eerie” never seemed to be afraid of tackling any subject matter.

In fact, it's where “Eerie” seems to be most comfortable: When it’s taking adult topics and “watering it down” for kids, while still leaving enough realism and fancy to appeal to both sides of the spectrum. It’s a difficult balancing act, and overall it seems to do well with it, although in this episode it doesn’t take much digging to find the depressing undercurrent that holds it all together.

Take the scene where Marshall informs Sara Bob that his mother is there to pick him up. “Mother?” she asks quizzically, as if she’s never seen one before. And sure enough, a visit later on to her house reveals an uncaring, alcoholic father, complete with four young hyperactive brothers, all of whom look up to her to be the “mother”, and all of whom (minus the dad, who I don’t even think says a word) complain about all the things she has or hasn’t done for them. No one deserves this kind of pressure, period, but to have it all placed on a middle school child is rather dark stuff.

It's never even hinted at the fate of the mother, but whether she passed away, or ran out on them doesn't really matter. Actually, I kind of like that it's never touched upon...most shows would use it as a chance to throw in some corny sob story as a way to extract emotional resonance from the episode, but this show gets enough of that without it. We can already gather Sara's loneliness and isolation from the way she reacts to the world around her, and that speaks louder than any backstory could.

This being said, the episode feels a little half-baked, and wasn't really all that interesting. Of course, Marshall gets his mother back (no spoilers here) and Sara reverts her family back to “normal” after reversing it so that they served her instead, but with an additional caveat that keeps them in line. It's all so...”linear” and straightforward compared to many of the other episodes, and that's enough to make it unsatisfying. It has a couple of laughs, and is far from terrible, but as far as this series goes, it's definitely one of the weaker efforts.

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Well what do you know? As it turns out, the writers of “Eerie” didn't get out all that they had to say about death in the last episode, and have turned around immediately to tackle the subject head-on yet again.

If you're so cold and heartless that you can't give the show anything else, you at least have to admire it for the casting choices: It seems the special guest from every episode has gone on to do some pretty big things in Hollywood. For example, Danielle Harris, from the last episode, would go on to become popular for her voice role on the Wild Thornberry's, as well as her live-action roles in Rob Zombie's Halloween remakes. Here, we have a young Tobey Maguire—who looks eerily like current Tobey Maguire—playing the role of a ghost.

That ghost is Tripp McConnell, and he is awakened when Marshall finds an old letter in a book at the local bookstore. After the initial shock of finding a man from the 1930s hanging around the bookshelves wears off, Marshall picks up on what Tripp is trying to urge him to do: Deliver the letter to its intended recipient.

You see, Tripp was deeply, madly in love with one Mary Carter 62 years ago, and they were certain to be wed. But then Tripp got some cold feet and left Mary out in the cold, something she has never forgotten, or forgiven, all these years later. But that can be the problem with life: not everything is always as it seems. In this case, the only thing Tripp did wrong was get killed, and that’s what prevented him from marrying his childhood sweetheart, something she has been oblivious to for all the prevailing years.

Since Marshall was the one that discovered the letter, then Marshall is the one that is required to deliver it to Mary Carter in this current day and age, 62 years later. He refuses quite a few times, finding Tripp to be a rather annoying chap, at which point Tripp has to rely on his ghostly cunning to get him to change his mind: He wins over the Teller family with his ghostly charm, earning an invite to stay for dinner. Marshall isn’t too keen on seeing this happen, so he reluctantly agrees to help him, on the grounds that he leaves him alone afterwards.

Thankfully, the myriad of possible pitfalls that one could face when searching for a person after six decades, are all conveniently avoided: Mary still lives at the exact same address as she did all those years ago, with her granddaughter, who happens to be Marshall's age. At first Mary thinks Marshall is lying, until she reads the letter, and then learns the truth about Tripp's fate.

The ending of this one is actually pretty similar to “Heart on a Chain”, now that I think about it, with the two lovers reunited in the afterlife, something we can see coming from the outset (though it's not as creepy as it sounds, as Tripp sees Mary the way she was when they were together, as opposed to the old decaying hag that she has become). This one is a little less devastating, simply because we’re dealing with an old woman versus a young one (and old women are always considered expendable in today’s society), but it’s still a pretty hefty emotional saga for a young adult to sit through. Nevertheless, with two themes so closely intertwined to one another, I think it would have made more sense to space those two apart a few episodes, rather than have them be back-to-back installments.

Also a little bizarre is Marshall's initial refusal to have anything to do with Tripp. Here is a kid that goes out of his way to investigate weird goings-on in Eerie, and so for him to get offended by Tripp's simple request, simply because he “feels like” he's trouble, just seems out of character, especially since Tripp does nothing to garner such feelings. Sure, he comes off as rather arrogant in their first meeting, but isn't rude or offensive in any specific way. Just a weird way for a “hardened” investigator of the macabre to act.

When the dust settles, this is a pretty decent episode, but by leaning heavily on many of the same themes that the previous episode dealt with does it no favors.

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When I read a brief synopsis for the seventh episode of “Eerie, Indiana”, I was intrigued. It’s not every day that you find a show geared toward young adults (and, perhaps arguably, even younger than that) willing to tackle the subject of death at all; it’s even less common to see a show do it in such a frank, straightforward way. I was finally starting to appreciate the town of Eerie and its characters, but this wallop of an episode helps to prove just how daring this show really was, at least in terms of its intended age group. Its characters aren’t mindless caricatures quickly thrown together for the sake of ratings, but rather fully realized people. Even the adults in this show, such as Marshall’s family members, who are usually made stupid in shows so that the younger characters—the ones audience members would be most likely to relate to—can be intellectually superior, are immediately likable, and always encouraging to their son's interests, no matter how weird or “out there” they may be.

In this one, there’s a new girl in town, and both Marshall, and his friend Devon Wilde, are immediately smitten with her. She is Melanie, but she is no ordinary girl: she has a weak heart, and is on a list to receive a transplant that can elongate her life. Unfazed by this development, the two kids engage in friendly competitions, each one trying to impress her more so that they win her fragile heart; it’s Devon’s wild-child persona, vs. Marshall’s good-guy routine, and just like in real-life, it’s obvious which one she favors, and it ain’t Marshall.

Then Devon is struck and killed while carelessly riding his skateboard in the middle of the street.

One thing that sets this apart from similar shows of its ilk is the relationship between Devon and Marshall. While they both are fighting for the same goal, they still put their own friendship above all else: Devon even asks Marshall if he minds if he asks Melanie to the school dance, and Marshall puts aside his own feelings to let it happen; Marshall is upset when a careless Devon nearly gets run over by the same milk truck that finishes him off a little while later. It never devolves into a mean-spirited rivalry, which is the standard story arc that these stories lead to, and it's refreshing that “Eerie, Indiana” doesn't sinks into that same level of tired mediocrity.

After Marshall learns that Devon was struck by a truck, he rushes to the hospital, where he meets Melanie, who informs him they found a heart for her. At that precise moment, Marshall puts two and two together, and figures out that Devon has passed on, and it is his heart that will be implanted inside her. It's pretty heavy stuff so far (oh, it gets even stronger), but nice to see a television show that doesn't assume its audience is comprised of idiots that need everything spoonfed to them, so I can definitely appreciate the strong subject matter.

Anyway, after she receives the heart, Marshall notices that her personality changes. She's no longer a shy, innocent girl, but a daredevil who takes chances and whose favorite line is: “Live fast, die young, and leave a good-looking corpse”...which happened to be Devon's favorite quote! Marshall doesn't like this change, and urges her to let him go and move on. He assures her that everyone is sad he's gone, especially him since he was one of his best friends, but that life doesn't wait and it's the only thing she can do. She reluctantly agrees to try to do so by kissing him...only to have her heart malfunction. It's just a minor glitch—the moment they pull away everything returns to normal—but it's enough to cause alarm. Is Devon controlling her from beyond? In the end, Melanie agrees to let Devon go, but tells Marshall she isn't ready to be in a relationship so soon, and they part ways, with Marshall joining Simon and Melanie going her own separate way.

But as sad as this episode already is, it’s about to become emotionally shattering: As Simon and Marshall happily make their way for the cemetery exit, we see a figure walking slowly in the background, heading toward an off-screen Melanie. After a little bit of squinting, I realized it’s the FUCKING GRIM REAPER. Then, a light shines on the angel on Devon’s gravestone, complete with the heart pendant that Devon got for her, at which point a lone tear drips down, indicating that he is claiming her so that no one else can have her. Holy shit.

This is about as perfect as a thirty-minute episode of young adult/children's TV can be, with heavy subject matter handled with maturity and an uncommon straightforwardness that flies in the face of the bland watered-down sameness of many such shows, even today. The way the Tellers handle Marshall's new “girlfriend” the few times she is over, is so adorable, you just can't help but fall in love with them. I know early on in the season I mentioned that Marshall and Simon are completely boring and don't have the kinds of personalities that make good leads in a show, but it is these exact traits that have actually made me completely change my mind: They are you and me. They are everyday children with wild imaginations and big dreams, kids with big hearts and a loving family (well, not in Simon's case, but the Tellers frequently take him in as their own).

This show has slowly been growing on me, and I was beginning to realize its potential; not even I could have realized the near-perfection that it was capable of when everything came together in harmony. This is a devastating, must-see episode, and the pinnacle of what "Eerie Indiana" had to offer.

SIDE NOTE: After harping on how weak Joe Dante-directed episodes were compared to others, I have to immediately take that back, as he was the director of this one. It's not just the pinnacle of the series, but might be the pinnacle of his career.

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The beginning of “Just Say No Fun” perfectly exemplifies what makes “Eerie, Indiana” such an engaging, charming show: Marshall and Simon play a prank on their father, in which they rig a little critter to pop out of their dad's cereal, which is triggered by a switch they hide under his chair cushion. In many other kid's shows, the kids would find themselves in trouble for simply being kids and trying to have fun: here, the dad encourages them to do the same thing to their mother, then their sister, each victim in turn becoming an active participant in the ensuing person's lighthearted humiliation.

And that sums up the appeal of the series all in one simple scene. It is also the perfect example of what makes a television show geared toward younger viewers work so well: if it can bring back nostalgic memories of my childhood--not necessarily through specific scenes, but just by having a similar freewheeling sense of carelessness and fun—then it's instantly a winner in my book. Too many kids' series try to paint the family dynamic as “children vs. adults”, where only one side can win. But “Eerie” was always much smarter than that: the parents always encouraged their child to be a child. Of course, they were willing to reprimand him if he went too far, but they never wanted to punish him simply for trying to experiment or even for allowing his imagination to run wild...after all, isn't that what being a kid is all about?

It's not all fun and games though, because this introductory scene also shows us what's at stake in this episode. After pranking his family in the first scene, Marshall and Simon head to school with a pack of gag gum, looking to extend their mischievous mood to fellow classmates. But this plan gets derailed when a bully steals the gum, pops a piece in his mouth, then spits the smoking, smoldering piece back on the ground. As he goes to confront Marshall and Simon (who, in their defense, weren't intending to make him the victim), their verbal exchange is interrupted by the principal, who curiously sends them to the nurse's office for an eye exam. Huh?

It quickly becomes apparent why: All of the students that exit the nurse's office wear thick-rimmed glasses, but act as if they've been lobotomized, becoming study-obsessed kids with no room for fun in their lives. And it's not just the troublemakers that are being sent there...all the students, and even the faculty, are required to make an appointment with Nurse Nancy, a woman who has “tamed” many schools before. Simon is the first of our heroes to visit the “nurse”, while Marshall thankfully escapes. Can Marshall reverse the effects for not just his buddy, but the entire school? Or will Nurse Nancy's influence spread through the entire town?

Overall, this is a pretty good episode that deals with themes that just about every kids show tackle (the “blend in with everyone else or be yourself” conundrum), but this one has the benefit of above-average insight and writing. Once again, this can be summed up in one exchange: As Marshall is going to a visit with Nurse Nancy (where once again the parents don't believe Marshall's assurance that she's trying to brainwash him), his father says, “Why can't you be like the other students?” to which Marilyn replies, “Well maybe he shouldn't. Maybe he should just be himself.” It's a rather corny line, but the actors—who have always been above-average for a show aimed toward younger crowds—make it a convincing rallying cry that you can hang the entire episode around.

The end is a little too goofy for my tastes, but is probably one of the few moments in the entire series where it goes overboard enough to truly appeal to its target demographic. In other words, most kids will revel in the stupidity of it all. I can appreciate what it was trying to do, but it just didn't do anything for me (although the final line did bring a little smirk to my face). Still, the rest of the episode is interesting—and thanks to the glimpses we get of Nurse Nancy's “eye testing” machine, trippy—enough to interest a wide variety of ages. It doesn't end on a great note, but there are at least enough notes hit to make for a good episode.

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Well, ladies and gentleman, this might be it: the “breakthrough” episode of the series. As with all previous episodes, you can ignore the title...there's nothing here that will be scary for any child over the age of three, nor is it the show's point to scare. What it is, however, is a clever play on the typical “switch parts” trope, in which Simon's crazy brother, Harley, ends up in a mummy flick. But, as Marshall and Simon wonder, if he's in the television, then where's the mummy? In their house, of course!

It all starts on Halloween. For reasons never made clear, Simon's younger brother, Harley, who looks like he'd be the perfect age for trick or treating, is forced to stay at home and be babysat by Marilyn, Marshall's mom, while he and Simon go out monster hunting. At least, that's how the night's supposed to go. But as we already know, things in Eerie, Indiana often don't turn out the way they're supposed to. In this case, Marshall's father is stranded with a dead car, so Marilyn has to go pick him up. This leaves Marshall and Simon in charge of Harley.

Trying to make the most of the situation, Marshall decides to have Simon unwittingly film Harley playing with lizards, in the hopes that what transpires will be funny enough to win $10,000 on a certain home video show. That plan doesn't take long to backfire, and before Marshall knows it, he has a lizard of his own down his pants.

So they set Harley up in front of the television, forcing him to watch “Bloody Revenge of the Mummy's Curse” while they plan on keeping themselves busy. Bad luck follows poor Harley, though, and after biting down on the remote (?), he ends up in the mummy movie, while Marshall and Simon now have a mummy of their own to deal with. They might not have been able to go monster hunting, but one certainly found them!

As it turns out, this isn't a real mummy, but rather the actor that plays the mummy: self-proclaimed “international star” Boris von Orloff, a curmudgeonly old man who's been dead for fifty years. They hatch a plan to reverse the effects and send Boris back into the set of his own movie—which Harley is trashing. The scenes of Harley knocking stuff over and causing general havoc while the female star, who's stuck in the movie's loop and thinks she's being chased by the mummy, simply runs away and screams the whole time is the kind of thing that makes “Eerie, Indiana” has a unique self-awareness missing from shows in general these days.

This is the first episode where everything felt like it was firing on almost all cylinders for me. The writing is pretty sharp, there are more than a couple laugh-out-loud moments...even a risque sex joke finds its way in there (courtesy of Marshall's stranded mom and dad). It's kind of a shame that Cindy continues to exist only in the's like the creators were forced to include a cute female character, but didn't have any way to utilize her (though listening to her reciting shapes based on boys from her school, which she does on the phone to a friend, is pretty funny).

With all this in mind, I'd have to say this is the best episode yet, and the perfect example of what this show could be when it was on its A-game. I honestly have paid no attention to who's directed what thus far (until right now, obviously), but of the five episodes I've watched, Joe (Gremlins) Dante has directed three of them, with two going to Pillsbury...and in a blind viewing, I've disliked two of Dante's, and loved both of Pillsbury's. Who would have expected that, coming from a man whose most notable works are Free Willy 3, and the classic Lifetime film Fifteen and Pregnant?

Hopefully it can build off of this and continue on its upward trajectory.



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Eerie Indiana

September 2017

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