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[personal profile] froodle
Saturday mornings just haven’t been the same since the 90’s. Waking up early on your own accord, not for school or because your parents made you. We simple couldn’t miss what Wolverine was getting his claws into, what wild adventure Earthworm Jim was on, or who Batman was chasing around Gotham. Its easy to say that Saturday morning cartoons were absolutely amazing in the 90’s. It gave us a chance to break out of the ordinary programming we watched throughout the week and it broadcasted some very unique shows. We were also given some memorable live action shows alongside the radical cartoons, such as: Goosebumps, Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad, Masked Rider, V-R Troopers, Power Rangers etc… These were very entertaining to us as kids but unfortunately a lot of them didn’t hold up over the years. HOWEVER there are a select few that DID. One that stands out the most is a short lived, underrated show called Eerie, Indiana.

Eerie, Indiana was a live action television series from 1991 that centered around Marshall Teller, and his friend Simon Holmes, as they get themselves into some bizarre situations. They would investigate cases around the town of Eerie involving super natural phenomenons, cryptid sightings, extraterrestrial evidence, time travel, and androids. It felt in the same vain as Fox Molder and Dana Scully in the X-Files. It was such a well written and acted show that it didn’t seem like it had a lower budget than most television series at the time. You could definitely tell that the writers and producers were huge fans of horror and the unknown because they referenced classic monsters and cyptids, along with tipping their hats to H.P. Lovecraft and John Carpenter. Each episode ran more like full length movie and it left us wanting more, but unfortunately NBC didn’t buy another season and the last episode aired in December, 1993. It was devastating to see such a great thing come to an end with only nineteen episodes. Fortunately other television stations bought the rights and began to air reruns with their regular programming. Which, in result, established a cult following that didn’t only praise the show but caused the revival of the series!
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[personal profile] froodle
So many memorable childhood television shows stick to us to this day. How many references do adults today still know by heart from Pokemon, Rugrats, or Boy Meets World? It’s almost heartwarming to know that media has influenced people in some special, positive way as children.

On the opposite spectrum, how many memories can one summon of disturbing imagery they have once seen on a television show, particularly one targeted for a young audience? Did you ever find yourself suddenly stuck with the Mr. Blobby song in your head, but couldn’t quite place where it came from?

It’s borderline crazy how many nightmarish children’s shows out there were even aired, let alone enjoyed by anybody of any age. Maybe you’d rather just forget the haunting uncanny valley imagery of Jay Jay the Jet Plane— unfortunately, we found fifteen different creepy kids’ shows that are sure to keep you up at night as an adult.

If you were disturbed by the pool monster in Are You Afraid Of The Dark or low-key traumatized by Noseybonk’s oddly phallic garden from Jigsaw, then this is definitely the list for you.

At the risk of sounding like a hipster, only 90’s kids will probably remember the American television series Eerie, Indiana. The series has a resurgence on the internet briefly in the early 2010s, with many adults reminiscing on how unsettling the series was, without being able to place exactly why.

The nineteen episode show followed Marshall Teller, a teen who moves to the ghostly town of Eerie, Indiana. Throughout the show, Marshall and his only somewhat normal friend Simon encounter many strange scenarios.

Such creep-tastic themes in the show include urban legends, evil dogs, doppelgangers, and a whole lot of self-aware meta action. Marshall’s dream sequence in “The Dead Letter” is a noteworthy disturbing scene. Eerie, Indiana is yet another children’s series that feels more like David Lynch than anything else
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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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Eerie Indiana

July 2017

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