Monday, March 21, 2011

Lessons I Learned from Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Part I

It's another installment of Lessons Learned! This time, I tackle Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Tale of the Nightly Neighbors

Synopsis: Emma and Dayday suspect their new neighbors (a married couple with a little boy) who are pale and never come out at night are vampires. When they see the couple out in the day time, they're reassured but in a mildly surprising twist it turns out that the little boy is their vampire master. As they tell the audience, who would suspect that a little boy is a vampire?

Lessons Learned: Who indeed would suspect a child of vampirism? The Are You Afraid of the Dark? writers were really banking on there being no Anne Rice fans in their audience.

The Tale of the Long Ago Locket

Synopsis: A boy (played by Will Friedle) with an unrequited crush on a classmate wanders into the forest back in time to the era of the Revolutionary War. There, he must help a soldier escape Redcoats and find the woman he loves.

Lessons Learned: Will Friedle did more to make the Revolutionary War cool than all of my American Girl doll paraphernalia. Yes, including Felicity's four poster bed that made my twin bed with dinosaur sheets look every bit as cool as Kirk Van Houten's racecar bed. I'm not too surprised about Will Friedle's skills, considering how cool he would make dorky daytime detective shows seem. (Sorry, Kojak!)

The Tale of the Hatching

Synopsis: A brother and sister go to an odd boarding school where hypnotized students get up each night to take care of mutant reptile eggs which will later hatch and take over the world.

Lessons Learned: The writers for Are You Afraid of the Dark? were a creative bunch. So what if most of them would never get their short stories published in the New Yorker, or even Playdude--at least one of them has the makings of an L. Ron Hubbard-esque religion.

Also, you can tell this episode took place in the early 90s because menial labor was farmed out to underage boarding school students, not Goobacks.

Tale of Old Man Corcoran

Synopsis: Two African American boys move out of the hood with their mom to a new life in the suburbs. There, the boys find a group of kids who love playing hide and go seek in the graveyard. They tell the boys about the ghost of a gravedigger called Old Man Corcoran but in a twist, it turns out that Old Man Corcoran is alive and the kids are all ghosts.

Lessons Learned: Remember all the respect we suddenly earned for Carlton after the time he spent in Compton on a bet from Will? That's nothing compared to the mad props I gotta give these kids.

Tale of the Full Moon

Synopsis: A boy who desperately wants a dog notices a spate of missing cats in the neighborhood and suspects his neighbor of being a werewolf. When his lonely single mother starts dating her, he's even more worried. As it turns out, the neighbor's identical twin brother is the werewolf. (Or to put this in modern terms, it's The Patty Duke Show With Werewolves.) When the boy's mother marries into the family, his desire for a pet dog is finally solved.

Lessons Learned: There are a lot of Nickelodeon fans out there in the larger TV and movie world. For example, I'm guessing whoever came up with the final scene of Shaun of the Dead was a closet SNICK fan. (So was the writer who thought that the kids on The Wire should congregate around an orange couch in the middle of the projects.)

Tale of the Thirteenth Floor

Synopsis: A brother and sister go to the thirteenth floor of their building to play hockey but discover what appears to be a toy by aliens. Though they escape the aliens, they later realize that the girl is in fact an alien too and that these were her rightful parents coming to rescue her.

Lessons Learned: Between this and that horror movie Orphan, I'm going to play it safe and satiate my maternal instincts by adopting a highway instead.

The Tale of the Final Wish

Synopsis: A socially awkward girl who still loves fairy tales and dolls gets taken to a bizarre fairy tale world by a strange man called The Sandman, played by Bobcat Goldthwait.

Lessons Learned: You've forgotten all about comedian Bobcat Goldthwait and his awful but memorable voice, haven't you? But just think: if he hadn't slept in on the day of his audition for Aladdin's Iago, he could be this decade's Gilbert Gottfried.