Monday, March 28, 2011

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

Here's Part II of what I learned from Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Tale of the Dream Machine

Synopsis: An Asian boy finds a typewriter that transforms whatever stories he writes on it into dreams. When read aloud, the stories actually happen. The boy, his African American best friend, and his Hispanic love interest have to stop the dream machine before it's too late.

Lessons Learned: Goosebumps may have been first in vaguely Twilight Zone-esque twist endings, but Are You Afraid of the Dark was doing diversity years before Glee was ever conceived or Lady Gaga came up with the tagline Born That Way.

The Tale of the Dangerous Soup

Synopsis: The famous Dr. Vink is running his own restaurant! He uses a strange statue to collect people's fear to make wonderful tasting soup. Two of his employees are on to him and plan to stop him before it's too late.

Lessons Learned: If Andy Warhol had been alive when this episode first aired, I think he would have ended up balled in a fetal position, because this episode did more to eviscerate the warm cuddly Grandma related image of soup than his soup can poster ever did.

Tale of the Midnight Madness

Synopsis: Dr. Vink brings a frightening Nosferatu film to an old movie theatre about to go under. Suddenly, the theatre is a success but when the theatre's owner reneges on his end of the bargain, Dr. Vink unleashes the vampire from the movie on the theatre and its employees.

Lessons Learned: Not only can Dr. Vink make wonderful soup, he's also in the movie business. Why did Oprah decide to make Dr. Phil happen instead of this guy?

Tale of Apartment 214

Synopsis: A girl and her mother move in to an apartment building. She meets a lonely old woman who lives in Apartment 214. She agrees to spend time on one particular day with the old woman but when she forgets, it turns out that the woman who was a ghost who died on that day. In the end, they both apologize and decide to go on being friends.

Lessons Learned: When looking for a ghost to share your life with, make sure you specify in your roommate ad that they need to be familiar with the works of Harry Belafonte.

The Tale of the Silent Servant

Synopsis: Anne and her cousin Jared find themselves doing nothing but chores at Anne's father's farm one summer. When they discover an old scarecrow who will obey their every command, they're ecstatic at first...but will they get more than they bargained for?

Lessons Learned: Anyone else remember the Goosebumps book The Scarecrow Walks at Midnight? Since this episode aired a year before it came out, I'm going to call shenanigans on R.L. Stine. Since I know that he used to write for Nick Jr. (specifically, for Eureka's Castle), it's taught me a lesson: be careful what writers you idolize as a child. Also, it put the idea in my head of going back and rewatching old Eureka's Castle episodes to see if old man Stine was lifting ideas from obscure Japanese children's shows.

The Tale of the Dead Man's Float

Synopsis: A nerdy boy named Zeke and the girl he likes, Clorice, find an old swimming pool in the school. However, in doing so, they uncover an angry spirit that lives in the pool and that killed a little boy years ago. The school janitor--who was the lifeguard on duty the night that the little boy drowned--helps them in doing so.

Lessons Learned: Between this episode and the Boy Meets World where Chet Hunter becomes a custodian at Shawn's school, I've come to realize the tragic nobility of the janitor and his calling.

The Tale of the Chameleons

Synopsis: A girl and her friend find themselves plagued by magical chameleons who can turn themselves into the form of whichever human they bite. Tia and Tamara Mowry of Sister, Sister star in this episode, playing both the girl and the chameleon.

Lessons Learned: The fact that Nickelodeon actually needed twins for this episode says a lot about their special effects capabilities. Not even Full House needed actual twins for the famous cousin Stavros episode.

Speaking of Full House, how many of you wondered if the producers had to settle for the Mowry twins when they probably really wanted Mary Kate and Ashley? Me too.