Thursday, 8 December 2011

Eerie, Indiana

Hey Internet, I'm Blinvy and, as you're probably well aware, this is my Teenage Wasteland.

Get ready to enter the "Center of Weirdness for the entire planet!"

I said that I would be discussing teen movies and TV shows, so I thought I would use this week to go over a show I remember watching. I know, you're probably all thinking why on Earth is she doing this show, wasn't it for kids? And to that I say...well kinda. But the characters in it were in their teens so screw you guys, it still counts!
Eerie, Indiana ran very briefly on NBC from 1991 to 1992 before NBC decided to pull it as they normally do with quirky shows. I think I caught an episode or two back then but I was pretty little at the time but remembered certain scenes from it that we'll get to later. When I really discovered it was on FOX when it ran the episodes in syndication in 1998, when I was a teen so there! I watched this show religiously because even though I am an absolute wuss when it comes to scary things, I love creepy, supernatural shows and stories to death (pun intended) and this show delivered. Oh sure, it had its share of over the top goofy humour as the show was intended for younger audiences but it also had a surprising amount of truly creepy moments as well as kind of serious and grown up plot lines.

Fuck, yeah! I totally own this too.

The show starred Omri Katz as Marshall (Mars) Teller whose family had just moved to the small town of Eerie, Indiana, population 16, 661 (get it?) and he discovers that the town really lives up to its name. He teams up with his neighbour and only friend Simon Holmes, played by Justin Shenkarow, to collect evidence of all the weird and unexplained happenings in the town. 

It's cool, we got this.

Now this show did a pretty good job of mixing elements of creepyness with humour, the tone of this show is bizarre and a little bit silly, kind of like a Twilight Zone for kids. They did everything from tupperware that preserved people so that they would stay forever young, to retainers that made you able to read dog's minds and an ATM with a mind of its own. The episodes that really stuck with me were the darker and more complex episodes, because as I said I just love things like that but also because they really stuck out from the rest of the episodes that went more for humour but the humorous ones were very enjoyable too.

Remember, 8 hours a day keeps the wrinkles at bay!

I think the episode that stands out the most in my mind and probably most people who watched this show, is Heart on a Chain. It was a pretty intense show for its target audience and quite frankly, really depressing. That being said, it is still one of my all-time favourite episodes and I think that is because it is a really human episode. It deals with the pain of first love, the death of a friend/someone you love, and even the complication of falling for the friend of someone you lost and letting go and moving on. Of course it resolves these issues fairly simply but it still manages to pack some emotional resonance.

And, hey, is that Danielle Harris?

A few of my other favourites are The Lost Hour, in which Marshall rebels against the town's lack of Daylight Savings and sets his own watch back an hour and finds himself trapped in that hour; and Reality Takes a Holiday, in which Marshall finds a screenplay in the mail and finds himself backstage of the show Eerie, Indiana itself where his entire family are just actors and call him Omri. Yeah, that's right Supernatural, Eerie, Indiana did it first!

'French Mistake', indeed.
This show also had some pretty great continuity and running gags. There was an episode where kids were being brainwashed by the eye doctor and given horn-rimmed glasses that made them act all Stepford-y. The next episode, as the camera pans through Marshall's classroom, we see a few kids who still have their glasses and of course are the well behaved ones. They also like to slip in little horror movie references into their episodes, like in America's Scariest Home Videos, an actor from the mummy film they are watching is transported into the real world. The fake actor's name is Boris Von Orloff, a reference to the late Boris Karloff who played one in the 1932 movie, The Mummy. There's even a reference to Twin Peaks in the episode, Mr. Chaney. It's these nice little touches that make this series so much fun to watch. See if you can catch some of the other in-jokes yourselves.

If you haven't seen Twin Peaks, you should check it out.

For the most part, this series was mainly stand alone episodes but they did start to run a bit of an arc through it with the introduction of Dash-X, played by Jason Marsden. He first appears in the 13th episode entitled The Hole in the Head Gang. He claimed to have woken up in Eerie with no memory of how he got there, who he was or where he came from. In his very brief arc, seeing as how there are only 19 episodes of the show, he tries to find out about his past and sometimes helps the boys in their investigations. He picks the name Dash-X for himself in the 16th episode, entitled The Loyal Order of the Corn, in reference to the mysterious + and - marks on his hands. It is hinted at that he may be an alien in this episode as well but we are never given a clear answer to his origins. He's almost better that way, a character shrouded in mystery and weirdness, he's almost a representation of the town Eerie, itself as we never know why anything is the way it is, it just exists.

Plus and Minus?

This show lucked out with some great writers, a great cast and even though it was made in 1991-1992, the show stands up pretty well and remains highly enjoyable. If you are a fan of quirky, supernatural style shows, track down Eerie, Indiana and give it a shot. It's especially great to watch through the series and see how many people were in it that you can recognize today:

Whoa, baby Tobey Maguire!
Dawson's Mom! (Mary-Margaret Humes)
Stephen Root of NewsRadio and Office Space!
Jason Marsden, Eric's friend on Boy Meets World!

So that's it for this week. Thanks for stopping by the Wastelands again and I hope you will give this show a try. Next time, I promise I'll get into a more generic "teen" show but until that time, I'm Blinvy and I'm outta here.

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