Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Is another one of those early 90s TV shows that is fondly remembered by those that grew up watching it. I remember catching a few episodes here and there on Nickelodeon; they usually showed it quite late at night so it was tough to actually watch it. The concept of a bunch of kids getting together in the middle of woods at night, telling ghost stories and seeing them come to life was quite a unique viewing experience for most at the time. The only other show similar to it that I can draw comparisons from would obviously be Goosebumps.
I always preferred Goosebumps for whatever reason but going back and watching this, I’ve now come to the opinion that this is the far superior show overall. I have a couple of reasons as to why I feel that way but the main reason would have to be the quality of acting. Goosebumps always tended to cast younger actors in its major roles and more often than not this led to some pretty awful performances. Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Has a different feel to it, it feels slightly darker in tone and that it is geared more towards mid to late teens rather than younger children. The intro with that classic soundtrack isn’t very subtle at letting you know you were about to see something creepy. Also, the stories feel more complete to me; Goosebumps always seemed to end on some kind of twist or inconclusive cliff-hanger which always frustrated me.
Finally, while both shows are definitely dated it seems to me that Goosebumps has aged much more poorly due to its seemingly lower budget. Anyway, both shows are enjoyable in their own right and I’m only using Goosebumps as an example because I’m not quite sure what else I could compare it to.
Are You Afraid Of The Dark? Ended in the year 2000 after running for 7 seasons. The first 5 seasons are seen as the original show after it endured a brief hiatus and reboot between season 5 & 6 which saw an almost entirely new cast of storytellers and an increased budget introduced. I wanted to give you my top 10 favourite episodes from those first 5 seasons which is no easy task, let’s do this.
“Submitted for the approval of the midnight society”
Number 10 – The Tale of the Super Specs (Season 1, Episode 6)
If you remember anything about this show then it’s fairly likely you’ll remember one of its most famous episodes. Gary tells the story of a boy named Weeds, a prankster who buys his friend Marybeth a pair of super spec glasses as part of an April’s Fool Day. Unfortunately these are not just ordinary super spec glasses as when she places on the glasses, strange haunting figures appear and can’t be explained.
Fans of the show will enjoy this episode because it features the first appearance of Sardo (no Mr), a recurring character who would pop up in over half a dozen episodes throughout numerous seasons.
Number 09 – The Tale of the Doll Maker (Season 3, Episode 3)
A young girl goes to the countryside to spend a summer with her best friend but she discovers that her friend is missing. She soon discovers that a mysterious doll house in the attic is responsible for her friend’s disappearance.
Not only does a young girl get transformed into a half porcelain doll/half human hybrid in this spooky tale but as her friend is attempting to help her escape, her limbs begin to fall off and smash on the attic floor.
Number 08 – The Tale of the Frozen Ghost (Season 2, Episode 7)
When Daphne takes Charlie to stay with his aunts, they mention something about a ghost. Charlie’s terrified when he keeps seeing a strange, glowing boy complaining that he’s cold.
The groans of a young boy complaining that he’s cold would haunt many that saw this episode. Talking of dead children, this show sure had a lot of them didn’t it?
Number 07 – The Tale of the Vacant Lot (Season 5, Episode 11)
A young girl, who feels inferior to her peers, encounters a strange woman in an empty lot who seems to have everything she’d ever want. The woman doesn’t seem to want anything important in return. But when the young girl starts losing her looks, she finds that what she’s given up is more important to her than she thought.
I’m not too sure about the message in this one but it’s an interesting concept and it’s executed well.
Number 06 – The Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle (Season 2, Episode 10)
Years ago a boy named Ricky Hagerdy drowned. His close friend Mike Buckley tried to save him, but failed. Ever since that day he’s felt guilty for what happened. Trouble begins when he starts seeing Ricky’s ghost everywhere he looks.
This episode is a fine example of just how capable this show was of simply telling a great story. With such a short runtime, it managed to build characters and lay the foundations for a compelling narrative which is extremely impressive and unimaginably difficult.
That’s it for the first half of my list, what do you think so far and which episodes do you think should make the top 5? Check back soon for part 2.