I recently finished re-watching all 4 seasons of the classic 90s kids TV show Goosebumps which was finally released on DVD in late 2013. If you read my top 10 favourite 90s and 00s Kids TV shows article on the site then you’ll know that Goosebumps featured there and that I rate it quite highly as well as considering it to be very nostalgic. I thought I’d share my personal opinion on the best episodes out of the 74 that were created which turned out to be quite a tough task because there just so happens to be more than 10 good episodes of the program. What I loved most about Goosebumps was that at the time there really wasn’t anything else on like it and each episode had its own unique feel. Anyway, here goes…..
10 – Piano Lessons Can Be Murder
When Jerry moves into his new home with his parents it isn’t long until he starts hearing the sound of a piano playing. When he gets to the piano there is nobody there playing it, at first, but this won’t be his last time hearing the music. Eventually, Jerry sees a ghostly figure playing the piano and is, understandably, freaked out. He shouts hysterically for his parents who quickly dismiss what Jerry thinks he saw as a product of his imagination.
Picking up on Jerry’s interest in the piano, Jerry’s parents enroll him in private lessons taught by Dr. Shreek. Dr. Shreek dwells on Jerry’s hands, constantly telling him how wonderful they are and warning him to take care of them. It’s not long until Jerry starts to suspect that Dr. Shreek may be up to something dastardly. Was the piano-playing ghost trying to scare him or warn him?
This is one of the episodes that I remember seeing the most when Goosebumps was still on TV. Seeing as this is the first season the effects are pretty poor but the boy who plays Jerry does a great job considering his age and the actor who portrays Dr. Shreek is definitely the best thing about this episode; he’s so over the top and eccentric it’s just hilarious. Much like many of the episodes from the first season this one ends in a very interesting twist that you probably won’t see coming.
09 – Don’t Go To Sleep
Matt Amsterdam is tired of being just a kid, while his siblings have all the fun. One night he decides to go up to the attic to sleep because he was hoping to move his room up there for privacy but was denied by his mother. While there he thinks about his current reality and pronounces his hate for it, wishing that something would make it change. When Matt awakes he is in another dimension where everyone treats him like an adult but he soon comes to realise that not all responsibilities that come with being an adult are fun. To complicate things, Matt begins to be pursued by two men in black known as the reality police who wish to return Matt to his former reality.
After reading up on the book of this story I found that this episode missed out a lot of content that might have made it make more sense but I’m sure that’s the same for almost all of them. I always found this to be one of the most surreal episodes as we see Matt go from situation to situation, some of which are quite dark in nature. He finds himself having to do brain surgery, in charge of deactivating a bomb and having to marry a hideous woman. I don’t think this is an amazing episode or anything but it’s certainly one of the most memorable ones.
08 – The Ghost Next Door
Hannah Fairchild is having a very boring summer at home, after all her friends leave town for the break. She tries writing to them, but they do not ever seem to write back.
However, the day after having a horrifying dream about her bedroom being on fire, she meets her new next door neighbour, Danny Anderson. She does not remember Danny moving in and he claims he goes to her school and though they are supposedly in the same grade, they do not know any of the same people. Hannah begins to suspect that Danny is not all he seems, as he keeps disappearing into thin air every time she turns around. It is then that she suspects that this boy is a ghost.
This is definitely one of the best episodes to show someone that had never watched the show because of how strong the story is. After spying on Danny and doing anything she can to prove that he’s a ghost, Hannah eventually learns that her dreams are memories. Hannah and her family died in a fire and she is the ghost, not Danny. I thought this was a really interesting swerve and although it does become fairly obvious the episode throws in lots of moments to make you think otherwise. I always found the idea of Hannah and her family burning alive in a fire to be quite dark and the fact that she is now alone to live in her burnt down house quite sad but there is a happy ending. Not only that but she now has to protect Danny from a dark figure who is attempting to kill him so it can take his form in the physical world. Quite hard to find images for this one….
07 – The Girl Who Cried Monster
Lucy is obsessed with monster stories, especially ones that scare her younger brother Randy who is so freaked out by her stories that even the smallest of things can easily put fear into him. Lucy’s mother mom tells her goes to the library to fill up her time during summer with her friend, Aaron. Lucy finds the librarian, Mr Mortman somewhat eccentric. But she cannot quite put the finger on why…
One rainy summer evening, Lucy leaves the library and realizes she forgot her roller blades. She goes back to the library after it has closed and while hiding sees Mr Mortman reaching into his desk to procure some flies to feed to his pet turtles, which he keeps in a metal pan on his desk at all times. Lucy sees Mr Mortman’s head swell up, his eyes bulge out, and his mouth turn into a gaping black maw. Lucy leaves in a hurry and forgets her roller blades again and so she heads back to get her roller blades, but then the door is locked.
Lucy does everything she can to convince others that he’s a monster but nobody will listen, even her parents think she’s being silly so they invite him around for dinner in a hope of clearing up the matter. A couple of things I really enjoyed about this episode was the makeup effects on Mr Mortman are really great and hold up well even today. The actor they chose to play Mr Mortman also does a fantastic job of coming across really calm and collected but in a very creepy way. The ending is great in which it turns out that Lucy, her family and just about everyone are snake like creatures who hunt monsters and when they invited Mr Mortman around for dinner they mean that he would be dinner.
06 – The Perfect School
Very unhappy with their son, Brian’s parents send him to a very quick Boarding School, The perfect boarding school. Sessions are only for two weeks and as soon as Brian arrives, everything on his person is taken away from him. He is told to stand in the line according to height and is also told he will be given an assigned number and a plain grey themed wardrobe. The number he is given will be his new name.
Brian and his two new friends have noticed something strange about the school and how perfect they make the student and how they manage to do so in such a short amount of time. When Brian tries to escape, he is countered by numerous guards but accidentally comes across a box of “tissue samples”. After finding this and doing some further investigating Brian finds that the school is cloning the students and programing the new versions of them be nothing short of perfect so when they parents come to pick up their children they think the job has been done.
I decided to split this into two parts due to its current length, this should make it easier to read for anyone who’s interested. Go check out part 2 which is available on the site!