October 13th: Eerie, Indiana

Mom and Dad'll never know!

As the buzz wears off following our Richard Whorf love-fest, let us carry on, from the oddness of the early-60s to the oddness of the early-90s, where the epicenter of weirdness can be found in the name-appropriate...

Eerie, Indiana

So, this is kind of like your proto-Buffy, what with its mystery-solving and its acknowledgement that strange things are going down everywhere in Sunny- uh, Eerie, leading to supernatural stalls that must be mucked. Marshall Teller is an everykid who has been relocated from the Garden State to eerie Eerie (insert obligatory Jersey-bash here), and whose Mom would go on to live by a creek and become the mother of that insufferable bastard, Dawson. Oh, how we wish this series had been picked up instead.

As noted earlier, the 90s saw the media in the hands of those raised on the media of the 60s, so we're going to see a lot of carefully-trivial deep cuts and throwback-nods here; this caliber of adoration would eventually fuel a thousand fan-sites online, where liking things so much that you almost hate them has become the currency of the day.

But not here - not yet. Here is strange little bastion of early nerd-culture, a safe-haven that was needed for those of us who watched Universal monster pictures on AMC and sopped up the Bob Dorian-laced trivia about Jack Pierce's scar-tissue appliques and Lon Chaney Jr.'s sad dog-face before going out to look for Bigfoot in the backyard. Let's go there now, and let's pull the rope-ladder up after us - the other kids will never understand.

Space: Eerie, IN
Time: October 20th, 1991
Episode: "America's Scariest Home Video" Season 1, Episode 5

Now here's a show that gets it. Just look at these guys, suiting up for their Halloween adventure, just as star Omri Katz would do in a few years as Max on Hocus Pocus. They are itemizing like soldiers, synchronizing the watches of of their trick-or-treating supplies like they're fresh out of the castle break-in from Where Eagles Dare. But hey, look at this get-up:

Rubber crone masks, back in vogue! What was old is new again, except they are, by definition, still old (Richard Whorf, these masks are for you!). And as a true sign of the times, we're getting Bush 41 and Gorbachev, who were and remain pretty decent crones.

But then, we do catch further glimpses of Halloween '91 throughout the ep - please note the tasteful use of what we now recognize as Lambert Lanterns (#LambertLanterns), and just look how far mask technology had advanced from the days of Chip and Sudsy!

It's difficult to articulate to the modern audience just how much of a phenomenon America's Funniest Home Videos was at the time. You've got your ambitious stand-up, Bobert Saget, taking invaluable time from the Tanner's hugging schedule to host this weekly tribute to the idiocy of Americans. Hey, we all know that no matter what school of comedy you hail from, be it the Bob Newhart School, or the Richard Pryor School, or the Dane Cook School etc., I think we can all kind of agree... watching dudes get hit in the balls is pretty hilarious, right? I thought as much. So, count on the power of a sit-com star, the power of dudes getting hit in the balls, the realness of the ball-hitting, and the fabulous $10,000 cash prize, synergized with Coulier on America's Funniest People - whoo boy, you have entertainment for an entire nation's worth of families.

Anyway, young Marshall and his buddy, Simon, were of the perfect age to know a good scam when they see it, and so, try to videotape Simon's brother, Harley, doing something crazy so they can win that sweet Saget prize money. One thing leads to another, and the janky A/V set-up that was standard issue in this age before streaming is fried in a way that suggests Mom and Dad are going to be so mad when they get home.

This is because 1.) What did you do to my VCR, do you not know how heavy and expensive these are in 1991!? and 2.) Lil Harley - a king mixer if ever I've seen one - is trapped inside the mummy movie they'd been watching.

Whoops! And of course, due to the transitive property of entering a television world, if you are going to recast the Incredible Hulk with your pet cat, expect a Bill Bixby and/or Lou Ferrigno in your living room. We have this here, in the shape of said-movie mummy.

Surprised to the point of evacuating the house and smacking each other around, the boys anxiously follow some prospective trick-or-treaters back up to the Teller front door to see what the hell happens next. And who could be so wicked as to answer a rung doorbell on Halloween, I ask you?

What!? Why, it's Marshall's sister, Syndi, as played by Julie Condra. Now, J-Con is best known in my mind for portraying "Madeline" in what has to be a top-10 episode for The Wonder Years, "It's A Mad, Mad, Madeline World," in which she comes as close as any woman ever would to besting Winnie Cooper (Kevin, of course, was far too weak to deal with such a self-assured powerhouse, and so went back to wallowing in his broken childhood romance for many more seasons, the dolt).

Anyway, she does her big sister-thing to everyone involved, and because she's not a psycho, does not realize the mummy is an actual mummy. Classic older-sibling move. This eventually leads to the fellas capturing the mummy, only to realize he's not the actual mummy, but rather the famous actor Boris Von Orloff, played by Judge Claude Frollo himself, Messr. Tony Jay. "Hellfire" indeed, my friends!

They look on, stunned, as that little fucker, Harley, trashes the set of his movie and loves every minute of it. As do we, the audience.

Moments later, it's all over and the body-switch/TV-reality pseudo-science circuit is completed right before Mom and Dad get home. Well done, all round - they'll never find out!

In conclusion, check out this series, it was a weird little gem of its time for weird little people, and one that celebrated the weirdness of previous eras as well. I give it 10 out of 13 rubber crone masks.