We’re on Day 2 of Big Orange Couch Week – live blogging shows from the classic SNICK lineup – and let’s hope that couch has a nite lite nearby because things are about to get spoooooky. Today I’m rewatching one of the best-loved episodes of Are You Afraid of The Dark, the one where we learn the important lesson that you should never befriend the quiet, neglected-looking girl next door because she’s probably a ghost. Submitted for the approval of Cookies + Sangria, I present…
Episode Title: The Tale Of The Lonely Ghost
Air Date: August 26, 1992
A girl who desperately wants to be friends with her snotty cousin and her group of friends agrees to spend the night in the haunted house next door to become part of the group.
0:02 I remember getting so spooked out by the music and title sequence of this show as a kid- along with Unsolved Mysteries and The Twilight Zone – that I was terrified before the action even started.
And when I say “as a kid,” know that I am watching this episode on my lunch break at work so I don’t have to watch it alone in my 100-year-old house.
0:55 Have we ever established that Are You Afraid Of The Dark is set in Canada? Because the kids were always so CANADIAN. First of all, David says “sore-y.” And more Canadianly, he is apologizing because a girl bumped into him.
1:27 They made the kid with curly hair get a center-parted undercut hairdo, and he looks like a damn Newsie. But I just looked him up (Jacob Tierney) and if he looks like a Newsie these days, it’s one of those cute older Christian Bale-type ones where you’re, like, pretty sure he’s of age so it’s fine.Transformation Tuesday, y’all.
1:38 Sorry Count: #2. Ugh, this part where they all talk in the beginning is still boring 23 years later. You’re the Midnight Society, not the Chit-Chat Club. And yes, “23 years later” will almost certainly be the scariest part of this live blog.
3:09 Like most Are You Afraid Of The Dark eps, this one begins with a girl arriving at a new town, this time because her parents are scientists who are “up north studying Inuit carvings.” This is more Canadian than Anne Of Green Gables host Hockey Night In Canada.
4:41 There’s an abandoned house next door that Amanda’s realtor aunt cannot sell, and you can tell that it’s haunted because the For Sale sign keeps falling over and it’s made of spooky natural wood.
6:17 Amanda has to prove she’s “not a zeeb” (was nerd, dork, or geek not on the Nickelodeon-approved vocab list?), but then one of Beth’s ground rules is that Amanda has to put Beth’s stuffed animal collection back every day. Were stuffed animals cool for teens in 1992? I almost think yes. Like, Troll Dolls and Pillow People were big.
7:43 A disheveled woman introduces herself to Amanda as Nanny. I smell a plot point coming! She’s not even particularly old, just hunchy with bad hair. Plus what teenager has a nanny? Beth agrees.
9:41 Nanny hears Beth and Beth’s Realtor Mom talking about her, and maybe this is the scariest part of the show. Anyone else out there just terrified of overhearing people talk about them?
10:31 Backstory: A little girl who couldn’t talk lived in the haunted natural-wood house. The girl was supposed to stay with her grandmother when her mom went away, but got locked into her bedroom by some mean kids and died there. I have questions. Beth says the girl’s mom was gone for two weeks because her husband was sick, and her grandmother didn’t know she was supposed to be coming. But even in the 1940s or whatever (Beth says “the war”), wouldn’t the mom have made a single call to make sure that the grandma would be home or that the kid got there safely? Especially since the child is speech or hearing impaired?
Anyway, Amanda has to go to the little girl’s death room so that she can be friends with Beth and Beth’s shitty friends. Which … why would she want to?
14:01 The words Help Me are scrawled backwards on the walls of the house. Hey Beth’s Realtor Mom, I, uh, think I know why the house isn’t selling.
14:36 A little girl wearing a white nightgown with a grown-out mullet bowlcut – the haircut of an unloved child – appears in the mirror and beckons to Amanda. So this is the dead girl, I assume, but why the nightgown? After she got locked in she was just like “ho, hum, better go change into these jammies to die in?”
15:00 Amanda’s “Running Away From A Ghost” music is twinkly jazz piano.
15:55 Beth’s Realtor Mom makes the girls clean Help Me off the walls as a punishment after Amanda rats out her cousin. Amanda wears 2015-approved overalls. No… wait. It’s like an overall dress?
17:30 A mirage of the room filled with dolls and stuffed animals appears in the mirror, and instead of freaking out about the time and space-ness of it all, Beth just gawks at the “awesome collection.” I still don’t think the titles Head Bitch and Teenaged Doll Collector really go together.
17:55 Beth goes through the mirror and the Neglected Bowlcut Girl comes out. Win some/lose some, eh? All the kid wants to do is give Amanda a locket. Why would anyone give their child a locket? It only means they’re going to get orphaned or become a ghost. Never ends well. Anyway, Nanny’s picture is in the locket. SHOCKING.
19:22 They’re overall shorts. Shortalls.
So that’s one mystery solved, but we’re still not going to learn why the child can’t talk, are we?
20:17 Amanda gives Nanny the other half of the locket. What happens to missing or neglected children who DON’T have a half locket?
21:24 Nanny went through the mirror. Is she… dead now? Neglected Bowlcut Girl is now wearing day clothes and her hair is better.
22:17 Beth’s friends are all in the haunted house, which they refused to go in before, and are all casual about their bitchy friend being stuck in a mirror. But then Amanda opens the closet door and Beth falls out, and they’re all going to be friends all summer! Everything’s great for everyone! Except Neglected Bowlcut Girl who got bullied to death.
23:31 David gives Kristin ( a pre- Clueless Rachel Blanchard) a locket for her birthday. Great, David. Now she’s going to get kidnapped or orphaned.