Eerie, Indiana (1991-92)

Back in the very early 90’s on weekend mornings, Channel 4 would show the quirky, crazy but always cool Eerie Indiana. It was designed for kids but watching it now there is just as much to keep you entertained as an adult, including a guest appearance from a very young Tobey Maguire and a regular cameo part by the great John Astin The story begins with the Teller family moving to the town of Eerie in Indiana. The family’s youngest child Marshall just wants to go home to New Jersey but is stuck in the most normal looking place in the world, the Stepford wives would call this place heaven. The houses are bright and perfect, the lawns are always mowed, the basketball team dribble balls down the street in perfect sync with one another, and Elvis lives on Marshall’s new paper route…wait what? Yes Elvis lives in Eerie, and he seems pretty happy there. What can you honestly expect when the town of Eerie is exactly the same size and shape as the Bermuda Triangle? There are many more oddities in Eerie just waiting to be discovered and investigated. The one problem is that nobody believes him – well, no-one except Simon, a ten-year old boy who believes in each and every oddity and helps Marshall with his investigations.

The show only made it to 19 episodes, after which the series was cancelled. In fact it was cancelled before they could air all 19 episodes the first time around so they skipped a couple. The show would later resurface in repeats on TV, and the ill-fated Eerie Indiana: The Other Dimension made in 1998 – in which Mitchell and Stanley, two new characters (Handy that they have names similar to the originals right?) are having to deal with the weirdness of Eerie, so weird in fact that it has spilled over into another dimension (explained in archive footage from the original show)…only one series was made and fans across the globe tend to agree it just wasn’t as good due to being lighter in tone for the Fox kids network this was shown on. In the meantime the actor who played Marshall grew up and got a long-term role in an American soap opera. There were rumoured to be scripts for episodes they were writing before being notified of the cancellation around still, but as yet I haven’t seen any online in all my years of wondering. To this day I don’t know why they cancelled the original show so fast; so many questions were left unanswered – especially about mysterious character Dash X, who was a mystery even to himself.

Cast:

Marshall Teller (Omri Katz): Marshall is used to living in New Jersey, and Eerie comes as quite a shock to this big city boy. He spends his time investigating the weird goings on in Eerie with his friend Simon, cataloguing the evidence in the hopes that one day someone will believe him.

Simon Holmes (Justin Shenkarow): Marshall’s best friend and co-investigator of Eerie’s weirdness. Simon is very lonely, with a family that does nothing but argue and a trouble-making younger brother.

Dash X (Jason Marsden): A mysterious figure in eerie, most people know him as “The kid with the grey hair”. He has no idea how he ended up in Eerie, where his family are, or what his real name is. Sometimes he helps Marshall and Simon, but he mostly tries to help himself.

Edgar Teller (Francis Guinan): Marshall’s father, an inventor who works for “Things Incorporated” and the reason the family moves to Eerie. He’s a very well educated and smart man, but he rarely sees what is going on right in front of him.

Marilyn Teller (Mary-Margaret Humes): Marshall’s mother, a kind and loving mother who also runs a party-planning business. She’s rather disorganised but always there when her family need her.

Episodes:

Foreverware: How do the women of Eerie keep themselves looking so fresh and young you ask? Well Marshall asks that same question, especially when they start getting very friendly with Marshall’s mother.

The Retainer: Now if ever you wanted to know what true fear at a dentists was, this is it. Imagine being fitted with a retainer than not only makes you look like a monster, but pick up some very disturbing sounds.

ATM With a Heart of Gold: Marshall’s father creates Mr. Wilson, a friendly ATM machine to wow the townsfolk. The only problem is Mr. Wilson finds a friend in Simon, and chaos ensues.

The Losers: Have you ever wondered where things that you own seem to disappear to? Well Marshall is wondering that as more and more stuff seems to be going missing, including Mr. Teller’s petroleum based banana goo that he needs for work.

Scariest Home Videos: If there is any place to be scared at Halloween it’s in Eerie, especially when babysitting Simon’s badly behaved younger brother and a video camera and a TV cause mayhem.

Just Say No Fun: If you go to school in Eerie don’t step out of line. If you do you’ll be sent to the school nurse and her prescription will take the fun out of everything.

Heart on A Chain: Creepy, tragic and sad – this is a tale of love, jealousy and death – all at the same time. Marshall gets his first kiss, but the occasion doesn’t end well.

The Dead Letter: Guest-starring a young Tobey Maguire, the Eerie town library is in need of some money so sells off its old books to the local store the World O’Stuff – from one of these books falls an undelivered letter, so Marshall and Simon try to reunite it with its rightful owner after some pushing by the ghost who wrote it.

Who’s Who: The World O’Stuff is overrun with Bobs, running, screaming, destroying things; they’re driving everyone crazy – not least of all Sarah Bob their sister. She has a talent for art and with a brand new pencil from the World O’Stuff manages to conjure up a perfect life to the detriment of Marshall’s.

The Lost Hour: Eerie has a lot of strange goings on, Marshall is about to find out that sometimes it’s better to do as you’re told, or you might get lost forever.

Marshall’s Theory of Believability: A travelling museum for the “parabelievable” comes into town and guess who’s dying to check it out? Yes, Simon and Marshall of course. But will Professor Zircon’s discoveries be all that they seem?

Tornado Dave: So, given the choice which would you do during a tornado – shelter and hide until it passes or celebrate Dave the tornado with his very own “Tornado day” complete with a carnival queen and raffle?

The Hole in the Head Gang: Every town has a haunted house, but Eerie has more than 50! Marshall and Simon begin investigating the 51st house and encounter some new and strange faces.

Mr Chaney: The whole town is excited about the upcoming Harvest King festival, everyone that is except Marshall and his new acquaintance Dash X. The Harvest King is showered with gifts before going out into the woods on the night of a full moon waiting for a glimpse of the Eerie Wolf. But why is there no such thing as an ex Harvest King?

No Brain, No Pain: After a family meal at the local Chinese restaurant Marshall becomes interested in the strange homeless man who doesn’t seem to be all there brain-wise. There are inventions, deceit and madness as an old flame tries to get her hands on something of great importance.

The Loyal Order of The Corn: You’d think that Marshall could count on his parents for a little normalcy but Mr. Teller has joined The Loyal Order of the Corn, Eerie’s version of the Moose Lodge complete with corn cob hats. They seem to be building something, and it’s driving Marshall’s mother mad with the amount of time Mr. Teller is spending there.

Zombies in P.Js: Everybody loves credit, the townsfolk of Eerie especially. But when it’s time to pay it’s not always as straightforward as you would think.

Reality Takes A Holiday: Today Marshall refuses to go out with his family, and ends up feeling as lost as Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz because of it. [This was the last episode shown once the show was cancelled]

Broken Record: In Jersey the Pit Bull Surfers were huge, now they’ve hit Eerie. Marshall introduces his troubled friend Todd to the mindless pleasure of their head banging music, only to find it changes Todd’s outlook on things a little too much. [This episode was omitted from screening after they were given news of the cancellation but shown when it was repeated, it was the last episode they shot before packing up for good.]

Final Verdict:

It is a real shame that this was cancelled when it was as it had the potential to be as big as Are You Afraid of the Dark or Goosebumps would soon become. But of course the problem was probably that this, unlike those shows, isn’t clean-cut or completely childish. This show has some darker tones and storylines, and a hell of a lot of questions to be asked. It also had a lot of in jokes and references to old movies, and with legend Joe Dante as creative consultant on the show you can’t be surprised that many of the film references were horror-related. This was aimed at kids – but honestly it was far too good for them, how many kids would have understood the Mr. Chaney name joke in the wolf episode? You shouldn’t dismiss this show as one for kids as it has something for everyone due to the great writers and consultants involved. This show will appeal to any age that has a quirky sense of humour or a love of horror. If you are looking for something a little different to watch consider Eerie, Indiana, it may not have the best special effects or the highest budget, but the writing was good, they came up with plots that were clever and different and the characters are enjoyable and well-written.

Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Cancelled far too soon, a clever show with enough film references to keep any horror fan amused.

 

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