Lessons Learned From Are You Afraid of the Dark, Season 5
Here I am again with the fifth installment of Lessons Learned From Are You Afraid of the Dark. Season 5 was a very special season of the show. Frank was gone, and he was replaced with Stig, a dumpy idiot who no one but Tucker liked. Stig sucked so hard that Are You Afraid of the Dark? got canceled, and it would be almost three years before the show would be resurrected and Season 6 would begin. But let's not dwell on the bad stuff; that's not why we're here. No, we're here because Are You Afraid of the Dark? was secretly designed as an educational show, and it used horror cliches to bully children into doing the right thing. Did it work? Eh, probably not. Irregardless, you'll find synopses for all thirteen exciting episodes from the fifth season of the show as well as the lessons you should have learned from these episodes below. Enjoy!
Episode 1 - The Tale of the Dead Man's Float
Synopsis: Zeke is a dork. Clorice, who he has a crush on, is a star member of the school's swim team. One day, Zeke is calculating the volume of the school for fun, and he notices that the overall volume of the school is significantly greater than the combined volume of all the halls and classrooms. He does some exploring, and finds out that there's an old abandoned pool in the school and the entrance is concealed by a row of lockers in the boys' locker room. He shows Clorice, hoping to impress her. It works to a degree. She is excited that her swim team won't have to travel to another town just to practice for their meets, and with Zeke's help, she gets the pool reopened. She's not impressed enough to go out with Zeke, but she does offer to help him overcome his fear of water and learn how to swim. Unfortunately, it turns out the pool was closed for a reason. Zeke and Clorice begin to suspect there's an evil presence in the pool, and the school's janitor Charlie, who was a lifeguard at the pool when it opened, confirms it. Seems that when the pool was built in 1954, they had to move a cemetery. Apparently one body was accidentally left behind, and its spirit began vengeful. After a string of deaths at the pool, it was closed and eventually forgotten about. Now that the pool is reopened, the spirit is angry again. Zeke notices that whenever the ghost is near, there's a sulfuric smell. He concludes the ghost must be part acid, and dumps methyl orange into the pool to help detect it. It works, and suddenly Zeke, Clorice, and Charlie are being chased by an evil red skeleton thing. They can see it, but they can't figure out how to kill it, until Clorice remembers a demonstration Zeke did in chemistry class. She throws manganite powder on the zombie, it explodes, and the pool is saved. Zeke and Clorice fall in love. Years later, they get married and give their children equally embarrassing names.
Lesson #1: SCIENCE!
Lesson #2: Defeating a monster together is a great foundation for a successful relationship.
Episode 2 - The Tale of Station 109.1
Synopsis: Chris Leary is one of those annoying little depressed teenage goths who dresses all in black and likes to talk about death all the time. One night his brother Jamie (Ryan Gosling from the critically acclaimed chick flick The Notebook) decides to fuck with him. Jamie has his brother lie in a hearse, then jumpstarts the engine to scare him. But when he does this, the hearse's radio tunes to 109.1, a mysterious station that's not on the dial. Chris becomes obsessed with the nonexistent station and finds its address online. He shows up at that rundown old building and attempts to question DJ Roy (Gilbert Gottfried) about its purpose. Roy explains the station is a gateway for people who missed their chance to crossover to the afterlife and slaps a bracelet on him. Chris tries to explain that he's not dead, but when he mentions that he heard the radio station in a hearse, Roy insists that Chris is Daniel Carpenter, the last man for whom the hearse broadcast was intended, and tells him to wait until his number is called. Chris rushes home to get Jamie's help, but his brother can't see or hear him because of the bracelet that Roy put on his wrist, and Chris ends up back at the radio station. Meanwhile Jamie is confronted by the real Daniel Carpenter (David Francis, who played Old Man Corcoran in Season 2) whom he first encountered shortly after he fucked with the hearse. Daniel asks Jamie for help, but Jamie ignores him. Chris makes one last attempt to contact his brother, by using Station 109.1's radio equipment to broadcast over Jamie's favorite station. He tells him he's trapped at Station 109.1 and that they think he's some guy named Daniel Carpenter. Jamie brings Daniel to the station, but it's too late, Roy has already sent Chris through the doors to the afterlife in his place. But then suddenly the doors open and Chris is sent back through. Daniel enters the portal, and the Leary brothers leave the station. Afterward, Chris stops dressing like a fucking douchebag and learns to enjoy life.
Lesson #1: Don't be a little gothy douchebag.
Lesson #2: Don't be so fucking inquisitive.
Lesson #3: Not everything Ryan Gosling's in is completely gay.
Episode 3 - The Tale of the Mystical Mirror
Synopsis: Laurel works at a boutique run by the beautiful Ms. Valenti. When one of the employees suddenly quits and runs away from home, Laurel tries to get her frumpy friend Cindy a job there. Ms. Valenti instantly takes a shine to Cindy and shows her that she can be beautiful, but when Cindy sees her talking to a mirror, she gets a little freaked out. After the boutique closes, Laurel realizes that her coworker Vicki has the watch her boyfriend gave her, and she can't show up for her date without it. Cindy remembers that Vicki was going to Ms. Valenti's house after work, so the two of them make the long trek through the woods to her house. When they get there, their boss says Vicki has just left, but invites them. While Cindy is in the bathroom, Valenti hypnotizes Laurel with her mirror. Cindy gets freaked out walking through Ms. Valenti's house and when she returns she tells Laurel they should leave. When Laurel refuses, Ms. Valenti assures Cindy that they'll be fine and she should go. She starts to leave, but realizes something's wrong. Through the window, she sees an entranced Laurel drink something out of an old chalice. Cindy frantically bangs on the glass, and Laurel awakes from her trance. The two of them flee the house together, but then Laurel suddenly stops; whatever Ms. Valenti made her drink has turned her into a wolf. Cindy runs off into the woods, but then realizes she can't abandon Laurel. She circles back around and finds Valenti in the woods about to perform some ritual on a pair of wolves. It seems that once she turns her victims into wolves, she kills them and takes their youth. Cindy sneaks in and grabs the unprotected mirror and confronts the evil witch. Ms. Valenti promises Cindy that she can have everything her heart desires, but Cindy just wants her friend back. She smashes the mirror, and its magic is broken. Ms. Valenti turns to dust, and Laurel and Vicki turn back into humans.
The Lesson: Stay away from boutiques.
Episode 4 - The Tale of the Chameleons
Synopsis: Janice Robinson (Tia Mowry from Sister, Sister) and her best friend Sharon (Samantha Chemerika from The Tale of the Final Wish) are at the pet store one day when a red-haired boy encourages them to look at a chameleon. When Janice tries to pet it, it fucking bites her, and she knocks over its cage allowing it to escape. The boy laughs and recites a rhyme: "Bite you once, bite you twice, a little water, pay the price." Then he runs off. The chameleon follows the girls to Janice's house, and that night when no one else is around, it bites her again. To Janice's surprise, the chameleon morphs into an exact fucking clone of her. It tries to throw water on her, but she screams and Sharon, who is spending the night, rushes into Janice's bedroom and it disappears. Janice tells her friend what happened, but she doesn't believe her. The next morning, Janice wakes up and thinks it was all a dream. But when she enters the bathroom, the evil chameleon (Tamera Mowry from Sister, Sister) sprays her water from the showerhead. Janice turns into a chameleon and the doppelganger takes her place. Later that day, Sharon notices that her friend is acting strange. She comes home with a box full of chameleons and Sharon sees her eat a live fucking goldfish out of a tank. Later the girls are drinking some juice and Real Janice bites her replacement. When Evil Janice angrily grabs the chameleon, Sharon realizes that the person she's hanging out with isn't her friend. Evil Janice reveals chameleons are going to take over the world and the box she brought home with her contains her family members. Then Real Janice's dad calls her, so Evil Janice throws the chameleon into the garbage disposal and runs off. Sharon rescues her friend and later on, she lures Evil Janice outside so that Real Janice can bite her a second time. She does, and suddenly there are two Janices in front of her. Sharon is unsure which one to spray with water, until one of the Janices takes the box of chameleons and throws it down a nearby well. Sharon sprays the other one and everything goes back to normal... or not. Later that night, we see "Janice" retrieving the other chameleons from the well, saying that she knew they'd be smart enough to find the bucket. She laughs maniacally, and the story ends. Way to go, Sharon.
Lesson #1: Chameleons, not bears, are the biggest threat to America's national security.
Lesson #2: If you're ever in a situation where you have to discern between your friend and an evil clone, try asking some personal questions.
Episode 5 - The Tale of Prisoners Past
Synopsis: Wussy Jason (Christopher Castile from Step by Step) and his brutish douchebag of a stepbrother Scott don't get along at all. When they get into a fight during a school trip to a decommissioned prison, Scott chases Jason into an abandoned part of the prison that's not on the tour. There, they encounter a man dressed in prison clothes in one of the cells. The man introduces himself as One-Eyed Jack and implores the children to let him out of his cell. Assuming he's an actor, they let him out. But when One-Eyed Jack follows them home and begins haunting them, the children learn he's a fucking ghost. Plagued by One-Eyed Jack, Scott and Jason work together to find out who he is. They learn that he was the only man ever to escape from the prison and that he was never caught. After Jack kidnaps Scott, Jason breaks into the prison at night and they examine Jack's cell to try and figure out how he escaped and learn the truth: he never did. Jack died crawling through the ventilation shaft and his body was still in the fucking prison. He asks the boys to take the photograph out of his corpse's pocket and bring it to his daughter, now an elderly woman; it is a snapshot of a young Jack and his daughter. Jack's daughter learns that her father loved her and didn't abandon her. She has her father's body buried and his spirit is finally able to rest. Meanwhile, Scott and Jason learn to play nice.
Lesson #1: Don't visit prisons.
Lesson #2: Don't try to break out of prisons.
Episode 6 - The Tale of C7
Synopsis: Jason's mom buys an old rundown lakefront hotel, and Jason quickly becomes convinced that it's fucking haunted. The jukebox starts playing by itself at night and he sees the ghost of a young woman (Stephanie Bauder from You Can't Do That On Television) who seems to want his help. When he tells his mom about what he's seen, she tells him the troubled story of the hotel's past. At the end of World War II, the hotel was to be the site of a big party for a local boy, Tommy, who was returning from the war. Shortly before the party was supposed to begin, the locals received a telegram that Tommy had died and wasn't coming home. At the same time, a terrible fucking storm hit the lake. His girlfriend Iris, who had been rowing across the lake to the hotel, was lost in the storm. Her body was never found. Jason realizes that Iris's ghost wants him to do something with the jukebox, so he begins to test all the records in it. He finds that track C7, "The Last Dance", is stuck, so he fixes the jukebox and plays the song. When he does, he is briefly transported back to 1945 and Tommy (Colin Ferguson from Eureka) and Iris are reunited in the homecoming that never happened. They dance together, the song ends, and their spirits are finally free to rest in peace. Jason wakes up back in present day and lives happily every after.
The Lesson: I have no idea. Stay the fuck away from jukeboxes?
Episode 7 - The Tale of the Manaha
Synopsis: Jonah is a Boy Scout, or some reasonable facsimile thereof, and no one fucking likes him. One day while his scout patrol is out a camping trip, he accidentally stumbles upon an old cave. Inside, he finds an ancient idol, and when he touches it, a shaman appears. The shaman warns him that the Manaha, hideous black monsters depicted on the cave walls, have awakened, and that he must leave the woods at once. The shaman disappears, and the junior scout leader finds Jonah inside the cave. He decides to take the idol with him, despite Jonah's warnings about the Manaha, and soon the troop is pursued by the Manaha. They never see the Manaha, only footprints and shadows in the woods, but they become scared. Soon the junior scout leader disappears, and then other scouts begin to fucking disappear as well. Jonah somehow decides that the Manaha are controlled by the idol and they only exist because the scouts believe that they exist, so he decides to stop running. He finds the missing scouts have been captured by the shaman, who is apparently going to sacrifice them or something. Jonah refuses to be afraid and tells the shaman that he controls the Manaha now. Suddenly the Manaha refuse to respond to the shaman's commands. The scared shaman is driven back into the cave, and Jonah returns the idol to its pedestal. Jonah escapes as the cave collapses, leaving the shaman trapped inside. The freed scouts ask Jonah how he controlled the Manaha and he reveals his secret - the shaman's Manaha disappeared when he stopped being a scared little bitch; his Manaha were just the remaining scouts in camouflage. The other scouts finally accept Jonah and decide that he's as cool as Johnny Cage, or whoever the hell was popular when this episode was shot.
Lesson #1: Stay the fuck out caves, they're not safe.
Lesson #2: We have nothing to fear except fear itself... and all the stuff in all those other episodes.
Episode 8 - The Tale of the Unexpected Visitor
Synopsis: Jeff's dad is working on a special government assignment, the Peabody Project, which is sending messages into space. One night, when his parents are away, Jeff and his friend Perch fuck around on his dad's equipment and send some music into space. To their surprise, they receive a message back, and before they know it, they are being terrorized by an alien. Eventually the alien's mother shows up and explains the whole thing was a misunderstanding. The musical message the boys sent into space translated into "We are toys.", thus causing the young alien to harass them. The mother apologizes and leaves with her son.
Lesson #1: Don't touch stuff that doesn't belong to you.
Lesson #2: Children are selfish douchebags, no matter what planet they're from.
Lesson #3: Music sucks.
Episode 9 - The Tale of the Vacant Lot
Synopsis: An average young girl named Catherine tries out for the girl's track team, but she's not quite good enough. On her way home from tryouts, she is walking past an abandoned lot when she notices a bizarre little tent set up on it. She enters the tent and meets Marie, a masked merchant who knows offers to trade her magic shoes that will make her better at track. At first she asks for Catherine's ring, but Catherine says it was her grandfather's and it's the only valuable thing she owns and doesn't want to part with it. Marie offers to take something less valuable, but never states what it is; Catherine agrees. The next day, she goes to tryouts again, runs really fast, and makes the team. When her friend asks her how she did it, Catherine rudely tells her that she's just fucking better than her, which is completely uncharacteristic for the normally nice girl. Catherine makes two other trades with Marie, first for new clothes, then for concert tickets, both to impress a popular boy at school, Eric. Each time, she finds herself becoming meaner to people around her, especially her sister Joyce. Right before her big concert date with Eric, Catherine goes back to Marie's shop and is told that she can have anything she wants because Marie already has what she wants. Catherine returns home and is confronted by Joyce, who followed her to the shop. Joyce is all decked out in clothes she got from Marie and she tells Catherine that she's watched her sister get everything she wants and now it's her turn. Catherine warns Joyce to stay away from Marie, but she won't fucking listen. After Joyce leaves her room, Catherine hears Marie's laughter. She looks into a mirror and suddenly she's covered in horrible rashes, the same ones that Marie has been covered in. Joyce comes back into her room, covered in the same horrible rashes. Catherine returns to Marie's shop once again and sees that Marie is now beautiful. She asks her what's she been trading, and Marie told her that she traded something that meant nothing to her: her love. Catherine's greed has cursed her, and Marie says that she will be forced to take her place at the shop until she can trick someone else into trading with her. Catherine begs Marie to leave Joyce alone, but Marie refuses, saying she has nothing left to trade. Catherine offers her grandfather's ring, which she had refused to give Marie before, saying it wasn't as important as she had though. Marie eagerly accepts, which proves to be her downfall. Catherine's selfless concern for her sister breaks the curse. Catherine becomes normal again and Marie's rashes return. Marie screams at Catherine, then disappears along with her shop. Joyce comes running up, showing that she's also cured from Marie's curse. Joyce finds their grandfather's ring on the ground and hands it to Catherine, but Catherine slides it onto Joyce's finger. They return home to find Eric waiting for Catherine; tonight was supposedly to be their big concert date. Catherine apologizes and says she lost the tickets. Eric says he doesn't care, he just wanted to get a chance to know her. They decide to go for a walk, and the story ends. Date rape probably occurs.
Lesson #1: Don't be a greedy asshole.
Lesson #2: Don't make a deal unless you understand the terms.
Lesson #3: Love conquers all.
Episode 10 - The Tale of a Door Unlocked
Synopsis: Justin wants a girlfriend, but has no luck with girls. One day, he's at Magic Mansion and Sardo offer to sell him a miniature door that can supposedly see the future. It does, and Justin sees a girl trapped in a fire. He wants to help, but he doesn't know who she is. The next day, a new girl named Ashley transfers to his school, the same girl from the door. Justin becomes obsessed with saving her and tries to warn her about his vision, but she refuses to listen. Then one day she almost burned to death in an abandoned building while looking for her brother, but Justin saves her. They fall in love and go to prom. Hooray!
The Lesson: There is no fate but what we make... after peering through a magic portent.
Episode 11 - The Tale of the Night Shift
Synopsis: Amanda enjoys volunteering at the hospital, but she has school and homework, so she's forced to work the night shift. One night, one of her classmates, Colin is staying at the hospital because he's getting his tonsils out the next morning. He insists on following Amanda around, trying to win her over and get her to have fun. Together they stumble upon a horrible secret: there's a vampire loose in the hospital and he's feeding on patients and staff alike. They discover that one of their coworkers, Margot, is really a hideous male vampire in disguise, and with the help of Felix, a missing hospital worker who was recently turned, they destroy the vampire's coffin, thus killing him and changing all his victims back to normal. Then Amanda learns to lighten up, because nothing teaches you to relax like almost getting fucking killed by a vampire.
Lesson #1: Don't work the night shift.
Lesson #2: Kiddy shows like to avoid killing vampires with stakes whenever possible.
Episode 12 - The Tale of the Jagged Sign
Synopsis: Claudia gets sent to her aunt's boarding house for the summer while her parents fucking go to South America. Claudia is bored at first, because all of the tenants are elderly, but then she meets Kate, a girl her own age who lives next door. Together, they go to a special cliff in the woods that's supposedly haunted, and they actually see the ghost. The ghost mistakes Claudia for his long lost love and begins haunting her. He draws a strange jagged symbol on her window, the same one that was on the cliff he haunts. Meanwhile, one of the elderly tenants, Marjorie, is in poor health and is about to be moved to a nursing home. Kate is helping Claudia's aunt pack up Marjorie's stuff, when she finds a picture of the ghost. She asks Marjorie about it and she explains his name was Joshua, and he was her one true love. She was supposed to meet him by the cliff in the woods years ago, and they were to run off together. But her parents found out about their plan and stopped her from going. Joshua was painting a symbol of their love on the side of the cliff, but the ledge was narrow, and he slipped and fell. He died alone, thinking Marjorie didn't love him anymore. Kate asks to borrow Marjorie's most valued possession, a dove statue. Then she goes looking for Claudia, only to find she's gone back to the woods. Kate finds Claudia dangling from the ledge and pulls her up just in time. When Joshua appears, Kate explains that Claudia isn't Marjorie and tells him why Marjorie never came to the cliff. Then she shows him the dove statue and tells him where to find her. Joshua disappears and his painting completes itself: it's a dove, just like the statue. Claudia and Kate look to the bottom of the cliff and they see Joshua again, this time standing with a youthful Marjorie. They wave to the girls and then disappear. Suddenly, Marjorie's statue turns into a pair of real doves, which fly away. When the girls return to the boarding house, they learn that Marjorie has passed away.
Lesson #1: It is required of every man that the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow men. And if that spirit goes not forth in life, he is condemned to do so after death, to witness what he cannot share but might have shared and turned to happiness.
Lesson #2: Stay the fuck away from cliffs.
Episode 13 - The Tale of Badge
Synopsis: Gwen (Aidan Pendleton from The Tale of the Carved Stone) has just turned 16, but instead of celebrating, she's stuck at home with her grandmother and her asshole brother, Trevor. Her brother decides to fuck around in their grandmother's room, where he finds an old box with a crystal and a flute in it. He blows into the flute, and accidentally releases Badge, an evil rat creature, from within the crystal. Badge kidnaps Trevor, and Gwen learns that it is her birthright to protect the world from Badge. When her grandmother is kidnapped as well, Gwen finally figures out how to beat Badge: by playing the notes B-A-D-G-E on the flute. He returns to the crystal, thus ending the worst fucking Sweet Sixteen party ever.
Lesson #1: This show really fucking loved to recast the same actors and actresses over and over.
Lesson #2: Music is awesome. You can ignore The Tale of the Unexpected Visitor.
So what have we learned today? Many things. We've learned that true love is a just a traumatic experience away, and that not even death can stop it. We've learned that just because a vampire is hiding out in a hospital, doesn't mean that it will choose to drain the blood bank instead of accosting random people. We've learned that it's not a good idea to name yourself after the succession of musical notes that can defeat you. We've learned to stay out of prisons, unless you're already in prison, in which case, don't try to escape. And most importantly, we learned not to send messages into outer space, because it's exactly like Craig's List: the replies you get will be nothing like the replies you want. This concludes my series of articles on Are You Afraid of the Dark? for Halloween 2008. Tune in next October, when I'll cover the final two seasons.
Posted by: Syd Lexia
BITE YOU ONCE, BITE YOU TWICE, A LITTLE WATER, PAY THE PRICE.