Hello again, as THE UNSEEN HORROR reaches out from across your TV screens. Last time, we ventured across dimensions with Rod Serling and NIGHT GALLERY. Today however, we look at a very different place– a small town in the American heartland. Oh, does that not sound scary to you? Well don’t worry, because this is no ordinary town. It’s a place where Elvis is on the paper route, and Bigfoot goes through your trash. It’s a town of alien societies and dog uprisings. This is EERIE, INDIANA.

The Plot

Marshall Teller and his family have just moved to Eerie, Indiana from New Jersey. Marshall’s parents waned a quiet, safe upbringing for their children. However, Marshall quickly learns that Eerie is anything but quiet. In fact, the town is the center of weirdness for the entire planet. However, none of the residents seem to realize the oddities that surround their lives. Marshall and Simon Holmes, the only other person to note the Eerie weirdness, must collect evidence as they deal with the strangeness of the town.

The Cult of EERIE, INDIANA

EERIE, INDIANA began on NBC, with GREMLINS director Joe Dante serving as a creative consultant. The series lasted for nineteen episodes. Disney Channel then put it into syndication. However, when it aired on FOX in 1997, as part of its children’s lineup, something unexpected happened. The show gained a new audience that propelled it into cult status.

Image courtesy of iconsoffright.com

The fan reaction impressed Fox. They eventually green-lit a sequel series (EERIE, INDIANA: THE OTHER DIMENSION), but it only last one season. Nevertheless, the influence was felt by many. GRAVITY FALLS creator Alex Hirsch cites the show as an influence of his work. Critics also enjoyed the show; USA described it as ‘Stephen King meets the Simpsons’. Others praised how it mocked suburban tropes and took them to strange, absurd lengths as well. Much of that likely comes from Dante, who directed similar themes in films like THE BURBS. The full series is available on DVD and Fear.net aired the episodes daily.

Exploring the Weirdness

EERIE, INDIANA explored many odd ideas in suburbia. This included tupperware that could halt the aging process, being stuck in the lost hour of Daylight Savings Time, and more standard horror fare like ghosts and werewolves. Since this was designed for younger audiences, these stories weren’t full of heart-pounding terror. However, they did have strong writing, a good sense of humor and the absurd, and solid performances from the cast. However, the creativity of the stories was the real selling point. The show fully understood the norms of suburbia, and how to take them to extreme lengths. Personally, I enjoy the idea of the ‘Elks Lodge’ secretly being a meeting ground for aliens.

EERIE, INDIANA
Image courtesy of ithew.com

Beyond the plots I’ve mentioned above, the show also showcased people literary becoming credit-spending zombies, a town ‘tornado day’ involving a sentient windstorm, and even breaking the fourth wall when Marshall emerges on the set of the TV show. Marshall himself was also crucial to the show, as he served as the narrator. His monologues were full of dry wit, but also filtered through the eyes of a child. It’s refreshing to hear his take on how credit works mixed with his expertise on the weirdness around him. The weirdness was another wonderfully done aspect. It gave Marshall a conspiracy to unravel. This deepened his relationship with the younger Simon, who could see things more simply then Marshall.

EERIE Residents

The casting was another bonus for the show. Marshall and Simon had enough charm and charisma to carry the show easily. Marshall’s family was also perfectly cast. The family was rarely a focal point, but their normalcy helped Marshall feel more developed and unique to the town. The show also featured a number of character actors stopping by, such as John Astin, Rene Auberjonois, Matt Frewer, Stephen Root, Jason Marsden, and Ray Walston, just to name a few. Other actors got their start here, like Nikki Cox and Tobey Maguire. Omri Katz (Marshall) even got a role in another Halloween classic, HOCUS POCUS. Ironically, his character in that film disbelieved in the supernatural.

Take A Trip to EERIE, INDIANA

EERIE, INDIANA isn’t truly terrifying in the same way NIGHT GALLERY was. However, it’s full of strong writing, an appreciation for horror and imagination, and is always fun to watch. This show functions as a gateway to the TWILIGHT ZONE and similar shows. So if you want to share your love of strangeness with your kids, or just want to have a good time in suburbia, head to EERIE, INDIANA.

And afterwards, come back next week, when we move into the realms of science fiction and atomic energy…

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