Monday, October 26, 2009

The Yucky Movies of October, sidetracked: Friday the 13th: The Series, Season One

28) Friday The 13th: The Series

This show was a well-remembered Saturday afternoon TV creep-fest for me as a kid. Being that it premiered in 1987, I'm dating myself, but there was really nothing like it on TV during my formative years.

Especially well-remembered are a few of the antiques from shows in the first season. I remembered the Scarecrow as I think it was the first time I ever saw a beheading bit in a horror program, and a weird chair with needles that would tap and exchange spinal fluid between two people (I vividly remember watching this one on tape and then an episode of Just The Ten of Us. God, what a wasted childhood.)

I'm happy to say the show holds up pretty well. Sure the effects are dated and the quality of the actual episodes vary in storyline and look, but a good time is had by all. Every week, cousins Ryan and Micki would team with the older Jack, more experienced in the ways of the occult, and try to track down antiques their uncle had sold on behalf of the devil. Each one had a unique curse and what I consider to be a pretty impressive body count. They really blow Supernatural out of the water week after week in that department. Evil porcelain dolls, cursed comic books, cradles of filth (couldn't resist), and uncomforting quilts keep getting the trio of leads into situations that would lead to prison terms just based on the circumstantial evidence time and time again.

The shows isn't great, but each episode is a pretty decent time-capsule of 1980s Canadian syndicated television production. Robey's hair (ah, Robey, why do you forsake us?) alone is worth a view. Sprayed into ringlets, brushed out, pulled into something that's more construct than ponytail, her hairstyles vary as often as Mrs. Slocombe's do on Are You Being Served? (She also gets to be a lovely 29 year old actress who's beautiful and still has lines around her eyes. No one has expressions on TV anymore...)

The characters actually seem to grow a little over the course of the series, though most episodes could be watched in any order. Micki especially gets to be fearful and squeamish but still face that and get the work done. Most characters now are just cocky in the face of danger without conveying any real fear. She's not afraid to be afraid, and sure starts the series out as a helpless "Screaming Mimi." The characters remember that people are dying around them and show a sense of loss and stakes to what's going on. It's a surprisingly good content for what is, admittedly, a cheeseball show. That made it all the more entertaining to discover episodes directed by David Cronenberg and Atom Egoyan in the series. If you like this sort of anthology program you can't go wrong by picking these up, they're sturdy and still make for a good watch... all these (aak- 22?!?!) years later.

Final thought: I just don't understand why anyone would live in that incredibly smokey, dusty store... much less who would shop there. Seriously, there's a constant miasma floating around. That can NOT be healthy...

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