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Show of the Day: Eerie, Indiana

26 Aug

Eerie, Indiana is the story of a boy who moves from New Jersey to the title location, a medium sized suburban town in which all manner of the bizarre, grotesque and supernatural reside.  The show aired for one season on NBC during the 1991-92 television season.

Eerie, Indana was intense, but silly, scary but absurd, sort of like X-Files with a couple of preteens and a sense of humor.  There was certainly a bit of commentary on what lies beneath the generic conformist suburbs a la Pleasantville or The Ice Storm, albeit clearly less serious.  The introduction sequence of the show tells the tale.  Marshall Turner, the main character, a thirteen year old boy, narrates, explaining that his dad, a super scientist, sought to move him and his sister away from the grime and crime of New Jersey, and to a more traditionally suburban environment.  However, Eerie,Indiana wasn’t what they had bargained for.  The rest of his family doesn’t seem to know it, though.

I rewatched the first episode which I hadn’t seen in well over a decade (handily, every episode in on Hulu) and discovered pleasantly that the show holds up fairly well.  In the episode, Marshall’s family is visited by a housewife, who looks like she came right out of the early ‘60s.  She lives nearby and tries to sell them a food storage product, like Tupperware, called Foreverware, which promises to preserve any food product forever, as long as it’s sealed properly.  She comes with her two twins, both seventh graders, also dressed in early ‘60s fashions.  One of them slips Marshall a note on the way out with the words, “Yearbook 1964.” Marshall discovers that those kids were the same age then, and through some investigating with his friend Simon, finds out that the housewife is using giant foreverware containers to keep herself and her children the same age as they were when her husband died in 1964.  Spurred on by the ‘60s twins and his fear that his mom will soon be purchasing foreverware, Marshall and his sidekick invade the house, open the foreverware beds, thus letting the twins out, who do the same for their mother.  The show ends as we see that the twins and mother have aged 30 years in a day.

Other episodes have similarly supernatural premises, often with a twist of the suburban.  The show does well to last half an hour, rather than an hour – it moves right along, without any wasted time.  Marshall, played by Omri Katz, who has appeared in just about nothing else, is charming and likable, if not the finest acting talent around.  The plots are reasonably clever and well written, and while not groundbreaking, it’s nice to watch a supernatural show with a sense of humor.  The episodes are played straight – there aren’t a whole lot of laugh out loud moments, but the atmosphere of the absurd is felt throughout.  Honestly, after watching the first, and realizing I can finish off the show in about two days, I’m seriously considering taking it on again.

The Fox Kids Network revived the show for a spinoff for a season in 1998 as Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension, with original characters Marshall and Simon showing up in the first episode communication through dimensions to the new characters in parallel world’s Eerie.