When Marshall Teller moved from New Jersey to Eerie, Indiana, in 1991, he quickly noticed something was… weird about his new home. Elvis Presley lived on his paper route. Bigfoot ate out of his trash. The town’s boundary lines mirrored the shape of the Bermuda Triangle. The only other person who noticed Eerie’s eeriness was 10-year-old Simon Holmes. Together they investigated the plethora of their perplexing, dark world, storing their evidence in a locker in Marshall’s attic. Welcome to Eerie, Indiana.
The stable of talent behind Eerie was ridiculous. The show was created and chiefly written by Karl Schaefer, who would later work on The Dead Zone and Eureka, and Jose Rivera, who was mentored by Pulitzer-Prize winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the man who gave Eerie the most flavor was Joe Dante, its creative consultant and sometimes director. Before Eerie, Dante directed such horror classics as Gremlins, The Howling, and The ‘Burbs. Together these twisted minds birthed the greatest, darkest, and most creative kids’ show on American television. The show was clearly ahead of its time and unfortunately only ran one season with a total of 19 episodes — and here are the eeriest.
8) The Dead Letter
In one of the only episodes in which Marshall and Simon are aiding the weirdness of Eerie rather than combating it, the duo discover an old letter in the basement of the Eerie Library. The discovery of the letter awakens the ghost of young tramp Tripp McConnell (played by a 16-year-old Tobey Maguire — who looks exactly the same as 35-year-old Tobey Maguire). Unlike most fictional tramps who are oftentimes lovable and worthy of empathy, Tripp is a bit of a douche. He haunts (annoys) Marshall until he agrees to help him deliver the letter to its recipient: Tripp’s sweetheart Mary. The episode’s got a cute, love-conquers-all vibe to it — a nice counter to the show’s usual dark M.O. — but Marshall’s super creepy dream sequence is definitely the highlight.
7) The Hole in the Head Gang
This episode is the first appearance of Eerie’s mysterious Kid With the Grey Hair, Dash X (played by cartoon voice actor extraordinaire Jason Marsden). Marshall and Simon head to the outskirts of town to investigate the old Hitchcock Mill, which is presumed to be haunted. It’s an old mill on the outskirts of town, so of course it’s presumed haunted. Instead of a poltergeist the boys find Dash X, a young grey-haired kid from parts unknown. Inside the mill they also uncover the gun of Grungy Bill, Eerie’s worst bank robber. This summons the ghost of Bill (played by T.J. and the Bear‘s Claude Akins). The Bill storyline is second hat to the introduction of Dash. He would appear in a total of seven episodes, playing Iago to Marshall and Simon throughout.
6) Heart on a Chain
Ever notice that every time Marshall makes a friend besides Simon, they die? Steve Konkalewski ends up getting mauled by evil dogs and in this episode, his classmate Devon gets hit by a car while skateboarding in the street. Marshall and Devon have the hots for the same girl, Melanie, who happens to need a heart transplant. Good timing with the dying, Devon. So Melanie gets Devon’s heart, but does Marshall get the girl? What do you think? This is Eerie, the center of weirdness. Get real. This episode has an underlying tone of melodrama, with the love triangle and the death of Devon, but the real purpose of this episode was to show that Marshall and Simon aren’t gay for each other.
5) Just Say No Fun
B.F. Skinner Middle School gets a new school nurse, Nancy, who requires all students to have their eyes checked. After Simon’s check-up, he seems a little different. Besides wearing thick black glasses, Simon is all of a sudden very interested in homework and shows no desire to hang out with Marshall. Soon Marshall starts to notice that every kid in school is wearing the same glasses and walking around like they’ve had their brain removed. He connects the dots and flees from his own eye-test; seeking shelter downtown at the World O’ Stuff. The shop’s proprietor, Radford, gives Marshall a powerful weapon to combat the horde of zombie four-eyes: Groucho Marx gag-glasses. Later it’s revealed that Radford really isn’t Radford, he’s an impostor. The real Radford (played by John Astin, a.k.a. Gomez Addams!) has been tied up in the basement the whole time. That’s all of the exposition provided. Just another reason this show rules.
4) The Loyal Order of Corn
Eerie’s own version of the Moose Lodge, the Loyal Order of the Corn, has a new member: Marshall’s dad, Edgar. At the same time, Dash X, searching for answers into his past, gets a job doing odd jobs at the Corn’s club. This is the first time he refers to himself as Dash X, because of the markings on the back of his hand: a “+” and a “-.” Because, as Dash states, “Plus Minus” is a stupid name. The club’s bartender, Ned (played by My Favorite Martian himself, the great Ray Walston), has some secrets of his own. This episode unfortunately leaves us with even more unanswered questions concerning Dash, and the series came to an end before they could be answered. BUT we managed to get an inside scoop from Jason Marsden himself! Jason says that if the show continued, the writers were going to reveal that Dash was assembled, sort of like the Frankenstein monster. This pretty much negates everything awesome from “Loyal Order of the Corn,” so maybe it’s better we don’t know exactly where Dash came from.
Marshall and Simon’s first investigation of Eerie’s weirdness is also one of the creepiest. Marshall’s mom, Marilyn, befriends Foreverware saleslady Betty Wilson and hosts her own twisted version of a tupperware party. Betty’s got twin boys, Bertram and Ernest, and to keep her brood fresh, she has tucked them into giant Foreverware containers every night… since 1964! And Foreverware is guaranteed to seal the freshness in… forever. The twins reach out to Marshall and Simon for help and the boys manage to free the twins from their plastic prisons. The ending is not quite a happy one, but it certainly is disturbing.
2) The Retainer
Featuring legendary character actor Vincent Schiavelli as Eerie’s creepo orthodontist, Dr. Eukanuba, “The Retainer” contains one of the darkest endings featured on the show. “Dark” as in a child is mauled by dogs. Well, it’s implied, but that’s still enough to make any young viewer afraid of canines for a while. Dr. Eukanuba fixes up Marshall’s friend Steve Konkalewski with the largest retainer ever. Shortly after, Steve starts to pick up vibrations and is able to hear what dogs are thinking. Turns out, man’s best friend is only biding his time until he can brutally lash back at the human race. There are some really disorientating moments in this episode (along with the aforementioned mauling) so don’t let your kid watch this one if he’s a sissy.
1) Reality Takes a Holiday
In the final episode of the shows initial run (“The Broken Record” would not air until syndication), the fourth wall comes tumbling down in a brilliant send-off to the series. Marshall stays home while his family heads to the movies to see “Revenge of the Corn Critters.” After they drive away, Marshall checks the mailbox and finds a script. The cover reads “Eerie Indiana: Reality Takes a Holiday.” (record scratch) That’s right, it’s the script for this episode. Mystified, Marshall walks back into his house only to find his family sitting around the table… exactly as they were before he saw them drive off. Edgar starts the scene like before, and Marshall reads along as his father delivers the lines. CUT! The camera pulls back to reveal the Teller house is a set and even director Joe Dante is there! The crew refer to Marshall as Omri (the actor’s name in real life) and the rest of the “actors” take on alternate personalities; Simon is the best as a misogynist child actor. Then enter Dash X, who seems to be the only one besides Marshall to still be existing in the “fictional” world of Eerie. Dash plays along, and convienently writes in a murderous finale — starring Marshall.