Before I begin, I would like to throw in the note that this show is a result of Nickelodeon joining forces with the Canadian born entertainment company Cinar, now known as Cookie Jar, which is also the show's primary owner. That being the case, the DVD sets listed later in the article can only be purchased in the U.S. via the internet. Yep, that's right, they have to be imported. I recommend them though, it makes for a nice nostalgic 1990's flashback. The show was filmed in and around the lovely city of Vancouver, British Columbia.
"We are The Midnight Society. Seperately, we are very different. We go to different schools, we have different friends. But one thing keeps drawing us back together...the dark! Every week we gather around this campfire and share our strange and scarey tales. It's what got us together, and It's what keeps bringing us back. This is a warning for all who enter, you are about to leave the safety of the light...and enter the world of the supernatural
Tale of the Phantom Cab
Every Saturday night, we would tune in to Nickelodeon's Snick to catch two of their greatest hits, Ren & Stimpy and of course Are You Afraid of the Dark?. Right from the start we would get a shiver from the show's spooky opening, which I included below as a video. I thought it would work better that way instead of using a bunch of still shots. Enjoy but try not to wet yourself.
An empty playground at night. A dusty old attic with a creepy clown doll. Peaking through the keyhole. And finally the famous logo screen with that ever present match being slowly lowered off screen and eventually blown out, the smoke slowly, eerily billowing into the air as the intro fades to black and we begin another scarey story. It was a simple opening but always chilling, reminding us of what was to come.
Submitted for the approval of The Midnight Society...
They were a group of intrepid kids who gathered every week around a bonfire at a secret location in the woods to tell their weird and scary tales. Sometimes certain members would move away with their families so replacements would need to be sworn in (not that a member can be truly replaced of course). The process was simple. A potential new member would be brought in blindfolded by a current member who sponcered them. The blindfold was meant to keep from giving away the location of the secret spot to them to early. They would then tell their story and if the members liked it, the new kid was in and the blindfold removed. If they didn't like it, the new kid could always try again later. There were two groups featured on the show, I have listed them below.
The Midnight Society
Gary (seasons 1-5) - The first society president to be featured on the show. He usually wore glasses and tried to be a good and just leader although it wasn't always easy. His dad ran a magic shop which inspired alot of his stories as well as his main character Sardo. It was revealed later in the show that Gary's grandfather Gene was the original founder and president of the society back in the 1940's. Worst fear- Gary isn't good with heights.
Frank (seasons 1-4) - Known around the campfire as "Tough Guy", Frank has earned his nick name well. He usually goes for the biker look with a bandana skull cap and short sleeve, and/or sleeveless shirts. Frank is also the creator of Dr. Vink and was sworn into the society in the very first episode after telling the Tale of the Phantom Cab. He was sponsored by Eric. Worst fear- It's no secret, Frank is afraid of the dark. Are you?
Kiki (seasons 1-5) - A tomboy who liked to dress in bright colors and usually also wore a red baseball cap. Kiki's episode high lights are one where she had come down with Bronchitis and had Gary read her story so that she could leave early (Tale of the Dream Machine) and one where she actually wore a dress to the campfire for once. Kiki has a reputation as one of the coolest society members and in my personal opinion she also told some of the best stories. My favorite Kiki story was Tale of the Quiet Librarian. Worst fear- Kiki is afraid of dogs. Big...ugly...nasty...large dogs. *ulp!* (I can't blame her. I'm not to fond of Rotties or Pit Bulls myself).
Kristen (seasons 1 and 2) - A beauty queen who liked to dress up in special outfits for her stories. She is best known for the Tale of the Prom Queen in which she wore a ghost costume made of window curtains. Sadly Kristen moved away with her family after season 2. Worst fear- Don't laugh, Kristen is afraid of clowns. Eric referred to it as "Bozophobia".
Betty Ann (seasons 1-5) - If I remember right I had kind of a crush on Betty Ann when the show was still on. She was known for telling some of the weirdest stories around the campfire and had a fondness for lizards and reptiles. Betty Ann is best known for the Tale of Laughing in the Dark in which Kristen's fear was revealed and which also had a lasting effect on the series as references to the character Zeebo the Clown kept popping up everywhere. She was also known for the Tale of the Ghastly Grinner. Huh, I guess Betty Ann had a thing for clown stories. Worst fear-The attic. She refuses to go up there alone. I suppose I would too after watching the show's intro.
Eric (seasons 1 and 2) Born Irish by blood, Eric is best known for sharing the Tale of Jake and the Leprechaun which he told in honor of his Pop-Pop (Grandpa) who had passed away a few days prior to the episode, as well as the Tale of the Dark Music. Sadly though Eric, like Kristen, moved away with his family after season 2.
David (seasons 1 and 2) David was probably the quietest member of the group and he also seemed to have a crush on Kristen. He is best known for the Tale of the Dark Dragon, which he told as a birthday present for Gary, and in which he borrowed Gary's main character Sardo. Sadly David, like Kristen and Eric, moved away with his family after season 2.
Samantha "Sam" (seasons 3-5) Sworn in by her friend Betty Ann, Sam instantly became the object of both Gary and Frank's affections thus forming a love triangle between them. Gary eventually won out when Frank moved away with his family after season 4. Sam is best known for the Tale of Watcher's Woods which has to be one of the show's scariest episodes, and who's title is a play on that of the the Disney movie Watcher in the Woods
. Worst fear-Sam is afraid of birds. She doen't like the thought of them flying in her face.
Tucker (seasons 3-7) Gary's mom told him to sware in his cute but annoying kid brother or he could no longer attend the meetings. Tucker is best known for his very first story, the Tale of the Midnight Ride which was his modern take on one of my favorite Halloween stories The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
. He is also well known for the Tale of the Phone Police which got it's own song by Weird Al (and which I haven't been able to find anywhere *grumble*). Tuck later became the new society president after Gary left for college. Worst fear-Tucker's fear seems to be the unknown, ie not knowing what is coming or what to do about it.
Stig (season 5) A very greasy friend of Tucker, Stig was sworn in as the replacement for Frank after he too moved away with his family. Unlike other new members introduced in the series however, Stig needed two tries both of which he is well known for. First was the Tale of Dead Man's Float which is reguarded as the scariest episode of all (and it didn't get him in why?) and the Tale of Station 109.1 which featured a hilarious guest appearance by Gilbert Godfried as the station annoucer Roy. Needless to say, Stig was not to well liked around the campfire. The girls were disgusted by him (even though he seemed to have a strange affection for Kiki) and Gary just wished he would take a really long hike in the surrounding woods. Preferably in the wrong direction.
The New Midnight Society
Note:The new members were the same for both of the last two seasons (6 and 7) so that part will be left out of their bios here.
Tucker - After a two year hatius Tucker, now the new society president, had successfully assembled a new group of kids and taken them to the secret gathering spot which had apparently been untouched since he had last been there. He then showed them the ropes by demonstrating the Midnight Dust and telling the Tale of the Forever Game to kick things off again. At the end of the first new episode Tucker stayed after everyone else left, looked thoughtfully at the gathering place and said quietly to himself with a smile "We're back". A very cool scene indeed.
Quinn - More or less the new version of Frank. Yet another tough guy who thinks he is "all that", but he is really just conceded.
Megan - The new version of Kristen. Megan comes from a rich family and is used to getting what she wants. She told one of the funniest stories on the show: the Tale of the Gruesome Gormets which featured an oversized mutant named Chuck, who had to be one of the best bulley characters I've ever seen.
Andy - A big heart and musical talent pretty much sum up his character, as Andy has told some of the prettiest stories, esspecially the Tale of the Last Dance (a combination of The Phantom of the Oprah
and The Hunchback of Notre Dame
). Andy's musical talent lies in the Violin, which he plays beautifully.
Evangeline "Vange" - Most likely a combination of Betty Ann and Kiki, a tom boy character who often wore male-like clothes and a knit cap over braided pig tails. Vange is cheerful, fun loving, likes sports and isn't a huge fan of technology (as seen in Tale of the Virtual Pets). This usually puts her at odds with Meagan who thinks of her as "so eleven".
Gary - The last president made a brief appearance in the massive three part episode Tale of the Silver Sight after something caused Grandpa Gene to die of a sudden heart attack. Naturally I was quite thrilled to see Gary again, I just wish that it could have been under better circumstances.Recurring Characters
The show had two characters who appeared in several episodes (stories). They are listed below in order of appearance.
Vink's the name, Dr
. Vink. That's Vink! With a vuh, vuh, vuh! Usually seen by other characters as a large and imposing (and possibly somewhat psychotic) man, Dr. Vink is a self proclaimed "scientist by trade", although he is apparently no stranger to the realm of magic and sorcery. Vink seems to have learned most of his magic crafting skills by traveling the globe and usually combines them with his knowlege of science. This makes for some amazing creations such as movie reels that can come to life (Tale of the Midnight Madness) and a soup who's secret ingredient is human fear (Tale of the Dangerous Soup). He also usually names his businesses The Wild Boar after a scene in the first episode (Tale of the Phantom Cab). And he's not
a nut bag.
. No mister, accent on the do
. I remember in Tale of the Dark Dragon when the main character called him "Mr. Sourdough", that's still a good laugh. In any case, Sardo is the owner of Sardo's Magic Mansion a shop where he specialises in everything magic such as spell books, potions and charms. He also has all kinds of cool knick-knack items like Super Specks and of course the ever present fake vomit. What's that you say, you can't afford his generous prices? It's always a steal at say, fifty dollars. No, wait, thirty five, I distinctly said thirty five! Okay, fine, how much do you have? $17.50? Done! But he's losing on the deal. The only problem is that, unlike Dr. Vink, Sardo has no real knowlege of magic (he only pretends to know about his magical items to impress his would-be customers) and doesn't realise that most of his items really contain it to some extent until the main character comes back to the shop later and tells him. "It is? Er, I mean, of course
it is. All
my items are really magic". He then figures that the item in question could be worth a fortune for the right buyer. "I'm amazed! I'm astounded! I'm rich!!" And due to his lack of magic skills, whenever he does try to help the main characters he always manages to get in over his head and makes things worse! Looks like Sardo is in the wrong line of work. Note: While Sardo was created by Gary, he also appeared in some of Tucker's stories in seasons 6 and 7. Apparently Tucker got permission from Gary to borrow his character. What a lucky brake.
Character Note: As I mentioned in part 2 of my Halloween article last year (hopefully part 3 will be up this year), Vink and Sardo appeared together in the two part episode Tale of Cutter's Treasure in season 4. Sadly though, it was the first and only time that that happened. To bad really, they were pretty funny together.Mystery of the Midnight Dust
One of the show's greatest secrets is the ingredients of the mysterious Midnight Dust. No one knows what the prop dust was made of but many a fan has tried to recreate it and, as far as I know, all have failed. What was in the dust that made the fire flare up like that? Fans have tried everything from baking soda to ordinary sugar but so far nothing seems to have had an identical effect to that in the show. Just as long as no one tries gun powder I think we'll be okay. If someone out there has figured out the secret recipe for the dust please tell us in the comments box below. This way we can finally say that the mystery is solved. Or, on second thought, it could be that the fire was gas powered the whole time. Hmmm... (I'm sorry there's no picture here. I couldn't find any pertaining solely to the Midnight Dust, or at least one of a member holding the dust sack).Seasons
AYAOTD? had seven seasons, one through five airing from 1992 to 1997. After that there was a two year gap (as mentioned in tucker's second bio above) and a reboot was attempted. Seasons six and seven aired from 1999 to 2001 but the prevebial "plug" was then pulled when the "rebirth", as it were, failed to gather enough of an audience. To this day season seven is widely known as the show's "big goodbye". I have listed the seasons below along with some episode highlights like in my Pete & Pete article.Season 1
It was here that we were introduced to The Midnight Society for the first time (as was Frank). Most fans concider this to be the forebarer to the rest of the series as it isn't exactly the best season. Still it does have it's episode high lights, they include the tales of:
The Phantom Cab
- The show's pilot and Frank's swearing in. Two boys become lost in the woods and in order to escape, they must solve Dr. Vink's devious riddle or risk joining the forest's ghostly population via the Phantom Cab. (Note: This episode was aired the previous October (1991) as both a cool Halloween special for Nick and a promotion for the series).Laughing in the Dark
- This was the episode that filled us in on Kristen's #1 fear. It was told by Betty Ann and had lasting repurcussions through out the series. It also featured the actor who usually played Dr. Vink as the mysterious old man who ran the spooky fun house. "It's the most fun in the park. When you're laughin', in the dark. Ah ha, ha, ha, ha, ha!"The Prom Queen
- The usual - kids staking out a cemetary for ghosts - thing, only with a surprising twist at the end. Told by Kristen.Jake and the Leprechaun
- A young boy named Jake enlists the help of a Leprechaun named Shaun O' Sheany to save him from the clutches of an evil Banshee (really a goblin) named Aran/Gort who intends to use Jake's youthful soul to recharge his own for the next seven years. "Yours be mine and mine be yours". Told by Eric after being passed down to him by his grandpa.The Twisted Claw
- Two boys recieve a wooden vulture's claw from a strange old woman on Halloween, and learn the hard way to be careful what they wish for. Told by David. Note: This story is a play on The Monkey Paw
Most fans regard this season as the one where the show really "picked up" because it was suddenly so much better than season 1. Sadly though, this was also the last appearances of Kristen, Eric and David. They would be replaced in following seasons. Highlights for this season include the tales of:The Midnight Madness
- The old Rialto Theatre is at risk of closing down for good, until Dr. Vink pays an unexpected visit. He gives the theatre workers an old film reel of a vampire movie (in this case Nosferatu) that he made some thirty years ago and promises that it will save the theatre. Vink's prediction does come true but at a great cost and the two young employees find themselves in a fight for their lives...when Nosferatu pops out of the movie and begins stalking them! Told by Frank.The Thirteenth Floor
- Do you know who your family and friends are? Do you really
know? The events in this story may beg to differ. Told by Betty Ann.The Dream Machine
- A young man discovers an old type writer under the stairs in his new house and can't wait to try it out. It turns out though that the type writer has the power to make any story written on it come true...and at a deadly cost. Note: This story was written by Kiki (on a type writer no less) but she had Gary read it for her because she wasn't feeling well that week. The Magician's Assistant
- This a sort of modern retelling of The Sorcerer's Apprentice
only that title had already been used for an episode of season 1. In any case, this tells the story of a young boy who gets himself a job working for a semi famous magician named Shandu...only to get in over his head after disobeying his new mentor and using his magic wand without permission. This gets our young hero involved in a battle with a powerful demon named Nazrak who wants to take over the world. Shandu can do! Told by Gary.Season 3
This season marks the introductions of Tucker and Sam. Highlights include the tales of:The Midnight Ride
- For his swearing in, Tucker tells his modern take on Sleepy Hollow. Needless to say, it held up well.The Phone Police
- Another Tucker story which even got it's own song by Wierd Al, although the song no longer seems to exsist. Just be careful with those prank calls...Watcher's Woods
- Sam's swearing in was her personal take on Disney's Watcher in the Woods
, and is one of the show's scariest episodes.The Carved Stone
- Did you ever wish that you could time travel? Well with a carved stone you can, to bad you would also have an evil monk on your tail for it. Told by Gary.Season 4
Sadly this was Frank's last season on the show. He would be replaced with Stig in season 5. Highlights include the tales of:Cutter's Treasure
- A two part episode that acted as a Halloween special that year (1995). A cool , swashbuckeling pirate story. Told by both Gary and Frank.The Quiet Librarian
- My favorite Kiki story. Be sure not to break into the library at night, you never know who, or what, might be waiting for you...The Silent Servant
- Apparently, not all scarecrows are inatimate. Choose your orders carefully... Told by Betty Ann.The Ghastly Grinner
- Never take your comic books for granted. You never know which ones might be based on reality. Told by Betty Ann.Season 5
Possibly one of the shows most interesting seasons. Stig now replaced Frank which made for quite a bit of friction around the campfire. Never the less, highlights include the tales of:Dead Man's Float
- Is there a pool in your high school's basement? Has it been sealed off for many years? There could be a good reason for that so I wouldn't go down there if I were you. This was Stig's first attempt at membership and the scariest episode of all. I ask again, why didn't it get him in?Station 109.1
- Stig's second try finally got him in. Did you ever wonder what your favorite radio station is really like? Well, according to this story you may not want to know.Badge
- The story with the shortest title, this is. Wonder what is hidden in your grandmother's jewlery box, you must not or unleash an evil demon, you may. "Badge, I am". Told by Gary.The Night Shift
- I feel bad for those of you who work that very shift, because you could be in for one heck of a night...vampire style. This story takes place in a hospital, by the way. This is also where Gary and Sam get closer and possibly start a relationship. (Story was told by Sam).
This season also contains the only episode that I don't like, Tale of the Chameleons. It was told by Betty Ann and featured a cameo by Tia and Tamara but the ending is very frustrating.Season 6
Two years after season five, Tucker brings in a new group of kids with all new stories. Highlights include the tales of:The Forever Game
- Forget Parker Bros, Monopoly has nothing on this creepy Jumangi like game were your very life, as well as those of your friends, could be at stake. Told by Tucker.The Virtual Pets
- I would stick with Tamagachi because this vertual pet, code named "Digger", is out to replace our race! "Feed me. Feed me". Told by Vange and still creeps me out to this day. (Please don't laugh).Oblivion
- Whatever you do don't buy art supplies from Sardo. Unless, of course, you want to erase your troubles away...into a paralell world called Oblivion. The question is, once you erase something, how do you get it back? Told by Tucker. Bigfoot Ridge
- Most ski resorts are harmless but this one hides a dark secret, an evil creature that can take the shape of anyone it looks at. Featuring a guest appearance by a teenage Haden Christensen (Anakin Skywalker from Star Wars) in a starring roll. Told by Tucker.Season 7
This was it, kaputski, end of the line, the curtain comes down, eigth level of Mario Bros and of course, the big goodbye. After all these seasons they decided to cacel the show. It was sad but I suppose it was nessessary. After all, there will always be new shows. Highlights include the tales of:The Silver Sight
- Of course The Silver Sight, it was the official movie. This episode was so big that it had to be shown in three parts and actually had the society members, along with a cameo-ing Gary, fill the rolls of the story's characters for a change. They went up against "Demon Kid" who was trying currupt them with the Silver Sight. The story teller was eventually revealed to be Gary and Tucker's grandpa Gene. Yeah, I know, SAY WHAT?! It makes sense if you don't think about it.Highway 13
- Please be careful driving and don't try to race any big rigs...or you could end up racing for eternity. Told by Quinn.The Reanimator
- What happens when a botanist tries to ressurect his dead wife with a special fertilizer...esspecially when it gets dumped on the corpse of a dead criminal instead? Told by Quinn.The Last Dance
- As I said above, this is a combination of The Phantom of the Opera
and The Hunchback of Notre Dame
. A love story, more beautiful than scary. Told by Andy.The Books
After the success of the show the creators, and Nick, decided to follow it up with a series of books for teens. There were twenty three in all and they were meant to expand the show's universe, although two of the books were adaptations of episodes from the show: Cutter's Treasure and Nightly Neigbors. Believe it or not, there was even a story that took place on a cruise ship!
Now that's what I call
a seeing cruise!
Well, that's it for this one, I hope you enjoyed it and that you didn't get to scared. Remember, these are only stories, there are no such thing as ghosts and monsters. Or are there?...
The EndNote: This is the main end credit theme for your listening pleasure. Personally, I prefer the end credit theme from seasons 6 and 7 because it's darker and creepier, but I couldn't find it. Sorry, I tried.
P.S. I also hope this wasn't to long. As I've mentioned before I tend to drone on sometimes. Anyway, next up is an article about my favorite crime fighting terrapins, the TMNT. Stay tuned...