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A group of kids calling themselves "The Midnight Society" spends each episode sitting around a campfire swapping scary stories. Creepy, but never gory or excessively frightening, common subjects included haunted houses, what goes on behind the neighbor's walls, and other things that go bump in the night. Written by
Jean-Marc Rocher <email@example.com>
To pay homage to Rod Serling, show creator DJ MacHale had the kids say "submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society" at the beginning of each episode. To introduce each episode of The Twilight Zone, Serling would say to the audience "submitted for your approval." See more »
...There was "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" - a kid-friendly horror show revolving around a group of teenagers, called the Midnight Society, who sit around a campfire in the woods and tell ghost stories, and then we segued directly into each bone-chilling kid-friendly horror tale.
What prompted this sudden review and stroll down memory lane is that one of Nickelodeon's adjunct cable networks is airing reruns of this great kid-friendly horror show that was most popular during the original Nickelodeon's hey-day back in the early 1990s. I was about 9 or 10 in '93 and '94, respectively, when "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" was at its peak. I remember that on Saturday nights, it was the fourth and final show (the other three were "Doug," "Rugrats," and "The Ren & Stimpy Show" - in that order) on Nick's "Snick" two-hour block. Boy, those were the good ol' days.
Like those other great shows, Nickelodeon quickly descended into idiocy (and continues doing so as I write this, although some credibility has been restored with "Avatar: The Last Airbender") when it began taking many of its greatest shows off the air for reasons unknown and replacing them with the likes of "Spongebob Squarepants" and other idiotic, mindless crap.
"Are You Afraid of the Dark?" was one of Nickelodeon's earliest and best shows. It was actually scary, but fun, and horror made just for kids. The ghost stories themselves were mostly typical good-vs.-evil-type stuff. Some episodes pushed the limits of its "kid-friendly horror" label (which, ironically enough, may have led to the show's early demise). A lot of famous teen actors (and film veterans) from the time made guest appearances in a number of different episodes, including Tatyana Ali (from "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"), Danny Cooksey (from another great Nick show canceled way before its time, "Salute Your Shorts"), Melissa Joan Hart (from "Clarissa Explains it All"), Tia and Tamera Mowry (from "Sister, Sister"), Danny Tamborelli ("The Adventures of Pete & Pete"), and veteran film actor Charles S. Dutton.
Of course, problems began to arise with "Are You Afraid of the Dark" due to several unfriendly cast shake-ups both early on and later in the series, and Nickelodeon tried unsuccessfully to revive the show in 1999. Also, the episodes' content seemed to get watered-down later on in the series, thus loosing that teenage horror "edge" that made it great during its early run. Another factor was that author R.L. Stine's "Goosebumps" titles may have also had a hand in "Are You Afraid of the Dark's?" demise in the mid-'90s. But thankfully, nostalgia, and possibly incessant fan demand, or the upcoming Halloween season, have allowed this great kid-friendly horror show to see the light of cable network television just one more time.
So, now you know one of Nickelodeon's best shows from its hey-day, and one of my personal favorite shows from its hey-day. Halloween is just around the corner, and so now it's great to go back to a time when this once-great cable network had an ounce of decency and honor and common sense left in its tank.
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