Tales from the Darkside (TV Series 1983–1988) Poster

(1983–1988)

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Even the credits were frightening!
Sanguinaire2 March 2005
The television horror anthology has a long and noble history. In the Fifties, Rod Serling blazed the trail with THE TWILIGHT ZONE; though the series mostly veered in the direction of what may be called "speculative fantasy", it did produce its share of horrific/macabre episodes. This was to be followed by THRILLER in the early Sixties, a much more overtly Gothic series hosted by Boris Karloff, and one of the first television series to catch flack for experimenting with graphic violence (one episode featured a man staggering down a flight of stairs with an ax buried in his head!). Serling struck again with NIGHT GALLERY in the Seventies, an often genuinely weird and experimental series that, like THRILLER, often drew from the great pulp horror tales of the past for inspiration. And, in the Eighties, came George Romero's TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE.

I vividly remember the show as a pre-teen; it would premier late at night, around 11:30 after the news and "normal" programming concluded. As that bleary witching hour approached, when the wholesome prime-time like of FAMILY TIES and THE FACTS OF LIFE seemed miles gone by, disorientation and apprehension would set in - the atmosphere was right for a kid to be scared! And nothing was scarier than DARKSIDE's opening sequence. What looked like pastoral postcard scenes of rural Vermont would give way to the ominous intonations of Paul Sparer, backed up by a prickly synthesizer score. The title card would then appear in dripping letters of crimson. It was, in a word, unforgettable.

For budgetary reasons, the episodes were shot on video; on the one hand, this gave them an air of cheapness, but on the other lent them a kind of creepy immediacy. The frequent appearance of veteran stars meanwhile, some of who hadn't then worked in years, provided some old-fashioned cachet. Eddie Bracken starred in one I'll never forget - A Case of the Stubborns, based on a story by Robert Bloch. Bracken plays a cranky old grandfather who refuses to accept the fact that he has died, much to the distress of his family. As the days pass, Bracken begins to decompose, to the point of literally sneezing his nose off. Another one that stuck with me was called Inside the Closet, which starred Fritz Weaver as a doctor with a horrible Tom Savini-designed secret locked in his doll closet. One of the (deservedly) best-loved episodes was a Christmas-themed affair called Seasons of Belief. This one had E. G. Marshall sadistically terrorizing his children with stories of The Grither, a sort of demonic Santa being whose name must never be spoken. Building to a truly spectacular conclusion, Seasons of Belief stands out as an endearingly bilious Yuletide classic. In addition to the old-timers, TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE boasted some up-and-coming talent as well - the aforementioned A Case of the Stubborns also starred Christian Slater. Another one I remember, called Monsters in My Room, had little Seth Green as a boy who faces the titular trouble. To further sweeten the package, horror masters like Romero, Savini, and Bloch frequently contributed behind the camera.

TALES FROM THE DARKSIDE looms large in the pantheon of Eighties horror (when the genre wasn't afraid to be bold and nasty), as well as in the hearts of those of us who remember it. As it's been off the air for some time, a DVD release may well be in order, so that a whole new generation might behold what gave many Children of the Eighties a pleasant little chill back in the day. As the show's closer immortally put it: "The Darkside is always there, waiting for us to enter, waiting to enter us. Until next time - try to enjoy the daylight."
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10/10
Welcome... to the "Darkside"!
duran00722 December 2001
Warning: Spoilers
One of the more sinister television series ever to air, "Darkside" was actually passed up by the networks who thought a series of that caliber would be too dark for the demographics. Big mistake. The first two seasons of "Tales From The Darkside" had a sense of realness to them... suspending disbelief, viewers could actually believe these situations would happen. Case in point: An episode ("I'll Give You A Million") dealt with two elder businessmen. One offers the other one million dollars in exchange for the rights to his eternal soul. They agree, but the seller begins to regret his decision, especially after learning he has liver cancer. The buyer refuses to break the deal, until he learns that the seller will give him two million for the contract and his soul back. Only problem: The seller dies and a third party enters the fray. Needless to say, the buyer dies and the third party (The Devil, played perfectly by the underrated Brad Fisher) collects both souls. Many actors (unknowns and former big names) displayed great performances on "Darkside". The series was so successful that CBS revived "Twilight Zone" to capitalize on "Darkside". The show was dark, frightening, and had a sense of bizarre justice. Truly one of the best series ever to air.
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great series..worth watching at least once a week!
uboat9631 March 2003
Although I was in my early teens when I watched tales from the darkside, if left an impression on me. As a matter of fact, I still remember the first TFDS episode. The Halloween episode in which a rich old, whom everone in the town owns money to, has fun with his debtor's children by making them search for the outstanding notes in his creepy mansion. If a child found the outstanding-notes, that families debts would be wiped off. Of course, none of the children every found them...running out of the house scared out of their minds....until a real witch shows up! Needless to say, the old miser is paid a visit by the devil himself! I still rmemeber it to this day. Anyway, TFDS has dozens of episodes with eerie endings. If you like the late 80's tv series MONSTERS, you would also enjoy "tales from the darkside". It is just too bad that they don't show it any more....
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"The height of televisual art."
GSFE15 February 1999
The premise which inspired "Distant Signals" is guaranteed to ignite the inspiration of anyone who has loved the characters of a TV series. Mr. Smith (Lenny Von Dohlen), an otherworldly visitor, approaches the creator of a 1965 detective series (David Margulies) which was canceled in mid-season. This "fan" offers him $2 million - in gold - to write and direct six more episodes, including a vital series finale, which will remove the wandering hero from "limbo." Darren McGavin, with heartbreaking pathos, portrays the actor who is physically and metaphysically transformed from an aging dead-drunk bartender into his former self as a mythic star. This peculiarly "impossible," yet patently real idea glows with magic and life as an example of how a mere half hour installment of a small screen anthology can represent "the height of televisual art."
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10/10
A mixed bag that usually was excellent!
TOMNEL23 November 2005
This show was really great, most of the time. Like the original Twilight Zone, it was sometimes horror episodes, sometimes fantasy and sometimes comedy/fantasy. 92 episodes aired, around 70 of them being really great, and the others being stinkers. Since it was on regular TV, it couldn't contain very much language, and the violence was plentiful, but usually mild. The narrator Paul Sparer had a really creepy voice and started and ended the show. The shows were often about ghosts, demons, Satan, monsters and even a boy putting his voice onto a computer. Each episode had a surprise ending, which made it even better. It was often very morbid and could be depressing, but usually wasn't. It was great.

My rating: A. 1984-1988. 30 mins. 6 volumes with 5 episodes on each are available on VHS, and one volume has two.(32 episodes available)
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dark version of the twilight zone
mattkratz17 September 2001
This wasn't a bad show, but watching it on a regular basis could leave you with a hollow feeling. The bad guys occassionally won in this very dark series, and I was sometimes repulsed by some images. However, if you were in the right mood, you might find something to enjoy, and I myself actually enjoyed most of the episodes. Some that stand out include one Christmas episode about the "grither," kind of an anti-Santa Claus being; an episode where a grandmother makes a birthday wish, and it comes true in rather painful ways for her other family members; and an episode set in a baker's shop, where an old black lady combines baking cookies with voodoo. Pretty good stuff, just not for the faint-of-heart.
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"The Twilight Zone" for the 1980s
tfrizzell23 July 2000
"Tales From the Darkside" is an interesting anthology series which has been syndicated for as long as I can remember. Every now and then you can catch the episodes on WGN out of Chicago or on the Sci-Fi Channel. The series is a poor man's "Twilight Zone". I believe that all of the episodes were made in the mid-1980s and dealt with subjects very similar to those dealt with in Rod Serling's series. The special effects were usually sophomoric and so were the performances, but the suspense and sense of the "unworldly" usually kept me on the edge of my seat. The writing and direction of most of the episodes are clever and intelligent. However, there are several duds in the series. For the most part "Tales From Darkside" is an interesting supernatural series that has been overlooked, but is usually just as potent as "The Twilight Zone" or "The X-Files". The series was popular enough to spawn a theatrical movie in 1990, but the movie falls far short of the original television episodes. Overall I give the series 4 out of 5 stars.
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ONE OF THE BEST HORROR SHOWS OF ALL TIME
Jennifer200528 August 2004
I don't know what the last reviewer was talking about but this show is truly scary. I can recall watching this show when it orig. aired and the opening seq. alone scared me to death. When it would come on and I was alone I would run from the living room and in to my bedroom w/ the covers over my head. I remember that I also forgot to turn the television off so hidding from the scary intro. did not work : ) As for the episodes, I remember that the opening credits and closing credits , but I don't remember EVERY episode. I remember several classic ones that are a MUST. One involved a woman that wanted to stop over eating and loss weight. So she went to buy a "special" pair of glasses. Lets just say it did not end good for the woman. I wish I could tell you more but I don't want to spoil it. It's very creepy and scary episode. Another classic was one w/ a puppet master whos dummy comes to life and tries to take over and kill his master.

The shows were not as scary as maybe some would like but I doubt anyone would be disappointed in this show. It is a VERY VERY CREEPY SHOW. Trust me. You watch this show at night or in the daytime alone or with someone and you will be very creeped out and perhaps scared.

"So try and enjoy the daylight."
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8/10
A very well done horror show.
Aaron137526 July 2009
This was one of my favorite horror shows as it was very watchable and enjoyable. There were many shows of this type during the time it ran and one can say it was probably the inspiration for a couple of the other ones that came on during this time such as "Monsters" and ever the one that Freddy Krueger had as the stories from those two shows I sometimes think came from this one. However, this one was around first and it is the best of the bunch. Granted, the episodes on Tales from the Crypt got a little darker and you could sometimes get lucky and see some nudity this one had by far the better stories. It also had one of the coolest openings of the bunch as well, for it may have been simple it was also effective in telling the viewer that they were on a trip to the darkside. Many good episodes are to be found, one of my favorite involved a woman renting a room in a place or something and there is a hole in the wall and something seems to be living there. I also remember one about some old lady who treated her father horribly and was good at making cookies, but she gets what is coming to her in the end. All in all one of the best horror shows out there.
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6/10
Scared the crap out of me!
manipool1 June 2012
More than the episodes scaring me, the beginning of the show used to. In fact it scared the crap out of me. I think I used to turn it down and wait until the eerie music was over before I'd watch it. I was 22 at the time! This and Tales From The Crypt (which was scarier) were the kind of 80's era kitsch(?) I enjoyed. Not sure which episodes are from which show, but I think this one had the slaves taking over the plantation or mansion something like that? I don't think all of these stories were meant to be taken seriously, but more tongue in cheek. I'm watching "Deliver us from Goodness" right now and it's ridiculous. Anyway it was good fun for the times if you just avoid the really silly or nonsensical episodes.
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9/10
Very Well Done
wmdude125510 November 2009
I have recently begun watching this series. I noticed a few things. one , the other writer is right about the new talent. Examples of that included Christian Slater and Seth Green. Two, Most of the stories tried to teach a lesson. Examples included the Pilot "Trick or Treat" in which an elderly old miser runs a haunted house where he invites the kids to come and look for their parents IOU's. In the end however he gets whats coming to him. It was kind of a take-off of a "A Christmas Carol" Other like "The Satanic Piano" and "Printer's Devil" reinforced the saying that's there's no such thing as a free Lunch. In Order to get something, you usually have to give something else up. I really liked the episode "I'll Give You a Million". I mean the idea that someone would sell their soul for a Million Dollars is just amazing. Also, a lot of the very best actors ever guest starred on the episodes. People like Danny Aiello, Christian Slater, Seth Green, Justine Bateman, and many others. This series is one of the best Horror/Sci-Fi series to ever come out. Everyone should have a chance to see this. I know the first 2 seasons are out on DVD Boxed sets but I don't know if they'll ever release the last 2 seasons.
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6/10
To this day the introduction is still chilling
safenoe10 March 2016
Warning: Spoilers
The introduction to Tales from the Darkside really resonates with fans to this day, as demonstrated by web comments. It was really chilling and scary, seriously!

The scenes were montages of bucolic USA (or maybe Canada) and I would love to know where the scenes were shot. Nothing scary about the scenes per se, but still the underlying horror and foreboding, and the creepy music and chilling narration really scared me!

The episodes were so-so, and in some cases were let downs. I sort of wondered what the driving theme was for Tales from the Darkside - was there a twist in the tale, horror a la Freddy Krueger? But still credit to the creators and writers and directors and cast and crew, for a show that still generates much comment, especially for the introduction.
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10/10
Are you Afraid of the Dark
hellraiser731 October 2014
I always love horror anthologies because they give writers more creative freedom to do whatever they want. But also the reader and viewer the power of choice to choose which stories to try out but also which one they like and don't like.

This show is one of my favorite horror anthology shows that I think is under the radar and slightly forgotten. This show is also another childhood relic of mine, I've seen this when I was 12 it was one of the first horror anthologies I saw. I bumped into this show one day and gave it a go and I'll admit I was pleasantly surprised, this is the kind to show that I feel is almost made for fans of the horror genre.

There really isn't a whole lot I can say, it's a horror anthology what can you really say. But this is one of my of my favorites along with "Night Galary", "Are You Afraid of the Dark", "Twilght Zone" (both the old and 80's version) and plenty others.

The production value was on a modest to low budget but I personally feel it was used wises and well, also it was network television show what do you expect. But they did the best they could with what they had to create the effect they were going for and I felt they succeeded.

I really love that theme song which to me is one of my personal favorite theme song. Its a very eerie and creepy tone that can send chills as you see the music correlate with the title sequence we see some random enviorments in the daylight but then suddenly they start to seem unsettling as we see some shadows overlapping them and daylight fading a bit, they suddenly the friendly enviorments begin to seem dangerous as if there could be something lurking in those shadows. Down to the narrators voice and what he says which sent chills and have stuck with me ever since.

And most of the stories are memorable and creative, most of them are straight forward horror, though some others are black comedies, or even fun fantasy tales which is alright with me, I always like a little something different to keep an anthology fresh. Some of them were even by a lot of well known writers like Clive Barker, Steven King, Robert Bloch, and several others. As well as some episodes were director by a few well known people like George Romaro and Tom Savani. These facts to me are really cool because it shows this show has actually had some talent involved which to me helps gives this anthology some heart. It would be awesome if someone ever makes another horror anthology show and to have both old and new generation talent involved, it should be considered because we seriously need another horror anthology show right now.

Some of my favorites are "Anavercery Dinner" which in a way is a modern day Brothers Grimm like tale, "Last Car" where a girl is taking a train home only she's not going home, "Word Processor of the Gods" a fun wishforfillment story let alone cool concept, "Biglows Last Smoke" which is uncannily similar to the Steven King short story let alone the title alone in a way that story is more of a black comedy but also a good metaphor on addiction and it's destructive nature, "Levetation" which was a fable on the danger of ambition gone awry and tempting fate, the ending I'll admit left a cold chill in me. Yeah, there are plenty more but I displayed enough of them, just check them out for yourself or simply make your own list So, until next time try to enjoy the daylight.

Rating: 4 stars
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6/10
A handful of classics versus a lot of cheese
ctomvelu-110 February 2009
DARKSIDE proved to be a distinct step down from classic TV anthology series like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and CHILLER. Episodes were shot on video and a synthesizer was often the only musical accompaniment. Plots were often all too predictable. Yet a handful of episodes stand out,and you can read about them in detail here on IMDb. Familiar faces popped up in most episodes, which was a definite plus. But if you watch a TWILIGHT ZONE episode followed by a DARKSIDE episode, you are going to cringe at the incredible cheapness of the latter. The show is constantly in reruns on channels like The Sci-Fi Channel, for what it's worth. For all its faults, I will recommend HBO's TALES FROM THE CRYPT over this. Heck, I'll even recommend THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER or Roald Dahl's short-lived series over DARKSIDE.
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8/10
Show for all ages.
BittenSmitten12 July 2008
Some episodes are dull, some you will keep forever in memory and some will make you check under the bed (or in the closet, ha!) I used to watch this when I was younger and even the beginning intro scared me. Re-watching it again, it is still good but no where near "horror". Tales From the Darkside is more of a Twilight Zone type of show instead of something along the lines of Tales From the Crypt. I will not show nudity, sex or extreme gore but it still gets the point across and the story is told. I give it an 8 out of 10 only because some episodes I will forever be wondering what happened? What was THAT about? Some I absolutely loved. If you want to try it out, I have recommendations for a few episodes. If you are a horror lover, a scary story fan... watch season 1, "Inside the Closet". It's about an old teacher who lets a student sublet a room inside his creepy house. However, there's a catch. A small closet is in her room with the door bolted. She hears noises at night and almost obsesses over it. The conclusion to what's in the closet will make you re-check what's in there. If you are a mystery lover, like The Twilight Zone, watch "The Madness Room". A ghost story with a twist I never saw coming.
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Quirky but Good
wheelsofterror29 February 2004
I grew up on this show as a kid. I watched it each week religiously. The episodes were quirky but they were fun to watch. The show had short stories from such horror greats as George Romero, Stephen King, Richard Matheson, and others. So, the writers, alone, are reason enough to watch. This is also one of the few horror television shows of the 1980s, along with shows like Monsters. It's good for all ages as they aren't gory or too violent. There's also an underlying macabre sense of humor. The last person who commented about this show, obviously, either didn't watch many episodes or just doesn't appreciate the show. The movie I avoided. I wish this show would be done on DVD. Everything else is going to DVD.
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Good series!
Movie Nuttball3 March 2003
This was one of the best series' of the 80s. It was always interesting,entertaining,and had good stars in it. The intro before the show began was really scary.I doubt this show is on any more but if it is and you haven't seen it before and are able to watch it then watch it because its a very good series!
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Good anthology series for network TV...
xtonybueno6 February 2000
For some odd reason, I like this more than the cable "Tales from the Crypt" series, although I like that one alright, too. Somehow, these just seemed scarier. My favorite episode would have to be "Baker's Dozen," in which a bayou woman's cookies turn out to have supernatural powers. I know the premise is ridiculous, but this one works beautifully and can easily stand against even the best Twilight Zone. I also enjoyed "The Milkman Cometh", "Beetles", "Your Weight is Over (I think this was the title)". The series did have its fair share of turkeys, but that is to be expected with any anthology series. Good series.
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6/10
A handful of classics versus a lot of cheese
ctomvelu-110 February 2009
DARKSIDE proved to be a distinct step down from classic TV anthology series like THE TWILIGHT ZONE and CHILLER. Episodes were shot on video and a synthesizer was often the only musical accompaniment. Plots were often all too predictable. Yet a handful of episodes stand out,and you can read about them in detail here on IMDb. Familiar faces popped up in most episodes, which was a definite plus. But if you watch a TWILIGHT ZONE episode followed by a DARKSIDE episode, you are going to cringe at the incredible cheapness of the latter. The show is constantly in reruns on channels like The Sci-Fi Channel, for what it's worth. For all its faults, I will recommend HBO's TALES FROM THE CRYPT over this. Heck, I'll even recommend THE RAY BRADBURY THEATER or Roald Dahl's short-lived series over DARKSIDE.
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Some good, some bad.
eqmidnite15 May 2005
I recently watched this entire series with a friend of mine. Most of the episodes are so-so at best, with a few good (if not great) episodes. The following are the best of the lot: Trick or Treat, Halloween Candy, Seasons of Belief, Do Not Open This Box, The Greezenstacks, Inside the Closet, Monsters in my Room (look for a YOUNG Seth Green!), and The Last Car. I only recommend this for nostalgic purposes as I don't find it to be a great "Twilight Zone" style show. The acting is iffy, the effects shoddy, the camera work weak (even for the mid-80s), and the stories rehashed and often boring.

Overall TV Rating: 6/10
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6/10
The memory cheats!
dokter_hew5 February 2007
As a teenager growing up in the 80's, I thought Tales from the Darkside was one of the scariest things on TV. Hell, even the opening scared me with its creepy music and its even creepier narration. Now, 20 some years later I've finally watched them again, thanks to the Sci-Fi channel, and I must say that it has not aged very well. There are a few gems (Trick or Treat, Halloween Candy, The Circus, The Cutty Black Sow), but for the most part, most of these stories come across as being just plain silly. And the low budget doesn't help matters either. It looks like some people at a local TV station decided to make an anthology series. Overall, it just doesn't pack the wallop that it did 20 years ago, but the opening is still creepy as hell. On the plus side, Darkside is way better than Showtime's crapfest Masters of Horror.
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7/10
This movie is great for Amazing Stories & Twilight Zone fans
saintize3 October 2006
I liked the movie just fine.Any movie or series in the vein of Twilight Zone and Amazing Stories always gets my interest. As far as Tales From the Darkside,the series...The stories (Most of them) were pretty well written, while some were pretty cheesy, like the "Highway to Heaven" Halloween episode where the guy with the beard sells his soul to the devil. The twist in the Gargoyle story was pretty good and disturbing. I really wrote in to say the guy a space or 2 above me said, "I don't know if the show is still on" well, it's not. It's been quite a few years since it's been off the air. But I recommend the movie and the series if you can find it. Sci Fi channel ran a TFTDS marathon recently.
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Great TV show!
hohumdedum210 June 2004
I really miss Tales. It was one of those shows I would watch as a child on the weekends when I stayed up late. It did scare me, and I haven't seen episodes since probably 87. I don't watch much television these days cause 99.9% of it is crap. (Except for the Simpsons of course!) Had I any idea that re-runs were airing I would've tuned in no doubt! That said, I hope this gets a DVD release SOON. This is by far one of the greatest horror TV shows next to the Twilight Zone. I hope someone out there is working on a new horror TV show, because there are MANY of us out there who miss OUR TV SHOWS. RIGHT? It can be done, one can only hope that it comes before we've totally forgotten.
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9/10
Great stories, but, simple settings like early Doctor Who! :)
gilligan196510 July 2015
Does anyone remember how the early "Doctor Who" settings and props were somewhat cheap and phony? Much like "Land of the Lost" (1974); "Sigmund and the Sea Monsters" (1973); "H.R. Pufnstuf" (1969-1970); "Electra Woman and Dyna Girl" (1976)...but, they were all GREAT shows because they mainly concentrated on their stories! :)

It's the same with this series. This is a cheaply-produced show, but, the stories are great! I really like this series and am quite upset that it hasn't been brought back to television as it well deserves to be.

I give this series a solid "9" for it's stories! :)
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1/10
Nostalgic 80's Low Budget Late Night Classic
MWNiese23 March 2013
*****Five Out Of Ten Stars***** What made me scared as an 80's child, now just mostly makes me laugh. George Romero and Richard Rubenstein spearheaded TFTD, which is really one of the main reasons I still enjoy watching an occasional episode. I pretty much enjoy everything Romero has produced in his career, but am honest with myself about much of his work; in that some of Romero's work just isn't that good. Let's just be honest here folks, a lot of Romero's work is just plain hammy. Don't get me wrong, I still love most of it. It's hard to judge TFTD because every episode was different and unique. So I kind of averaged all the episodes out and gave it five out of ten stars or two stars out of four; which I feel is more than fair. I'm guessing some of the inflated ratings are based mostly on nostalgia. My estimate is that 25% of the episodes were above average, another 25% were average, another 25% were below average, and the remaining episodes were just plain terrible. I do plan on eventually purchasing the DVD box set, so don't get me wrong. On a closing note, the guest stars were almost always great to watch and opening and closing credits are a stroke of genius.
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