Twin Peaks meets The Twilight Zone told from the POV of a snarkier 13-year old version of Fox Mulder.Eerie Indiana was a superb nineteen-episode supernatural series that aired on NBC from 1991-1992 (in prime time) and then again on FOX Saturday mornings from 1997-98 as part of their "No Yell Motel" block, which included a lot of scary kids' shows (the live-action adaptation of Goosebumps, reruns of the Australian kids' show Round the Twist, and Steven Spielberg's first animated project from DreamWorks Studios, Toonsylvania). The short-lived series had a mid-season Re Tool and had an unproduced episode called "The Jolly Rogers". It also spawned a second series, Eerie Indiana: The Other Dimension, one year after FOX ran out of NBC episodes to show, as well as a series of spin-off novels.Marshall Teller, a recent transplant from New Jersey whose family has recently moved to the desolate town of Eerie, and Simon Holmes, an Eerie native, investigate the weirdness that inhabited the titular town. It would be easier for them if the town's residents didn't refuse to see themselves as anything but normal. Some of the more bizarre confrontations include such urban legends like Bigfoot and a still-living Elvis Presley.Currently (3/17/12) available on HULU and Netflix.Compare Round the Twist, an Australian show with a similar premise, only with more ghosts, gross-out humor, and is more light-hearted.
This show provides examples of:
Adults Are Useless: Although a lot of the local kids are oblivious and useless too. And sometimes, the adults are in on the plot...
Anti-Climax: Given the premise of Reality Takes a Holiday, where Marshall gets a screenplay in the mail and his world devolves into a behind-the-scenes look at the actual show: Marshall re-writes the end of the episode to something more mundane and has to wait on set while the new pages are slowly photocopied by the writer's assistant, then delivered to the cast. When Dash tries to interfere, Marshall complains to the director, who calmly orders Dash to "clear Omri's eye-line". Dash is beaten by the rules of his own game and the script unfolds. Everybody goes to the movies. The End.
Art Initiates Life: In the episode "Who's Who," guest character Sara Bob had this power due to a Eerie brand pencil. She first demonstrates this by drawing a picture of main character Marshall's missing bike (for a "lost" poster), but it instead creates a new bike. To escape her terrible home life, she first draws Marshall's mother as her own long lost mom, then drawing a picture of herself with her mother, teleporting to her.
A Very Special Episode: 'The Broken Record' is a rare, very well done, very profound example that actually realistically depicts parental abuse, its consequences, and to an extent, its causes.
Awesome McCoolname: Dash X. Invoked, since he named himself after the symbols on his hands.
Be Careful What You Say: Literally. In Broken Record, Todd's father accuses a specific rock and roll record for causing his son to act rebellious and states that the record has subliminal messages that makes kids act crazy. When he plays it, he does find out that the record has messages—it's his own voice and abusive words.
The Bermuda Triangle: Marshall once discovers that Eerie's town borders create the exact same geometric shape as the Bermuda Triangle.
Big Creepy-Crawlies: One episode had some kind of formula that eventually made ordinary ants grow to enormous size.
Bigfoot, Sasquatch and Yeti: One of them, anyway. It apparently finds human cuisine palatable enough to eat out of the Teller family's trash.
Professor Zircon's assistant meets a FEMALE one when he's planting the fake space 'thing'.
Braces of Orthodontic Overkill: The Retainer: Marshall's friend is required to wear one for awhile. It allows him to read the minds of dogs, who are revealed to be plotting the eventual overthrow of the human race.
Bystander Syndrome: Pretty much the entire town's attitude toward Eerie's otherness. Lampshaded in Mr. Chaney by The Mayor himself:
"This town — heck, this whole country — has a long... 'tradition'... of looking the other way: the Warren Commission, Watergate, Iran-Contra, the October surprise, Eerie's 'Harvest King'. The people don't want to know about this stuff. Because if they knew about it, they might have to do something about it."
Call Back: In 'Zombies in P.J.'s, Mr. Radford seems to come across some familiar items.
In "Reality Takes a Holiday", Radford can be heard singing "Hail To Thee, O Ears of Splender".
Cinderella Circumstances: Sara Bob in "Who's Who" was a virtual slave in her house of brothers and father. She was the cook, maid, and even forced to mend their clothes despite being about 12-years-old.
Clock Roaches: The Lost Hour: Marshall sets his clock back an hour despite the town's practice of ignoring daylight saving's time (Indiana did not observe it in 1991), and as a result has to face off against malevolent, trans-dimensional trashmen whose job it is to tear apart reality (in very close similarity to Stephen King's The Langoliers, published one year previously).
The Computer Is Your Friend: The ATM with the Heart of Gold: Simon befriends the inexplicably artificially intelligent automatic Teller machine "Mr. Wilson", who returns his friendship by offering to provide him with "slush fund" money... composed of other people's savings accounts.
Creative Closing Credits: Most closing credits do have an aspect of the episode, but a notable one is at the end of "Who's Who" about a family who all have the middle name "Bob", even the daughter Sara Bob. The credits have everyone's middle name as "Bob".
Everything Fades: The Losers: the United States federal government has a black budget organization dedicated to "appropriating" the items people forget are sitting around their houses, forcing them to buy new things...and thus keeping the bloated American economy going strong. Easily one of the most believable concepts the show ever aired.
First Kiss: Actually shown in "Heart on a Chain" with Marshall and new girl Melanie kissing in a graveyard and then Marshall explains How We Got Here for the rest of the episode.
Four-Temperament Ensemble: Thanks to a mid-season Re Tool: Marshall is Mulder Melancholic (minus the depression), Simon is a chipper Sanguine, Radford is as Supine as they get, and Dash is down-right Choleric. Made obvious by the end of Mr. Chaney.
The Fourth Wall Will Not Protect You: Scariest Home Videos: a television remote control is revealed to contain the power to send people into the programs being televised at least, until the batteries run out. This may be one of the first ever of its kind.
Likewise, Sara Bob's family in "Who's Who." Dad's physically present, but Sara Bob has to care for him as well as her hellion brothers.
Freeze-Frame Bonus: Whenever there's text big enough to read that goes by too fast, you can bet there's a joke in it. A really fun example is in "Reality Takes a Holiday", when Marshall reads the shooting script for the scene he just walked out on. In the direction, it says Simon sits there, looking "orphanish".
Fun with Acronyms: In "The Retainer", the gang goes to the dog pound... owned by the Canine Arrest Team.
Laser-Guided Karma: Happens to Sara Bob's family by her when she leaves in "Who's Who". Instead of her being treated like a family servant, she creates a muscular male maid who forces them to clean up the house
Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: "Heart on a Chain" is the only episode in the series that never answers its mystery. A shy, terminally ill girl has a crush on a devil-may-care boy, who dies in a freak accident. A heart transplant from his fresh corpse saves her. She then begins acting increasingly bizarre (with a lot less self-control). It is left completely unclear until the end whether his heart's personality has taken over hers (as the Agent Mulder believes), or whether guilt has made her not herself.
Milkman Conspiracy: Milkmen play a subtle but significant role in the series, often appearing in the background or playing an (apparently) unwitting role in the events.
In "The Losers," Simon loses sight with the trunk in which Marshall is attempting to Trojan Horse his way into the compound, because his view is obstructed by a milk truck.
In "Broken Record," Marshall and Simon's friend tries to escape town to see the "Pit Bull Surfers" by commandeering a milk truck.
Bertrand and Ernest appear in a number of different roles after Marshall liberates them in the pilot, including as a milkmen.
Likewise, the "serial impersonator" originally posing as Mr Radford appears later impersonating a milkman.
And in "Heart on a Chain," the boy whose heart is transplanted into Danielle Harris collides with a milk truck while skateboarding, as the milkman, among others, attends the scene of the accident.
While this could just be a motif (the show is about suburban weirdness, after all), in "The Lost Hour," Marshall is rescued from the lost hour by a milkman, who implies that he is, in fact, future Marshall.
My Nayme Is: Marshall has disdain for his big sister for spelling her name "S-Y-N-D-I".
No Fourth Wall: Sort of, for most of the series. The opening credit voice-over has the line, "A place so wholesome, so squeaky clean, it could only be found on TV..." However, this might merely be Marshall Telling some future reader of his journals (the viewer) that the place seemed like its veneer was straight out of a sitcom; given the show's nature, both are probably the case.
...Then there's the case of Reality Takes a Holiday, when Marshall pulls a television script out of his mailbox, and then suddenly finds himself behind the scenes of the show.
No Immortal Inertia: The pilot episode had a woman who uses oversized Tupperware to keep herself and her sons looking that same way they did back in the 1960s (which the mother likes, but the sons don't, because being in seventh grade for all those years is a living hell). When the sons free themselves and their mom from the tupperware, they age 30 years overnight.
Nothing Exciting Ever Happens Here: Not even in the eyes of most of the "weirdness" in question, which continually sees the rest of the town as the most normal place on Earth.
The Nudifier: Sara Bob to one of her brothers in "Who's Who".
16,661 is also a prime number, and a palindrome— the smallest of what are known as Beastly Primes.
Only Sane Man: Marshall, who seems to be the only person in town who knows Elvis Presley when he sees him.
Out of Order: "Broken Record" was aired as the last episode, but was clearly written and filmed earlier in the season... thus Dash-X is completely absent even though Jason Marsden was still listed in the opening credits. Streaming versions of the show place "Broken Record" as the eighth episode, and accordingly revert to a version of the credits from before Marsden was part of the regular cast.
Premiseville: Eerie, Indiana, where the happenings are of an unusual nature.
Real World Episode: The final episode, "Reality Takes A Holiday", has this as its plot. Marshall is sent a script of the episode, and suddenly his home turns into the set of the TV show, with all the actors and actresses who play Marshall's family and friends, and everyone calling Marshall by his actor's name (Omri Katz).
Rummage Sale Reject: Janet in The Lost Hour dresses this way - her outfit includes mismatched earrings, bright pink sneakers, and what looks to be a womens' suit-jacket accessorized with dozens of pins and brooches. Justified because she's been living in the lost hour for a year with no parental supervision and has literally been rummaging through World O' Stuff for clothes all that time.
Shout-Out: Several episodes reference movies, music and television shows, including Twin Peaks.
In "Mr. Chaney", Radford, Chaney and Chisel can't wait to get home and catch The Howling on cable. The Howling's director, Joe Dante, served as creative consultant for Eerie, Indiana and frequently directed episodes.
Spin-Off: Eerie Indiana: The Other Dimension which as the title implies takes place in another dimension of the series. By the time they made this the show, it was seven years after the original was canceled so they of course had to recast the characters. The gist of the show was that two new characters in this universe, Mitchell and Stanley, continue documenting the weirdness of their city after an encounter with E.I.'s original characters, Marshall and Simon via a TV set (they reused footage of the old show to make this happen). It lasted fifteen episodes.
Subliminal Seduction: The Broken Record; subverted when it's revealed that the backwards messages on Todd's favorite rock record are his father's verbal abuse, which is what drove him to be a punk.
Simon punching his name in on Mr. Wilson's Dial pad becomes 7-4-6-6-6 which is supposed to be the number of the beast after 74.
Sticky Fingers: Again, Dash. In more than one episode, he can be seen at Radford's shoplifting a trench coat's worth.
Stupid Crooks: The episode "The Hole in the Head Gang" focuses on the ghost of Grungy Bill, "The Worst Bank Robber East of the Mississippi" ("worst" as in "no good, incompetent"). According to Eerie legend, Bill was arrested twelve times (all for failed attempts to rob the Eerie Bank). When robbing the bank for the 13th time, he forgot to bring his gun, and ended up getting killed by the sheriff's posse at the Eerie Mill, where, rumor has it, Grungy Bill's ghost can be spotted trying to look for his gun. The rumor proves to be true when Marshall and Simon uncover Grungy Bill's gun and his ghost returns to attempt to rob the Eerie Bank for a 14th time. This time, he's able to get away with stealing one of the complimentary toasters the bank was giving away to anyone who opens a new bank account. Grungy Bill determines this to be a successful bank robbery and can finally rest in peace.
Lampshaded: "I'm tired of being second banana on this show."
Take That: Several per episode. These include an evil businessman who calls himself "The Donald".
Another was an episode revealed that Ronald Reagan was given the brain of MacGyver (quadrupling his IQ) so the republicans could win that election. The same episode had Dash threaten to destroy Simon's brain by saying he'd make him "Vice-Presidential".
Weirdness Search and Rescue: In the episode "The Lost Hour" an old Milkman saves Marshall from The Garbage Men in an empty, alternate dimension of Eerie. The milkman implies that he's an older version of Marshall.
We Need to Get Proof: In an effort to back up their claims to any potential future readers, Marshall and Simon make it a point to take, and tag, at least one item involved in each respective adventure, and lock it away in a makeshift wooden safe-deposit box located in Marshall's attic.
Wham Line: An interesting case from "The Broken Record", presented without the garbledness: "Todd! Turn that garbage off right now or I'm gonna throw that record player out the window, you hear me?!".note For context: Todd's father hates rock music and regularly verbally abuses his son, so when Todd became a punk, Todd's father initially thinks the rock music he listens to made his son into a punk, when really it was his own abusive words to his son.