In the darkness is the light Surrender will win the fight This girl's walked through fire and ice But I come out on the other side Of paradise.
—"In the Darkness" (The series theme song)
So Weird (1999-2001) is one of those shows that's hard to describe in such a way that doesn't make it sound like a monumentally bad idea. It is probably a testament to the skill of the actors involved that it wasn't a total disaster.Basically, it's The Partridge FamilymeetsThe X-Files (or a gender flippedSupernatural).The Phillips-Kane Band was at the height of their popularity in the late 1980s when the band unexpectedly dissolved after the untimely death of front-man Rick Phillips, who, as it happens, was also an amateur parapsychologist.We join the story In Medias Res some ten years later, several months after his widow and bandmate Molly Phillips (Mackenzie Philips of One Day At A Time) has come out of retirement and gone on tour as a soloist. Along with her are her son Jack, her faithful Roadie Ned (Dave "Squatch" Ward), his wife (who is also Molly's manager), and their sons Clu and Carey.But the focus of the show is really on Molly's 15 year old daughter, Fiona (Cara de Lizia), who is obsessed with all things supernatural. Fortunately for her, the family's road trip takes them, week after week, to adventure towns packed with mysterious goings-on.The series attempted to build a Myth Arc around Fiona's quest to connect with her father by following in his footsteps and the tension this caused with her concerned mother, but this was abandoned when Cara de Lizia left the cast after the second season. For the final season, Alexz Johnson joined the cast as Annie Thelan, a friend of the family. A new arc was developed around her own mysterious childhood involving a panther who followed her from town to town.As befits a show aimed at a younger audience, the show's view on the supernatural was never tremendously consistent. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, angels, aliens, gremlins and a number of man-made "weird stuff" were visited haphazardly, rarely with even a passing explanation.The series was complemented by a number of competent though suspiciously apropos musical performances by Mackenzie Phillips and Alexz Johnson, most notably "Another World" and "In the Darkness" (which also served as the show's theme song).As is policy for the Disney Channel, the show was cancelled after 65 episodes.Not to be confused with the children's sketch comedy show.
This series provides examples of:
Aborted Arc: With the departure of Cara deLizia in the third season, Fi's plot arc came to a premature end. For some reason, the individual arcs of all the other characters were dropped as well.
All There in the Manual: The soweird.com tie-in website had transcripts of discussions between Bricriu and his boss. People who knew about these found out about plot information before it was revealed in the show.
Ambiguously Human: In "Beeing There", there's a town of people who act like bees. It's never explained if they're bees who turned human or what. They just sell honey and entomb people in wax when they get agitated.
Astral Projection: "Escape" features a girl who leaves her body to avoid overbearing parents.
Call Back: Fi would often be seen getting advice about her case of the week by chatting online with various people we had met before, including friends from her home in Colorado, relatives, and people she had previously helped.
Enigmatic Minion: Bricriu is in league with "the powers of darkness," but is actually more or less and extremely selfish and amoral True Neutral - all he cares about is having fun. He claims that he tends to get bored with team evil since they're constantly all about "conquer and subjugate" without any real originality, so he doesn't entirely care what Fiona does. In fact, every time he appears he cryptically tells Fiona information about the deeper mysteries she is investigating and claims to be willing to help her, but then doesn't really care about leaving her to die one way or the other and more or less comes off as scheming.
Executive Meddling: The Disney Channel execs wanted something lighter for season 3. If Fi's actor had stayed, Word of God says that they would have finished her Myth Arc by having her go into Hell to save her father.
The Fair Folk: Bricriu is a textbook example - apathetic about humanity and only caring about the plans of the other spirits and, of course, his own enjoyment.
Fanservice: In one episode, Fi gets turned into a dog. She eventually transforms back... without her clothes. The camera only showed her head and shoulders, but it was still pretty daring for a Disney show.
Girl of the Week: For each character, but one subversion: though Jack's Girl of the Week is only seen once, he repeatedly mentions corresponding with her, and his absence in several episodes is explained by visits to her.
Fi was often seen chatting online with her Boy of the Week Ryan, as well as other people she had previously helped.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: Sadly, the show was not popular enough to get a DVD release, let's not even talk about a Soundtrack album... the complete series can still be found in VCR quality in torrent, the same for some individual rips of songs and an incomplete collection of more songs, with bad quality and many dialogues over the lyrics... still totally worth it.
Manipulative Bastard: Via Exact Words and Blatant Lies, Bricriu pulls this in his second appearance. He possesses Molly and then convinces Fiona that Molly is in danger of dying and that only Bricriu's presence can save her, convincing Fiona to allow him to stay in Molly's body for 24 hours. This is technically correct. He doesn't tell her that the real reason he's possessing Molly is to keep Fiona from talking to a man who knows a small fragment of the truth about how her father died, whom the spirits plan to kill (which Bricriu needs Molly's body to do) - thus keeping Molly and Fiona away from the danger, technically. Thanks to his own actions, Fiona meets the guy anyway and the climax results with Molly, Fiona, and the man trapped in a warehouse Bricriu has set on fire. After realizing that fire is dangerous to mortals, Bricriu notes that he technically kept Molly out of danger for as long as he said he would (he only said the danger should be over in 24 hours) and splits, only taking the time to lampshade the whole thing as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and give Fiona some cryptic information.
It's worth noting that Fiona figures out he's up to something worse than he claims partway through the episode, but also realizes she can't figure out what he's planning and instead resolves to try to counter it at the right moment.
Funny, since the cast was on a bus throughout the series.
Clu was also put on a bus when he left for college in the second season, but in his case The Bus Came Back for the third season.
Really 700 Years Old: The episode "Rebecca" dealt with Molly meeting a girl that looks exactly like her best friend when she was a teenager despite years passing by. The girl claims to be the daughter of Molly's friend. Turns out, it's the same girl. She says it takes her and her family a hundred years to age one year. Her family has to move around every few years to keep people from noticing, which is why Rebecca abandoned Molly. Needless to say, the episode was a Tear Jerker.
To twist the knife further? The flashback shows that the day Rebecca left was what Molly believed was her 13th birthday and made her a birthday cake and everything to surprise her. Cue her entering the house...and there's nothing in there.
Many of the Molly Phillips songs were specifically relevant to the episode in which they first appeared, especially "Rebecca" and "Love is Broken". The songs performed by Alexz Johnson were even worse, including "Push Me Pull You", which could not possibly have been written for any reason but to describe a bipolar character with magnetic superpowers.
When Jewel Staite guest starred, she sung a song called "Questions," which questioned whether anything in her life was real. Why is this surprisingly apropos? Well, start with the fact the episode was called "Siren"...
"Memory" plays with this idea, by presenting a town with everyone guarded and fearful—but it turns out that no one knows what's going on and everyone's been zapped by alien Laser-Guided Amnesia.
"Listen" involves a town where everyone develops Psychic Powers and covers up alien visitation.
"Boo" has a town where the dead rise and steal people away to the spirit world.
"Beeing There" has a town where everyone acts like bees and entomb people in wax when agitated.
The ending of "Werewolf" suggests that this is what a town will become to help a young werewolf lead a comfortable life.
Tulpa: Monster of the Week in the episode "PK (or Tulpa)". Fi meets a little boy who has created a tulpa he believes to be an imaginary friend who, though invisible to everyone else, is still capable of affecting others, becoming violent and injuring people around him.
Weirdness Magnet: It is eventually revealed that Fi, her father before her, and later Annie, act as "lightning rods" for the supernatural.