Many young children can be afraid of the dark. However, mostly it's just due to their imagination. Such as in Cindy Brady's case, with the "Lights Out".
It's nighttime, and everybody's sleeping in the Brady house. Except for little Cindy, who has had her eyes open the whole time. She then gets out of bed and turns on the light before going back to bed, annoying her older sisters, because she suddenly "can't sleep with the light off." Marcia simply turns the light off, to which Cindy turns it back on again. A commotion breaks out before Mike shows up to see what the matter is.
Cindy says that she's scared. When Mike and Carol ask her why, Cindy explains: She was at a friend's birthday party where there was a magician's act, with the "disappearing lady" act as the highlight. Cindy had only seen the part where the woman was made to disappear, and frightened by what she saw, and apparently ran out of the room before the woman was made to "reappear," which she says she did after Carol tries to explain the act's resolution. Her parents allow Cindy to sleep with them for one night, reassuring her there was nothing to be scared of even with the lights off, but Cindy won't go to sleep until being promised this will be a "lights on" night.
As it takes a while for Cindy to fall asleep, the next day Mike comes home early from the office, struggling to stay awake. Before he can take a much-needed nap, Peter comes home, announcing he had signed up for an old-time vaudeville show at his school, and that he plans to do a magic act. Mike agrees to this, especially since Cindy would see the rehearsals and how the magic tricks work, and that would put her mind at ease. A few evenings later, with several magic tricks in his repertoire, Cindy is in the audience along with her parents and Alice. Cindy eventually catches on that there is indeed nothing to worry about and agrees to become Peter's assistant.
Things seem to be rolling along smoothly, and a successful act is in the making ... until ...
... one afternoon when Peter wants to try the "disappearing lady" act. Cindy is afraid, but Peter thinks that by showing her how it works — the box having a hidden door, and then the cues to re-enter the door and "reappear" — it might reassure her. Peter had already volunteered Bobby, who just wants to be a wiseguy and is clearly annoyed by having to help out. But he agrees, and the first half of the act goes well. When Peter tries the "reappear" half of the act, Bobby fails to return. At first, Peter (and Jan, who was also helping with part of the act) think that Bobby just forgot his cue, but when it becomes clear he is being stubborn and doesn't want to "reappear," Cindy runs off in tears. When Mike comes home, Bobby all of a sudden "reappears." Everyone is clearly not amused by Bobby's idea of a joke (especially since it is presumed he knew that Cindy had recently been frightened by magic) and Mike drags Bobby inside to apologize to a shaken Cindy. While Cindy accepts the apology, she is still so shaken that she quits, and after volunteering Jan to take her place, announces that she'd like to sleep with the lights on again.
Comes the day of the vaudeville show, when another boy is performing his accordion act (and boring the judges out of their minds), Mike and Peter wait anxiously for Jan to show up. At home, Cindy takes a call from school — it's Jan, who twisted her ankle in gym class and clearly is in no condition to perform. Peter tries gamely to show off some of his magic tricks and stall for time.
Just when it appears this panel of hard-to-please judges will scratch Peter's from the final lineup of acts, Alice and Cindy walk in. Cindy realizes she had to face her fear, swallow it and help her big brother Peter in his time of need. And without even thinking about the outcome of the "disappearing lady" act, she successfully gets through the act. In fact, the "disappearing lady" act was so much fun, she wants to do it again ... and it is safely assumed Peter is penciled in as the main event of the vaudeville show!
Tropes present in this episode:
- Dude, Not Funny!: Bobby gets an earful from the rest of the family, especially Mike, for pranking Cindy.
- Fleeting Passionate Hobby: Peter's interest in magic, for a school variety show.
- Lovely Assistant: Cindy at first, then when she quits Jan takes over until she twists her ankle in gym class, forcing Cindy to decide whether to salvage her brother's act.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Bobby's mischievous joke, though without malicious intent, only makes Cindy's fear of magic worse and prompts her to quit as Peter's assistant.
- Nightmare Fuel: In-universe. For Cindy, it's seeing the "disappearing lady" trick at a magic show ... to the point where she refuses to sleep at night without the lights on.
- Oh, Crap!: Likely Bobby's reaction when he heard his father coming home and Peter and Jan explaining that Bobby had run off intentionally.
- Paranoia Fuel: In-universe, Bobby's thoughtless act of disappearing behind the garage when helping Peter demonstrate the "disappearing lady" trick, to play a "joke" on Cindy particularly when he knew that Cindy was frightened out of her wits over this, only makes things worse for the littlest Brady.