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Series / So Weird

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"Demons come from every side..."

In the darkness is the light
Surrender, we'll 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 is an Urban Fantasy series that ran from 1999-2001 on the Disney Channel, lasting for 65 episodes as per the network's policy.

The focus of the show is on Fiona "Fi" Phillips (Cara DeLizia), who is obsessed with all things supernatural and seems to encounter them everywhere. As the story goes, the Phillips-Kane Band, consisting of Fi's parents Rick and Molly Phillips (the latter portrayed by Mackenzie Phillips of One Day at a Time) was at the height of their popularity in the late 1980s when the band unexpectedly dissolved after the suspicious and untimely death of front-man Rick, who, as it happens, was also an amateur parapsychologist.

We join the main story some ten years later, several months after Molly has come out of retirement and gone on tour as a soloist. Along with her are her children Jack and Fi, Molly's faithful roadie Ned (Dave "Squatch" Ward), his wife Irene (who is also Molly's manager), and their sons Clu and Carey.

While fairly obscure, So Weird was notable for being darker than any other Disney series, even to date (which isn't saying much, it still had the mood and camp of a 90s Disney Channel series) The first two seasons built a Myth Arc around Fiona's quest to understand the mysterious circumstances her father was involved in before his death by following in his footsteps and the tension this caused with her concerned brother and mother, ending 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 spirit panther who followed her from town to town.

The series was complemented by a number of suspiciously apropos musical performances by Mackenzie Phillips and Alexz Johnson, such as "Another World" and "In the Darkness" (which also served as the show's theme song).

The show is notorious for languishing for numerous years without any sort of home media release, despite having a cult following and a decently strong fandom. Thankfully, after almost 16 years of being in limbo, it was announced in 2019 that it would be on Disney's streaming service Disney+.

Not to be confused with the Disney Channel's children's sketch comedy show, So Random!, nor with the Canadian fantasy series Seriously Weird.

This series provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: With the departure of Cara deLizia in the third season, Fi's plot arc about her father in the afterlife and her brother living a past life as a knight (which Rebecca, the immortal girl, knows about since she lived long enough to see him) came to an end. For some reason, the individual arcs of all the other characters were dropped as well.
  • Agent Mulder: Fi and Annie are quick to come to supernatural conclusions. They're always right.
  • Agent Scully: Jack never ever accepts supernatural conclusions. Even when Bricriu possessed him he didn't believe it.
  • All There in the Manual: The 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 humans with bee-like mannerisms due to a genetic experiment. They just sell honey, buzz around, and entomb people in wax when they get agitated.
  • Armor-Piercing Response: To get Bricriu out of Jack, Fi uses a computer to determine his true name. He tries to get her to shut off the machine by warning her of the Greater-Scope Villain, but she stands firm, so he makes a final bargain. It ultimately doesn't work, but her resolve sure takes a hit.
    Bricriu: Turn off your machine, and I'll let you speak to your father.
  • Astral Projection: "Escape" features a girl who leaves her body to avoid overbearing parents.
  • Badass Normal: Fi is a teenage girl who regularly squares off against ghosts, demons, fae, and monsters with nothing but her brains and sheer AUDACITY, and always comes out on top. Overlaps a bit with Badass Bookworm considering how many of her successes come from research and knowledge.
  • Beware the Silly Ones:
    • Bricriu enjoys hamming it up, but he is powerful, crafty and dangerous.
    • Fergus McGarrity in "Boo." He's goofy and eccentric but his plan to trap Fi and her family among the dead so he can escape is genuinely villainous and he almost succeeds.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Astrid's final question in "Troll" is a very specific one about geography, and Fi has no idea what to say. All of a sudden, her laptop starts doing an online search for the answer and then the cellphones that belonged to Astrid's previous victims start flashing it, allowing Fi to say it and win. In the last scene, she receives an email and realizes it was her father doing this.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: Fi runs into a friendly Bigfoot in "Sacrifice".
  • Bittersweet Ending: Fi's character arc, which functionally ends with the Season 3 premiere "Lightning Rod": She stops trying to contact her father's spirit and goes off to live a more normal life with her relatives. But her ring's inscription transfers to Annie, implying that she is inheriting her mantle. And while she never found out how he died or what the evil spirits wanted with him, Fi at least had a chance to say goodbye to her father and achieve some closure in the previous episode, "Twin".
  • Body Surf: As a Spunkie, Bricriu's natural form is a ball of light, and he can only communicate with others by possessing humans (at least in the first two seasons). He often comes up with tricks to try and stay inside his hosts.
  • 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.
  • Catchphrase:
    • The troll in the episode "Troll" says "my stars and garters".
    • Bricriu calls Fi "little duck".
  • Character Shilling: "Lightning Rod", the episode that introduces Annie, features multiple characters describing how cool and interesting she is, including Fi straight up saying "I like this girl!". Clearly intended to help ease the transition to the show's new lead and dynamic.
  • Chekhov's Skill: In "Boo", we learn that Carey is good at applying stage makeup, thanks to his father's time with KISS. This is what saves the main characters from being carried off by the walking dead at the end of the episode.
  • Cliffhanger: "Will o' the Wisp" ends with Fi saving Jack, but also with new questions about what became of their father and Bricriu vowing to return.
  • Clip Show: "Encore" has Molly sing songs with clips playing over the top of them. It's also an excuse to show off the music that was written and previously was used only in small sections.
  • Cool Old Guy:
    • Mr. DiFranco in "James Garr." He's dying of cancer but he's still friendly and kind, and helps entertain Carey with magic tricks while he's stuck in the hospital. This is part of why James chooses to help DiFranco and let him take his body at the episode's end.
  • Covers Always Lie: Disney+ uses apparently the least scary publicity stills they could find as the thumbnailnote  and the banner.
  • Darker and Edgier: Season 2. While it was still pretty dark compared to other Disney Channel shows, Season 1's episodes mostly had either No Antagonist or a well-intentioned Anti-Villain, and the stakes were usually relatively low. After the introduction of Bricriu in the Season 1 finale, Season 2 features much darker stories, including the ongoing Myth Arc about the Phillips family coping with Rick's loss and the evil spirits coming for them. Of particular note are episodes like "Fall," a look at a traumatic event from Ned's past with very few comedic moments, and "Strange Geometry," which sports some of the series' creepiest visuals and an emotional conflict between Molly and Fi. Even the occasional Breather Episode in this season usually has something disturbing in it. Completely reversed with Season 3, though.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • In "Angel", the mysterious man in dark clothes who causes the bus to crash and keeps haunting Fi is actually an Angel of Death and trying to tell her how to save Gabe.
    • The ghost in "Grave Mistake" is trying to tell his wife she's already dead so she can join him in the afterlife.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Ned is the primary focus of two episodes:
    • "Mutiny" is fueled by his conflicting feelings about losing Clu when he goes to college.
    • "Fall" is about Ned and a childhood friend of his facing a traumatic event from their past.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: "Escape" is about an overachieving high school girl named Claire who finds relief from her stressful life through astral projection, leaving her body and putting it in danger. It's a pretty clear metaphor for drug use, especially when Fi asks Claire if her parents know about what she does.
  • Empty Shell: James Garr, after losing his soul, is just a body walking around without anything personal essence inside it. That's why he speaks in the third person.
  • Enigmatic Minion: Bricriu is in league with "the powers of darkness", but is more or less an extremely selfish and amoral Chaotic 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 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. invoked
  • Exact Words: To beat Astrid the troll, Fi must answer seven questions in a row correctly. The penultimate question asks who lost the Republican nomination to Dwight D. Eisenhower. With no clue of the candidate's name, Fi sheepishly responds with "Another Republican?" A frustrated Astrid admits that's technically correct, due to how the question was worded. As such, the final question has no such loophole.
  • The Fair Folk: Bricriu is a textbook example - apathetic about humanity and caring only about the plans of the other spirits and, of course, his own enjoyment.
  • Formula-Breaking Episode: "Encore" is an entire episode devoted to a Molly Phillips concert.
  • Genius Bruiser: Ned is a Big Guy who's toured with KISS, an experienced roadie, and Molly's main bus driver, but he's also the resident teacher and Team Dad (in addition to being Carey and Clu's actual dad). Several episodes feature Ned educating the children or giving them assignments, and he's shown to have a keen interest in history.
  • Girl of the Week: Two aversions:
    • Though Jack's Girl of the Week is seen only once, he repeatedly mentions corresponding with her, and his absence in several episodes is explained by visits to her. She can also be seen chatting with Fi online on occasion.
    • Fi was often seen chatting online with Ryan, as well as other people she had previously helped.
  • Great Gazoo: Bricriu, who is a Will-o'-the-Wisp, and both knowledgable and powerful.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Bricriu hints that Fi's father was messing with some beings from the spirit world and they were the ones that killed him.
  • The Greys: Most of the aliens seen throughout the show are of this variety; short and grey and the strange fingers etc.
  • Guile Hero: Fi's greatest weapon against the supernatural baddies she encounters is her wits.
    • In Bricriu's first two appearances she outsmarts him. In the first she figured out his name and in the second, 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.
    • Fiona's battle with the troll in the episode "Troll" was a Battle of Wits and knowledge.
  • Halloween Episode: "Boo" from Season 2. The group spends the night in Rhiannon, where the spirits of the town's ancestors rise up every Halloween and roam about. Worse, they always take at least one living person back to the spirit world for a year, which is why any living locals either skip town or hole up in a special sanctuary. Fergus McGarrity already did his time, and he intends for Fi and the others to take his place.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jordan in "Avatar" and the video game inventor in "Banglebye". Molly and Annie are able to talk them around to the good side.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Clu often comes across as The Ditz and a Dumbass Teenage Son, especially in the first season, but he's also more willing to believe Fi and help with her investigations. In "Singularity", he suggests using Fi's camera to track the lost baseball and helps her find the time warp, and in "Drive" he helps her figure out where their sentient car is trying to go. In Season 3 he starts majoring in philosophy in college, leading him to spout many an Ice-Cream Koan.
    • Jack is usually a Deadpan Snarker but he has a sensitive side, too. He sings to the baby in "Changeling" and actually gets him to go to sleep, and in Season 3 he takes up an interest in photography.
  • Human Aliens: The aliens in "Earth 101" that want to investigate the significance of Thanksgiving.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Rebecca suffers from this, as she feels that her family's unnatural longevity is a curse
  • I Know Your True Name: Bricriu can be banished by those who know his name. He can become exempt from this by convincing a person to let him stay for a fixed period of time.
  • It Amused Me: Bricriu, particularly in his first appearance, does what he does for shits and giggles.
  • I Want My Mommy!: After being lured into a trap by demonic forces leaving her messages while posing as her dad in "Twin", Fi is pushed off the side of a building by them. While hanging on for dear life, she calls out to Molly, "Help, Mom, I'm gonna fall." Molly while in the middle of a performance on the other side of town is able to hear her. Likewise she is also able to intuit that Rick was able to come back from the other side to save their daughter.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jack is a stubborn Agent Scully and often refuses to believe his sister, but he loves her and will stand up for her. In Season 3, he has a similar attitude to Annie but still cares about her.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: As the show's resident Agent Scully, Jack is an unreasonably stubborn skeptic, but in some episodes he makes a fair argument against a supernatural explanation. In "Listen" he cites evidence of crop circle hoaxes from the news and in "Roswell" he points out that theories about government UFO cover-ups have been debunked.
  • Karma Houdini: A lot of the villains were never really punished.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Bricriu. He may be a Large Ham Reality Warper who makes plenty of goofy remarks, but he's also the first genuinely villainous antagonist that Fi faces and his debut episode, "Will-o-the-Wisp", marks the point where the show starts to get Darker and Edgier. Averted with his final appearance, though.
  • Large Ham: Bricriu loves overacting. He needed Fi to teach him how to pretend to be Jack because his natural energy was a contrast to the boy's dry apathy.
  • Light Is Not Good: Bricriu's true form is a dazzling ball of light that often entrances his victims so he can possess them and cause havoc.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: "Avatar" has Fi in only a couple scenes. The rest focuses on Molly, Jack and Carey.
  • Magically-Binding Contract: The Fair Folk are subject to these, which Fiona exploits to get rid of Bricriu.
  • Mama Bear: Despite her skepticism of the paranormal, Molly is devoted to her kids and won't hesitate to protect them. She rushes to help Fi in "Strange Geometry" and stands up to Jordan in "Avatar." In "Fathom", Lal's hostile behavior toward Jack is what finally convinces Molly to dump him.
  • 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.
  • Mental Time Travel: The Christmas Episode "Fountain" has a mysteriously kind soda jerk, "Nick", serve Fi a hot chocolate that allows her to relive past Christmases, including one in which a baby Fi dances with her father.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Lal in "Fathom" is a muscular, good-looking (mer)man shown shirtless multiple times. It's not surprising we catch Molly Eating the Eye Candy.
  • Myth Arc
    • The first one centered around Fiona and her investigation of her father's death.
    • The second was about Annie, her childhood, and her spirit panther Guardian Entity.
  • No Antagonist: This was the case in many episodes, though there were plenty of others where it wasn't (villains were more common in Season 2).
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed:
    • The Phillips-Kane Band is rather conspicuously based on The Mamas & the Papas and Wilson Phillips, right down to their name and invoked Mackenzie Phillips playing the mom.
    • British rock guitarist John Kane's pageboy haircut and stage moves are heavily reminiscent of Mick Jagger, although the rest of his character is quite different.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder: In the 2nd-season episode Banshee, Fi fears a banshee is calling for her Grandfather's death.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: They were, in fact, a nationwide student tutoring group.
  • Out of Focus: "Fathom" while Fi delivers the opening narration on merfolk, she has nothing to do with the supernatural in the episode, as she is instead focused on studying for an upcoming exam. Instead Jack is the one doing the sleuthing when he comes to realize that Molly's new beau is a merman, someone Fi doesn't even meet.
  • Parent with New Paramour: "Fathom" deals with Molly meeting and forming an interest in a handsome man named Lal Nereus, the first man she's shown attraction to since Rick's death. The episode deals with the unease Jack feels with Molly dating again, which turns out to be justified as Jack learns that Lal is actually a merman, who wants to take Molly back to the ocean with him. However after seeing how much Molly loves her kids, Lal decides against showing his true self to her and leaving her behind when he returns to the sea.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Fiona leaves the main cast to live with other family members, It's ironic, 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.
  • Rage Against the Heavens: When a banshee brings Fi face-to-"face" with the supernatural force that decides when people die, not only does Fi demand that her ill grandfather be spared but she also demands to know how taking a father away from her when she was three was fair. They accede to her first request, but claim they were not responsible for the second.
  • 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. 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 it's empty.
  • Sadistic Choice: When facing Bricriu the first time, Fi is faced with this at the last moment. She can either drive him out to save Jack or talk to her father.
  • Science Is Bad: "Simplicity" stars a town inhabited by tiny gremlins that believe this trope. They shut down any and all forms of electrical machinery within their territory, including cars passing through. The Phillipses escape by pretending to agree with them long enough to get out.
  • Shapeshifting Excludes Clothing: In "Shelter", the Mad Scientist had Fi who was turned into a dog drink the antidote without reminding her she doesn't have clothes on. She eventually transforms back... naked. (The camera showed only her head and shoulders, but it was still pretty daring for a Disney show.)
    • Laura in "Werewolf", but Fi pulls You Must Be Cold, so nothing out of the ordinary is visible.
  • Significant Wardrobe Shift: Most of the main cast gets hit with this in Season 3, wearing brighter, more colorful clothes to reflect the Lighter and Softer tone of the show. Also seen in the colorful sets, especially the new Phillips house and the school Annie and Jack go to.
  • The Soulless: James Garr, a man cryogenically frozen, has his soul leave him while frozen. When he wakes up, he's an Empty Shell.
  • Suppressed Mammaries: Averted - No attempt was made to hide Cara Delizia's rather ample bust. Thankfully, attention was not drawn to it, either.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Annie for Fiona; a teenage girl that has a great interest in the supernatural and in protecting Muggles from the nastier elements in them.
    • Carey for Clu in the second season. He performs basically the same function as his younger brother and inherits his Big Eater and The Ditz characteristics but is arguably even dumber.
  • Spirit Advisor: Annie's panther follows her around, providing her guidance and protection.
  • Teens Are Short: Fi is noticeably shorter than than Jack, Clu and Carey (not even coming up to Clu's shoulders and barely as tall as Carey's chest). Some younger guest characters are about her height.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Implied by Bricriu to be why Fi and Jack's father died. He went looking into things that beings in the spirit world wanted left alone.
  • Third-Person Person: James Garr, a man who continues to live after his soul leaves him, refers to himself as his full designation, not really being a person anymore.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Tad Raxall, the Cloud Cuckoolander tech company owner, is something of an irritating Anti-Villain in his first appearance, but he's much friendlier and helpful when he returns in "Oopa." He even goes on a date with Molly that goes pretty well until the episode's antagonists show up.
  • Truly Single Parent: In one episode Fi meets a boy who is a clone of his scientist father.
  • Town with a Dark Secret: The show is fond of this one.
    • "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, though far more heartwarming as it comes from a sense of community.
  • Tulpa: Monster of the Week in the episode "PK (or Tulpa)". Fi meets a little boy who has created a tulpa that he believes to be an imaginary friend. Though invisible to everyone else, it is still capable of affecting others, becoming violent and injuring people around him.
  • A Very Special Episode: The plot of "Babble" is largely about dyslexia and has multiple scenes where characters explain what it is. Molly also reveals that she struggles with it.
  • Villain Decay: In his first two appearances, Bricriu is a genuine threat who comes close to hurting Fi's family. In his final appearance, he gets trapped in Fi's computer and she defeats him by...saving him to a disk.
  • We Will Meet Again: "Will o' the Wisp" ends with Bricriu telling Fi that he will be back.
  • Weirdness Magnet: It is eventually revealed that Fi, her father before her, and later Annie, act as "lightning rods" for the supernatural.
  • Wham Episode: The episodes that delve into Rick's death and its impact on Fi tend to be this:
    • "Will-o-the-Wisp" introduces Bricriu and puts Jack and Fi in serious danger for the first time.
    • "Strange Geometry" features a big revelation about Rick's character and leads to a temporary rift between Fi and Molly.
    • "Destiny" has the return of Bricriu, some hints at the evil spirits threatening Fi's family, and another important reveal about Rick, this time pertaining to his death.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Most creatures Fi and family encounter are benign, but those that aren't have no qualms about targeting preteens/teenagers as they go after the main characters. The most notable example being the vampires who target Jack, who is barely old enough to get his driver's license.