by J.M. McNab
In conjunction with this week’s podcast about Eerie, Indiana we’ve compiled five facts that you may not know about the cult show:
5. Tobey Maguire Played a Ghost
Before Tobey Maguire learned the Cider House Rules (which were about abortion or something) or re-invigorated then later ruined Spider-Man, he starred in an episode of Eerie, Indiana. In “The Dead Letter” Maguire plays an old-timey clothes-wearing ghost who enlists Marshall’s help in delivering a love letter to his former sweetheart. In a scene that is both touching and creepy, the young man is reunited with his love who is now a haggard old woman– it’s like a scene from Harold and Maude, or Madonna’s life.
4. The Show’s Co-Creator Also Wrote The Motorcycle Diaries
After Eerie, Indiana was cancelled, Jose Rivera (who co-created the show with Karl Schaefer) wrote the screenplay for the acclaimed film The Motorcycle Diaries. While the exploits of the famous Argentine revolutionary and noted T-Shirt logo model Che Guevara might seem like quite a departure from depicting children battling werewolves and zombies, it might interest you to know that Rivera began his career as a celebrated playwright. He also wrote for Family Matters, but you probably find that less impressive.
3. They Rebooted the Show Six Years Later
With the original show finding a new audience through syndication and a series of novelizations, a reboot of the original concept (that could also be considered a spin-off because it’s technically another dimension) was produced. In Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension, the original protagonists Marshall and Simon were replaced by their Bizzaro-world equivalents Mitchell and Stanley, played, of course, by entirely different actors. Sadly even the alternate universe iteration of the show lasted only one season.
2. Bob Balaban Directed Several Episodes
While famed director Joe Dante acted as a consultant for the show, and directed many episodes himself, another name you might recognize contributed heavily to Eerie, Indiana. Bob Balaban, who people know mainly for his acting roles in Christopher Guest’s films, Seinfeld, and Gosford Park, just to name a few. But Balaban is also an accomplished director, having helmed feature films such as the insane and underrated Parents, as well as My Boyfriend’s Back, the zombie romantic comedy that came out way, way before that sort of thing became trendy. He has also leant his cinematic chops to a myriad of TV programs including Oz and Tales From the Darkside. He directed three of the nineteen episodes of Eerie, Indiana.
1. It Had the Craziest Final Episode of All Time
Most TV shows try to up their game for the final episode, whether it’s Bob Newhart waking up in bed with his former TV wife, or Breaking Bad doing a bunch of things we’re not allowed to freely talk about on the internet yet. Even shows like The Prisoner or Lost that steered their finales firmly into the surreal didn’t have the chutzpah to do what Eerie, Indiana did. In a sly nod to The Twilight Zone episode “A World of Difference” Marshall discovers a script for a show called “Eerie, Indiana” and suddenly finds himself on the set of a TV show where his entire reality is revealled to be a fiction. His parents and friends are all actors and refer to him as “Omri Katz” (the name of the actor who plays Marshall). It’s probably the most existentially disturbing finale of any TV show, let alone a one intended for kids.