Tag Archives: The Twilight Zone

5 Things You Might Not Know About EERIE, INDIANA

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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Top 5 Underrated Santa Clauses

With Christmas just around the corner, and our episode devoted to Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer coming this Thursday (look for it on iTunes), we’ve decided to salute our Top 5 Underrated Santa Clauses. Sure Miracle on 34th Street was great, but stop hogging the spotlight Edmund Gwenn, give some other Santas a chance!

5. Douglas Seale & Oliver Clark in Ernest Saves Christmas

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Like a parasite which must find a new host once it has sucked the old one dry, so too must the spirit of Santa Claus bury itself within new flesh to renew the magic of Christmas. In 1988’s Ernest Saves Christmas, Jim Varney’s titular nitwit and a random runaway named Harmony must help an aged and doddering Santa (Douglas Seale) find somebody to take his powers before it’s too late. If they don’t then Christmas will be lost forever.

Santa has his eye on Joe Carruthers, a good-hearted former children’s television host (Oliver Clark) for the gig– but when St. Nick’s pick hesitates, Ernest must take up the reins of Santa’s sleigh in the interim and deliver all the weird glowing orbs to the good girls and boys. In the end, Carruthers comes around, putting on the suit to bring the world joy as Santa Claus for years to come (or at least until he falls from Tim Allen’s roof).

4. John Goodman in Futurama

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Who doesn’t love John Goodman? Nobody. Maybe some sort of Grinch-type character living in a mountain somewhere, but why do you care what he thinks? From Roseanne to The Big Lebowski to this year’s Argo, Goodman is one of the mostly reliably delightful actors of our time. In Futurama‘s “X-Mas Story” he voices a homicidal robot Santa in the year 3000! What’s more awesome than that?

Goodman would later reprise the role of Santa in a live-action remake of the Rankin-Bass special The Year Without a Santa Claus co-starring Delta Burke as Mrs. Claus (insert Delta Burke joke here).

3. Leslie Nielsen in All I Want For Christmas

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Clausin’ ain’t easy. There’s little glamour or glory for mall Santas, who spend the entire holiday season holding court across from the Old Navy, racing to get though each child’s list before the urine filled time-bomb on their lap goes off without warning. Then you get some precocious kid with the misguided, yet adorable, wish for her divorced parents to get back together. And that’s it, your entire weekend has gone to hell. This is why Santa drinks. Luckily for Thora Birch her local mall Santa happens to be both Leslie Nielsen and the real Santa Claus, who provides the requisite Christmas miracle to get her folks back together in All I Want for Christmas.

But how many kids from divorced families saw this movie and were given false hope they could pull off the same trick with their parents? And even if Santa did get them back together, we all know the moment the fat guy (Santa, not your dad) is up the chimney, they’d both be at each other’s throats again. Maybe you should have asked Santa for the Cabbage Patch doll after all. Nielsen once again donned the white beard for 2000’s Santa Who? in which old Saint Nick gets amnesia, and ends up wandering the streets of New York without any clue who he is or why he’s jonesing for gingerbread.

2. Ed Asner in Elf & Charles Durning in Elmo Saves Christmas

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We couldn’t choose between these two cranky character actors, so it’s a tie! First up there’s Ed Asner in Elf— casting the gruff former Lou Grant star as Jolly Old St. Nick may seem like an odd choice, but it pays off big time. Asner is both endearing and intimidating, just like the real Santa, I assume. Also Leon Redbone plays a Burl Ives-esque snowman which is pretty great.

Then there’s Charles Durning in Elmo Saves Christmas, a TV special from a time when Elmo made headlines for doing wholesome things like saving Christmas… unlike today… *cough*  Durning would go on to play Santa three more times, in Mrs. Santa Claus with Angela Lansbury, A Boyfriend for Christmas, and Mr. St. Nick starring Kelsey Grammer, presumably as Frasier Crane.

1. Art Carney in The Twilight Zone

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The Twilight Zone’s Christmas episode “Night of the Meek” is a touching story about a drunken department store Santa who actually gets to be Santa for a night! That’s right, he got to be Santa without killing him, Tim Allen! Anyways, Carney’s performance is chock-full of Yuletide pathos, enough to warrant his inclusion in the pantheon of great Santa Clauses.

Carney played Kris Kringle again in 1970’s The Great Santa Claus Switch (with The Muppets) and 1984’s The Night They Saved Christmas, which is about a ruthless oil company that threatens Santa by drilling in the North Pole! And, and, he was, of course, Chewbacca’s creepy family friend in The Star Wars Holiday Special— which makes Art Carney Christmas royalty in my book.

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Episode 18- Top 5 Christmas Episodes

TaleWe count down our top 5 Christmas-themed TV episodes! If you’ve been nice and not naughty, reward yourself with this extra long, extra long-winded episode! Our full lists are below, with links whenever available. Don’t forget to check back on Christmas Day, for a very special Christmas episode.

Episode 18- Top 5 Christmas Episodes

WARNING: the podcast contains strong language and immature subject matter, please be advised.

J.M.

5- Batman: The Animated Series- “Christmas with the Joker”

4- Fraiser- “Perspectives on Christmas”

3- Tiny Toon Adventures- “It’s a Wonderful Tiny Toons Christmas Special”/Beverly Hills 90210- “It’s a Totally Happening Life”

2- Who’s the Boss- “Christmas Card”

1- The Twilight Zone- “Night of the Meek”

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5. Night Court- “Santa Goes Downtown”

4- Space Above and Beyond- “The River of Stars”

3- The X-Files- “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”

2- Pushing Daisies- “Corpsicle”

1- Six Feet Under- “Pilot”

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5- The Real Ghostbusters- “X-Mas Marks the Spot”

4- Xena: Warrior Princess- “A Solstice Carol”

3- The X-Files- “How the Ghosts Stole Christmas”

2- Beavis and Butthead- “Beavis and Butthead do Christmas”

1-Arrested Development- “In God We Trust”

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5- The Office- “Classy Christmas”

4- Tales from the Crypt- “All Through the House”

3- The Simpsons- “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”

2- Six feet under- “Pilot”

1 West Wing- “In Excelsis Deo”

Honorable Mentions

South Park- “Mr. Hankey’s Christmas Classics”

Community- “Regional Holiday Music”

Lost- “The Constant”

Quantum Leap- “A Little Miracle”

Veronica Mars- “An Echolls Family Christmas”

Malcolm in the Middle- “Christmas Trees”

Seinfeld- “The Strike”

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