|Are You Afraid of the Dark?|
The Are You Afraid of the Dark? title card
|Created by||D.J. MacHale|
|Directed by||David Winning|
|Starring||(see List of Are You Afraid of the Dark? Cast members)|
|Country of origin|| Canada
|No. of seasons||7|
|No. of episodes||91 (List of episodes)|
|Executive producer(s)||D.J. MacHale|
|Running time||22 mins/episode|
|Original channel|| YTV & Radio-Canada
|Original run||October 31, 1990 – April 20, 1996 & February 6, 1999 - June 11, 2000|
Are You Afraid of the Dark? is a Canadian-American horror/fantasy-themed children's television series. The original series was a joint production between the Canadian companies YTV and Cinar, and the American company Nickelodeon. The show was filmed in Richmond, British Columbia and Montreal, Quebec. The episode "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" was aired as a pilot on the evening of October 31, 1991 in the USA and more than a year earlier in October 1990 in Canada. Are You Afraid of the Dark? was aired from August 15, 1992 to April 20, 1996 on Nickelodeon's SNICK. A revived series with new directors, writers, and cast was produced by Nickelodeon from 1999 to 2000 and also played on SNICK. The sole member from the original lineup to return for the 6th and 7th seasons was Tucker (Daniel DeSanto), although Ross Hull returned for the concluding miniseries, which notably broke from the show's established format by blurring the line between story and reality. Reruns of the series have since been broadcast internationally, including airings in the United Kingdom, Republic of Ireland, Australia, Brazil, Argentina, Peru, Spain, Italy, Venezuela, France, South Korea, Japan, Chile, Hong Kong, the Czech Republic, Norway and the Philippines. SciFi veteran David Winning directed ten episodes, including "Tale of the Dream Girl", "Tale of the Shiny Red Bicycle" and "Tale of the Long Ago Locket". The show had re-runs on The N and Nicktoons Network on October 20, 2008. This show is rated TV-Y7-FV in the United States.
Both series of Are You Afraid of the Dark? revolved around a group of teenagers who referred to themselves as "The Midnight Society". Every week, at a secret location in the woods, one member would tell a scary story to the group. The actual story, rather than the telling, was displayed to the television viewer. The story was shown between the group's arrival at the site and their departure. Each storyteller would begin their story by saying "Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society, I call this story..." at which point they would toss out a handful of potassium nitrate (which the characters referred to as "dust") from a leather pouch into a campfire to heighten the flames and produce an eerie white smoke. The storyteller would continue by announcing its title (The Tale of...).
The themes of the stories usually revolved around a variety of paranormal phenomena, such as ghosts, goblins, magic, Dragons, haunted houses, magical curses, aliens, witches and the like coming into contact with normal teenagers. Usually, the episodes were either filmed in the woods, in abandoned houses, or in public places like schools or libraries.
Sources of these tales varied in different ways; many were adaptations of public domain fairytales and short stories or urban legends. For example, "The Tale of the Twisted Claw" is considered to be an adaptation of W.W. Jacobs' legendary short story "The Monkey's Paw".
Sometimes, the stories were inspired by a certain event in the life of the storyteller. In "The Tale of the Crimson Clown", for instance, Tucker blackmailed his brother Gary with a poem he had found, which Gary had written for Samantha. Gary then told a story in which a naughty younger brother was punished cruelly for his evil deeds. At the end of the episode, Tucker gave the poem back to his brother.
Something worth noting about Are You Afraid of the Dark? is the manner in which the stories often ended. Many of the horror stories on the show ended with a "happy ending"; for example, in the episode "The Tale of the Lonely Ghost," a dead child and her elderly mother are reunited. Nearly every story focused on ending with a resolution and the main character's safe escape from whatever trouble had come upon them.
On a few rare occasions, the story deviated from this formula, for instance in "The Tale of the Wisdom Glass," "The Tale of Vampire Town," "The Tale of the Nightly Neighbors," "The Tale of the Pinball Wizard," "The Tale of the Chameleons" and "The Tale of the Super Specs".
At the end of most episodes, one character (usually Gary in the first run and Tucker in the second run of the show) would throw a red bucket of water onto the fire, stating "I declare this meeting of the Midnight Society closed," and the group would leave the campsite, thus ending the storytelling. Sometimes, the story would be related to an event (e.g. in "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark," Kristen, who was afraid of clowns, ran off when Eric put on a clown mask. Then, everyone chased after her). This would cause Gary/Tucker to hurriedly dump the water on the fire and the Midnight Society would run off to wherever they go after meetings.
|Ross Hull||Gary||1991 – 1996 (also appeared in "The Tale of the Silver Sight", 3 episodes, in 2000)|
|Raine Pare-Coull||Betty Ann||1991 – 1996|
|Jodie Resther||Kiki||1991 – 1996|
|Jason Alisharan||Frank||1991 – 1995|
|Daniel DeSanto||Tucker||1993 – 2000|
|Joanna García||Samantha||1993 – 1996|
|Rachel Blanchard||Kristen||1991 – 1993|
|Nathaniel Moreau||David||1991 – 1993|
|Codie Wilbee||Stig||1995 – 1996|
|Jacob Tierney||Eric||1991 – 1992|
|Kareem Blackwell||Quinn||1999 – 2000|
|Elisha Cuthbert||Megan||1999 – 2000|
|Vanessa Lengies||Vange||1999 – 2000|
|Daniel DeSanto||Tucker||1999 – 2000|
|David Deveau||Andy||1999 – 2000|
One of the more significant recurring characters was Sardo (Richard Dumont), owner of "Sardo's Magic Mansion" (a magic shop). He would often attempt to sell a character a "prized" item, rarely succeeding. He often had items in his shop that contained real properties of magic, yet did not know until it was revealed in the story. One of the most memorable recurring jokes in the series occurred when someone would address him as "Mr. Sardo". He would then get irritated and exclaim: "That's SarDO! No 'mister'; accent on the 'doh'!" Additionally, when selling someone an item, he would often ask a rather high price. The main character would mention how much money they had, and Sardo would grab the money saying, "Alright! But I'm losing on the deal." Although he rarely got what he wanted, he would often end up helping the characters, often intentionally. He appeared in Gary's stories although in the later episodes, he appeared in a few of Tucker's, and one of David's in "The Tale Of The Dark Dragon".
Another recurring character was Dr. Vink (Aron Tager). He was a physically imposing man who would often appear as a mad scientist, sorcerer, and the like. When he enters, he introduces himself by saying, "Vink's the name. Dr. Vink." He would also get his name mispronounced, usually something like "Dr. Fink?" When this happened, he would respond "Vink. With a va-va-va.". Often, the protagonist would call him a "nutbag" behind his back, assuming he could not hear him, only to have him reply later, "...and I am not a nutbag." He appeared in Frank's stories. Aron Tager also played the carnival worker who stands in front of the Funhouse and invites people to go inside in "The Tale of the Laughing in the Dark". Both of these characters appear in the double episode "The Tale of Cutter's Treasure" (which was told by both Frank and Gary) where they help the main characters defeat the ghost of Jonas Cutter.
The character of Zeebo the Clown who appeared in "The Tale of Laughing in the Dark" is referenced in several other stories i.e. in "The Tale of the Whispering Walls", two children mention seeing him at a fun park, in "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror", a girl says she will look like Zeebo if she wears too much lipstick, and in "The Tale of the Crimson Clown" in the boys room a video game called Zeebo's Big House can be seen on the desk with a picture of Zeebo on it as the title character. The video game was also mentioned in the episode called "The Tale of Train Magic". In "The Tale of the Night Shift", the janitor kid is called Zeebo by his supervisor a few times near the beginning of the episode.
Although not nearly as prestigious as the guest stars of similar shows such as Tales from the Crypt and The Twilight Zone, there were a fair number of notable actors appearing (most before their rise to fame). Some of these include Mia Kirshner, Bobcat Goldthwait, Charles S. Dutton, Ryan Gosling, Neve Campbell, Melissa Joan Hart, Kim Schraner, Laura Bertram, Frank Gorshin, Hayden Christensen, Daniel Clark, Ryan Cooley, Tia Mowry, Tamera Mowry, Laura Vandervoort, Jay Baruchel, Jewel Staite, Emmanuelle Chriqui, Gilbert Gottfried, Will Friedle, Jennifer Finnigan, Tatyana Ali, Jennifer Irwin, Aaron Ashmore, Eddie Kaye Thomas, Gregory Smith, and Harold Howard.
Direct Source has released all 7 seasons of Are You Afraid of the Dark? on DVD in Region 1. The first 5 seasons were released in Canada only while season 6 & 7 are available in Canada and the US. Only seasons 1, 2, 3 and 4 are available on DVD in Region 2 (Europe)
|DVD Name||Ep#||Release Date||Bonus Features|
|The Complete 1st Season||13||April 18, 2006||Episode Synopses|
|The Complete 2nd Season||13||November 28, 2006||Episode Synopses|
|The Complete 3rd Season||13||April 24, 2007||Episode Synopses|
|The Complete 4th Season||13||November 13, 2007||Episode Synopses|
|The Complete 5th Season||13||February 26, 2008||Episode Synopses|
|The Complete 6th Season||13||April 29, 2008||Episode Synopses, Season 6 Photo Gallery|
|The Complete 7th Season||13||August 19, 2008||Where Are They Now?: The Stars of Are You Afraid Of The Dark?|
|DVD Name||Release Date||# of Episodes||Bonus Features|
|Are You Afraid of the Dark? - Freaky Favorites||October 24, 2006||8||Episode Synopses|
Direct Source has also released a joint collection of Season 1 & Season 2/Season 3 & Season 4 as a boxset.