Eerie, Indiana (1991)

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If you’re reading this document, it means I’m either dead or have disappeared under mysterious circumstances. My name is Marshall Teller. Not long ago, I was living in New Jersey, just across the river from New York City. It was crowded, polluted, and full of crime. I loved it. But my parents wanted a better life for my sister and me. So we moved to a place so wholesome, so squeaky clean, you could only find it on TV. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the truth. Sure, my new hometown looks normal enough… but look again. What’s wrong with this picture? The American Dream come true, right? Wrong. Nobody believes me, but this is the center of weirdness for the entire planet:

Eerie, Indiana. My home, sweet home.

Still don’t believe me?
You will.

Eerie, Indiana debuted on NBC on September 15, 1991, two weeks before my 11th birthday. Seven months and 19 episodes later (18 really. The 19th episode didn’t air until two years later on a different network) the show was gone. I remember watching the pilot episode when it aired, and the show has stuck with me since. I managed to love Eerie, Indiana even though I had no idea that its star Omri Katz was a sex symbol for legions of 12 year old girls in the 1990s thanks to Hocus Pocus. In fact, I didn’t even see Hocus Pocus until last Halloween, and this is when I found out about the Omri lust through a lot of thirsty Hocus Pocus tweets by women in their early 30s. Despite my Omri blind-spot I was a huge fan of the show. It was a show about myth and urban legend existing in our world. This subject matter became commonplace with a flood of teen supernatural shows (including Supernatural!) in the last 20 years and also went mainstream just a couple of years after Eerie’s cancellation with the debut of The X-Files. Myth and legend was one of my favorite things to learn about when I was a child, so this was right up my alley. It also has a bit of an Adventures of Pete and Pete feel to it, another show with two boys at the center of the weirdness.

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Eerie, Indiana begins with “Foreverware,” one of the series’ most memorable episodes. This is a very tightly plotted pilot. The intro, which I quoted above, gives the viewer the premise of the show, and in the first scene Marshall introduces his family. Within the first two minutes of the show the viewer already knows what it’s about and has met all of the main characters except for one. Most pilots spend nearly all of the allotted episode time establishing this. Since this show used its time so economically it has the rest of the time to tell a story. The plot of “Foreverware” is simple: Marshall’s mom is pitched on a Tupperware like product by a woman dressed like Jackie Onassis, who has twin sons who are also dressed as if they stepped out of the past. When Mrs. Wilson and her sons leave the Foreverware party one of the twins slips Marshall a piece of paper upon which is written “Yearbook 1964.” Marshall and his sidekick Simon, the last primary character to be introduced, decide to check out the 1964 school yearbook, and in it they find a picture of the twins looking exactly as they do now, in 1991. They exclaim that this would mean that the twins are in their 30s, and this is the point where I mention that 1991 was 27 years from 1964 but it’s 29 years from current day, and I’m going to climb into my grave right now.

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Marshall and Simon discover that the reason the twins still look like children and their mom looks like Jackie O is that after Mrs. Wilson’s husband, the creator of Foreverware, died in 1964 she started sealing them and her up in giant sized Tupperware containers at night, preserving them in that state. The issue of how they breathe in airtight containers isn’t covered, nor is the rest of the science behind this and honestly it’s better just to move on. Marshall sneaks in one night and breaks open the seal for the twins, who then do the same to their mother’s container. The next morning Marshall sees two adult men who look very much like the twins putting up a for sale sign outside the house, and their now elderly mother leans out the window and calls to them.

While re-watching “Foreverware” for the article I noticed that the episode has no B or C plot. This isn’t something that would have occurred to me as a child but it really stood out here. Marshall and Simon learning the secret of the Wilson twins and helping them is the entire plot, and any ancillary characters exist to push that plot forward. It works well given that this is a show for children, since it only requires them to focus on one story. When I mentioned this to my wife she responded that most children’s shows only have an A plot, and if this is the case I’m amazed that I never noticed before. The tight plotting no doubt benefits from Joe Dante directing this and four other episodes. Dante, who Greg Orme covered when he reviewed Gremlins, was a creative consultant on the show. Dante’s involvement most likely helped make Eerie, Indiana more than just a children’s show and contributes to the well crafted weirdness of the show.

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If you like Foreverware stick with the series for Elvis later on.

Even though Eerie, Indiana came and went the show did develop a bit of a legacy later in the 1990s, when airings on Fox Kids drew enough interest to warrant a spinoff, Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension. At this time a book series was also launched and 17 titles were released. I have We Wish You An Eerie Christmas at home. I bought it on a whim last year and I’m pretty sure I haven’t actually read it.

Given that a spinoff series and book series exists some readers may not see Eerie, Indiana as a forgotten show, but I think it qualifies because it isn’t discussed unless somebody mentions it. “Oh yeah, I remember _____” is the very definition of forgotten. Whether you’re just remembering it now, have never heard of it, or still carry a torch for Omri Katz I recommend checking out the series, all of which is available on Amazon Prime. The spinoff is also on there but I haven’t seen it.

Were you a fan of Eerie, Indiana? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter

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