Just to do a solid for a fellow Dreaditor, I’m jumping into the third episode of the fifth season of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, because, well, the great and (simultaneously) annoying, Gilbert Gottfried makes an appearance. Why the hell not?
Early on we meet a complete tool bag of a kid – we’re talking true bully bag right here, and guess who plays him? A young Ryan Gosling. Yeah, I didn’t see that coming either. Little Ryan coerces his super geek kid brother to jump into a hearse where he tricks him into believing he’s fallen into a nightmare. Little Ryan, or Jamie, as he’s actually named in the episode, hooks a battery up to the car and the stereo comes to life in a broken blare. It scares the hell out of the kid. And then something strange happens. The dial shifts, to 109.1 and we begin hearing disembodied voices (I swear one of those voices sounds like Vincent Price) sounding random and confused.
Later, Chris’ curiosity begins to get the best of him, and he begins attempting to unearth some kind of information about the mysterious station 109.1. But along the way, he runs into a small mob of discombobulated senior citizens in need of direction. Interestingly enough, Jamie ran into a random elderly man asking for directions just moments after pulling his prank.
We’ve got some fine tension building, and although the idea of the story feels similar to an old Twilight Zone episode, the name of which is evading my memory, it gets a nice semi-modern twist and then the show stealer himself, Gilbert Gottfried. We’ll call him the doorman, although he seems to boast a great degree of knowledge… beneath that nasally maniacal laugh we all know as the Gottfried Gackle, produced only by Gilbert Gottfried. The door man has some news, it seems Jamie’s prank may have been successful in a way he hadn’t intended… is Chris dead?!
Queue the dramatic horns… and on cue we get a church scene with dramatic horns blaring in the background. Kid you not. That’s how amazing this show was. Hot damn!
The episode’s final moments show us the motives of the doorman (or Roy, or the 109.1 disc jockey, or whatever you choose to call him). He’s basically just there to guide the souls of the dead to their final departure, whether they’re eager to get there or not.
Irony plays as the ultimate deal breaker in the story, as the same techie geekdom that had earned Chris his brother’s torture, will be forced into play and needed to be used to help bring his brother back and save him (maybe this kid shouldn’t have been so quick to pick on Chris). This is the shining moment of the episode, technically speaking. It shows a refined ability to appeal to the darker side of children while placing them in the center of a karmic statement that may not be so evident to a young mind. This is sharper than any performance we get, or camera maneuvers made while shooting.
This is a fun episode, and it not only makes you think for a very brief moment, it actually has a few harrowing sequences, believe it or not; it’s darker than was sometimes explored by Are You Afraid of the Dark? That said, the comedy that Gottfried alters the entire tone and injects an energy that helps lighten things up.
Did I mention that it’s kind of hard not to crack up staring at a 14 year old Ryan Gosling? Plenty of cheese is included and a couple visuals are cringe-worthy, but all in all, it’s a successful episode and I can not only understand, but respect why some still have it tucked away in their memory banks.