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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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Still afraid of the dark

Nickelodeon’s famous horror/fantasy series, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, is receiving a reboot of sorts via the iTunes online market, and just in time for the year’s spookiest holiday.
Anyone who lived during the heyday of youth broadcasting and had cable knows Nickelodeon as a front for some of the most popular shows for anyone not yet in high school. Animated cartoons like Rocko’s Modern Life, Doug, Rugrats, and the short-lived Ren and Stimpy found massive audiences and positive ratings. These programs filled the after-school-hours slots where children would rush off the bus and to the TV for even just a rerun of their favorites.
For the later slots though, as evening came and some of the younger children either tuned out or were herded off to bed, Nickelodeon aired a live-action program with a decidedly grim and dark edge for a network known for anthropomorphic talking animals and bright colors.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? brought the classic motif of ghost stories told around the campfire to the screen in an attempt to deliver visceral terror to a generation accustomed to happy endings, lighthearted shenanigans and pleasant dreams. It revolved around a group of middle school friends who would meet in the woods and take turns telling stories.
They called themselves the “Midnight Society”, and after announcing the name of their frightening tale, would scatter dust upon the fire while the screen displayed the shows title. There upon the camera would cut to the story being told, and the episode would conclude with the members extinguishing the fire and leaving until the next meeting.
“I remember thinking how cool of an idea the show was when it came out,” said T.D. Durham, senior English major. “I loved scary movies as a kid, but my parents never let me watch them. This was exactly what I needed.”
For the reasonable price of $1.99 each, the public can purchase seven episodes from the first and second seasons, or for $11.99 one can own all seven in bulk. The selected episodes are either fan favorites or those that received the highest ratings during its original airtime.
Some of the episodes featured include “The Tale of Laughing in the Dark,” “The Tale of the Midnight Madness,” and the infamous “The Tale of the Dead Man’s Float.” ITunes labels the package “Volume 1” which means a second installment of episodes will most likely debut on the online market in the future.
Watching Are you Afraid after so many years is instant nostalgia. The opening theme song, with its eerie chimes and deep toning immediately reminds the viewer, if he or she is a Nickelodeon veteran, of the innocent thrill each episode brought.
The teenagers of the Midnight Society prove examples of early ’90s nostalgia in and of themselves. Complete in their acid-wash jeans, large baggy Goodwill military coats and unanimously dated hair styles, viewers will either chuckle at fond remembrance of a style of dress twenty years out of use, or be taken aback that anyone would dress themselves in such a manner.
“I don’t think I ever dressed that way,” said Wyatt Beavers, senior Computer Science Major. “I guess I thought that was what cool kids wore.”
The cast is plucky and likable and they establish relationships among themselves in the scant minutes before and after each tale allowed to them by the show’s structure. The Midnight Society boasts a fairly even gender ratio, although each boy and girl seems to harbor some level of a crush on another member. It’s innocent enough for children’s television, but still hints at the tumultuous social situations faced by teenagers of that certain age.
The show itself may not be considered quality by present standards, but the timeless quality of the ghost story helps it survive the decades since its original airing. Any long time fans of the show will bear through the sometimes stale and hackneyed dialogue and occasionally decidedly poor cinematography for a large dose of nostalgia, but those who have never watched can still find entertainment and charm in the plight of children scaring each other for fun.
“Would it scare me now? Probably not.” said Chase Farmer, freshman Computer Science major. “I won’t lie that it scared me on occasion when I was a kid, but hopefully I’m harder to frighten now.”
You can find the episodes online through the iTunes market, but you must have an iTunes account to purchase. Simply search for “Are You Afraid of the Dark”, and you can choose individual episodes or buy the bundle. If you are looking for a more easy going way to get your spooky kicks this Hallowed Eve this might be the perfect buy.

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