Are You Afraid of the Dark? – “The Tale of the Vacant Lot”

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Here we go with another video recap. They’re hella fun to write and I highly recommend that everyone try to do at least one a week. In my case, I have found that they are an excellent way to get my natural snark out of my system in a productive way. I spend the rest of the week not feeling quite as compelled to make sarcastic comments. I’m a lot like Eminem that way–I take my aggression and channel into my art or whatever. But instead of writing hard-hitting rap lyrics, I snark children’s television shows from the 90s.

To each their own, right?

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So this ep starts out with the members of the Midnight Society gathered around the fire, playing a totally non-sexy game of show-and-tell. Most of them have some really cool shit with them tonight–Gary (who is normally a lame-ass) has a sweet autographed pic of Houdini, Betty Ann has a collection of Poe poems published in the 1800s, Tucker has a mint-condition Hank Aaron rookie card, and Sam has… um… an old bracelet from her non-famous great-grandma.

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Well, at least she’s pretty.

The only person who didn’t bring anything is Stig, the tough chubby kid. The others give him a hard time about it, then he threatens to shiv Gary in the face, so they back off.

The point of this whole exercise to underscore the point of Kiki’s story… that every item has a personal value that makes it seem priceless, except maybe when you’re trading it for your life. Bam bum BUM!

This story is about Katherine, a pretty ginger girl who complains about feeling totally average and unnoticed. She tries her best to shine during track try-outs, but it never quite works out. Here she is just after tripping on… umm… the ground.

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After practice, she dons a sexy bowler hat and laments to her little sister that this is just “another average performance by average Kat.” Homegirl, I don’t think that revealing your butt-cheeks in front of your team mates is “average,” ok? I think it’s extraordinary. You know who else might like it, too?

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Awww, yeah. Too bad Mr. Sexy Shirtless Soccer Player wasn’t around when you were spread-eagled with your ass in the air. I’ve found that that’s the best way to attract men. Instead of glimpsing Kat in all of her chalky glory, he gets an OMFG face from Kat, who is understandably bowled over by his unrepentant hotness. Can’t say I blame her.

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Still, she’s not exactly being coy or flirty, so it’s no wonder he runs back to his soccer buddies.

Later, Kat and her sister are walking home from school, but then little sis conveniently realizes that she forgot her social studies book and has to go back and get it. Then a gust of wind flicks Kat’s bowler off (we know it’s magical because there are sound effects of chimes) and whisks it away. Kat would be lost without her ugly hat, so she follows it all the way down to a vacant lot that suddenly isn’t so vacant anymore.

picture-21Inside, Kat finds a bunch of random objects and (most importantly) a lady wearing black flowing robes that also cover most of her face. It sort of looks like a burkha, actually, though I’m assuming that is a coincidence. Anyway, the lady tells Kat she has “just what you need” and offers her a pair of running shoes that will help her “fly like you’ve never flown before.” What, do the shoes have a secret compartment where you hide your steroids or something?

Kat wants the shoes but doesn’t have any money. The lady offers to trade for Kat’s ring, but Kat refuses because it was a gift from her grandfather. Then the lady offers to trade for “something that has no value” to Kat. Kat thinks that this sounds like a good deal and goes for it, though she doesn’t actually bother to ask what this “thing” is that she’s giving the lady. She’s slightly concerned when she exits the store to the accompaniment of some magic chimey wind, then looks up only to find an empty lot.

But she’s not concerned enough to try and return the shoes, of course. I mean, come on, we’ve got a hot soccer player to snare here. Girl’s got to pull out all the stops.

The following day, the shoes enable Kat to run like the wind! One of her friends asks how she did it, and Kat gets all bitch-face and is like, “Because I’m fast and you’re slow, that’s how I did it! Looks like you’re not as special as you thought.”

Fierce!

But we know Kat is actually under the influence of the magic shoes, since this line coincides with a wind-chime sound effect.

Later, at home, Kat thinks she sees a weird mole on her face, but then it disappears. Hmm… I wonder if that’s foreshadowing. Let’s see!

The next day, at school, the hot guy from earlier (who unfortunately has a shirt on now) tells Kat that he saw her run the other day and was really impressed. He says that now that she’s on the track team, they’ll probably see a lot of each other!

And Kat’s all, “Oh, I think you’ll be seeing a lot of me, baby! Raaawwwr!”

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Actually, she just smiles and stuff. But whatever, same difference. She tries to ask Hot Soccer Guy out, then his skanky girlfriend comes up and totally cock-blocks her. Lame!

I think it’s about time for another trip to the vacant lot, don’t you? I’m sure Crazy Cloak Lady is getting hungry for another chunk of soul to steal.

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Crazy Cloak Lady makes another offer on Kat’s ring, which Kat refuses again because it means too much to her. CCL takes her usual payment of a chunk of Kat’s soul some unspecified thing that Kat doesn’t place any value upon. In exchange, Kat gets an ugly green velvet tunic thing that is supposed to be really beautiful and hawt. Umm… Yeah, ok. And now Kat’s being a magically mean bitch to her little sister, calling her stupid and what-not.

Oh, and then she sees her face looking all disfigured and shit, but only for a second.

The next day at school, Kat tries to apologize to her friend for saying those mean things the other day, but then runs into the bathroom when she sees more disfigurations on her face. That’s when CCL appears with a magical WHOOSH’ing sound… in the girl’s bathroom. Weird. Makes you wonder how long she’s been waiting there, randomly flushing toilets in preparation for her big entrance.

But it’s not so bad–CCL makes Kat hot! Now she’s sure to land Hot Soccer Guy. But then CCL pulls down the face-flap of her cloak…

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Downer much? Crazy Cloak Lady tells Kat that she was also beautiful once, and if Kat ever needs anything else, all she needs to do is come to the vacant lot. Um… just a suggestion, but maybe we should quit while we’re ahead, huh? Just saying. In any case, Kat decides not to purchse the sold-out concert tickets that CCL offers her (apparently she’s also a scalper) and then hauls ass out of the bathroom, straight into the arms of Hot Soccer Guy.

He’s totally blown away by her new sexy look (read: big hair and makeup) and so he flirts with  her for a little bit. Then (OMFG!) Kat finds the sold-out concert tickets in her hands! Ahhhhh!!!!

I’m not going to lie–this part really scared the crap out of me when I was a kid.

Anyway, Kat acts like a sexy little vixen and asks Hot Soccer Guy to go to the concert with her, and he totally says yes because he can’t resist her hawt new look:

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“Makeovers” on these shows are so funny. Basicaly what they did is get a girl who is already really pretty and just tart her up a bit. It’s not a huge difference, but I must say that it beats the french braid and glasses combo, so whatevs.

So now Kat has a date. No word on what Hot Soccer Guy’s girlfriend will do once she finds out. Maybe Kat will go to the vacant lot and pick up a switchblade or something.

But first she has to get a new outfit for her big concert, one that Hot Soccer Guy hasn’t seen. Instead of going to the mall like a normal person, she goes back to the vacant lot and picks up some shit. But (oh noes!) her little sister, Joyce, follows her and finds out about Crazy Cloak Lady and all the “free” stuff!

Joyce grabs some pretty-making clothes at the vacant lot (I guess it’s kind of like Lisette’s in Sweet Valley) and Kat urges her to take it all back because it costs more than Joyce thinks. Joyce is all, “Whatever, beyotch!” and says it’s time to get what she wants, then runs off to her bedroom.

Immediately afterward, CCL appears briefly in the mirror to taunt Kat and/or give her the pox…

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…just in time for Hot Soccer Guy to show up. Kat runs into Joyce’s room looking for help, but finds that Joyce also has a bunch of crap on her face. Sorry, little sis. I guess you didn’t even get a chance to flirt with Hot Soccer Guy. Lame. Overall, it really looks like we’re in a k-hole now, eh, girls?

Kat leaves Hot Soccer Guy waiting in the living room and runs back to the vacant lot to return all her stuff. I guess she climbed out the window or something? I don’t know. Anyway, Crazy Cloak Lady is now pox-free and looking very foxy. She explains that she was once tricked into a series of trades with the former CCL and she’s been waiting for some poor, stupid girl to ruin ever since.

Kat is pretty confused because this deal doesn’t seem very fair. I really must concur here–CCL stated that she was going to take something that didn’t mean anything to Kat. She said nothing about crazy face-boils. CCL says that she took Kat’s “life,” which doesn’t really follow with the whole pox-face thing. Is CCL going to steal Kat’s and Joyce’s identities? I’m not sure how that would work. It’s a little confusing.

CCL is about to leave Kat to run the store (too bad she didn’t show Kat how to use their bookkeeping system) but then Kat offers to give CCL her grandfather’s ring (the only valuable thing she owns) in exchange for Joyce’s “life.” I’m assuming that means having a good complexion, right?

CCL accepts, but then she turns ugly again while both Kat and Joyce turn pretty once more AND gets grandpa’s ring back…

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Then Kat and Joyce return home, where Hot Soccer Guy is still waiting. He’s totally not mad that she doesn’t have the concert tickets and tells her that he just wanted an excuse to get to know her better. They take a walk, instead. Sweet! The story ends with the two of them talking and smiling.

Ok, back to the Midnight Society. Now that the story’s over, everyone’s heading home. Gary tries to flirt with Sam in his usual lame way, while Tucker and Stig stay behind for a moment. Tucker asks Stig why he said he was going to bring something, but didn’t, and Stig confesses that he felt kind of weird because HIS object wasn’t as cool as everyone else’s.

Um, Stig, I’m pretty sure anything you bring is going to be better than Sam’s ugly old bracelet, ok?

Stig shows Tucker a picture of his pet goldfish, the most valuable thing in his life. Rather than be empathetic and loyal, Tucker makes fun of Stig and runs off with the picture, yelling for the other members of the Midnight Society to check out what a douche Stig is.

Note to self: add Tucker to Ass-Kicking To-Do List.

Ok, well, I know I usually end recaps with my interpretation of the moral of a story, but I’m really not sure with this one. You could say that it’s about valuing people over objects, but then wouldn’t that mean that Kat should have given Crazy Cloak Lady her grandpa’s ring in exchange for those running shoes? That doesn’t sound quite right to me. So maybe the moral of the story is… umm…. shop online?

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Posted in Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Stereotypes, TV recaps
4 comments on “Are You Afraid of the Dark? – “The Tale of the Vacant Lot”
  1. outpostroad says:

    I love in these shows how there’s always some kind of sound effect to make sure you know what’s magical and what isn’t. I mean, it’s a good thing, ’cause otherwise how would you know?

  2. Sadako says:

    Ah, yay!! Finally, a new place that snarks on Are You Afraid of the Dark eps–all the other blogs I frequent haven’t been updated in so long! I vaguely remember this ep–not the plot, but the grody faces!

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Man, even just seeing that title font brings it all back for me.

    outpostroad: A thousand times word! Even as a pretty small child (watching The Secret World of Alex Mack), that always drove me nuts! Especially when the sound effect is supposed to be inaudible to all the characters, but inexplicably present for the audience.

  4. Fraulein N says:

    I love how when people are bad on this show they always get shit all over their faces. Reminds me of how they used to give out zits as penalties when you played “Girl Talk.” Sure, that’s how it works.

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