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


As you know, we had a bit of sexiness with our last AYAOTD recap with the big brother from Boy Meets World and the dirty colonial guy, Lieutenant William. Sadako pointed out that the guy from “The Tale of the Dark Dragon” is hella sexy, so I decided to continue our streak of hotness and recap this episode.

Bear with me here–the protagonist doesn’t start out hot, nor does he stay that way throughout the entire episode. But it’s those little bits of magical, bad-assed hotness that really make this episode shine. It’s like when Anakin Skywalker finally turned bad in Star Wars: Episode 3–he was extra hot because you had to wait a little while for it to happen.

Anyway, we start out this episode with Gary arriving at the campfire and finding no one there. Gary steps on a birthday balloon and tells everyone that the jig is up. A second later, everybody jumps out and yells, “Surprise!” It’s a birthday party–sweet!


Still, I wonder how long the other members of the Midnight Society were squatting nearby in the bushes? That can’t be comfortable.

As a special birthday treat, David is telling a story in Gary’s honor, using one of Gary’s recurring characters. David says that he wanted to tell a story with magic in it (umm, unlike the rest of the stories?), the special kind that Gary likes, the kind that’s fantastic, but also strangely real. David’s story is about the magic inside all of us, which can be used for good or… Bum bum bum! FOR EVIL!

We meet Keith and Mariah in the school library, just as Mariah is putting away a copy of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Oooh, subtle foreshadowing. If this had been filmed today, Mariah would probably have been putting away a DVD of “The Hottie and the Nottie,” since that title perfectly sums up this story.

So after fulfilling her sexy librarian duties, Mariah comes over and says hi to Keith.

Keith tells Mariah that he has a surprise for her. He slides over a bag of chocolate-covered blueberries, and Mariah goes slightly ape-shizz. Keith tells her that he knows she likes them, so he “pinched a couple” from his dad the other night. Aww, you’re cute, Keith, even though you’ve got a bit of a Grover voice and some rather prominent eyebrows. Those things add to your adorableness.


Mariah asks Keith if he’s going to the dance on Friday, and Keith replies that he’s not much of a dance guy, he’s more of a “sit-and-watch guy.” Um, yeah, Keith? There’s a hot girl asking you out–just say yes, man.

Anyway, after Keith totally spoils his chance to get some hot, hand-holding action from Mariah, two cool guys come into the library. We know they’re cool because they talk loud and get shushed by Mariah. One of the guys gestures to a blonde girl nearby, Shelly, and complains that she is mad at him because she feels like he takes her for granted. Then the guys play hackey sack (didn’t I tell you they were cool?) and accidentally kick the ball in Keith’s direction.

They yell for him to kick it back to them, except Keith can’t because his right leg was injured in a car accident and is currently wrapped up in a brace. Apparently this is going to make him walk with a limp for the rest of his life, which probably means he can’t kick that little bean bag back to you, you assholes. Way to make him feel self-conscious.

The lead cool guy, also named Gary, apologizes to Keith for being inconsiderate. Keith punches him in the face and tells him to suck on this.

Actually, Keith just tells Gary that everything is ok because he probably didn’t mean anything by it. If it had been bad-ass, potion-influenced Keith, he totally would have done the punchy-thing, but I’m getting a little ahead of myself.

On the way out of the library, Shelly bumps into Keith and knocks all of the books out of her hands. Keith apologizes like crazy even though it’s not really his fault. Then he asks Shelly if she’s going to the dance, and Shelly shrugs and says she’s not sure because she doesn’t know if Gary’s going to bother to ask her. Keith tells Shelly that she can count on him if he ever needs anyone to fill in or anything. Shelly tells Keith he’s sweet and then leaves.


Doesn’t anyone in this story have enough sense to realize when they’re getting asked out? Yeesh.

Mariah looks on sadly as Keith gives Shelly the lovesick puppy face. Aww, sorry, Mariah.

Later, at the Charcoal Pit, an oddly named local hangout that appears to serve only coffee and soda, Keith sits by himself reading a comic book Suddenly, Shelly knocks on the glass window and grins. Keith, ever the gentleman, gets up and opens the door for her. Shelly says a quick hello to Keith, then walks past him and over to her stupid boyfriend, Gary.


Keith returns to his seat and opens his comic book once more, finding a sprawling full-page, full-color ad that piques his interest.


Wanting to see how he might “bring out the best in [himself],” Keith stops by the little magic shop in the ad and encounters a saucy fellow with whom most of us will be familiar.

Keith asks if “Mr. Sourdough” is here, and out pops none other than Sardo!


That’s sahr-DOE! No “Mr.,” accent on the “doe.”

Keith asks for the potion from the ad that’s supposed to make him more confident and powerful. Hell, if that’s all he wants, why not just order a bottle of Viagra or Extenz?

Anyway, he buys it from Sardo for the low, low price of $20. Sardo tells him that he’ll only need to take one drop at a time for maximum results. While Sardo is off getting Keith’s receipt, Keith walks over to Sardo’s skanky-looking rabbit and puts a drop of the potion in its water, just to see if it’s safe.

Nice, Keith. You’re lucky you’re going to be sexy in a minute, or else you’d totally be on my ass-kicking list for your animal-testing shenanigans.

Luckily, nothing bad seems to happen to the rabbit, who instead becomes lovely and sleek and soft-looking. Keith heads home without his receipt, excited about the possibilities to come. Sardo comes in a few seconds later to a bunny that has suddenly turned into a scary, fur-covered mutant thing. Whoops.

At home, Keith takes a drop of the potion, gags a little, then looks into the mirror to find himself looking all kinds of sexy.


As you can see, it’s not exactly a makeover, more like a fakeover. We’re taking someone who’s already attractive and doing subtle things to let us know that they’re not dorky-looking anymore. The big difference in this situation is that Keith actually IS hotter when potion-influenced because he’s all confident and shit. And we all know that ladies love confidence.

The next day,  he even dons a black leather jacket, since he’s such a magical bad-ass now. Mariah, who apparently lives in the same apartment building, notices Sexy Keith walking out of the building and seems very curious about this supposed stranger, probably because she wants to jump his bones like the rest of us.

Sexy Keith heads over to the Charcoal Pit, where he finds Shelly sitting with several of her vapid friends. He walks straight over to her and introduces himself as KC, Keith’s cousin–get it?

Clearly Shelly and the gang are awe-struck by “KC’s” unrepentant sexiness, so he grins and says, “So are you going to ask me to sit down?”

Shelly takes a moment to pick her panties up from where they had just dropped on the floor, then invites “KC” to hang out with them. Mariah, who is now in stalker mode, looks through the big window and frowns as she sees KC sitting with Shelly and company.

The next morning, Keith is disappointed to find that he’s back to normal, complete with leg-brace. Then he notices this weird-looking skin growth thingee near his neck and gets all grossed out. Guess KC must have had a rough trick or something.

Keith and Mariah get to school, and Keith is immediately approached by a freakishly giddy Shelly, who asks if KC will be at the Charcoal Pit after school. Keith tells Shelly that KC will be there, if that’s what she really wants. After Shelly skips away, Mariah remarks that she never knew Keith had a cousin. Keith mutters something about KC being “from far away,” but Mariah seems less than convinced.

That night, Keith is having dinner with his dad. After a bit of awkward small-talk, Keith notices some weird stuff growing on his arm.


He makes an excuse about needing to do homework and hauls ass upstairs. He puts on one leather glove (very Michael Jackson) and throws the vial of Sardo’s potion in the trash.

Then the phone rings. It’s Shelly! And she’s asking for KC! AND SHE’S USING A SEXY VOICE!

What’s a boy to do? Well, pretend to be KC, that’s what. Keith deepens his voice and says things in a dismissive tone, which totally fools Shelly. Shelly asks him if he wants to “come over and watch TV or something tonight.”


Of course, Keith says yes and takes a drop of the potion. After “watching TV or something” with Shelly for awhile, they stand on her porch and say goodbye. KC is all suave and shit and asks her to the dance. Shelly says something about Gary, and KC is all, “Oh really? Has he asked you?” Shelly think about it for a moment, and agrees to go to the dance with KC. We fade out as they play tonsil hockey on her porch.

The next day, Keith wakes up and finds that he’s undergone a few inconvenient changes overnight…


Back at the Charcoal Pit, it’s after-school time and Shelly and her friend are busy talking about the slutty dresses they’re planning to wear to the dance tomorrow. Mariah comes in and asks if they’ve seen Keith, since she didn’t see him at school today. Shelly gloats and says that she hasn’t seen Keith, but she’ll be seeing KC tomorrow at the dance since they’re going together.

Ok, here’s what’s awesome about this scene… Just as Mariah comes in, Shelly’s friend asks, “Is it tight?” and Shelly replies, “It’s SO tight!”

Of course, we know they’re talking about dresses, but it’s still pretty funny.

Mariah is all, “Whatevs, beyotches,” and storms out.

Meanwhile, at Sardo’s magic shop, he and Keith are trying to figure out what the hell is going on here. Sardo admits that Keith is the only one who has ever bought the potion, so he’s not quite sure what will happen next. He checks his big book of magic potion info (which I guess is kind of like a Physician’s Desk Reference for magic shop owners) and he and Keith find that the potion isn’t actually supposed to make you perfect.

In fact, it’s really supposed to make you face the worst in you (“the dark dragon within”) so that you can discover the best side of yourself. Hence the weird stuff happening to Keith, though this doesn’t particularly explain why the potion makes him sexy and confident. Not that I really care. I mean, come on…


Awww yeah.

Later that day, Mariah tries to visit Keith and find out what’s wrong. Jeez, clingy much? I like you, Mariah, but if this is how you get after Keith misses one day of school, no wonder he keeps his distance from you. Anyway, since nobody answers the door, Mariah uses the spare key–she and Keith are so close that she knows just where to find it (that or she really is stalking him)–and goes into his house, anyway.

She stands outside Keith’s door and asks him if everything is ok. Keith decides to be honest with her and reply that, no, things are not quite ok around here.


Yikes. Is this what the makeup for that MeatLoaf video is based on? Methinks so.


Mariah says she wants to help him, but Keith tells her to go away because no one can help him now. Mariah looks sad as she leaves.

Later that night, a hooded MeatLoaf Keith sneaks over to his locker while, elsewhere, the school dance is in full swing. He takes a drop of Sardo’s potion, then turns hot again.

Nice. Could I have a watered down version to help me get ready in the morning? It would be handy on those mornings when I run late.

But (ruh-roh!) Mariah followed Keith to school and saw his whole transformation. As Keith heads over to the gym or whatever, Mariah heads to his locker…

In the meantime, Shelly has been waiting for KC to show up and is starting to feel like a little bit of a tool, standing there in her “SO tight” dress with nobody to dance with. She even sees Gary, who decided to take another skank to the dance after she told him she was already going with KC. She starts to get all sad puppy-face, but then Keith/KC shows up and distracts her for a little bit, though you can tell Shelly still feels kind of crappy about the whole thing with Gary.

As Keith slow-dances with Shelly, he says that this might be the best moment of his life.

…which is then interrupted by one of the teachers announcing that it’s time to hand out the award for Best Athlete in School. Um… did anybody else’s school do this? At my school, all they had was the Homecoming Queen and King, but whatever. And who else but Gary would get the award? When he gets up on stage to accept his trophy, he says that, although he’s the best athlete at school, Shelly will always be first place in his heart and he’d give anything if she would dance this dance with him.



He took some other girl to the dance, remember? So now there’s this chick who is probably heartbroken, and, to make things even worse, she’ll most likely need to find another ride home since her date is going to be too busy frenching his ex-girlfriend to bother dropping her off. You really are kind of a douche, Gary. Seriously.

That demonstration is enough to win Shelly back, though. As Shelly and Gary start dry-humping to some generic nineties love song, Keith wanders away. He looks crestfallen until he sees Mariah in the crowd looking unexpectedly foxy.


Rowr! You know, in that fakeover way. But clearly everybody wants a piece of the new Mariah, especially Keith.

The two of them start dancing. When Keith asks Mariah if she took the potion, she explains that since Gary wanted “a beautiful girl,” she became one so he could love her back and shizz. Unfortunately, Mariah starts having a minor conniption fit before Keith can say anything else.

Keith pulls her into the hallway just as she starts to gag and convulse. He is all freaked out and asks her how much potion she took. Mariah tells him she took the whole bottle, and when she looks up, she’s got all this crap on her face.


Too bad about that. She only got a few minutes of utter hotness before the weird crap started settling in.

Mariah collapses and Keith holds her in his arms and says that he should be the one changing, not her, because it’s all his fault. He says that he was just so sick of being stared at because of his leg, of not being able to walk smoothly, and of not feeling “normal” that he really started to hate himself.

It looks like everything is pretty much in a k-hole until Keith begs Mariah not to go.

This clears her skin and brings her back to her normal self, except still hot. We know this because her glasses didn’t magically appear on her face again.

Oh, and Keith is also still hot–we know THIS because his hair is still nicely styled.


Mariah blinks, looks around, and asks Keith what happened. He says that he finally beat the dark dragon…

That’s what she said!

…that’s been inside of him ever since the car accident. Turns out that the potion did exactly what it said it would. Cool.

The same teacher from earlier comes out of nowhere and asks Keith and Mariah what the hell they were doing. Keith smiles and says that he was just taking his girl to the dance. Aww. The two of them walk away, hand-in-hand.

Cut back to the campfire, where David wishes Gary a happy birthday and… yeah, that’s it. No interesting campfire shenanigans to cap off the episode. Hmm. Kinda lame.

Ok, so the moral of the story: if you’re taking some medications that cause sudden spurts of body hair, facial deformations, voice alterations, or skin discoloration, go ahead and keep taking it. Chances are, it’ll all work out in the end and you’ll probably end up hotter AND get a new boyfriend or girlfriend.

BTW, I checked up on the actor who played Keith and found out that he’s still in the biz! I’m not surprised–I’d have to say he’s one of the better young actors I’ve seen on this show. You might be wondering if he’s still cute, and the answer is… well… actually, yeah, he is.

Keith (or Chuck Campbell as he is known outside of AYAOTD?) has been on a bunch of shows and movies, but I guess people would probably know him best for being on Stargate: Atlantis, which I guess he was on for like, four years or something…

No kidding. My question is… does he still talk with the Grover voice? That’d be fierce.

Tagged with: , , , , , , ,
Posted in Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Danger, Stereotypes, TV recaps
15 comments on “Are You Afraid of the Dark? – “The Tale of the Dark Dragon”
  1. Sadako says:

    Whoohoo! You did Dark Dragon! 🙂

    I actually liked him even before he got all…potioned out. ‘Cause of his angst over his leg. I totally wanted to save him from himself when I was a little kid. (Precursor to Twilight?!)

    I always thought Mariah was hotter than Shelly, though. And you’re right, I never realized that story-Gary was being a douche by dancing with Keith’s date AND ditching his own date. Niiice.

    I always liked David. Didn’t they get rid of his character at some point, though?

  2. R. G. Quimby says:

    Hmm… I might be wrong here, but I think David and Kristin both left at the end of Season Two. I believe that we started out Season Three minus two members of the Midnight Society, which I think is when Eric (the small blond boy) and Sam (the replacement Kristin) arrived.

    Then, at some point, they brought Tucker (Gary’s brother) and that tough kid, Stig. Not sure if Stig was supposed to replace Frank. You know, like one tough kid leaves, another enters? They did the same thing with Kristin and Sam–like they have a quota for attractive blonde girls or something 🙂

  3. Elizabeth says:

    We’re taking someone who’s already attractive and doing subtle things to let us know that they’re not dorky-looking anymore.


    brings her back to her normal self, except still hot. We know this because her glasses didn’t magically appear on her face again.

    …Isn’t that always the way it goes? She’s All That, I’m looking at you.

    Also, “beating the dark dragon” is my new euphemism of choice.

    Also also, I *love* the eyebrows.

  4. Elizabeth says:

    Okay, your blog is eating all my comments! All that AYAOTD and SVT snark going to waste.

    Anyway, I did want to say that “beating the dark dragon” is my new favorite euphemism.

  5. Shannon says:

    I love stories about fakeovers. Tell me there were some magic wind chime sound effects in this episode?

  6. Elizabeth says:

    “beating the dark dragon”

    hee hee hee

  7. Elizabeth says:

    — Okay, I’m glad to see that post, because all my attempts to comment on this (and your recap of the Sweet Valley Twins “Princess Elizabeth”) were eaten by WordPress last night. All that snark wasted!

  8. R. G. Quimby says:

    @ Elizabeth – It’s totally weird, but some of your comments are ending up in my spam filter! I manually approved them–but it’s weird, no? It’s like, totally random. Maybe it’s my settings or something. Yeesh.

    @ Shannon – Good question about the magic chimes… In this episode, not so much. How unusual. I knew there was something missing, but I was probably too distracted by Keith’s hot Grover voice.

    Not that I think Grover is hot!

  9. Elizabeth says:

    Oh, okay. I was suspecting it might have to do with the “Prince Albert” comment. Sorry for filling up your spam box with my repeated attempts to post!

  10. R. G. Quimby says:

    OMG — Damn that Prince Albert! He causes more trouble than he’s worth 🙂

    Looks like WordPress deleted the “Princess Elizabeth” comments from my spam box, though. Sucks.

  11. Fraulein N says:

    Bwah, “beating the dark dragon.” I have to say all I remembered about this episode was Mariah collapsing in Keith’s arms, all, “I can BE your pretty girl” and me being all, “have some self-respect, girl.”

  12. […] it just me, or does Dawn’s date look like every damn YA boy from the 90s? He’s a poor woman’s “Dark Dragon” kid, that’s for sure. I guess the teased-up bowl haircut was pretty popular at that […]

  13. Angelica says:

    I really like this blog. I love your take on that episode. what was the name of the song Keith and Shelley danced to. I’ve been looking for it for so long!!!

  14. […] it just me, or does Dawn’s date look like every damn YA boy from the 90s? He’s a poor woman’s “Dark Dragon” kid, that’s for sure. I guess the teased-up bowl haircut was pretty popular at that […]

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