Last week, my friend Shannon Sadako asked me about doing some Dr. Vink eps (which are on the way) but, in honor of the end of my first semester of library school, I thought I’d do a special recap to commemorate the occasion. I remember being really freaked out by this episode as a kid, though as an adult I really have no idea why. I mean, it is kind of scary, but the plot is pretty nonsensical. Some episodes of AYAOTD (kiddy show or not) are pretty well written. This one is… well… yeah.
So anyway, we start off at the campfire, where Frank had Tucker in a head-lock for an unspecified reason, though I guess he probably deserves it, since Gary and the other kids are totally unconcerned about the situation.
But Kiki takes control and tells Frank and Tucker to STFU and just listen…
Listen to what?
Well, bitches, the silence, that’s what.
Gary counters that there’s no such thing as absolute silence. He says that where there is life, there’s sound. That’s a very astute and sexy observation, Gar-Bear.
Kiki puts on her scary story face and says that maybe we should reverse that statement… Take away the sound, take away the life!
BUM BUM BUM!
Interestingly enough, this story doesn’t have the usual voiceover introduction to the main characters. Instead, we start out in a really beautiful old library, where one of the librarians is doing a tour for a bunch of little kids.
Only she’s not really telling them anything, but just patronizingly calling them “children, children” over and over again, and telling them to follow her. I suppose I’m obligated to say how untrue this portrayal is (being a future librarian one step closer to her degree) but I would actually have to tell you, from my experience, that there are some real a-holes in my classes who freely admit to strongly disliking kids, so I could kind of see this kind of thing going down.
Anyway, a cute little ginger kid wanders away from the group, bouncing a green rubber ball and generally not giving a tiny rat’s ass about the library tour. He’s adorable, but don’t get too attached–I think we know by now that ginger kids aren’t too well-regarded in 90’s TV.
That damn bouncy ball gets him in trouble–it leads him down the stairs, into a smallish section of the library in the basement.
Bounce, bounce, bounce…
…all the way to a sparsely stocked metal shelf blocking a short hallway with a dusty door at the end of it. Hmm… And there’s this funny purple light seeping out from the bottom.
Is there a disco in there? Better take a look…
The kid moves a few boxes and crawls through the shelf, at which point he accidentally knocks the ball out of his reach. Rats! As he stands, he notices some old-timey lettering on the door that reads, “Quiet Reading Room.”
The door slowly opens, revealing more bright purple light and something that we don’t see. Whatever it is, it sure scares the crap out of the little ginger kid, he opens his mouth and begins to scream, then–
It’s like someone turned the mute on him or something.
I’m sure most parents would probably kill for that option when their kid is throwing a tantrum.
Cut to a junior high classroom, where we finally get to meet our protagonists, Laurie and Jace. As the bell rings and everybody starts to get up, the teacher stops them all to announce their partners for the big history essay.
Um, WTF, teacher? Are your time-management skills that bad that you couldn’t have done this in class? What are you, one of my professors?
The teacher assigns Jace and Laurie to work together. Laurie’s bitchy friend sarcastically remarks that Laurie is so lucky for being assigned to work with “Jace the Face.” Laurie says she doesn’t mind–in fact, she thinks he’s kind of cute. Laurie’s friend says that Jace is really stuck-up, while acting pretty stuck-up herself.
Shut up, bitch-friend. And stop waving your arms to emphasize your point. It just makes you look creepy.
Meanwhile, Jace and his bitchy friend are discussing Laurie. Jace says that he thinks Laurie’s ok, but Jace’s friend says that Laurie is an “ice queen” with “too many brains” in her head, whatever the hell that’s supposed to mean.
Later, in the hallway, Jace’s friend is making fun of Laurie’s intelligence some more, doing some kind of weird voice that’s supposed to sound like Laurie but actually sounds more like a badly-done Elmer Fudd. Jace laughs along with everybody else, but things get awkward when they bump into Laurie.
Laurie’s all, “Whatever! You don’t know me! You don’t know my life! Whatever!” and totally looks like she’s ready to shivv Jace in the face, thus giving the nickname “Jace the Face” a slightly more tragic meaning. Laurie and her friend stalk off, shoving the boys as they pass.
Later, at the library, a tween girl and her little sister are hanging out in that dangerous basement area adjoining the disco Quiet Reading Room.
The little sister is singing the ABCs at the top of her lungs–where’s the purple light when you need it?
While Big Sis is wrangling some heavy books, Little Sis wanders away a short distance.
I was sure that Little Sis was going to be the one captured by the purple light and forever silenced, but no such luck. It’s actually Big Sis that is standing too close to the Quiet Reading Room. Oh noes!
Like the ginger kid before her, she is swallowed up by the purple light, her scream swallowed up and silenced.
How unfair is that? Seriously, people, it’s not cute when you let your kids sing loudly in public, even if it’s the ABCs song and little what’s-her-face just learned it and isn’t she advanced for her age and blah blah blah.
Meanwhile, on the main floor of the library, Jace and Laurie are trying to study for the big essay. Laurie acts all serious and bossy, while Jace kind of goofs off. He even starts playing with a loud hand-held video game, until Laurie sends him downstairs to grab some books for her.
Jace kind of sticks up for himself, asking Laurie why she can’t get the books herself. Laurie says she’s already doing most of the work, so the least he can do is grab some stuff for her. Jace says that he’d do more work if she’d only get the stick out of her ass and let him help, but nevertheless, he somehow ends up doing Laurie’s bidding, anyway. Oh well.
Jace goes downstairs and–
Actually, wait a sec. If someone had just disappeared, randomly leaving her very young sister all alone, I’m pretty sure that one of the staff would have called the cops or something. Just saying. I don’t think that Jace would be able to just wander around the downstairs area as he pleases, is all I’m saying.
Nevertheless, there Jace is, wearing his Urkel glasses and grabbing the books, when he notices a demonic green bouncy ball on the ground. Somehow, he finds himself drawn to the shelf blocking the Quiet Reading Room and edges closer to investigate…
Don’t go to the light, Jace! Do not go gentle into that good night!
Suddenly–phew!–a librarian bumps into him (you know she’s a librarian immediately because she’s got those glasses that are attached to a necklace) and asks him if he needs any help.
Jace is pretty shaken up, so he says no and runs upstairs. The only problem is that he accidentally leaves Laurie’s super-important notebook down there. Woops!
After Laurie doesn’t even say thank-you and remarks that Jace is acting all weird and jumpy, the two of them sit back down. Jace starts to play with his loud game again, thoroughly annoying everyone in the vicinity, at which point Laurie grabs it out of his hands and talks to Jace like he’s a three-year-old.
Bitchy, yes, but you shouldn’t play loud games in the library, Jace. It’s rude and you deserve a good talking to. Ditto for people who talk on their cell phones loudly–I freaking hate that.
Anyway, Jace decides that he’s had enough and storms out. Laurie goes after him–umm, without checking out the books? why don’t the metal detectors go off?–and outside, the two of them agree that this whole “partnership” thing is just not going to work out. Laurie will write the paper all by herself, because she just assumes that Jace will eff it up.
The next day at school, Laurie looks in her locker for her notebook, and goes totally ape-shizz when it isn’t there. She catches Jace just as he’s about to go to football practice, and he tells her that he must have left it somewhere in the library’s basement on accident.
Laurie says that he’s got to get it back for her, but Jace tells her he’s too busy right now because (in case Laurie hasn’t noticed his uniform and padded shoulders) he’s on the way to freaking football practice.
Laurie’s all, “But you have to get it! You’re the one who lost it!”
And Jace is like, “Yeah, I forget things. I’m not as smart as you are. I act like a kid.”
Oh, snap! You got served, Laurie.
Slightly humbled, Laurie persuades Jace to meet her at the library at seven o’clock, at which point they can both try to find the notebook.
That night, Laurie and Jace arrive at the library, only to find it all dark and deserted and locked up. Laurie bitches and moans that Jace should have checked the closing hours, and Jace tells her that she was the one who wanted to meet up at seven o’clock, not him.
Good point, Jace. While you’re at it, maybe you should tell Laurie to chill the eff out–it’s an essay in junior high. It’s not like you lost the cheat-sheet to the SATs or something.
Laurie is freaking out because now she’s going to fail History. Jace suggests that they try to break into the library and grab the notebook, which sounds like a good idea to Laurie except for the whole “illegal” thing. Oh well.
But, luckily, one of the windows magically opens so they can get in. It’s not illegal if the window is already open, right?
Well, the kids climb into the library and notice that things are a tad bit strange in there at night when nobody else is around. And the copy machine seems to be missing, along with the computers and the VCR and pretty much anything that’s modern. Hmm, strange.
Well, whatever. There’s a totally useless and unimportant paper to get done, by gum!
The two kids head down to the dark, scary basement to grab the notebook. Laurie and Jace wander into the hallway leading to the Quiet Reading Room. They notice a calendar for the year 1910 on the door, with a key hanging next to it. Jace is freaked out and wants to leave, but Laurie has suddenly and randomly grown some balls and insists that they “live dangerously” and explore the Quiet Reading Room.
Laurie unlocks the door and finds a bunch of little kids sitting around the table, covered with a bunch of dust and cobwebs and crap. And (OMFG!) they’re being forced to read books!
The ginger kid and Big Sis are both there, too. They look at Laurie and Jace and start to scream, except they’re still on mute, so we don’t have to listen to them.
Laurie and Jace head out of the Quiet Reading Room and back into the basement, ready to haul balls out of the creepy ass library.
It’s an old lady with a purple glowing box and John Lennon glasses!
The Librarian comes toward them with her whacked out purple box, cackling that there’s room for two more.
Well, everybody, I’d that it’s just about time to GTFO, don’t you? Laurie and Jace run off, but not before the Librarian aims the box in Jace’s direction and steals his voice. Laurie grabs one of the book shelving carts and knocks a bunch of the books on the ground, then the two run off.
What, exactly, was the point of throwing the books like that? I guess that ghostly librarians are compelled to pick up and re-shelve dropped books–kind of like the old legends about vampires and poppy seeds, right?
The kids go upstairs and block the door to the basement with a little table. They head for the window, which they find is now closed. They look for a phone and a fire alarm so they can alert the authorities, but unfortunately everything modern is gone.
Just as Laurie redundantly asks Jace what’s going on (first of all, he doesn’t know; secondly, he can’t freaking talk right now) the Librarian’s scary, echoey voice is like, “Silence is golden.” The doorknob wriggles, and the librarian emerges.
Laurie screams, and the kids duck on the floor and start to crawl away. It looks like they’re about to get a decent amount of distance between them and big L when Jace accidentally knocks over a random metal jug thingee on the floor. I think it’s a fire extinguisher or something. Whatever.
The jug makes a jug-y sound as it lolls there on the floor, and so the Librarian aims her special wooden box in the jug’s direction, and the noise magically stops.
That’s a pretty handy box there, big L. I really could have used it a few years ago when I was living underneath some very noisy neighbors.
Elsewhere in the library, Jace and Laurie reach the stairs. Jace motions for Laurie to go up, while he stays down. The Librarian follows Laurie upstairs, and the two have a daring chase through the long rows of shelves. And by “daring” I mean… you know… kind of scary, I guess. I mean, there aren’t a lot of places to hide among a bunch of rows of straight shelving.
Finally, Laurie stops at the far end of the room, where she tries not to scream as the sound of the Librarians boots echo through the building as she comes closer and closer and closer…
WTF happened to “silence is golden,” big L? You’re making an awful lot of noise, and that makes you a hypocrite. Why don’t you go play Jace’s annoying video game while you’re at it? Yeesh.
There’s also a little moment where Laurie can hear her heart beating, the sound of which is attracting the Librarian. Laurie puts her hand on her chest, and her heartbeat dies away. Huh?
Well, I guess it doesn’t matter, because suddenly, some really loud, old-timey music is blasting downstairs.
Big L is all, “Those GD bobby-soxers are having a party, dag nabbit!” and goes down to investigate and/or give them a little purple-mute-box action.
Cut to downstairs, where Jace is hand-cranking an old record player. Suddenly, the Librarian appears behind him and says that she’s going to teach him a lesson the way she teaches all loud children in the library.
Yeah, ’cause she did such a great job with that annoying little girl yelling the freaking ABCs song. Come to think of it, neither of the kids we saw her take were all that loud, so what the hell?
Downstairs, Big L corners Jace by the card catalog drawers (very retro) and cackles evilly. Jace brings a couple of records to smash so he can buy himself some time as the Librarian absorbs the sounds from the impact.
Hey, Jace? Maybe you could think about actually throwing one of the records AT her. That might help you out a little more, unless of course you’re planning to use one of the shards as a shivv or something.
Well, Jace eventually runs out of records. Just as the Librarian is about to close in, Laurie rushes in from upstairs and tells her to stop… at which point HER voice gets stolen, too.
But not all is lost!
Laurie runts to Jace’s backpack and grabs the loud, annoying video game from earlier. This really gets big L’s pantaloons in a twist, being all noisy and what-not. The kids toss it between each other while big L looks on in horror.
While the Librarian is distracted, Laurie wheels over a pedestal with a metal bust of some dead white dude, knocking the Librarian down.
This is a good thing, but I’m still kind of wondering why the library staff thought it would be a good idea to put wheels under a pedestal with a heavy metal bust on top. It just seems like an insurance risk.
The Librarian drops the box. Laurie tries to grab it, but it burns or something and she can’t pick it up. The Librarian retrieves the box and waves it at Jace and the video game. She tries to catch the sound in her little box, but somehow she just can’t. Like the box is broken or something? Or it doesn’t work on technology? I don’t know, I’m not really sure.
In any case, the Librarian is defeated.
All the kidnapped souls rush out of the box. There are a bunch of them, way more than we saw in the Quiet Reading Room. I guess big L gets around.
A moment later, we hear someone coming down the steps. It’s the night security guard.
Hey, dude. Where have you been all this time? Were you taking a nap in the staff room or something?
He asks what Jace and Laurie are doing in here and how they got in, and Jace and Laurie discover that their voices are back. Sweet! Jace and Laurie say that they’ve found the missing kids and lead the guard to the Quiet Reading Room, where Big Sis and the cute ginger kid are safe and sound.
Inside the Reading Room, they find only dust and cobwebs. The guard remarks that it’s “like a tomb in here.” The guard tells the kids to stay put while he “calls this in.” Jace and Laurie can hear the faint laughter of ghostly little kids. For some reason, this isn’t supposed to be creepy. Jace says that, whoever they were, they must be free now.
Yee-haw! Free from reading! Now they can go to heaven and watch Gossip Girl!
A few hours later, Laurie and Jace are still at the library. There are a bunch of cops hanging around, but strangely, no one has bothered to call Jace or Laurie’s parents, never mind that it’s probably really late by now. One of the cops gives Laurie her notebook, then tells them that they can leave.
As they head for the door, Laurie smiles and says they still need to get that essay written tonight. Jace grins and asks, “We?”
Laurie smiles back and says, “Yeah, let’s live dangerously.” She puts her arm around him and the two head out, and presumably this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. That’s nice and all, but I’m pretty sure they could have gotten an extension or something. Like, get a cop to write you a note or whatever. I bet it would totally work.
After Jace and Laurie leave, the camera pans up to a portrait on the wall. It’s big L!
Apparently her name was Mercy MacGregor, and she was the Head Librarian between the years… um… well, it LOOKS like 1945 through 1910, but that wouldn’t make any sense, would it? I’m assuming my bootleg DVD is just a little fuzzy here.
And apparently this library has enough funding to commission large, professional portraits of their head librarians instead of using the money to, I don’t know, buy and maintain books and stuff.
Back at the campfire, everyone compliments Kiki on a rad story. Kiki says she needs to stop by the library to drop some books in the night slot. She asks if anybody wants to come with her, and they all chicken out and rush away. Alone at the campfire, Kiki grins at a scare well done.
Ok, just a few comments before we finish up here… First of all, where the hell did Ms. MacGregor get that special purple box? And why was she so intent on capturing children and putting them in her Quiet Reading Room? I know that “silence is golden” and all that crap, but if that was the case, then she’d be going for the really noisy children, instead of the ones that happened to pass too close to the door.
And why wasn’t there any more security in this library, given that kids just seem to keep randomly disappearing from there? I’m pretty sure that, at some point, a concerned parent would have asked for some kind of security measure. At least a camera or something.
And isn’t the entire library supposed to be a quiet, reading room? Why have a special room?
And why didn’t the box work on Jace’s video game?
Ugh, so many unanswered questions. I told you this one was weird.
So, the moral of the story: the worst thing that could ever happen to a child is to be captured by an evil, totally un-sexy librarian and forced to sit down and read something. The only way to avoid this fate is to sing the ABCs as loud as possible and hope for the best.