Eerie, Indiana

Eerie, Indiana is the name of a television show that started in 1991 and ended in 1992. Despite its short runtime, it received a cult-like following.

The show follows a young boy Marshall Teller, played by Omri Katz, whose family moves to the aptly named town of Eerie, where bizarre goings-on require investigation. Plots included a family that preserved their children in Tupperware, finding out that dogs are planning something naughty, and a tornado hunter with an Ahab-like quest. Naturally, Elvis is around to put his two cents in from time to time.

The characters deal with the scenarios with dead seriousness, adding to the camp flavor of the show.

The show's cult following brought about a brief spinoff Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension in 1998. It followed a different boy in a different, yet similar, reality solving mysteries in his own Eerie.

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Eerie, Indiana was a short-lived NBC series from September 1991 to April 1992.

The series starred Omri Katz as Marshall "Mars" Teller, a young teenager misplaced from his crime-ridden New Jersey home and into the titular small town, which, beneath its wholesome appearance, was "the center of weirdness for the entire planet." Justin Shenkarow played Simon Holmes, his young sidekick, the only other person to acknowledge Eerie's strange goings-on. The main cast also included Mary-Margaret Humes, Francis Guinan and Julie Condra as Mars' mother, father and sister, respectively.

The series focused mainly on a 'monster-of-the-week' format, in which Mars and Simon are generally the only people (barring the occasional guest star) to realize the problems affecting the town. Marshall's family served as a grounding tool for the bizarre stories, but were characteristally oblivious to the weirdness. "Eerie" seemed to be NBC's response to ABC's by-then-cancelled cult series "Twin Peaks," and its tone, including its tongue-in-cheek, pop-culture-filled dialogue, would much later seem to heavily influence the "Buffy The Vampire Slayer" television series.

Episodes were self-contained, but several town residents recur between episodes. Significant minor characters included the seedy town mayor (Gregory Itzin), the police sergeant (Harry Goaz) and Elvis (Steven Peri). Archie Hahn played Mr. Radford, the proprietor of "The World o' Stuff," a restaurant/junk store; from his first appearance, Mars suspects Radford is in witness protection, as he constantly changes disguises. Further citing the "Twin Peaks" influence, Harry Goaz had previously played the police deputy on that series.

While production information on "Eerie" is hard to find, we can deduce a few things. All series triskaidekaphobia aside, the first 13 episodes appear to be part of the same network order. From episode 14 ("The Hole in the Head Gang") on we see an apparent push to retool the show, perhaps by NBC--the series, which switched between 7:00 and 7:30 on Sunday nights, would consistently get killed by the opposing "60 Minutes" on CBS. Two new characters were introduced in episode 14; grey-haired amnesiac teen Dash X (Jason Marsden, made a series regular from his first appearance) and the "real" Mr. Radford ("Addams Family" star Jon Astin), the latter of whom had been "tied up in the basement" by Archie Hahn's compulsive impostor character, a fake. Marsden and Astin appeared in every subsequent episode and drastically changed the show: Dash gave the show a solid emergent character with an elusive past (his name refers to a "+" and "-" tattoed on his wrists); and Mr. Radford became a wise, albeit goofy, mentor to Mars and Simon in his very first scene.

A mere six episodes were produced in this second order, which is a tell-tale sign that the network was biding its time in trying to decide whether or not a full season (let alone a second) was beneficial. A script for an episode called "The Jolly Roger" (or "The Jolly Rogers," depending on whom you ask) was completed but not filmed, involving pirates searching for buried treasure under the Teller's house. It is said that one of the other six were filmed in its place.

"Eerie" was cancelled after 18 of 19 produced episodes aired, the last two of which aired on the same night in April 1992. (The final episode, "Reality Takes a Holiday," had Marshall fighting network executives for his right to exist. On the show, he won.) The series was never repeated on NBC afterward and it floundered on Disney Channel for some time--Disney also aired "Broken Record," an episode from the original 13 that was not shown by NBC (this may have had to do with clearing the rights of a song by The Carpenters sung by Simon in the episode). The series was also a moderate hit overseas.

The value of the show, however, had actually been ahead of its time. A year and a half after "Eerie" ended, "The X-Files" made its debut, paving the way for more paranormal scripted dramas. This was not limited to the 18-49 crowd, however, and in late 1995 the Fox Kids Network began airing a series called "Goosebumps," based on the R.L. Stine series of children's ghost story books. "Goosebumps" was a huge hit for the children's network, and, by no mistake, Fox Kids purchased the rights to "Eerie" in early 1997. "Eerie, Indiana" was heavily promoted, and a big success this time around. Fox Kids' deal involved the option to make new episodes, and sure enough, "Eerie, Indiana: The Other Dimension" began airing in February 1998.

Of course by this time, Katz and Shenkarow were much too old to continue the same characters in the same context. "The Other Dimension" thus introduced similar, recasted characters going through an alternate version of Eerie: Marshall Teller became Mitchell Taylor, Simon Holmes became Stanley Hope, and Mr. Radford became Mr. Crawford. The show, reviewed as being as awful as these name changes, lasted 15 episodes, which is actually more than the standard 13 for a Saturday Morning children's series, but was not renewed for a second order.

In 2000, a company called BMG planned to release the first "Eerie, Indiana" on DVD in one-disc volumes. The first, featuring the first three episodes, was available in October 2000, and featured a preview for the rest of the releases. These releases never came to be, until 2003, when a "complete series" boxed set was announced. When this set finally materialized, the company pulled the sets from stores, citing missed promotional opportunity. Those sets which had been sold in stores then became a hot commodity on eBay, regularly reaching prices upwards of four hundred dollars, twenty times its retail price. The show was finally released in October 2004 and is currently available in retail shops. There are no known releases for "The Other Dimension."


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