Why We Love 'Friday the 13th: The Series'
It’s the eternal questions we ask ourselves – why are we here? What is our purpose? Why am I not watching Friday The 13th: The Series, an underrated treasure and unfairly forgotten television classic? You are out of excuses not to befriend Micki, Jack, and Ryan, so I’ve listed just a few of the reasons you should watch one of the most creative, fun, insane, and overlooked shows ever to hit the airwaves.
It’s free on Amazon Prime. That’s right, if you are an Amazon Prime subscriber, all three seasons are complete and totally free. If you aren’t, you can easily buy all three seasons for around $15 each. That’s less than a dollar an episode to see what happens with all of the cursed antiques that Uncle Lewis sold. You know those cornrows you were going to have put in your hair this weekend? Spend your money on these DVDs instead. You’ll be happier and won’t look like Juliette Lewis at the 1992 Oscars.
Ryan’s sweaters. Ryan Dallion was a champion of men’s cardigans, only rivaled by the great Mr. Rogers. From his nautical-themed anchor sweater in “The Pirates Promise” to the yellow-and-black front, skating-scene back in “Scarecrow” (at least that’s what it looked like to me, although it also looked like Santa or the leg lamp from “A Christmas Story”), Ryan wore his sweaters loud and proud. There was no time to have Tim Gunn question his fashion choices, he had to stop evil and stay warm in those Canadian winters!
Nostalgia. Ever long for a simpler time, when Mom-and-Pop video stores were open and you listened to Debbie Gibson’s “Electric Youth” cassette on your Sony walkman? Micki, Ryan, and Jack had to look things up – in books! – to find out information. There was no Google to light their path. All the detective work they did, researching and locating the cursed antiques, was done without cell phones, GPS, iPods, Instagram, Facebook, the pony express, MapQuest, or whatever new-fangled contraptions we have at our disposal today. It was a different time, before we gave trophies to everyone just for participating; when the world’s most famous robot wasn’t Wall-E but Vicki from “Small Wonder.”
There are some terrifying episodes. Because of its syndicated nature and late-night airing, the show flew under the radar of the censors for awhile, resulting in a more than a few nightmare-inducing episodes. The titular monster in “Scarecrow” is ghastly and horrifying. The talking-and-stalking Veda doll of “The Inheritance” will make you throw away your Betsy Wetsy collection. The apiary in “The Sweetest Sting” is nowhere you’d want to be captured. The ghoulish Negleys in “The Long Road Home” own the creepiest farmhouse this side of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”. These are just some of the examples of the horrible baddies and boogeymen that Micki, Ryan, and Jack had to face. Jessica Fletcher never had to battle a scythe-wielding scarecrow in “Murder, She Wrote” to solve a mystery, although I suspect Angela Lansbury could secretly be a ninja assassin quite capable of smacking a scarecrow down.
Each episode (and antique) has its own backstory. Whereas the running theme of the show was the retrieval of the cursed antiques, there were very few rules for each -- don’t get them wet, don’t feed them after midnight, and don’t expose them to bright lights. No, wait, that’s the Gremlins. Either way, the antiques were only bound by the rules that they were evil and could not be physically destroyed. But each individual curse and story was unique. Sometimes the person it belonged to was already evil; other times, they were taken over by it, perhaps to gain something they wanted. The villains weren’t always cold-blooded and unsympathetic, like Rachel in “Crippled Inside” or Leslie in “What a Mother Wouldn’t Do”. Some curses were very specific to the user, while others could easily change hands and it wouldn’t matter. But the writers took the time to craft thoughtful backstories to what those curses were and how they affected their owner.
It’s ahead of its time. Do you enjoy mystery, suspense, gore, characters you can root for, and bloody special effects? Welcome, we have all that here. Before the great Mulder and Scully, the loyal Buffy gang, and the criminally-underrated “She-Wolf of London”, Micki, Jack, and Ryan worked this beat -- not “beat” as in a DeBarge video, but like a detective would say it; there were no choreographed dance sequences here. The episodes had a formula based on questions – what is the cursed object, who has it, where can they find it, and how do they get it back? Rinse and repeat. There weren’t shows about the supernatural at the time, especially ones featuring graphic violence and references to the occult. This show paved the way for the ones that followed, whether it’s acknowledged or not. Kind of like how my elderly neighbor Mr. Costello always farts in the elevator but then doesn’t acknowledge it. I know it was you, Mr. Costello! Okay, that’s a terrible example, but you get where I’m going with this. Friday the 13th: The Series deserves credit for paving the way for the 1990s mystery-supernatural hybrid shows, and it never once farted in an elevator.
Helen Mackie. There is no more amazing character in the history of the world. Sorry, Kindergarten Cop and Dr. Giggles, you don’t get to be number one anymore. Helen shows up in “Vanity’s Mirror” -- all pimples and bad attitude and sour demeanor. She has a sweet sister that she doesn’t appreciate, all the while coveting her sister’s beau. Oh, and she owns a cursed vanity that makes men fall madly in love with her; then she kills them with about as much thought as she’d give to having Bill and Ted’s Excellent Cereal for breakfast. You have not experienced the true joy and horror of the late 1980s until you see Helen in her prom dress. Michael Bolton’s Christmas album won’t seem so scary anymore once you’ve lived through that.
Remember to think twice about buying that used door stopper on Craiglist or those antique toothpicks on eBay. Uncle Lewis might have owned them first.
Go – right now – and find these episodes and experience the magic, wonder, and awesomeness that you have been missing all these years. Don’t come back until you are at least halfway through the first season. Good day, sir or ma’am. I said good day!