Throughout my formative years, my parents have played a worryingly big part in warping my poor, sweet, innocent child’s mind. I distinctly remember my dad taking me to see Life is Beautiful when I was about seven years old. For those of you who don’t know what that is about: there are concentration camps. Yeah. Then there were the myriad of serial killer mystery movies and a special re-release of Alien that I really, really should not have been allowed in the theater for – and yet I was.
My point is this: I was enjoying adult entertainment – and by that I mean my mom covered my eyes during sex scenes but practically held them open for all the stabbings and explosions – far sooner than I should have. (In my opinion, that just made me even more awesome.)
However, I did watch some shows aimed towards children that I still get nostalgic over. After watching this video, said nostalgia kicked in. Suddenly I felt the need to tell random strangers on the internet the top five shows from my childhood… and here they are, in no particular order:
Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002)
I obviously need to start with the show that kicked off my mini-trip down memory lane. This show was…well, let’s just say there’s a reason I grew up warped, and while I can blame my parents for a lot of it, some of my own viewing choices are at fault.
Courage was about the titular dog, who was, naturally, very cowardly. He lived with two ancient old people in a farm house in the middle of Nowhere (haha, funny) and fought otherworldly creatures on a regular basis.
Things like mummies, alien chickens, and giant cockroaches were the norm for this show, but the most disturbing villain I remember is Freaky Fred: a creepy rhyming Englishman with a shaving fetish.
Sure, it sounds weird if you only look at Courage The Cowardly Dog’s disturbing undertones, but the show itself sure had a heart of gold. No, really – it’s about a dog who’s terrified of everything up to and including life itself, but he loves his owner so much that he’ll protect her from whatever evil things might come at them. What a beautiful message, wrapped up in the most terrifying little demonic package.
Are You Afraid of the Dark? (1991 – 2000)
Okay, as I write this list, I’m starting to realize that maybe my issues are mostly my own fault. Maybe my parents tried to keep me from going to those movies, and I blocked out the part where I forcibly coerced them into taking me. Either way, the images gained from watching Are You Afraid will be forever seared into my brain.
An anthology show, Are You Afraid of the Dark? took the same basic setup as Goosebumps – but actually made the premise scary. There’s a framing device in this one, of kids just like me sitting around a fire and telling spooky tales – which did nothing to tame my wild imagination. Sure, the episodes were stories, but Max’s Nighttime Thoughts always seemed to ignore that fact.
I don’t know if it was the scariest episode ever, but the episode that stuck with me the most was about ghosts… I think. Or maybe it was a demon? All I remember is that a girl died trying to cleanse her house of some sort of apparition, but there were werewolf rules at play (an allergy to silver and such).
And my post-coitus sleeping partners wonder why I refuse to turn off the lights in bed. Those idiots. Those dumb, imaginary idiots.
Spider-Man (1994 – 1998)
For all the nerdy things I’m into nowadays, it sure is odd that I never got into comic books. Sure, I like the movies based on them and I’ve read plenty of Wikipedia to know the basics of most comic plots, but the actual, physical copies never became a part of my childhood literary arsenal.
Everything I knew about Spider-Man (before the invention of the internet) came from this show. It was how I learned about the Marvel universe, and it kind of informed my views on the first trilogy of movies.
As far as I know, this isn’t a bad thing. I think it’s a pretty good adaption of Peter Parker’s universe, and it sure was popular at the time (that has to count for something, right?).
My most vivd memory of this show would have to be that arc where Peter turns into a spider. I don’t remember why it happens or how it was resolved, but I do know he spends a chunk of an episode with six arms. Ah, my crystal clear memory is at work.
Big Bad Beetleborgs (1996 – 1998)
I wish I could defend this show being on here in some way, but I can’t. While I did watch Power Rangers when I was super duper young, this show always left more of an impression. Maybe it was the because of that blue Elvis impersonator ghost…
Well, anyway, said ghost mentors some kids in a haunted house and they become robot world savers. I don’t even know what was up with that.
There’s a lot of comic book touches to this show, with nifty sound effects and monsters being drawn and brought to life by comic books artists, so I was apparently getting my comic book fix somewhere.
The most memorable thing about this show was the main female character getting replaced by a new, much, much younger girl midway through the series. It was so jolting, and the in-show reasoning (she was cursed or something, so no one saw her new face except for the protagonists) left a bad aftertaste. Seriously, she was robbed of her identity, and she didn’t even care. Plus, her parents would never know. Disturbing? Yes, very.
Scooby-Doo, Where Are You! (1969 – 1970)
This has to be at least part of the inspiration for Courage, because, come on: Dog. Cartoon. Monsters.
This is the show that molded my undying interest in all things haunted. Sure, the show was grounded enough to have all the ghosts be fake – even though it also had a talking dog, which is about as far from ‘grounded in reality’ as possible – yet I was still drawn to it.
I can’t point out a highlight for this one, since every episode was literally the exact same thing: Creepy location, Scooby Snacks, Velma loses her glasses, and Fred and Daphne have secret sex in a very dusty, spider-infested closet.
Oh, you know what, maybe the episode with the Creeper. He sure was kooky.