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September 12, 2013 9:52 PM   Subscribe

In 1987, alongside another popular first-run syndicated show (perhaps you've heard of it?), a horror anthology series premiered, and together they spearheaded a massive wave of first-run syndication genre shows including, but by no means limited to, "War of the Worlds", "Hercules: The Legendary Journeys", "Xena: Warrior Princess", "Forever Knight", and "Babylon 5".

Originally to be titled "The 13th Hour", the show was executive produced by Frank Mancuso, Jr., producer of the second through the eighth movies in the eponymous film franchise. Mancuso changed the title to "Friday the 13th: The Series" to capitalize on the popularity of the films, even though the show had no in-world connection to the films, no shared characters or setting.

The series centered on an antique store which had sold deadly cursed antiques. Its proprietor, Lewis Vendredi, violated his pact with Satan, and died. His distant relations Micki Foster (Louise Robey billed by last name only) and Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay), inherited the shop, and along with Uncle Lewis's former partner Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins), spent the show trying to recover all the cursed items Uncle Lewis had sold, at a rate of roughly one per episode. They did not always succeed.

The show had many notable guest stars, episode writers, and episode directors over its three-year run:

Guest Stars (roughly in episode order):
R.G. Armstrong played Uncle Lewis Vendredi, the seller of cursed antiques, whose death is the catalyst for the story. Armstrong appeared several times again over the course of the show.
8-year-old Sarah Polley played the owner of the cursed doll in the pilot episode, "The Inheritance".
Enrico Colantoni "Root of All Evil"
Ray Walston "Tales of the Undead"
Keye Luke "Tattoo"
Billy Drago "Read My Lips"
Vanity "Mesmer's Bauble"
Jill Hennessy (4 episodes!) "Wedding In Black", "Night Prey", "Year of the Monkey", "Jack in the Box"
Lolita Davidovitch "Wedding Bell Blues"
Fritz Weaver "The Prophecies" parts 1 and 2
Colm Feore "The Maestro", "Mightier than the Sword"

Directors:
Atom Egoyan "Cupid's Quiver"
David Cronenberg "Faith Healer"
David Morse "A Friend to the End"
Allan Kroeker "The Long Road Home", "Epitaph for a Lonely Soul"

Episode Writers:
Carl Binder (5 episodes)
Brian Helgeland "Mightier than the Sword", "Crippled Inside"

Many episodes are available on YouTube, in whole episodes or in chunks.
All three seasons are available on DVD, too.
And yeah, it doesn't age well, but I still love it.
posted by Mister Moofoo (22 comments total) 33 users marked this as a favorite

 
I loved that show. Haven't watched it in a while though, not sure if it holds up. I do remember thinking Warehouse 13 had an awfully similar premise.
posted by kmz at 9:55 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ok. This. Is. Bizarre.
This afternoon I googled and posted to YouTube a song my mother had on a 45 in around summer 1985. At the time Murray Head's (awesome) "One Night in Bangkok" was a hit. Not knowing the name of the performer, she picked up one by someone called Robey. That's Louise Robey, the above mentioned star of this show.
My friend Adam and I used to giggle at the b-side song "Bored and Beautiful", because we were 10 and it was kinda goofy.
After nearly 30 years, this song popped back into my head just this afternoon and I tracked down that YouTube and posted it to his wall.
That's far creepier than any of the things which occurred on that show.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 9:59 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't actually track down Robey's cover of "One Night in Bangkok", Senor Cardgage, because I was afraid to. Otherwise I might have included it.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:01 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also I loved this show. This was back in my Fangoria days, when I wanted to grow up to be Tom Savini.
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:02 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Here ya go Mister Moofoo
posted by Senor Cardgage at 10:08 PM on September 12, 2013


Jeez. I was right to be afraid.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 10:15 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


...a horror anthology series premiered...

I was so sure this was gonna be about Tales from the Darkside.
posted by zardoz at 10:16 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


I so SOOOOOOOO addicted to this show. It was awesome and I loved the gimmicks they cooked up for the cursed artifacts. They were evil and did terrible things to the owners, but, unlike so many of such things, they took the time to think out benefits which were plausible enough to make the owners want to keep them.

Also, my best buddy and I who had it in our mandatory TV rotation were horribly, horribly infatuated with Ms. Robey.
posted by Samizdata at 10:35 PM on September 12, 2013


zardoz: "...a horror anthology series premiered...

I was so sure this was gonna be about Tales from the Darkside .
"

And, I watched THAT one so much that I can confidently type (without Googling or Binging or whatevering)...

Man lives in the sunlit world... of what he believes to be reality.

But... there is... unseen by most, an underworld, a place that is just as real, but not as brightly lit...

a Darkside.
posted by Samizdata at 10:44 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


I loved this, dearly. But I loved Poltergeist: The Legacy more.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 10:55 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I wonder how long before someone remembers Alexander Salkind Presents The Adventures Of Superboy?

I wonder how many people have desperately tried to forget The Adventures Of Superboy?

And the... Universal Action Pack. Which spawned both Hercules and Xena.
posted by JHarris at 11:26 PM on September 12, 2013


Owner: Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse!
Homer: [worried] Ooooh, that's bad.
Owner: But it comes with a free Frogurt!
Homer: [relieved] That's good.
Owner: The Frogurt is also cursed.
Homer: [worried] That's bad.
Owner: But you get your choice of topping!
Homer: [relieved] That's good.
Owner: The toppings contains Potassium Benzoate.
Homer: [stares]
Owner: That's bad.
posted by bottlebrushtree at 11:33 PM on September 12, 2013 [11 favorites]


The Robey music video is astonishing. It's pretty clear the video's budget had funds enough for either irony or hairspray and they, well, they chose, all right.
posted by Spatch at 12:10 AM on September 13, 2013 [4 favorites]


I was so sure this was gonna be about Tales from the Darkside

That show used to creep me out so bad as a kid. And not fun or awesome Twilight Zone-y creep-outs, either. There was a real nastiness to that show, it seemed like the stories were always about awful people, and the reason they were so awful was so that we could get our nasty jollies at the end, when they'd get their comeuppance and they'd melt or turn into a horrible zombie or whatever. To this day I'll remember episodes of that show and my stomach clenches up.

If you remember the show, this parody (from The Ben Stiller Show) is real hoot. He's actually doing a direct spoof of a Darkside episode that starred Jerry Stiller, his dad.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 12:57 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Watching both those Bangkok videos I was struck that perhaps there was a moment of the end of the 80s, when the cocaine momentarily ran out, and all of the elders of the entertainment industry looked each other and said "What have we just done?"

And then they did it all over again.
posted by Grangousier at 1:03 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Nothing but wikipedia and imbd?
posted by Wolfdog at 3:19 AM on September 13, 2013


Count me in as one of the kids who loved this show. Shepherd asked me if this was when my obsession with Canadiana began (maybe, and also KITH), but I don't think they ever said what city the series was located in. In hindsight, it was so very clearly Toronto.
posted by Kitteh at 4:14 AM on September 13, 2013


In hindsight, it was so very clearly Toronto.

Indeed. A friend of mine worked on this and I got corralled into working as an extra a couple of times, although I still have never seen the show. Someday when I am old and a bit befogged, the TV at the nursing home will be showing eighties shows to keep us seniors happy. Then some scene with two people arguing in front of the row of pawnshops on Church Street will appear and I am going to see my 22-year-old self walk past.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:46 AM on September 13, 2013


But I loved Poltergeist: The Legacy more.

Why? I have not seen much of either series (and I have read awful tales of the Nightmare on Elm Street series, the Freddy origin episode I loved), but I am not filled with a huge desire to track down any of said shows.

A few words, and I will be right on that.
posted by Mezentian at 8:48 AM on September 13, 2013


But I loved Poltergeist: The Legacy more.

Why?


I've thought a lot about this, actually.

It wasn't because it was good, at least not in any conventional sense. Not that it's especially bad either.

For me, I think the most important factor is that it's a lot like the extended make-believe games my elementary school friends and I used to play at recess. They were kind of a hybrid of two of our Absolute Favorite Things: Superfriends and Poltergeist (the movie). (When I was around nine, I truly believed that when I grew up, I could be a glamorous-yet-scholarly, jetsetting parapsychologist.) So part of it that I just love the conceit: The idea of a grand and secret organization-- half intuitive, half scientific, spanning the globe to investigate and manage the supernatural-- appeals deeply to my inner fourth-grader.

Other shows have done things like that, of course (Millennium comes to mind) but Poltergeist has it up on them because the organization is wracked by darkly convoluted, cartoonily Freudian, intergenerational family drama. I love me some of that.

And then there's the "Yeah, bitches, we went there" factor. You don't get that in every episode , but once in a while there's something truly spectacular-- like, say, a lurid and goofy demon birth where the afterbirth gets in on the action.

TL;DR: I do love Poltergeist: The Legacy, but it's mostly for childish reasons that are peculiar to me. I don't really expect anyone else to feel the same way.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 2:09 PM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


JHarris: "I wonder how long before someone remembers Alexander Salkind Presents The Adventures Of Superboy?

I wonder how many people have desperately tried to forget The Adventures Of Superboy?

And the... Universal Action Pack. Which spawned both Hercules and Xena.
"

And, and, and, hate me as you will, I LIKED (mostly) Jack of All Trades. But, then again, I am a little bit of a Campbell Cultist.
posted by Samizdata at 12:45 PM on September 15, 2013


I remember Salkind's Superboy moderately fondly, because it actually used super villains.

I recall Jack of All Trades and Cleopatra 2525 being packaged together, and shown at the exciting hour of 11:30pm, but I had no idea someone decided the world NEEDED a Smokey and the Bandit series of TV movies.
posted by Mezentian at 3:32 PM on September 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


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