Are You Afraid of the Dark? Episode 1: “The Tale of the Phantom Cab”
A recap and review of Are You Afraid of the Dark? Episode 1: “The Tale of the Phantom Cab”
The Midnight Society:
- In the pilot episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, Frank is not yet a part of the Midnight Society and must prove himself by telling this tale:
- Brothers Denny and Buzz (not sure why that name was such a thing in the 90’s) go on a hiking trip and get lost
- After hours of attempting to get out of the woods, they encounter a man named Flynn
- Instead of helping them, he tells the boys that only Dr. Vink can (probably should’ve been the boys’ first clue that not all was well). Flynn also asks the boys how they are at riddles
- Flynn takes the boys to Dr. Vink’s “home”, where he leaves them to it
- Outside of the cottage, the brothers begin to hear strange noises coming from the plants surrounding Dr. Vink’s home
- They run to the door where Dr. Vink answers and introduces himself as a special doctor. Dr. Vink also asks the boys if they are good at riddles
- Dr. Vink gives the boys a riddle for fun….because heck they don’t have anything better to do right?
- Riddle #1: “How far can you walk into the woods?”
- Buzz is able to answer this riddle fairly quickly and states that you would “need to be halfway”
- Dr. Vink then presents the boys with a proposition, if they can solve his next riddle, they can call their parents…yup not weird at all
- THE MASTER RIDDLE: “What has no weight, can be seen by the naked eye, and if put in a barrel it will make the barrel lighter?”
- The boys are stumped and Dr. Vink kicks them out, unless they want to give him a specimen for his experiments and then they could use the phone….and by specimen he means a hand….Dr. Vink plays for keeps
- The brothers leave the cottage where Dr. Vink tells them that a taxi cab will pick them up, the boys are less than optimistic
- After a short while, the cab indeed shows up as Buzz exclaims “It’s a taxi cab!”….good job Buzz
- The boys get in and realize that Flynn is driving. He explains that he was hoping that they could solve Dr. Vink’s riddle and that he tried once and failed….and then he shows the boys his handless arm, which he lost in a bet to Dr. Vink
- Flynn then tells the boys that he’s a ghost and that he’s been cursed and that he must pick up Dr. Vink’s failed riddle solvers and re-live the same crash that has happened for the last 40 years
- The boys have little time to solve the riddle or else they will end up like the plants at Dr. Vink’s
- With seconds to spare, Buzz is able to solve the riddle…..the answer….a hole
- The cab drives towards the tree and as they quickly approach it, the boys are safely flung from the cab and find themselves in front of the tree as the cab and Flynn disappear…..the curse is broken
- The boys see a car approaching….but luckily this time it’s a ranger who will take them home
- THE END
The Midnight Society:
- All of the members take a vote and Frank is voted in!
“The Tale of the Phantom Cab”, the first episode of the series and you could tell they tried to begin the series off with a bang. But unfortunately the whole episode feels jammed with scary elements where none of them take center stage. Between the phantom cab, Dr. Vink, and the plant ghost things….it all just feels like 3 stories in 1.
Our monster of the episode is Flynn the ghost. While he is interesting in the fact that he cracks jokes and attempts to actually help the boys on their journey, he just doesn’t have that “it” factor for me.
Scare Factor: 5/10
There was potential for some very scary elements in “The Tale of the Phantom Cab”, but for some reason the director decided to take a more cartoonish vibe. The silly music, the non-stop banter between the brothers, it was all just too much goofiness to get the scary vibe going. I will say the talking plants are very creepy.
Unlike some other episodes with siblings, the dynamic duo of Buzz and Denny fall flat. The chemistry between the two kids sucked and omg was Buzz awful with his forced lines. The only saving grace was our introduction to Dr. Vink, who we all know returns for a few more scares.
As with most episodes of this series, there is usually either a happy ending, or a twist ending. “The Tale of the Phantom Cab” provided us with our first happy ending and it worked well with the previously discussed light-hearted nature of the episode. Also, if you didn’t remember (or if it’s your first time watching) the answer to the master riddle, the episode gives you plenty of time to figure it out before the answer is finally revealed. I’m not gonna lie, to this day this is about 1 of 2 riddles I know off the top of my head, and people still can’t get it. Kudos Buzz….kudos.
Total Score: 30/50
Follow along all summer as I recap and review all of Season 1. Click the link below to see the complete schedule this summer: