Welcome to day six of the A to Z Bloggers Challenge! Today we are watching Friday the 13th: The Series, the contemporary supernatural serial that is nothing at all like the film version of the same name. The show is also known as The Curse, which I think is a more appropriate title considering the plot.
No, it’s not summer camp and you will not find a strange man chasing teenagers through the misty forest before he disappears into the lake. The television series Friday the 13th has a completely different premise. The television series, which ran from October 1987 to May 1990, is about the owner of antiques store, Lewis Vendredi (R.G. Armstrong) who makes a deal with the Devil to sell antiques items from his shop in exchange for the usual things people make deals with the Devil for–money, magical powers, and the ability to live forever. But wait, there’s more! The items in the shop are now cursed, and whoever purchases the items from the shop will suffer from strange, well, curses! (Why do they always do this in horror shows? Note to self: Never make a deal with the Devil!) Eventually, Vendredi broke his deal with the Devil, and who wouldn’t? Immortality is not as fun as it seems on TV. Just ask a vampire! When Vendredi broke his deal, the Devil claimed his soul.
Louise Robey who stars as Micki Foster in Friday the 13th: The Series.
When Lewis dies, his niece, Micki Foster (played by the lovely Louise Robey) and her cousin, Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay). The show also added an additional character, Johnny Ventura (Steve Monarque) a part-time writer who replaced LeMay permanently in the third season. They sell many of the items in the shop–Vendredi’s Antiques is surprisingly popular and the cursed antiques end up in the a variety of places, from college campuses to the homes of the rich and famous.
John D. LeMay stars as Ryan Dallion in Friday the 13th: The Series.
Foster and Dallion meet Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins) who was close friends with the former soul-selling owner and is now a wealthy, retired, world-traveling occult specialist who actually collected most of the antiques for Lewis before they were cursed. Marshak convinces Foster and Dallion to stop selling the shops contents immediately. Unfortunately, so many of the cursed items are already gone that serious damage has been done and their only hope is to do their best to track down the items and return them to the store.
A Minor Setback
There is a slight problem with this task. Many of the “curses” actually give the new owners powers that they do not want to give up, and the antiques cannot be destroyed, so Foster and Dallion must find a way to retrieve the items without the knowledge of the new owners, or somehow convince them to give them up, so the items can be locked away in a vault beneath the store, which is renamed “Curious Goods.” The vault has a bit of magic of its own, magic that removes the curses on the objects as long as they remain inside the vault.
This may sound like an impossible task, but Marshak, Forster and Dallion have some guidance. Lewis has a manifest, a list of all of the items he collected during his world travels. The manifest is huge and it’s often difficult for the trio to determine what is missing from the store until strange events begin to occur in the community, but Marshak did keep detailed records and with some careful sleuthing, Foster and Dallion are able to both track down the item and determine how it is affecting the new owner.
As it is an anthology, each story is different, like a short fiction story, but they have the common thread of the curse. Most of the curses have a magic that allows the new owner to use the object for personal gain or revenge. The object is activated through the death of a human who is either killed by the object or in some way that reflects the object’s history. This is the first clue–the mysterious death–that informs the trio that there is an object from their shop nearby and sparks the investigative process.
The objects are a bit greedy. They tend to demand, or require, more human sacrifices (remember, we are talking about Devil curses here.) Some of the objects are intelligent and rather spooky, like the talking doll in the episode “The Inheritance.” Some objects have the ability to make other objects seem intelligent, which throws off the investigation, pointing Foster and Dallion in the wrong direction. Other objects release their benefits to the owners only in response to a human sacrifice, so there are a number of different directions the stories can move in, making the investigations more interesting. There are also a few episodes where the trio is not hunting down and object, but instead is confronted by the ghost of Lewis, the former shop owner, or some other evil person. I have a few favorite episodes, as well, that will be discussed in individual posts.
I actually like this show. Though it may seem a bit far-fetched, it has all the necessary ingredients to appeal to fans of supernatural television. It is also exciting, creative, and generally has good acting, as well. I like the idea of the curses, the fact that each curse is different and must be identified through investigation and observation. The title of the show implies a horror, but it’s more of a mystery with the use of the curses in the plot. I believe the show would have lasted longer if it didn’t try so hard to push the boundaries, crossing that line between acceptable prime time programming and R-rated content with occasional sex scenes or violence. One episode in particular, “Night Prey,” was criticized for pushing these boundaries beyond what was necessary to entertain the audience.
I think the acting and plot were strong enough to carry the show through an endless number of scenarios with a bit of creativity on the part of the writers if they had avoided the temptation of the gratuitous sex scenes, but that is what the show is about–the lure of power and control.
Taking chances is a good thing. That’s what creativity is all about. Nevertheless, I think it’s sad when writers, producers, and directors take so many chances that they destroy a great show. Friday the 13th: The Series should have run much longer than it did. According to the Internet Movie Database, the series was nominated for two Emmys for Visual and Graphic Effects in 1988 and 1989. The episodes “Scarlet Cinema” and “The Sweetest Sting” also won awards. The Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films nominated the show for best series in 1990, and Canada’s Gemini Awards nominated the show 12 times for writing, editing, directing, production design, acting, sound and music.
- Friday the 13th: The Series. Creators: Frank Mancuso Jr. and Larry B. Williams. Perf. Louise Robey, John D. LeMay, and Chris Wiggins. Lexicon Productions. Running Time: 60 min.