Wicked Wednesday: The Baby-Sitters Club “Dawn and the Haunted House”

This week’s Wicked Wednesday is a bit different than usual. Instead of the usual blood fest and gore, we have…The Baby-Sitters Club.

As a very young girl, I loved The Baby-Sitters Club TV show. The show, while originally a HBO/Nickelodeon venture, the reruns were shown on the Disney Channel from 1994 to 1997, which meant I couldn’t have been older than 6-years-old when I watched. It’s was shortly before the time that I was forced to watch Mars Attacks! and Scream 2 and my life was ruined forevermore.

But at that age, much more simple things can be scary: something on the other side of a locked door, a basement, a mysterious person. It’s what made The Adventures of Mary-Kate & Ashley work so well for me. That made a BEE KEEPER terrifying. Bee. Keeper.

It’s just a part of being an ignorant child, and that’s exactly that the girls in the Baby-Sitters Club are.

The episode’s title is rather misleading. For one, there is no haunted houses here, but instead an old, “witch” woman than the children of Stoneybrook love spreading rumours about.

Dawn loves a bit of a ghost story. During a biking trip, Dawn stops the other baby-sitters and tell them about Mrs Slade, the woman who lives there. She tells them that she believes that Mrs Slade kills animals for her experiments. And somehow, the girls seem pretty convinced.

Later, Dawn and Claudia baby-sit a trio of young children who leave near Mrs Slade. While they’re at the home, the little boy tells his baby-sitters that he’s found bones that the “witch” has buried.

This somehow prompts the girls to take the children on a walk through the woods. They study the pet cemetery that the boy has seen and begin to freak themselves out. When they hear a calling in the woods, they feel (mostly) certain that it’s either the wind…or the witch! 

Meanwhile, Claudia is struggling with school. Her mother asks her to give up some of her extracurricular in order to focus on studying. Claudia is immediately on the defensive and begins to argue. She even drops in some quotes from the show’s theme song which makes for a pretty compelling argument, if you ask me.

But regardless, Claudia is still a child and this is The Baby-Sitters Club, so Claudia begins her tutoring. She also keeps it a secret from the other baby-sitters.

At a slumber party, the baby-sitters indulge in scary movies and stories. Dawn, of course, tells stories about Mrs Slade. But later Claudia gets defensive when she believes Dawn is calling her dumb.

Later, while baby-sitting the young trio of kids again, Stacey sees Claudia in the window of Mrs Slade’s house. She (somehow) becomes convinced that Claudia is under a witch’s spell. She calls the other baby-sitters to have them rescue Claudia. Stacey, meanwhile, stays with the kids but prank calls Mrs Slade about an injured dog in the woods.

Mrs Slade rushes to the woods in order to save the dog, allowing the baby-sitters a chance to sneak into the house. When the girls find Claudia, she explains that she’s not under a spell but rather having tutoring. From Mrs Slade…a former vet.

Realising their mistake, the girls go into the woods to look for Mrs Slade. To their credit, the girls do apologise. Claudia even strikes up a friendship with the old woman after she paces her science test.

So there’s no haunting here. But it definitely is an episode of television that highlights the fears of silly children. And let’s face it, many children (if not all) can be silly. Most of the fear is created in their minds, making even the smallest of things bigger and more terrifying.

Yeah, the episode is a bit daft. It’s cheesy and silly and heavy-handed on the wholesomeness. But the shows sweetness reminds me of brighter days. The things here certainly won’t spook anyone over the age of 8 or 9, but it’s got all the bare bones of what it means to be both safe and scared at the same time: scary stories at slumber party, urban legends about honest neighbours.

It was certainly nice to watch something different. Though I’m not quite sure if I’d ever write about another for WW. For one, I think I’ve used up all episodes with spook names. Not sure if “Dawn Saves the Trees” or “The Baby-Sitters Remember” will really have the right vibe. But I guess you never know.

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