Are You Afraid of the Dark is like balm for the soul. It’s always pure pleasure, even if it isn’t one of the more iconic episodes.
I sat infront of the TV this week and let episode after episode play. Season 3 really has some classics. But “The Tale of the Bookish Baby-Sitter” was one I had never seen before.
This episode features one of Betty Ann’s stories. As always, it’s full of fantasy and healthy doses of the supernatural. Her story this week is a story about stories.
Ricky is a 12-year-old pain-in-the-ass. He’s a brat that’s addicted to the television. When his mom prepares to go out one night, she tells him that he’s going to have a baby-sitter. He argues that he’s too told for one (I agree), but nevertheless, his baby sitter Belinda arrives.
Belinda comes off as a ~free spirit~, mystifying Ricky’s mother when she answers the door. Belinda is a new age sort of girl who wears a cloak unironically and forces children to read books. But as she’s highly recommended, Ricky’s mom leaves with a shrug.
It isn’t long before Ricky and Belinda clash. After she turns off the TV, she tells him he can do whatever he wants…so long as he reads 5 minutes of her book. Aloud.
But even five minutes is too long for Ricky. He immediately puts down the book, only to open it again and start reading another one. After that, he tosses the book aside to play video games in his room.
While minding his own business, Ricky is attacked by a knight in armour. Then a ghost. He soon finds ‘Belinda’ who encourages him to burn pages of the book. He does so eagerly, only to discover that ‘Belinda’ is really a witch, and the real Belinda is trying to save him.
The two kids manage to get away to the kitchen. There Belinda explains to him what’s going on. Ase he never finished any of his stories, they’ve all become mixed together. Burning the pages didn’t exactly help either. So to end the nightmare, he must finish the stories with his own imagination.
But a kid like Ricky has no imagination. Or so he thinks. He makes weak attempts at story telling while he and the baby-sitter are chased around the house. Eventually, Belinda hands him a red book. When he opens it, he finds himself in a dungeon…inside the story.
It’s up to Ricky to find it within himself to make up a story and save himself.
There are some Midnight Society tales that are more whimiscal than scary. This almost sounds like a story I’d want to be in. Maybe not being attacked by knights with axes, but I think I could have a fun time getting sucked into books. I actually enjoyed Betty Ann’s cute little joke with her book prop at the end. Imagine having the actual patience to make a prop just to mess with someone for two seconds?
Anyway. As always, I still think this show mostly holds up. Episodes like this might not be scary by today’s standards, but they still manage to capture the imagination. And perhaps it’s even a good cautionary tale for the recluctant reader in your life…