It’s difficult to believe by the dreary, rainy weather we’ve been having in Britain, but summer is inching closer and closer.
As always in the summer, I can’t get enough of spooky nostalgia. Sign me up for all the 90s horror and 80s slasher paperbacks – even if things have felt as far from summer as possible recently. And after a particularly hectic week, it was once again time to settle down with an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?
“The Tale of the Carved Stone” is campy fun, probably because it’s one of King Gary’s tales. He has his usual trick set up, this time tricking the other Midnight Society members into thinking that there’s a figure in a hat waiting for them by the fire.
It’s, of course, just a costume. But one that adds flair to his tale, as well as provides imagery for the tale’s main villain: a monk.
Alison is new in town. She’s desperate to make friends. So when she spots that a group of kids her age drop a pair of goofy glasses, she rushes to return them. But she quickly realises that the glasses are broken.
Wanting to find a new pair to replace the broken ones and impress the other kids, she goes to Sardo’s to shop. Once there, though, Sardo convinces her not to buy glasses, but to purchase a carved stone. He claims it’s an Egyptian friendship stone. He’s clearly making up nonsense, but Alison buys it anyway.
After returning home with the stone, Alison tests out the stone. When the other kids arrive at the door, they become angry that all she had was some broken glasses to return. So clearly, the stone has a much different power than promised.
Alison discovers the stone’s powers when she throws it at a mirror. She learns that the stone allows her to travel in time through mirrors. When in the past, she meets Thomas Jefferson Bradshaw, whose initials are carved on the bench in her bedroom.
The two become quick friends and agree to explore Alison’s present (TJB’s future) and go to the movies. But before you can say “It’s Sar-DOUGH!” the kids come face-to-face with a menacing monk, Brother Septimus, who demands the stone be returned to him. He’s a time traveller, and is really missing that time travel.
A chase back and forth through time ensues. But when the monk catches up to the two children, he reveals that he needs to take a life so he can travel again (I think). He pulls off his glove to show off his nasty long nail. Before he can even attack, Alison rushes at him, breaking the mirror and getting the monk stuck somewhere in time for good.
Back in her present, Alison sees her name now carved with TJB. Apparently those ten minutes together really made them besties. And somehow, for a young teenage girl this seems…swell? Glad she made a friend, but you probably want to focus on meeting someone born within at least the same decade as you.
This is one episode where I could find a few ways of improving things. For one, why couldn’t TJB be a teenager like Alison? It’s a bit weird that he’s so much younger than her. And why is Brother Septimus a monk? What sort of weird group of monks does this guy roll with? By making him an evil wizard or something, that back story is easily explained. Time travelling monks? Well, that I don’t quite get. And do kids find monks terrifying?
But this is a cool episode overall. When Are You Afraid of the Dark? captures the imagination (like with time-travel mirrors), is when it works best.
Also, Richard Dumont who plays Sardo? I hope wherever he is, he’s living his best and happiest life. That man is pure gold.