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Eerie, Indiana 1.5 – The Broken Record

The fifth episode of Eerie, Indiana was preempted by NBC at the last minute across most of the country. It was there in the newspapers that morning – you can check October 13, 1991 yourself at all sorts of sites – but I think that the football game ran late and it was skipped.

Conventional wisdom has it that the episode wasn’t screened for more than two years, when it showed up on a repeat run on the Disney Channel, which then led some well-meaning fans to call it the program’s nineteenth and final episode, which then led the good people at Fabulous Films, who put out the DVD, to stick it on the third disk instead of where it belonged. But conventional wisdom isn’t always accurate. There were video traders in 1992 who had copies of this episode. The big name blowhard trader that I mentioned back in this post? He had a copy. He claimed that it did air on one or two of the NBC affiliate stations, which is where the VHS copies that made the rounds came from.

Well, I’d never seen it before tonight, anyway. “The Broken Record,” written by the show’s co-creator José Rivera, was inspired by the Satanic panic of the eighties and the mad parental fear that heavy metal records had subliminal messages in them. As it turns out, the Pitbull Surfers – who are two weeks away from playing an allegedly history-making show in Indianapolis – do have a subliminal backwards message in their LP, but it’s not at all what the stressed-out dad in this adventure thinks it is. Tom Everett, who’s made a career of playing high-ranking government officials and military officers, plays the high-strung father in this episode, and I was struck by how unlike Mark Metcalf in the Twisted Sister videos he was.

Our son enjoyed some rather obnoxiously loud belly laughs over things that he found funnier than anybody else did, especially an accident on Main Street involving a stolen milk truck. He was also guffawing over bits that made me chuckle, without understanding what was actually funny about them. There’s a classic running gag about Simon being so out of tune with Eerie’s rock-loving teens that he’s singing Carpenters songs while they’re headbanging. You be yourself, Simon. Thurston Moore says the Carpenters are all right, and he’d know.

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