|By Erin Maxwell|
It is only a short matter of months before hockey loving, dead teenager enthusiast Jason makes his small screen debut on the CW in the net’s new horror drama (dramorror? horrama?) Friday the 13th.
Looking to cash in on the new love for TV ultra-violence, CW is sending its viewers back to camp Crystal Lake in a what promises to be a dramatized version of the Jason mythos.
Despite interest in seeing everyone’s favorite undead serial killer romp taking revenge on horny teenagers, this is not the Friday the 13th that should be revisited.
Back in 1987, American-Canadian horror drama Friday the 13th: The Series made its debut on syndicated networks. In Los Angeles, the series somehow slid into the Sunday afternoon schedule between family fare and G.L.O.W.: The Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling. And despite what the name might imply, the series had absolutely nothing to do with a machete wielding maniac.
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Instead, it featured dozens of maniacs, as well as homicidal fashion models, ugly ducking high school kids with a bloodlust, well-intentioned doctors who took things too far and many, many, many greedy little assholes with no regard for human life.
And it was glorious.
Canadian model-turned-actress (turned “One Night In Bangkok” cover song singer) Louise Robey and John D. LeMary starred as Micki Foster and Ryan Dallion, cousins who inherit a cursed antique shop from their hell-dwelling uncle Lewis Vendrendi. Apparently, before he kicked the bucket, old Lewis made a deal with the devil and sold cursed objects to all sorts of creepy and terrible folks.
From pens that can turn folks into serial killers to radios that can predict the future for a price, evil artifacts were scattered to the winds, leaving a trail of bodies in their wake.
Joined by magician and occult fan Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins), the cousins with a weird sexual tension went on the hunt of the objects, encountered a bit of resistance and danger along the way. You would be surprised how much of a fight people put up to hold on to possible fame and fortune.
Even the Amish could not escape the evil.
Formatted in a bottle episode structure, each episode focused on an object and the new and creative ways it was killing people. From teacups that killed slow sippers with a strangling ivy to a set of malicious magic boxes, Friday the 13th: The Series was a truly unique show that was ahead of its time.
While the concept of horror shows was not new, few were successful. There might be the occasional scary sci-fier to keep Fangoria fans at bay, but for the most part, sub-standard fare such as Freddy’s Nightmares were the only small screen slicers able to keep gore whores at bay.
Friday the 13th: The Series was a show that was doomed from the start. Despite the compelling stories and creative story arcs, the show itself was just as cursed as the objects Lewis sold in his flea-bag shop.
Part of which has to do with the name of the show, which either raised the expectations of viewers who were huge fans of Mr. Voorhees, or it was avoided by folks who didn’t take kindly to the teen-slashing film franchise.
Producers Frank Mancuso, Jr. and Larry B. William attempted to capitalize on the popularity of the movie series ended up alienating a portion of the audience who did not realize that the show and the film were unrelated.
While the show did find a small, core audience, another issue with the horror series was its inability to find a suitable home. Friday the 13th: The Series did not fit neatly within any primetime schedule due to its content. Neither a sitcom nor a primetime drama, the show was exiled to late night timeslots or daytime reruns on Sunday morning, thus finding an audience with either insomnia sufferers or early risers who didn’t mind a little blood splatter right before church.
The show ran for 72 episodes and went through a few cast changes before it was ultimately cancelled in 1990. (After Ryan left, he was replaced by wannabe bad boy/unsuccessful romantic interest Johnny Ventura.) However, thanks to cabler nets such as Chiller and Syfy, the show was not completely lost as it continued to run on TV throughout the 2000s.
Twenty-eight years later, Friday the 13th: The Series still holds up. While the ’80s effects and Robey’s signature towering red locks might date the show a bit, the structure and storytelling holds up and remains effectively creepy.