Welcome to the Friday The 13th The Series rewatch. Each day throughout October, we’ll watch one episode of the seminal 1987 television series and tackle the highs, the lows and Micki’s hair (of course). Now step into Curious Goods and peruse our cursed antiques, won’t you?
S01E01: “The Inheritance”
Wikipedia Plot Summary: When Micki Foster (Louise Robey) and her cousin, Ryan Dallion (John D. LeMay), inherit an antique shop from their late Uncle Lewis Vendredi (R.G. Armstrong), they soon meet an old friend of Lewis’ named Jack Marshak (Chris Wiggins). He reveals to them that their inheritance comes with a devil’s curse.
- Director: William Fruet, who is credited with multiple episodes of War of the Worlds, Goosebumps and Poltergeist: The Series
- Writer: Bill Taub, who also wrote several episodes of Dallas and Relic Hunter
- Famous Guest Star: Future Avonlea star (as well as mega talented director) Sarah Polley stars as devilish child Mary Simms
Cursed Antique of the Week: Veda, the talking doll who murders on command
Setting: The suburbs (shudder!)
Best Death: There’s actually only one death, but for my money the near death of Mary’s babysitter (Esther Hockin) — by telekinetic records, possessed stuffed animals and strangulation by skipping rope – is the most silly and fun
Quirkiest Add-On: There’s a random black cat hanging around in Uncle Vendredi’s car whose sole purpose is to scare Micki
Character Bits: Micki leaves behind a fiancé Lloyd (Barclay Hope). Since this is a pilot, I’ll be curious to see if Lloyd ever returns
80s Fashion Closet: Compared to where the series takes Micki’s looks, particularly her red mane, this is pretty understated. Still, I can’t help but love the 80s fashion on display the first night that she arrives at Vendredi’s shop: is she wearing a bathrobe or a trench coat? Who can tell?! The worst offender, however, has to be Ryan’s sales day look, which includes a button up shirt, tie and shorts(!) This outfit is criminal
Kissing Cousins Incest Watch: Aside from a few lines when Ryan protests Micki’s desire to sell the store and high tail it out of there to get back to Lloyd, the premiere doesn’t lean too hard into inappropriate cousin territory
As a pilot, “The Inheritance” is pulling double duty to establish both the premise and characters. The cold open, which introduces Veda the evil doll and the cursed object shop, goes a long way towards developing the series’ trademark dark, mischievous tone.
Fruet’s direction during this extended opening sequence — when shop owner Lewis Vendredi is plagued by ghosts before he is electrocuted and dropped down an elevator shaft to Hell — is particularly well done. Fruet keeps the camera moving, swooping and diving around the atmospheric ruins of the basement, to create a sense of excitement and unease. This opening sets the standard and acts as the blueprint for all of the action sequences to come.
The banter and camaraderie between Micki and Ryan debuts in slightly muted form, but that is understandable since they don’t know each other very well. Veda the doll and entitled brat Mary (Polley) is a good first case for the pair: it offers some mild scares (Fruet makes good use of the doll’s eyes) but it is also resolved relatively easily, leaving additional time to fully introduce the core cast and firm up the premise.
Plus Polley is (unsurprisingly) great at playing a petulant little girl. Mary is a terror in her own right and it’s a joy watching her get her comeuppance in the climax. Hmmm…maybe this is why I shouldn’t have kids.
What Doesn’t Work…
Let’s be honest: dolls can be freaky, but they’re very rarely scary. Veda enables Mary’s worst qualities, but the malicious child is far more unsettling than her animated doll. At the end of the day, Veda is more of a master manipulator than a figure of terror, which is what makes the scene when Veda smothers (chokes?) Mary’s stepmother Irene (Lynne Cormack) so laughable. It’s clearly an actress holding a doll and screaming. That’s funny, not scary.
The same can be said of the climax, which finds Micki and Ryan battling Mary for Veda on an out of control Merry-Go-Round. Fruet does his best to make the entire playground sequence threatening, shooting from low angles and clouding the sky over with some primitive late 80s FX, but none of this can disguise the fact that it takes an eternity for two adults to pry a doll out of a young girl’s hands.
The fact that Veda essentially becomes dormant immediately afterwards and is easily placed back in the Curious Goods vault without incident also feels like a lost opportunity. There’s easily room for one last scare…but nothing happens. It’s a mildly underwhelming way to end the first case.
One final, minor quibble: Jack is essentially introduced and then sits out the rest of the episode. While Micki and Ryan are our defacto leads, the pilot episode doesn’t have a grasp on how best to utilize the third (older) member of the cast and it shows.
Stream of Consciousness Musings
- I love that the pilot episode literally opens on a dark and stormy night
- Why would Mr and Mrs Simms bring a small child into an antique store and then expect her NOT to touch anything? Honestly, they brought this nightmare down on themselves
- My notes when Mary first appears on screen: “OHMYGAWD is that Sarah Polley?!?!”
- “Nothing’s for sale in here!” Well that’s just a terrible business model, Uncle Lewis
- The flaming hooves footsteps coming down the stairs after Uncle Lewis and the demonic laugh is a nice touch
- The switch to 80s sitcom music as Micky packs is a jarring transition, but I kinda love it
- Is Ryan’s “turbulence” reference about Micki’s hair? I am SO psyched for her increasingly ridiculous hairstyles
- The whole sequence when Micki gets locked in the vault with Veda, then winds up opening the trap door to reveal the hidden manifest in the ceiling is bizarrely convoluted
- Good comedy: Ryan tells Micki that they’re selling the store over his dead body. Smash cut to the exterior of the store with sale signs all over the windows
- Jack’s introduction as a hooded figure sneaking through the store at night is odd. It also suggests that maybe Micki and Ryan should learn how to lock a fucking door
- Our demon terminology for the episode is “Dusins”, which describes Uncle Lewis’ devil worship/pact in exchange for wealth and immortality. The more you know!
- Jack: “You don’t break a pact with the Devil.” Ryan: “You don’t? Why?” I mean, Ryan, come on man…
- The episode ends with the store being renamed Curious Goods and a (re)confirmation of the show’s premise to reclaim every cursed item that they sold. But where to begin? CLIFFHANGER (dum dum dum)
See you back here tomorrow for Friday The 13th The Series episode two: The Poison Pen!