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Saturday, October 13, 2012

Goosebumps at 33: The Cuckoo Clock of Doom!

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Previously on Goosebumps at 33…

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Welcome back to what is now the 3rd annual edition of Goosebumps at 33! This season we are starting this party off with a real bang, so why don't you kick off your hooves, grab yourself a warm cup of witch's brew and pull up a seat, because I am about to tell you the tall of…

The Cuckoo Clock of DOOM!!!

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The Cuckoo Clock of Doom originally aired on November 3rd, 1995 as a part of Goosebumps' 1st season. In fact, it's the third episode behind the two-part series opener, The Haunted Mask, so you could look at The Cuckoo Clock of Doom as being a truly OG episode of the ever enjoyable children's horror series. In any event, this episode focuses on Michael, a 12-year-old boy who simply cannot stand his bitch of a sister, Tara. Tara is constantly picking on Michael, humiliating him in front of all of his friends on a continuous basis, but seeing as Michael is the biggest pussy on the planet (did I mention that Tara is 6?!), there is little he has done about this problem.

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"Tara the Terrible," as she's so properly dubbed, has a vise like grip on Michael's balls, and he sees no chance for escape. That is, until one day when his father brings home an antique cuckoo clock and specifically warns Tara to keep her hands off. Michael sees this as an opportunity to get Tara in trouble, so he concocts a plan to take revenge on his sister by messing with the cuckoo clock and letting her take the fall. Seems like a great idea, that is, until Michael's prank on Tara goes horribly wrong, and after screwing around with the cuckoo clock, he finds himself trapped in a loop where he keeps reliving the same day over and over again. To make things worse, Michael is becoming younger and younger with every day that passes, and if he doesn't stop the process, he will soon become negative years old. Or become sperm. Not really sure how that works, exactly, but he must stop it before it happens.

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I suppose you could look at The Cuckoo Clock of Doom as being a cross between Groundhog's Day and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button as told by R.L. Stine. It's a pretty good concept that works well enough despite the 22 minute runtime, and overall I think this is a pretty solid episode that actually has one of the better payoff endings that I have seen in my limited Goosebumps history. With that said, what really stands out in this episode is actually the first 2 or 3 minutes; a 2 or 3 minutes so great that it caused me to write down a half page of notes at a frantic pace. 

Please, allow me to elaborate…

It's come to my attention that a very high number of Goosebumps episodes feature a specific character being pranked and bullied by another character or group of characters. I think it's happened in at least three of the five episodes I have reviewed (not including this one), and I'm sure it'll be a very common theme as I continue on my Goosebumps quest. Anyway, while I've already been subjected to some pretty memorable (and not in a good way) pranksters such as *blech* Tasha (don't call me John) McClain from Calling All Creeps and *ugh* Stephanie from The Headless Ghost, Tara the Terrible brings the terrible unlike any Goosebumps bully before her.

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Something that totally sets Tara apart from the pack is her introduction, which comes at the start of the episode. After Tara pulls a prank on Michael by squirting him with ketchup, she goes on to refer to Michael as a KREJ, which, as Tara so Canadianly explains, is a JERK spelled backwards. I mean, really?! Calling someone a name forwards is bad enough, but backwards? That shit isn't right, bro. Another key aspect to what makes Tara the Terrible so terrible has little to do with her actual bullying as much as it has to do with her target, Michael. The idea that a 12-year-old Michael allows his 6-year-old sister to pick on him is absolutely incredible to me. Like, how weak willed are you to let a child half your size piss all over your Cheerios then laugh at you as she forces you to eat it?! That doesn't actually happen, but I was going for dramatic effect. Anyway, if I were in Michael's situation, I would have snuffed that bitch in the chest and called it a day.

So anyway, in the end, The Cuckoo Clock of Doom is a solid entry into the Goosebumps cannon. And although she is only a small part of the episode, Tara the Terrible leaves behind a villainous legacy that firmly places her in the Goosebumps Annoying Bitch Hall of Fame.

2 comments:

  1. The concept of the story is pretty cool. Especially for a children's program. Correct me if I'm wrong, but you were a lot like me and when we were the targets of these shows, we opted to watch the cut version of Friday the 13th Part 6 as the Saturday Movie instead.

    I never gave any of this stuff any merit. When I was 12, the damage had already been done.

    But I am softening and feel Goosebumps and the like have some entertainment quality.

    The Bitchy Little Girl trope is aliiiiive! And their overacting.

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    Replies
    1. I never watched any of these shows like Goosebumps or Alone in the Dark when they were on television. The target demographic they were made for was just a little too young for me, but I always appreciated their existence because I knew they were grooming future horror fans.

      As you mentioned, I spent my time searching cable channels looking for movies with Jason, Freddy and Mike Myers, and when it came to TV, I was all about stuff like Friday the 13th: the Series, Tales from the Darkside, and all the other awesome shows from our youth. Certainly a little bit more adult than Goosebumps.

      Shows like Goosebumps would have been perfect for us when we were 7 or 8. Though, over the past few years of watching them, I have really learned to love them because they are good, innocent fun, and they always follow a similar structure of what is found in most anthology TV series.

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