Related (Because this isn’t my first go-around with those enterprising girls from Stoneybrook):
Happy Halloween, readers and followers!
Two months ago, I found out that a favorite book series turned thirty years old, and because I was nostalgic, I decided to go back and re-read the very first book in the series, 24 years after I’d read it the first time. I’ve read a few more since then, ones that I hadn’t read after I was too old for the series, and I can safely say that this is the one thing I loved from my childhood that doesn’t make me cringe. The story of childhood and friendship is so important, and I see why I loved this series so much as a kid. Everyone wants friends like the Baby-Sitter’s Club girls. Everyone deserves friends like them.
Two months ago, I dug through my personal archives and found my taped-from-the-Disney-Channel copy of “Claudia and the Mystery of the Secret Passage.” It may have been 21 years after I’d taped it during a free preview weekend (remember those?!), but nothing was lost on me – the show was as friendly and inviting as it was when I was 12 years old. Ok, so it is cheesy and the acting is a little hokey, but I can’t help but love the girls from Stoneybrook.
Since the time I found my old taped copy, I’ve purchased the series (relax, it’s a short-run series of 13 episodes), and re-discovered my love for good childhood nostalgia that is harmless, cheesy, and harmlessly cheesy. And while the series had a retrospective and a Christmas episode (weird for a show that aired during the post-Christmas months of 1990 in its original run), it didn’t have a true Halloween episode.
But of course, that didn’t stop me from making one of the episodes into a Halloween-themed article.
The over-imaginative Dawn takes her mystery-loving mind to the extreme when she believes a haunted house exists in Stoneybrook…and Claudia is acting strangely to boot! Looks like the baby-sitters have a bit of a mystery to solve in the second episode of the series, “Dawn and the Haunted House”!
The earliest episodes of the series look totally different from the later episodes. As this was only the second episode, the characters (especially the girls playing Mallory Pike and Jessi Ramsey) look significantly younger, and Mallory’s glasses change during the course of the series. Kristy Thomas was pre-braces, and Claudia Kishi and Stacey McGill…still look way older than the rest of the group.
And Dawn Schaffer, despite being from California, sounds more like a girl of the Midwest.
I’m happy to report that Mary Anne is Mary Anne. Nothing changes about her.
As the episode’s opening credits begins, Mallory and Dawn are placing a flyer on a pole, and, you know what? You may as well get to hear the them song. Just because!
As the theme song ends, the girls (sans Claudia and Jessi) pull up in front of a home belonging to a local woman who is rumored to be a witch. Dawn, a lover of scary stuff, is intrigued by the idea of the haunted house, and gets the rest of the girls to believe in the idea of a witch, Mrs. Slade, living locally.
I actually remember a similar story of a witch living next door to Kristy’s stepdad’s house (according to her stepsister, Karen) from one of the spin-off books. And I have to just point out my mad screenshot skills – Mallory’s expression is hilarious.
The witch – er, Mrs. Slade – disapproves. Such a reveal way too early in the episode!
Alas, it is…meeting day!
Claudia is a tad distracted, and apparently is capable of having far-off expression that counters Mary Anne and Dawn talking about the local witch.
She won’t talk about what’s bothering her, except she isn’t hungry for junk food and is super-secretive. Both things are such red flags to the other girls, who are now worried about her.
Kristy calls the meeting to order, and Stacey informs the group that it is dues day, and they are really broke. Mallory points out that the kid kits took up some of the dues, and Stacey shows the group the picture Jamie Newton made of her and a dog, but is more like red paint all over yellow paper. Kristy, noticing Claudia is distracted, asks her if she knows which one is the dog.
Meanwhile, Kristy takes a phone call from Dr. Johannsen, who needs sitter for Charlotte, who has the chicken pox. Mallory takes the job, since she’s had it twice. A new client, the Goloff family. They have three children – an infant and two young children, so they’ll need two sitters. Stacey and Dawn take the job.
Again, my mad screenshot skills at work – Kristy in her finest authoritative element.
It turns out the Goloff family lives on Chester Lane, next to the Slade place. Everyone is afraid to take the job except for Dawn, who decides to tell this overdramatic story about baby-sitting next door to a haunted house, which sends everyone into the first of three screaming frenzies (there’s something about screaming on this show, I don’t know) when the phone interrupts.
Claudia’ mom is home early to discuss Claudia’s science test grade. It turns out she is failing two classes, and Claudia thinks she is dumb. Her mom wants her to get extra help and time to study. She suggests she gives up something extra. Claudia can’t go through with giving up art or the Baby-Sitter’s Club.
Claudia is against that, but her mom has gotten her a tutor to work with her twice a week. Claudia is determined to get her grades up without giving up the club or art.
Stacey and Dawn are taking care of the newest clients, the Goloffs – Willy, Annie, and Baby Zoey. The kids take to the girls immediately.
Stacey and Dawn suggest going outside, and Willie is excited to do so because he thinks they may find an Iguanadon tooth. He tells the sitters that there are lots of bones in Mrs. Slade’s yard. He doesn’t know what kind of animals, but he says she casts spells, talks to animals, and turns people into dogs.
You know those small towns – they’re the reason rumors happen.
Dawn and Stacey take the Goloff kids outside to “investigate,” and find a weird rock garden, and a “Stegosaurus egg”…that turns out to be ball.
But they do hear some strange noises, and find a sick dog, but the dog runs off. Dawn and Stacey bribe the Goloff kids with ice cream. And since they’re kids, they will gladly have go inside for ice cream!
The girls are then preparing for their sleepover, with Dawn and Stacey going to the hardware store for candles and flashlights, which reminds me of the seance scene in “Claudia and the Mystery of the Secret Passage,” without the horror sounds tape and seance board this time around.
Stacey talks about how she loves hardware stores and compares them to her love for Bloomingdale’s.
I never pictured Stacey saying that. Are we sure that wasn’t supposed to be a Kristy line?
They then hear Mrs. Slade asking for supplies, and she sorta sounds like Bea Arthur. She is requesting supplies that make the girls fear she is out to kill and cast spells.
They wait for Mrs. Slade to leave, but she hasn’t, and well, second jump scare of the episode!
I swear, they do this all the time!
Meanwhile, at the sleepover…
More screaming! Except for Mallory, that smile is hilarious!
The girls are then telling stories of the scariest thing that ever happened to them. The girls then talk about Mrs. Slade’s house, and the scary things they found, as well as what Dawn and Stacey witnessed at the hardware store. Claudia is a bit touchy about the whole Mrs. Slade thing, so she goes to bed.
The girls discuss her strange behavior, and assume she is under a spell. They know they need to be extra nice and want to do something extra special on Saturday, but Stacey and Mary Anne have to babysit the Goloff kids.
While they’re there, Willy shows off his telescope. He shows Stacey the goings-on in Mrs. Slade’s house…
And reveals that Claudia is there! *GASP*
Stacey and Mary Anne call the rest of the group…
Who are not exactly subtle about sneaking around.
Dawn, Jessi, and Kristy sneak into Mrs. Slade’s house, after Stacey calls regarding an injured dog in the woods. Mallory keeping watch outside.
But the girls get a surprise….
Claudia is there! And she’s surprised to see them…
Until she finds out why they are sneaking around.
It turns out Claudia is being tutored by Mrs. Slade in science. Mrs. Slade, as it so happens, is a retired veterinarian.
Claudia confesses that she would have to quit the BSC if she can’t get her grades up, so Mrs. Slade has been helping her. She’s shocked at what the girls have done, and goes off to help them find Mrs. Slade because of the phony phone call.
They find her, and she is visibly worried about the “dog.” Claudia introduces the girls to Mrs. Slade, and they confess to what they did. She forgives them, and shows them an injured bird she found in the woods.
In a way that only these girls and sitcom characters can, it is all a big misunderstanding and they laugh it off. One apology saves the day.
But can Claudia’s newfound Science skills save her grade?
They sure can!!!!
The girls leave school and head toward Mrs. Slade’s house so Claudia can tell her the good news. Claudia no longer needs Mrs. Slade’s tutoring, but she offers to visit…and she can bring the group with her. If they can keep their wits about them.
Claudia wants to go celebrate, as she has been thinking of banana splits and candy all day long. So the girls scare her with Halloween masks.
Which makes the one-again normal Claudia laugh…and ends the episode on her freeze frame.
Of course, this was supposed to be a Dawn episode, but well, Claudia’s achievement.
And then the earworm theme song kicks in again…
And the girls walk off arm in arm, ready for their next adventure.
As our enterprising middle school students walk off arm-in-arm, a non-Halloween episode easily made into a Halloween-themed recap, complete with “haunted” houses, spells, and way too much screaming has happepened. It seem like no matter what, these girls love a good scream!
It’s always Dawn’s fault!
Oh, and if you’d like to see the episode…