Are You Afraid of the Dark?

Season 5 Episode 9

The Tale of the Vacant Lot

Aired Saturday 8:00 PM Jan 20, 1996 on Nickelodeon

Episode Fan Reviews (3)

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  • In "The Tale of the Vacant Lot," average ol' Catherine discovers a mysterious bazaar run by what appears to be a ninja (but isn't).

    "Are You Afraid of the Dark" seems to have a love affair with a few storylines, one of them being "an attractive young woman runs afoul of a crafty wench who steals her beauty." The beauty and the beauty-thief are always female, since, y'know, women are all vain and stuff. What could be more horrifying to them than losing what matters most?

    Anyway, the story involves Catherine, an average girl who wants to be extraordinary. She gets her wish when she stumbles upon a little-bazaar-that-wasn't-there-yesterday, run by Marie, a woman whose odd mannerisms and half-hidden face should tell you that something's up. But Catherine is an especially slow protagonist in the vein of the boy from "The Tale of the Bookish Babysitter," so she makes ambiguous trades for Tennis Shoes of Superspeed, Ugly Green Shirt of Hunk Attraction, and some concert tickets, which may or may not be magical. Even after seeing Marie's hideous boil-covered visage, Catherine continues using her wares. It's wall-bangingly frustrating how dim this girl is.

    I won't spoil the ending (it's a huge deus ex machina anyway), but you know by now that we eventually get to see a boil-covered Catherine realize just what she was trading all those times. It's -- like most AYAOTD episodes -- campy fun, and it doesn't disappoint.


    [On Catherine's idiosyncratic fashion sense] "I guess the Roaring Twenties gangster look was all the rage in 90's Canada."

    [After Catherine's bazaar-bought shoes make her a track star but an all-around jerk] "Increased athletic performance and mood swings? She's totally on 'roids."
  • Average to above average

    An average girl who does pretty much mediocre in everyday life, finds a mysterious store when she loses her hat. Then a woman in black appears giving her a pair of sneakers helping her in running everyway she can in exchange for her precious ring. The girl starts getting a bad attitude towards her peers and then loses her looks. She starts having a good time until her sister's life is taken as well. She returns everything and that woman has exchanged her skin wanting just that precious ring. Finally the girl surrenders the ring, but the ring had proved too much destroying the woman.
  • An "average" girl gets overtaken by her desire to be extraordinary by trading "something of little value" for a material item. What she doesn't realize is that this thing of little value is her very own life...

    Much like "The Tale of the Phone Police" and "The Tale of the Mystical Mirror", this episode has a grand message to mass society. Be happy with who you are and what you've got. A girl is not satisfied with the fact that she's no better than anyone else. So, she unknowingly trades her life and looks to a woman sharing her fortune for things that make her feel better about herself. After her face and arms become grossly blemished with growths, she realizes the severity of her self-dissatisfaction. She makes a trade with the stall owner, Marie, and outwits her...taking back her life and her sister's because unlike Marie, she learned her lesson.