Are You Afraid of the Dark? The Tale of Station 109.1

Calling all creeps! DisCONNECT is back!

Hey guys, did you miss me? I’ve recently gone full time as a paramedic, so time has been in short supply, but now that things are settling down a bit I should be able to do a few more posts. There’s also a new design. Not sure if I like it but everything can change if you provoke it enough. Last time on Dragon Ball Z (alternatively, last time on DisCONNECT’s review schedule) we looked at an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark, the popular Nickelodeon spooky story series. Today we’re checking out The Tale of Station 109.1, starring Gilbert Gottfried.

The Setup

Oh this one is a gem. The Midnight Society has a poignant demonstration on how many radio stations there are out there – like we didn’t know this already. The cacophony of noise sets the scene for the crux of the story – a hidden radio station. Of the damend! Spoilers, heh.

Here lies an emo with blonde hair.
Here lies an emo with blonde hair.

The story starts by introducing us to this weird kid called Chris, who loves to pretend he’s dead and shit. He’s morbidly obsessed with death, corpses, funerals, you name it. His parents appear borderline indifferent – while his odd comments like “I wonder if anyone has ever been buried alive…” cause a few odd stares, they only look mildly disturbed. Like “Huh, that’s… yeah okay whatever.” It’s a big problem with almost every adult actor in this series – they’re all terrible, they either overact or are borderline apathetic. They’re all terrible.

"I quit law school for this?"
“I quit law school for this?”

Anyway, Chris carries on with his weird bullshit, torturing a cricket, while his brother Jamie hangs out with this… um, guy… working on cars. He offers an explanation for why Chris is so messed up – he was playing in a graveyard with his friends, and now he just talks about graves. Kids are so impressionable. The mechanic dude suggests that Jamie does something to snap Chris out of this morbid bullshit. With that, a cunning plan is developed.

Just kidding, he has no idea what he's doing.
Just kidding, he has no idea what he’s doing.

Jamie walks in to find Chris playing a game (Hangman… for fuck’s sake writers, this is your punchline?) and tells his little brother that there’s a hearse at the garage that just came back from a funeral. Chris just about shits himself with excitement.

RADICAL.
RADICAL.

The two rush over to investigate. Chris lies down in the back, like he’s dead. Jamie meanwhile goes off to start the car up, intending to scare the shit out of Chris. It works and Chris shits himself while Jamie laughs. Chris turns the car off to earn a moment of peace… but the radio starts to do something spooooooooky…

It's turning to the evangelist channel.
It’s turning to the evangelist channel.

It tunes itself past the end of the range marked on the front, to 109.1, radio for the dimentionally challenged. A somewhat somber voice states that the station is there to help people ‘step over’ or to ‘find the way home’ if only you follow his voice. Jamie walks off like an arsehole, only to run into one of the few halfway decent adult actors, asking if he knows the way home.

"Kid I'm too old for this Nickelodeon bullshit."
“Kid I’m too old for this Nickelodeon bullshit. Do you have a map or not?”

Jamie’s all like “Lol dude no get out” and he vanishes. SPOOKY. The next day Chris is listening to 109.1 again, and it starts talking about death and dying. Jamie comes in to act like a total dick, calling Chris a ‘cheesehead’. There’s a joke in there but I feel kind of uncomfortable thinking about it.

Cheesehead. Ugh.
Cheesehead. Ugh.

Chris then uses his ambiguous Windows/DOS/Mac computer to look up the frequency. The address? HTTP://WWW.RADIOSPACE.COM/WELCOME.HTML. Wow guys, points for authenticity, they actually did a proper URL… because it’s an actual, real, legitimate site. But of course, there’s no station assigned to that frequency.

UI of the Year 1993
UI of the Year 1993

But on further reflection, there was a station assigned there – and it was located at 63 East 9th St, Center City. Center City. Alright, this annoys me – you picked a proper URL, did a mockup, and then just went with Center City for a city name. Did it just get too hard? Did you expend all your creativity? We’ll never know. Anyway, Chris decides to go check it out. He runs into these people – a lady overacting asking for the way home, and three others. They then wander in a confused daze towards a building. Acting classes wouldn’t go amiss.

"I was once in Intolerance!"
“I was once in Intolerance! Now look at me!”

Oh, and this is the station. If this isn’t a hobo death factory, then I don’t know what is.

Previously on AMC's The Walking Dead.
Previously on AMC’s The Walking Dead.

Okay it isn’t, it’s fancy inside, if a bit hazy.

A metaphor for life.
A metaphor for life.

A disconcerting voice reads out a string of numbers, and those seated look at their wrist bands. A woman exits through a door. Funeral music plays. Chris cuts into a line of silent people, waiting patiently. He knocks on a window that is clearly labelled DO NOT KNOCK ON THE WINDOW.

Yeah kid, ignore that sign.
Yeah kid, ignore that sign.

And out pops Gilbert Gottfried.

This is the face of sarcasm.
This is the face of sarcasm.

Before we continue, Gottfried is, by far, the best adult actor in the entire show. He’s the only one who actually seems to give a shit. While everyone else is either apathetic or overacting, he’s just having some god damn fun with his part. He’s fucking hilarious. “This is an interesting phenomenon that’s taking place, it’s like one person and then there’s another one behind them, all standing quietly one after the other, what do you suppose that is?

"It's a line!"
“It’s a line!”

Yeah, he’s awesome. Chris asks if it’s the radio station. He’s taken behind the counter, given a wrist band, while Gottfried’s character Roy reads out a long legalese contract basically stating that the kid dies when his number is called. Roy doesn’t even give a shit. He reveals that the radio station is there to help the dead find their way to the other side, and the hearse Chris was in was occupied by Daniel Carpenter, buried that afternoon. As far as Roy’s concerned, this is Carpenter. “What’s the matter, stayed with the hearse too long? Well that happens…

"No shit?"
“No shit?”

Chris insists there’s a mistake. Roy agrees! Nah just kidding, he doesn’t care. A number is called and a terrified man steps in.

The face of innocence.
The face of innocence.

Just then… Jesus Christ, these things turn up to take him away.

Just kidding, you're guilty as shit.
Just kidding, you’re guilty as shit.

And through the gates to what lies beyond – Hell.

The Gates of Hell
Property of Union Aerospace Corporation.

Roy offers some commentary: He lead a nasty life… and he’s gonna lead a much nastier afterlife. Step outside, your turn is coming! HAHAHAA.

Roy simply oozes sympathy
Roy simply oozes sympathy

Chris tries to run home, but of course nobody can see him, hear him, or touch him.

"Surfing the internets, later bro."
“Surfing the internets, later bro.”

Jamie elects to go work on the hearse, while making a few comments about how he’s going to listen to the radio on the hearse. Do you see where this is going? Anyway Chris flips his shit again, walks through a door, and winds up back in the radio station, like he’s playing Portal or something. He finds his way through to the actual broadcasting room. What a piece of shit. Roy taunts him because fuck you, kid, you’re not in the union, get out.

Fucking unions.
Fucking unions.

Roy throws out a few decent one-liners, and then reminds people that the purpose of the station is to guide the dead, avoiding another Poltergeist sequel. Chris appeals to Roy, who is totally unsympathetic. He makes it clear that he can’t be bribed too: If I had a nickle for every time somebody tried to weasel out of death… it’d actually do me no good, what do I need money for? I’m dead. What am I gonna do, buy gum?

Chris insists there’s a mistake. Roy insists he never makes mistakes – when he was alive, he worked for the department of motor vehicles! And I admit, I laughed. And then he taunts that kid: Ever wonder where the term ‘Your number’s up’ ever came from? Well, now you know! Another dude gets dragged away by the black robed guys, protesting his mistaken identity. Roy’s comment? Everybody’s got a story. Wow, what a prick.

"Haha, you're going to die."
“Haha, you’re going to die.”

Chris realises that Jamie’s favourite radio show is on, so he tunes the radio station to that frequency and starts broadcasting.

A look inside a numbers station.
A look inside a numbers station.

Jamie hears the broadcast and acts confused.

"Shit, was this in the script?"
“Shit, was this in the script?”

He runs into the real Daniel Carpenter, who was actually the creepy guy from when they first encountered the hearse. Jamie shits his pants for a bit, but then he decides to team up with Carpenter to go save Chris. Back at the station, Roy has finally tired of Chris and his bullshit, and decides that it’s time to send him through now. Chris struggles against the black cloaked guys while Roy stands there and watches.

They're paid pretty well for this.
They’re paid pretty well for this.
"Whatever kid, get the fuck out."
“Whatever kid, get the fuck out.”

Jamie and Carpenter arrive to save the day!

Oh god, the light, it burns!
Oh god, the light, it burns!

Roy doesn’t give a shit!

"Fuck it, throw him in anyway, I don't give a shit."
“Throw him in anyway, I don’t give a shit.”

Jamie tells Roy that Chris isn’t dead. Roy has a moment of indecision. Then he’s all like “Um nah, I don’t think so LOL BYE” and Chris gets thrown in.

Holy shit, they actually did it.
Holy shit, they actually did it.

And Chris was a zombie. Just kidding, he gets thrown back out, and Roy has a moment of doubt.

"Oh. Oh! Oh no."
“Oh. Oh! Oh no.”
Deus ex machina!
Deus ex machina!

Chris comes back, and Roy loses his pension and hopes to avoid a federal case. He admits he was going to send an innocent young boy to his death. His reaction?

"Nobodys perfect, asshole!"
“Nobody’s perfect, asshole!”

Roy sets it right and sends Carpenter through. Carpenter led a good life, and is going somewhere good. Roy’s only heartfelt comment is delivered: It’s only horrible if you led a bad life. And Carpenter lived happily ever after. Well, kinda. Chris stopped being a weird little shit.

But still no less of a dweeb.
But still no less of a dweeb.

Moral of the story? Never trust administration officers.

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