One of the highlights of my young days was watching Nickelodeon and seeing all the Halloween-themed episodes. From Rugrats, Clarissa Explains It All, AHH! Real Monsters, and the Snick lineup, it was a highlight to look forward to. That was until Nick News with Linda Ellerbee or Nick At Nite came on to signal that it was time to get ready for bed There was one episode, in particular, I wanted to revisit with an older set of eyes and that was Doug’s Halloween Adventure from season four.
At the beginning of the story, Skeeter tells the story of Baron Von Hecklerhoffer, a man so in love with a woman, that he spent 17 years building her an enormous mansion. As his head was in the clouds, he somehow forgot to make sure there was a floor, and they both plummeted to their deaths. This would be the basis of a new ride called Bloodstone Manor at Funkytown just in time for Halloween. (Funkytown is Doug’s version of Six Flags Great Adventure, complete with a retooling of the ‘Funkytown’ music.) Doug chickens out, even though he plays up being brave in his Halloween costume of Race Cannon – an Indiana Jones-like character. He even has his trademark daydream about defeating the ghost with him. Of course, a quick talk with his beatnik sister Judy and a glance at the commercial would snap him back into cowardice.
First, let’s recognize how much of a jerk Doug was at the beginning of the night. Despite having this costume, he consciously stalls to make sure they miss going to Bloodstone Manor. He ignores Skeeter’s urges getting going to Funkytown and makes them trick or treat around the neighborhood twice to stall. They even miss the shuttle and Doug loses his hat. After all of this, it’s not his best friend being disappointed or the fact that they looked weird trick-or-treating. It’s not even Roger’s corny disses calling him Race Chicken that pushes him to go. Doug has to look good in front of his crush, Patty Mayonnaise. With hours wasted, Doug and Skeeter finally get to the theme park, hitching a ride with Patty’s dad.
What gets me about Roger’s ‘attempted prank’ is that he and his posse had to plan to meet Doug and Skeeter right as the ride closed. That’s some Mission Impossible type planning on his part. I’m sure that some parks will let at least one more party get on a ride 15 minutes before closing (this one did not). However, the boys got on the ride anyway, which is a kid’s dream. The ride stops and somehow, Roger is missing and thought to be in danger. I will give Roger credit – he sold being timid well.
No, Doug finds the courage to save Roger, which has never done him any good before. Somehow, the ghost of Baron Von Hecklerhoffer knows how to work the security cameras to reveal Roger’s plot. Funkytown must have some Disneyland-type budget because Doug, Skeeter, and the ghost use holograms to scare Roger and his crew. They share a few laughs and Doug and Skeeter find out that the man they found in a sarcophagus is an actual ghost. They ran home. Now, they had to be driven there, and it was past 10 PM. I would assume their parents were worried sick, but there were other episodes after this. All is well.
Rewatching these specials is a lot of fun when you get older. You get to see things that don’t quite fit, however; you keep that memory of when you saw it the first time. 2020 is a year when we leaned on nostalgia to remind us of simpler times – of action figures, sugary cereals, and skinned knees. So, this Halloween, find a show or a movie that transported you to being scared in a fun way within a scary time we’re all currently living in.