Are You Afraid of the Dark? Season 4 Episode 9: The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner

“Maybe he’s grounded again”- Betty Ann

Tonight we have a Betty Ann story, so you know it should be a good one. This time inspiration stuck her, when she sort of took Tucker’s comic book. I have noticed that when Betty Ann creates new characters, they seem to become staples in fact out of all the staple characters, she has the most at 2 (Zeebo and Ghastly Grinner). Let’s go exotic tonight and grab the sake flavored Kit kats and drink our favorite Calpis while we settle in for our tale of terror. By the way the sake Kit kats have a 0.08% alcohol content, so we might get tipsy if we eat the whole bag (and I am sure Betty Ann would have some choice words for us, so I switched to caramel M&Ms)

The night starts like any other night, except The Gary can’t get the fire going. The logs are wet (it must have rained during the day or the previous night).

“Come on do go out on me.”

But like usual Kiki is the one to save the day, she gets the bright idea to create a fire via two sticks. She must have been in the girl scouts or the Canadian equivalent to that. Frank looks at her and says “yeah right, you’re dreaming.”

“Here I can get it going”- Kiki

Kiki ignores him and turns to The Gary and says “I need paper.” They all kind of look around until, Frank grabs the comic book out of Tucker’s back pocket.

“Just when I think I’m out, his cheeks pull me right back in”- Tina Belcher on Butts

Frank grabs it and Kiki says “perfect.” Tucker tells him “no way!” Frank says “chill it’s a comic book.” To which Tucker responds with “it’s not, it’s a graphic novel.” I don’t think Frank would have been happy if they wanted to burn his sports illustrated swimsuit edition magazine.

“Sssh go to bed Tucker.”- Frank

Just then Betty Ann arrives, once again alone, which makes me think they decided to just not wait for her which is kind of mean. Like a sly ninja she mentions that she could use the comic and grabs it. Tucker thanks her before realizing that she took the comic.

“Are the reviews in for the last competition? I tried some new dance moves and my coach was pissed.”- Betty Ann

She goes and sits on the storyteller’s chair next to Sam and says “Do you ever wonder where they get the ideas for these things?” I would assume the same way you get ideas for your stories Betty Ann. Sam responds with “anchovies pizzas before bed?” The rest of the group all turn and stare at her in, disbelief and in The Gary’s eyes, this can be overlooked, Sam continues “gives me bad dreams.” and crazy bad breath.

“Aw according to this review I nailed my performance!” Betty Ann

Betty Ann, in her finest salute to the Philippines sweater, says “What if it’s not made up? What if comic books were something more?” Well Sam takes the bait and says “like what?” Betty Ann says “Like a guide book to another dimension.”

ghastly 10
“I told my coach for the finale I would a hybrid form of the whip nae nae.”- Betty Ann

And just as Betty Ann says this, Kikster (I decided to give Kiki a nickname) gets the fire going, because she wasn’t going to let Frank bring her down.

“See piece of cake”- Kiki

They are all impressed by Kiki’s skills, including Kiki. They go take their seats around the now roaring fire as Betty Ann starts her introduction to her story, she says “comic books take you into a world of fantasy and adventure (and graphic stuff if you read adult manga). But is it a place that comes from somebody’s imagination? or somebody’s experience ( actually Betty Ann, it could be both).

“I am thinking of writing a comic about a pretty young Canadian girl who break dances.”- Betty Ann

Then Betty Ann submits her story for the approval of the Midnight Society and calls it: The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner.

So the tale begins during a very active rain storm, Betty Ann narrates “Ethan Wood was a comic book artist, well actually he had dreams of being a comic book artist. So far things weren’t going so well.” So Ethan is going through his mail is gets upset at getting multiple rejection letter from publishers. He gets so upset he rips his drawing off the wall.

Meet Ethan Wood, he barely bathes

In the midst of his teenage rage, he finds that he over looked an invitation to the grand opening of Comic books Ink.

“They even had a break dancing competition just for the grand opening.”- Betty Ann

So Ethan goes to the comic book store, which is empty except for the owner this woman:

“What cha looking for cakes?”- Frankie Uncas

It’s kind of cool because there are photos of past AYAOTD villains who now appear in comics, like the Crimson clown and the knight from the bookish babysitter. Frank offers Ethan a special on dustman or trout man. He shows her the invite and she kind of loses her shit out of excitement. Frankie says “It’s you, I heard you’re pretty good.” Ethan is confused and says “What?” So Frankie continues “Well come on cakes don’t be shy. Did you bring some of your drawings?” Ethan asks how she knows about them and she explains words gets around. Then she brings out this:

“he villain behind the creation of Viagra

Frankie goes on about Sylvester Uncas and the Ghastly Grinner. We are also introduced to a new swear word “zoomers” (remember Betty Ann is also the one who gave us the term Zeb and a kid named Weegee). So after the trip to the comic book store, Ethan eventually makes it to school, where he is learning about Microwaves. Now he and I will learn how to make our own hot pockets.

We are also introduced to his classmate and possibly love interest, Hooper Picalero

I imagine this is what Ethan would look like as a girl.

The teacher is kind of a dick and picks on Ethan and throws his comic into the fish tank. Ethan tells him “You can’t it’s one of a kind.” TO which Mr. Wrightson says “Correction it’s none of a kind.” Hooper feels bad for Ethan. Later on at home we meet Ethan’s parents, who I think are probably on Government assistants seeing as both of them are at home in the early afternoon.

Yeah life is just full of lemons for Ethan.

They basically tell Ethan anymore calls from school and no more comic books. Ethan is pissed and goes to the kitchen to think of a way to dry his comic book. He decides to make some popcorn as well (I think it was a subliminal message that made me want to eat popcorn during this episode, thanks Betty Ann). After his corn is done he decides to throw the comic in there as well to dry and he gets a phone call from Hooper! (Ooh la la). His mom is making pizza waffles (I have never heard of them before, but Betty Ann must like them if she put them in her story). But the call is interrupted by an explosion! (boom pop kablewie!) But don’t worry it was just his comic book.

Yeah you should never microwave paper.

He takes it out and then notices this in the door:

It’s the Grinner!

Ethan asks his mom if she is okay, and she starts laughing uncontrollably and spitting blue raspberry gel out of her mouth. He goes to his dad and he does the same thing. When Ethan opens the comic book, the events of what has transpired, are included.

I’m dead on the inside

Then Hooper shows up and Ethan tries to explain what is happening, when her parents show up to Ethan’s house and invite them to meet uncle Bob (Spoiler alert, uncle Bob is not Bob Saget). Ethan says “I don’t have an uncle Bob.” Uncle Bob turns out to be the Grinner, Ethan and Hooper head to the comic book shop for help, but the bus driver has been grinnerized!

“Help me I broke apart my insides”- NIN Closer

Ethan pull the emergency cord on the bus and they run off just in time. Once at the comic book store, Ethan talks to Frankie who tells him about how her father planned his last issue, but before it was finished the grinner got him. Frankie reveals that Uncas is her father and wants Ethan to finish his work. He asks how he can do this and Hooper says Microwaves. Then this guys shows up:

I am Zeebo’s creepy cousin Bob

They go to the school where they plan to use the giant microwave, but are caught by the teacher who is pissed. The grinner turns the teacher into a laughing fool. Hooper and Ethan do not understand why the microwave is not working. He was also trying to turn Ethan but was not successful. Eventually to return to the comic book store, where Hooper realizes that Ethan must finish the comic book in order to defeat the grinner. So Ethan draws this:


This brings Ethan into the comic to defeat the grinner, the grinner gets sucked into the comic along with Ethan. Hooper helps Ethan out as the grinner tries to sneaks up behind him, she erases the grinner and the grinner is stopped! Everything is right with the world. Hooper even learns to laugh and they both meet Frankie’s dad.

Betty Ann narrates “Sylvester Uncas never drew a comic book again, he had enough excitement for one lifetime. As for Ethan, you might say that he finally made it into the comics… Continued next issue.” She has a huge grin on her face as she says this and they are all blown away.

“So do you like my idea for a comic book about a young Canadian girl who break dances?”- Betty Ann

Then Sam says “That was very uh…” The Gary says “ghastly”, but he says it like a complement, so it is not offensive. The Gary declares the meeting over and Tucker goes over to Betty Ann to retrieve his comic book. She thanks him for letting her borrow it and he tells her the story was awesome!

ghastly10ghastly11Then they all leave.

Moira’s Thoughts:

So I really like this story, it was fun and playful and similar to Betty Ann stories, but slightly different as this one has a happy ending. I also think it was inventive how the creative team used transitions from scene to scene, but it makes me wonder how did Betty Ann describe that to the Midnight Society since they are merely listening to her story and not watching it. Also this episode really made me want to eat popcorn and try pizza waffles.

  1. Overall a good episode with a good villain. I can appreciate how they did the action sequences since this is pre-marvel movies, it was inventive.
  2. I found it interesting that Betty Ann was surprised her friends actually liked her story, why would she bother to tell a story she thought they wouldn’t like?
  3. I read online that a lot of people thought Ethan was a girl due to his hair, but he does not look like a girl.
  4. There was never a sequel to this episode, but the comics appear in other episodes, so I concluded that everyone really liked the Grinner and added the comic to their stories.
  5. I think that this would have been a good opportunity for Nickelodeon or even the show to create a comic book series based on the episode, they had youth novels, so this would be a logical step. In fact I bet if they released a graphic novel of the series today, people would show interest, of course the graphic novels would have to include the Midnight Society.
  6. It should also be pointed out that this is one of two times we see the Midnight Society actually make the fire. Both time lit by Kiki. If I had to choose two of them to be on a deserted island with, it would hands down be Kiki and Betty Ann. One for entertainment in this case stories and the other to make sure we don’t die.

So lets thank Betty Ann for introducing us to Pizza waffles as a new food item (if I happen to make them at some point, I shall post a photo of it). In her story: The Tale of the Ghastly Grinner. Up next is Tucker, with his story: The Tale of the Fire Ghost.

Until next time…Submitted for the approval of the Midnight Society I call this story: The tale of Moira’s Afraid of the Dark? (But not really), Blog number 9 of Season 4

Also make sure to tune into this week’s Big Orange Couch, where I contribute to the episode, it’s a great podcast about 90’s nickelodeon shows.

I would like to interview *cough*Ross Hull or Raine Pare-Coull or Jodie Resther, *cough* I feel that if enough people tweet at them or Facebook them, and let them know about this blog, it can happen! Let’s make my dream come true!

Photo credit: Title card Ethan Hooper Ghastly Grinner  Frankie Uncas Invite Meet Parents Drying OMG! Alive? He’s alive! reunited Fighting


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