Once upon a time, in the magical era known as the 1980s, there was a TV show called Friday the 13th: The Series. The television show had nothing at all to do with the film series. It aired for three seasons (1987-1990) in syndication. It was the second-highest rated syndicated program at the time – second only to Star Trek: The Next Generation.
It was canceled with no notice, and save for a handful of brief cable revivals over a decade ago, has faded into obscurity except amongst die-hard fans like myself. I was overjoyed when season one was released on DVD at the end of 2008, and am pleased that they did not stop there (I always find it odd when, for example, they put out a crappy season one of Murphy Brown and then forget about the rest of the series).
Friday the 13th: The Series has an anthology-style structure to it. Micki and Ryan are distant cousins who inherit an antique store from an unknown uncle, Lewis. Uncle Lewis made a deal with Satan: he would sell antiques carrying a curse, and Lewis would live forever (he broke the pact, but it is never made particularly clear why). Micki and Ryan, along with Lewis’s old friend Jack, must recover the evil antiques and lock them away in their basement vault (the antiques cannot be destroyed). Each week sends the trio after a different antique.
Season two is loaded with fantastic episodes – this is quite possibly the strongest of the three seasons. I want to say it holds up well over the years, but my opinion might be biased. Some of the sets are cheesy and low-budget; some of the story lines are a little ridiculous, even for a horror series. But the acting is, for the most part, pretty solid, and the makeup FX hold up well. Some of my favorites include “Wedding Bell Blues,” in which we meet Johnny for the first time (he later becomes a series regular); “And Now the News,” where an antique radio causes criminally insane patients to die of fright, and in return it gives its owner ways to cure the incurable; “The Playhouse,” in which a pair of neglected siblings lure neighborhood children into the eponymous antique (the playhouse feeds on the children in order to care for the siblings); “Tails I Live, Heads You Die,” in which Micki is killed by the antique coin they are trying to recover; “13 O’Clock,” in which a pocket watch freezes time for one hour – but only after the owner has taken a life; and “Coven of Darkness,” where we learn that Micki has powers of witchcraft.
This set is lacking… well, everything. Season two does not contain a single special feature. Not a commentary track, not even a trailer or commercial. Absolutely nothing has been done to improve the picture. It looks like it did twenty years ago, on an old tube television. With today’s high-def sets, I would almost dare say the picture looks worse. The show was always dark, but it looks even darker than I remember. This set is really meant for die-hard fans.