Lucy Dark likes to tell monster stories to scare her little brother. Then one day she discovers that there really is a monster in her town working at the library but when she tries to reveal the truth to her friends and family nobody believes her. Therefore Lucy, now a victim of her own overactive imagination and sadistic joy at tormenting her brother, embarks on an effort to reveal the truth and expose Mr. Mortman for what he really is; a hideous, tarantula-eating freak with protruding black eyes. All does not go to plan however and Mr. Mortman traces her back to her house intent on keeping his secret. But Lucy and her family have a secret too.
As the title of the episode/book implies this story is another take on “the boy who cried wolf” format with a compulsive liar becoming the victim of their own deceitful ways. R.L. Stine (the author of Goosebumps if you didn’t know) throws in one of his characteristic twists at the end however in that Lucy and her family are monsters too and this reinforces at the end why the idea of other monsters in their town is so scary to her and her brother in the beginning. I have never read the books but from what I have learned online before writing this review the ending is either loved or hated by the fans of the series. I can’t comment on the books but what I can say is that the ending of the episode did surprise me but felt a little rushed. It’s not surprising I suppose since the episodes are just 21 minutes long.
Looking at the characters in this episode there’s few of them to like. You know that Lucy is a brat, her brother is a wimp, her parents are annoyingly chipper and her friend is the definition of a ‘token character’. In fact the best character in this episode is Mr. Mortman himself if only that he is the least irritating. Despite the above flaws it is fun in that ‘Scooby Doo’ adventure kind of way to watch as Lucy is totally unafraid to go back to the library to prove Mortman is monster. Ok she is a monster herself but as dialogue in the end of the episode establishes she hasn’t developed the same fangs as her parents and so she is to all intent and purposes a human. I also have to say that the acting could have been better with even the adults feeling like they had just come off the set of a 1950s family comedy.
The supper time scene in the library was particularly disgusting to watch as Mortman munches down on a tarantula and a few crickets. The Mortman transformation scene and the climactic attack on him by Lucy’s monstrous parents at the end were surprisingly graphic for a children’s show and it lead to me and my wife discussing for several minutes afterwards whether we would be comfortable with our 4 year old watching it. I understand that the show did get some criticism when it first aired in the 90s for frightening children but as a responsible parent myself I vet everything my daughter watches. If I felt it would scare her she wouldn’t see it – its that simple.
In conclusion this was an above average episode with a good if rushed twist at the end.
Thanks for reading…