Today, the Sci-Fi Channel will air the best episode ever of Tales from the Darkside. I was never a big fan of Tales from the Darkside, as much as I wanted to like it. I loved the Twilight Zone, Night Gallery and the original Outer Limits-not the execrable Showtime remakes-and so I had high hopes for the Tales. But usually those hopes came crashing back down to earth amid poor production values, horrific cinematography and boring, unsurprising endings.
Some of that applies to the episode airing today on the Sci-Fi Channel at 3:30 ET. The episode is titled Seasons of Belief, but my wife and I refer to it as “The Grither” episode. Like all other episodes of Tales from the Darkside, Seasons of Belief has cruddy music and appears to be have been photographed with an 8mm camera. The acting of the children in the episode leaves one aching for child actors like Tatum O’Neal or Henry Thomas. Or even Macaulay Culkin, for that matter. But none of those shortcomings are enough to undo the sheer power of the horror of Seasons of Belief. Or, to be more precise, The Grither.
Seasons of Belief, as you might imagine, is a Christmas episode of Tales of the Darkside. As such this episode revolves around a typical kind of family at home for Christmas. There’s not much action in the story as it is basically a one-set piece in which parents on Christmas Eve tell their children a story about a mythical creature called The Grither who eats children. The kids, you see, are way too excited about Christmas and the upcoming appearance of Santa Claus to go to bed. So, in order to facilitate their locomotion from living room to bedroom, the parents try to frighten the kids into slumber with a story about a mythical creature called The Grither that has long arms, gigantic hands, and can fly. Oh yeah, and the only reason any kid should actually fear this creature is if they say its name. It is belief in the Grither, you see, that brings about its appearance. Naturally, the kids instantly begin to yell out the Grither’s name.
Eventually, as the night wears on and begins getting a little off-kilter, the kids do get a little scared. In fact, the tale of the Grither begins to prey on their mind so much that the mother and father are forced to convince the kids that there is no such thing as a Grither. It was all made up.
To tell you any more would ruin what should prove to a quite entertaining half hour of you if you’ve never seen Seasons of Belief. One word of advice, however: Don’t go around saying the word “Grither” too much on Christmas Eve.