In the darkness is the light
—"In the Darkness" (The series theme song)
So Weird (1999-2001) is one of those shows that's hard to describe in such a way that doesn't make it sound like a monumentally bad idea. It is probably a testament to the skill of the actors involved that it wasn't a total disaster.
The Phillips-Kane Band was at the height of their popularity in the late 1980s when the band unexpectedly dissolved after the untimely death of front-man Rick Phillips, who, as it happens, was also an amateur parapsychologist.
We join the story In Medias Res some ten years later, several months after his widow and bandmate Molly Phillips (Mackenzie Philips of One Day At a Time) has come out of retirement and gone on tour as a soloist. Along with her are her son Jack, her faithful Roadie Ned (Dave "Squatch" Ward), his wife (who is also Molly's manager), and their sons Clu and Carey.
But the focus of the show is really on Molly's 15 year old daughter, Fiona (Cara de Lizia), who is obsessed with all things supernatural. Fortunately for her, the family's road trip takes them, week after week, to Adventure Towns packed with mysterious goings-on.
The series attempted to build a Myth Arc around Fiona's quest to connect with her father by following in his footsteps and the tension this caused with her concerned mother, but this was abandoned when Cara de Lizia left the cast after the second season. For the final season, Alexz Johnson joined the cast as Annie Thelan, a friend of the family. A new arc was developed around her own mysterious childhood involving a panther who followed her from town to town.
As befits a show aimed at a younger audience, the show's view on the supernatural was never tremendously consistent. Ghosts, vampires, werewolves, angels, aliens, gremlins and a number of man-made "weird stuff" were visited haphazardly, rarely with even a passing explanation.
The series was complemented by a number of competent though suspiciously apropos musical performances by Mackenzie Phillips and Alexz Johnson, most notably "Another World" and "In the Darkness" (which also served as the show's theme song).
As is policy for the Disney Channel, the show was cancelled after 65 episodes.
Not to be confused with the children's sketch comedy show.
- Aborted Arc: With the departure of Cara deLizia in the third season, Fi's plot arc came to a premature end. For some reason, the individual arcs of all the other characters were dropped as well.
- Agent Mulder: Fi and Annie
- Agent Scully: Jack
- Bigger Bad: Apparently, some beings from the spirit world
- Black and White Morality
- Call Back: Fi would often be seen getting advice about her case of the week by chatting online with various people we had met before, including friends from her home in Colorado, relatives, and people she had previously helped.
- Catch Phrase: The troll in the episode "Troll" says "my stars and garters".
- The Danza: Mackenzie Phillips as Molly Phillips
- A Day in the Limelight: "Fathom", "Dead Ringer"
- Enigmatic Minion: Bricriu is in league with "the powers of darkness," but is actually more or less and extremely selfish and amoral True Neutral - all he cares about is having fun. He claims that he tends to get bored with team evil since they're constantly all about "conquer and subjugate" without any real originality, so he doesn't entirely care what Fiona does. In fact, every time he appears he cryptically tells Fiona information about the deeper mysteries she is investigating and claims to be willing to help her, but then doesn't really care about leaving her to die one way or the other and more or less comes off as scheming.
- Enthralling Siren: "Siren", of course. Said siren is played by Jewel Staite.
- Executive Meddling: The Disney Channel execs wanted something lighter for season 3. If Fi's actor had stayed, Word of God says that they would have finished her Myth Arc by having her go into Hell to save her father.
- Not to mention the unproduced episode "Chrysalis" that revolved around alcoholism.
- The Fair Folk: Bricriu is a textbook example - apathetic about humanity and only caring about the plans of the other spirits and, of course, his own enjoyment.
- Fan Service: In one episode, Fi gets turned into a dog. She eventually transforms back... without her clothes. The camera only showed her head and shoulders, but it was still pretty daring for a Disney show.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Tad Raxall suggesting to Molly they could go on a date, "but nothing formal, with clothes."
- Girl of the Week: For each character, but one subversion: though Jack's Girl of the Week is only seen once, he repeatedly mentions corresponding with her, and his absence in several episodes is explained by visits to her.
- Fi was often seen chatting online with her Boy of the Week Ryan, as well as other people she had previously helped.
- Great Gazoo: Bricriu, who is a Will-o-the-Wisp
- Heel Face Turn: Jordan in "Avatar" and the video game inventor in "Banglebye"
- I Know Your True Name: Bricriu can be banished by those who know his name. He can become exempt from this by convincing a person to let him stay for a fixed period of time.
- It Amused Me: Bricriu embodies this, particularly in his first appearance.
- Karma Houdini: A lot of the villains were never really punished
- Keep Circulating the Tapes: Sadly, the show was not popular enough to get a DVD release, let's not even talk about a Soundtrack album... the complete series can still be found in VCR quality in torrent, the same for some individual rips of songs and an incomplete collection of more songs, with bad quality and many dialogues over the lyrics... still totally worth it.
- Large Ham: Bricriu
- Magically-Binding Contract: The Fair Folk are subject to these, which Fiona exploits to get rid of Bricriu.
- Manipulative Bastard: Via Exact Words and Blatant Lies, Bricriu pulls this in his second appearance. He possesses Molly and then convinces Fiona that Molly is in danger of dying and that only Bricriu's presence can save her, convincing Fiona to allow him to stay in Molly's body for 24 hours. This is technically correct. He doesn't tell her that the real reason he's possessing Molly is to keep Fiona from talking to a man who knows a small fragment of the truth about how her father died, whom the spirits plan to kill (which Bricriu needs Molly's body to do) - thus keeping Molly and Fiona away from the danger, technically. Thanks to his own actions, Fiona meets the guy anyway and the climax results with Molly, Fiona, and the man trapped in a warehouse Bricriu has set on fire. After realizing that fire is dangerous to mortals, Bricriu notes that he technically kept Molly out of danger for as long as he said he would (he only said the danger should be over in 24 hours) and splits, only taking the time to lampshade the whole thing as a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy and give Fiona some cryptic information.
- It's worth noting that Fiona figures out he's up to something worse than he claims partway through the episode, but also realizes she can't figure out what he's planning and instead resolves to try to counter it at the right moment.
- Myth Arc
- No Antagonist: This was the case in many episodes, though there were plenty of others where it wasn't (villains were most common in season 2).
- Our Vampires Are Different: They were, in fact, a nationwide student tutoring group.
- Put on a Bus: Fiona
- Funny, since the cast was on a bus throughout the series.
- Clu was also put on a bus when he left for college in the second season, but in his case The Bus Came Back for the third season.
- Really Seven Hundred Years Old: The episode "Rebecca" dealt with Molly meeting a girl that looks exactly like her best friend when she was a teenager despite years passing by. The girl claims to be the daughter of Molly's friend. Turns out, it's the same girl. She says it takes her and her family a hundred years to age one year. Her family has to move around every few years to keep people from noticing, which is why Rebecca abandoned Molly. Needless to say, the episode was a Tear Jerker.
- Screwed by the Network: Disney Channel's infamous 65-episode policy caused this show to be cancelled. Many fans consider this fact to be a damn shame.
- Something Completely Different: "Encore", an entire episode devoted to a Molly Phillips concert.
- Suspiciously Apropos Music
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Annie for Fiona
- Spirit Advisor: Annie's panther.
- Truly Single Parent: In one episode Fi meets a boy who is a clone of his scientist father.
- Technology Marches On: The computers and internet shown look quite dated by today's standards.
- Weirdness Magnet: It is eventually revealed that Fi, her father before her, and later Annie, act as "lightning rods" for the supernatural.
- X Meets Y