FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES (1987-1990)

(DVD) Before WAREHOUSE 13, there was FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES. This series — which has no Jason, no Camp Crystal Lake, absolutely nothing to do with the FRIDAY THE 13TH films whatsoever — has one of the earliest TV ‘cursed collection of objects’ storytelling engines I can think of.

The show’s conceit is easy enough: two cousins, Ryan (John D. LeMay) and Micki (pop musician and model Robey) inherit their uncle’s antique store and, after a brief interlude featuring Ryan acting far too lecherous towards his cousin, they start selling off every item in the store to anyone interested. Through a horrific incident, they quickly realize that each item was collected by their uncle for a reason: they’re all powerful artifacts that should be locked up. Thankfully, their uncle created a meticulous ledger, and now they get to go scouring to find all of the artifacts they shouldn’t have sold in the first place.

The first season features a litany of Canadian talent, including Sarah Polley in one of her first TV roles, classic character actor (and The Old Man from MILLENNIUM) R.G. Armstrong as the original antique store owner, the previously mentioned Robey, and more. They even snagged some top-shelf directors for the first season, including David Cronenberg (who clearly was given carte blanche to shoot whatever he wanted to, and of course he trotted out a shit-ton of cancerous tumors) and Atom Egoyan, both of whom inject a bit of auteurism into the traditionally staid field of 80s television.

The recognizable guest stars and directors ebb as the show grows older though, which is fine because it finds a comfortable groove over the first two seasons. Then, in the third season, John D. Le May exits the show via one of the strangest — and oddly affecting — character exits I’ve ever seen, only to be replaced by Steve Monarque as ‘Johnny Ventura’, who is exactly what you’d expect from someone with a name like ‘Johnny Ventura’. (John D. Le May would later go on to be a featured player in JASON GOES TO HELL, completing the circuit between the show and the film.)

FRIDAY THE 13TH: THE SERIES is a show that probably survived for three seasons based on faking out folks, luring them in with the promise of weekly Jason slaughters, but I fear it’s has been forgotten because of how many were burned by that very promise. While the show had few highs, it also had few lows — it’s solid comfort food and eminently re-watchable, which is more than I can say about the films.