The beloved Goosebumps series has been a staple in the lives of many readers for decades. From the ’90s to the present day, R.L. Stine has been captivating audiences with his thrilling and spooky tales. And now, a new TV adaptation of these iconic books has arrived on the scene, aiming to capture the hearts of both longtime fans and a new generation of viewers.
The new Goosebumps series, consisting of 10 episodes, is available on Disney+ and Hulu. It follows a group of suburban teenagers and their parents as they navigate supernatural happenings in their town. The show cleverly combines current trends and ’90s nostalgia to create a unique viewing experience. It hopes to appeal to anyone who has ever been enthralled by the colorful covers and imaginative stories behind Stine’s junior horror yarns.
The first episode sets the stage in 1993, complete with references to the era like Kurt Loder on a TV and the melancholy strum of R.E.M.’s “Drive” on a boombox. The story kicks off with the death of a teenage boy named Harold Biddle, whose passing releases a skull-faced specter into the night. As the series progresses, viewers will delve deeper into Harold’s story, reminiscent of Freddy Krueger’s origins. Harold, much like the Goosebumps series itself, is ready for a comeback.
Fast forward to the present day, and we meet a diverse group of high-school friends in the fictional harbor town of Port Lawrence. They gather at a party in the house where Harold died, which is filled with haunted objects that would give any Goosebumps reader a spooky thrill. Despite being played by actors in their mid-20s, these characters maintain the wholesome, straight-edge nature of Stine’s younger protagonists. It’s a version of teen life that is safe for both Scholastic and Disney audiences.
While the new Goosebumps series differs significantly from the ’90s adaptation, which faithfully brought Stine’s stories to life on a low budget, it retains the essence of the author’s work. This time, the series takes on a sprawling, supernatural teen soap opera, weaving together buried familial secrets and chaste love triangles. It’s like Stranger Things with a shift in point of reference, moving from Stephen King to the legendary kid-lit author who has garnered countless King comparisons throughout his career.
Initially, the show follows the trajectory of Stine’s early bestsellers, with each character encountering a different supernatural predicament inspired by the books. Evil clones, body-swap shenanigans, a Groundhog Day twist, and a Tremors-inspired scare are among the thrilling adventures viewers can expect. The cast portrays their characters with earnestness and likability, reminiscent of iconic teen groups like the Breakfast Club or the Scooby Gang.
However, as the show delves deeper into the buried transgressions of the characters’ parents, the plot becomes increasingly convoluted. The story is driven by a vengeful apparition who can possess bodies, create hallucinations, and exile characters to a dream world. The complexity of the plot is challenging to explain and comprehend, leaving viewers grasping for clarity. Justin Long, in his role as a teacher at Port Lawrence High, provides stability and balance to the show with his versatile performance.
While the new Goosebumps series may not capture the simplicity and addictive nature of Stine’s original books, it does manage to tap into the melodrama and relatability that is essential for teenage viewers. The conflict between the older generation and the younger one is a theme that resonates across generations. And for those who grew up reading Goosebumps, it’s a startling reminder that time has passed, and they are now old enough to have their own Goosebumps readers.
In the end, the new Goosebumps series is a blend of nostalgia and contemporary storytelling. It may not faithfully recreate the ’90s adaptation or fully encapsulate the magic of Stine’s extensive body of work. Still, it provides a modern twist on beloved characters and stories, introducing a new generation to the spooky, imaginative world of Goosebumps. So, whether you’re a longtime fan or a curious viewer, there’s something in this series to give you goosebumps.