BSC TV is back with the second episode, “Dawn and the Haunted House”, which was always one of my favorite episodes of the “Baby-sitters Club” show. (I still haven’t forgiven my brother for accidentally taping over part of my VHS copy of it.)
Mallory (Meghan Andrews) and Dawn (Melissa Chase) kick off the episode by demonstrating how tough life without the internet was. They literally had to use a hammer and nail to put their fliers on telephone poles around town. What a world.
As they bike home with Kristy (Avriel Hillman), Stacey (Jessica Prunell), and Mary Anne (Meghan Lahey), Dawn makes everyone take a “creepy” (in Stacey’s words) shortcut and stop outside of Mrs. Slade’s house to conspicuously stare at her.
As we have previously discovered, the baby-sitters are not great spies. Dawn, whose brain clearly suffers from her all-soy diet, informs the girls that Mrs. Slade experiments on animals and does mind control and “spells and stuff”. Mallory looks terrified, but she might have just looked in a mirror.
Mrs. Slade the she-demon appears in the window and Kristy loudly exclaims “UH OH!” Way to be stealth, K.T. To be honest, though, I can’t throw too much shade at Dawn for her antics because, after numerous viewings of this episode as a second-grader, I used to ride my bike down the street with my friends and point out a house that had a “creepy” owner who had, like, a haunted bird bath or something.
At the BSC meeting a new client needs a couple of sitters, but – DUN DUN DUN – she lives near Mrs. Slade. Dawn starts to tell everyone a weak-ass spooky story, and when the phone rings they all crap themselves. Meanwhile, it has become clear that Claudia (Jeni Winslow) is hiding something. (Also that Mallory has had the chicken pox twice, which seems about right.)
Claudia behaves like a normal human and comforts herself with, like, fifteen cookies before being confronted by her mother about failing her science test. Mrs. Kishi tells Claud she has to lighten her baby-sitting load so she can be tutored a few times a week. Claudia tells her mom, “I’m the Vice President of the BABY-SITTERS CLUB, Mom. I can’t just take off!” You’d think national security was at stake, and not just a stern talking-to from Kristin Amanda Thomas. “I can’t live without The Baby-sitters Club!” Claudia tells her mom. “And The Baby-sitters Club can’t live without me!” (Because you’re the only one who has her own private phone line, according to Chapter Two of every regular BSC book ever.) How did this not win an Emmy?
Stacey and Dawn show up for their Slade-adjacent baby-sitting job and from Dawn’s hairstyle you can just tell she’s about to start spinning conspiracy theories and freaking out Stacey.
But wait – first, Willy (their baby-sitting charge) freaks out Dawn by telling the girls how Mrs. Slade is a witch lady who “talks to animals and turns people into dogs”. The girls take the kids for an ill-advised venture into Mrs. Slade’s backyard, where they hear her doing some sort of weird whooping call to call home a sick-looking dog. Stacey ’bout to faint, and not because of her sugars.
The next day the gang meets up at a hardware store, where Claudia is noticeably absent and Stacey is wearing the only acceptable outfit. (But then she says, “I just love hardware stores… next to Bloomingdale’s, there’s no place I’d rather be.” What? Really?)
Paranoid Veggie Squad (Dawn and Stacey) hear a trenchcoat-clad Mrs. Slade buying suspicious supplies at the hardware store, using her best Disney villian voice.
Even Stacey checks out when Dawn claims Mrs. Slade needs a broom because she uses it to fly. Dawn, don’t you know that Stacey is sophisticated?
At the BSC slumber party, the girls are watching a scary movie and Mallory is cementing her status in the Human Tragedy Hall of Fame.
So far, no one at this slumber party has frozen anyone’s bra, so it’s going okay. That is, until Dawn puts her (hopefully vegetarian) foot in her mouth and shit-talks Mrs. Slade while inadvertently calling Claudia dumb, about which Claudia is (understandably) sensitive.
Everyone else acts like sensitive and decent friends who are worried about Claudia, but Dawn smugly decides that the explanation for Claudia’s secrecy and moodiness is that she’s under a spell. Keep it classy, Dawn.
Back at the Goloffs, Mary Anne and Stacey are baby-sitting when Willy points out that his telescope can see into Mrs. Slade’s house.
Stacey, rocking a killer sweater much like one I owned in the 90s, invades Mrs. Slade’s privacy from afar. It’s then that Willy notices “the witch lady” has a prisoner, and that Stacey notices it’s Claudia.
Stacey and Mary Anne call Dawn to get the rest of the club and “rescue Claudia”, but instead of just ringing Mrs. Slade’s doorbell, Dawn leads the girls through the woods.
Way to blend in, Mallory. SMH. Then, Dawn, Kristy, and Jessi (Nicolle Rochelle) straight up walk into Mrs. Slade’s house, surprising Claudia: “what are you guys doing here?” Preach, Claud.
Dawn is rightly shamed when Claudia reveals that Mrs. Slade is actually her science tutor, since she knows everything about biology and animals – since she used to be a vet. Claudia is rightly mortified that her friends called about a fake injured dog to get Mrs. Slade out of the house.
The girls rush to find Mrs. Slade and tell her the truth, even if they have to bark like dogs (yes, really) to get her attention.
Turns out Mrs. Slade is a nice old lady who has found a wounded bird and must hurry back to mend it. In a total understatement, Kristy tells Claudia, “we goofed”. No shit, Kristy. Now back to real life…
WILL CLAUDIA PASS HER SCIENCE TEST?! (Also, isn’t this the plot of the BSC movie that came out, like, five years later?)
Spoiler alert: she gets an A! And The Baby-sitters Club lives to see another day. As Mrs. Slade says, “when people get scared, they can’t think clearly.” (Lookin’ at you, Dawn.)