Everyone remembers the show Doug, one of the original three Nicktoons. It seemed like a pretty normal show about the challenges a young boy faced in his daily life, but always got a weird kind of feeling from it. Compared to other kid shows, Doug seemed more negative and anxiety centered.
Doug was always worried about something and in most episodes he'd have fantasies of everyone he knew cruelly laughing at him due to some problem he faced that week. He always came through in the end, though, and every episode ended with him writing in his journal about how he had overcome his blown out of proportion problem.
In 2005, I started having dreams about the show for no apparent reason. I can't remember the details, but they made me want to see the show again. The show hadn't even been seen in reruns for years at that point, so I couldn't think of any way to see it again.
To my surprise, it came back for one week in fall 2005, airing at 6:00AM on weekdays. I watched it all five days. The first four episodes I remembered, but they didn't sync up with my memories perfectly. It had been a while, so I chalked it up to flaws in my memories. The Friday episode, however, was something I'm positive I had never seen before.
It started with the normal intro with the line drawings, but the characters never appeared. The lines continued as normal, reacting as if the normal characters were there. When the episode began, it showed Doug in a dark room, writing in his journal. He wasn't narrating his writing like he usually did. He silently wrote for about a minute. The screen faded out and the usual episode title screen appeared without a skit. There was just the giant Doug letters forming the title "Doug's Real Life."
The episode opened with Doug eating breakfast. He was giving a voice-over about how there was a big test he hadn't studied for. His family was having a normal conversation in the background, but the screen started flashing. The flashes seemed to be showing something, but they didn't last long enough for me to figure out what they were showing.
Doug left his house and started walking to school. He had one of his fantasies about his life being ruined. Mrs. Wingo announced that Doug had flunked the test and the enitre class started laughing at him, with their heads coming off their bodies and swirling around Doug. This went on for longer than most fantasies and the laughter sounded crueler than usual.
When Doug got to school, the screen flashed again. This time, it stayed on the new image or, rather, the new animation style. The colors were darker and many objects had changed color. It resembled a film negative. Doug was walking through a school full of kids who had never been seen on the show before, and no one payed any attention to him.
After Doug got to his desk, the animation switched back to normal. The scene changed to after school. Doug was walking home, worrying to himself about the test. When doug reached his house, Pork Chop greeted him. Doug started talking to him when the screen flashed. Pork Chop turned into a hunk of rotting meat and Doug's house became decrepit.
Doug walked into his house and acted like he was talking to someone, but the room was deserted. After interacting with invisible people for a while, he sat down at an empty table. The screen flashed again and Doug's family was there with him, eating dinner. The phone rang. Doug's mom answered it.
Doug had a fantasy of his parents yelling at him for failing the test. In it, they grew gigantic and their faces became twisted and dark red. The screen flashed back to the empty house. Doug was crying and apologizing, but there was no one else in the room. He went up to his bedroom, which was completely empty except for a book and a pencil. Doug picked up the book and started writing. He narrated this time.
"I can't tell which one is real."(This story is credited to a person called KI Simpson.)