Okay, when I was a kid we would check out a rotating series of VHS tapes from the public library – mostly fairly benign things SHELLEY DUVALL'S FAIRIE TALE THEATRE or RAMONA, but there was one particular clip from some video that still haunts me and I can't figure out what it was. For a long time I remembered it as 1980s CAPTAIN KANGAROO, but now I think it might have been from ROALD DAHL'S TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED. Just knowing how my parents are, I've always assumed it was something produced by or aired on PBS.
Anyway, in it this man is out on a dark foggy night and he runs into someone he knows. He is going to write something down for this person, but when he pulls out his family heirloom pen he drops it down the stairs of the subway. He runs down the stairs to get the pen just as the subway closes, trapping him on the platform. A mysterious man emerges and tells him that in order to get out, he has to collect a fork, spoon, and knife. (Bear with me; it's been 20 years.) He gets into a subway car that is totally empty to travel through this foggy underworld (basically, empty sets with a lot of dry ice) to find the requisite silverware. The train would stop and he'd get out and find some strange character swinging from a soup ladle or standing at fork in the road (get it?).
The creepiest part of the whole story was that while on the train, the lights would blink on and off – sometimes the train would be full of mannequins sitting as passenger, and then the lights would blink off and then back on, with the train totally empty. It scared the shit out of me as a child. As a result I still prefer packed subway cars.
The guy eventually completes the tasks and emerges from the subway netherworld, just as morning breaks and the subway reopens.
If you have any idea what kids' show series this is from, I would be so happy/terrified!
UPDATE: NAME THAT TRAUMA SOLVED! Believe it or not, it actually did come from CAPTAIN KANGAROO. Special thanks to Reader P. for emailing the confirmation!