5. Buffy the Vampire Slayer– “Halloween” (1997)
I mean, it’s a no-brainer that if you have a show about vampires and werewolves and witches, Halloween would be a pretty big deal. And Season 2’s “Halloween” is especially fun, if only for the premise of “what if you actually turned into your costume?” In Buffy & Co.’s case, it’s the work of creepy Ethan, a dangerous ex-friend of Giles’ from his days when he was known as “Ripper”, who sells the kids enchanted costumes. Buffy, in an effort to be more like her vampire boyfriend’s old girlfriends from the eighteenth century, turns into a pansy-assed noblewoman who’s swooning at every turn. Willow at first dresses slutty (check out those abs!) and then gets nervous and throws a sheet over her head, which of course turns her into an actual ghost. Xander’s a tough-as-nails military guy. It’d be fine if Spike didn’t choose that moment to attack. Oh, and all the little monsters in the neighborhood? They’re all actually little monsters now. Demon want some candy?
4. Bones-“The Mummy in The Maze” (2007)
Dr. Brennan, for all her social awkwardness, LOVES Halloween. It’s not terribly surprising considering the morbid nature of her work but she really, really gets into it as does the rest of the Squints (which is, incidentally, FBI agent Boothe’s costume as a giant note-taking nerd. Just perfect for his captain-of-the-football-team image). Angela’s dressed full-out as Cher at the Oscars, Cam’s a hot Catwoman and Brennan’s Wonder Woman. And the case is a mummified body found in a giant hay-maze. The episode’s got creepy goths, RIDER STRONG as a maybe-pedophile, and a murderer who likes to kidnap young girls and, literally, scare them to death (he sticks one girl in a vault with a bunch of snakes). By the end, Boothe and Brennan are roughed up, filthy and tired from wrestling with a creep dressed up like a clown. You know, just like real superheros. (By the way, if you’re looking for something to watch that’s genuinely disturbing but not Halloween-centered, that episode where she wakes up bloodied and bruised after blacking out in New Orleans is SO GOOD. It’s got voo-doo and men who like to have sex near dead bodies and it’s the goriest Bones episode ever- and this is a show where a body once melted in a pool of lye).
3. 30 Rock– “Stone Mountain” (2009)
That’s right- LAST NIGHT’S EPISODE made my list. 30 Rock, off to a great start after a shakier 3rd season (too many guest stars, not enough writers room), hits so many great points about Halloween that I had to rewind my TiVo twice because of the happy clapping (I tend to watch TV like I’m Simple Jack. Is that offensive? Maybe now getting my profile rejected from Match.com isn’t such a surprise). From the discussion of the merits of a gay Halloween to the reappearance of Jenna’s gay-entourage (“Girl, your face called- it says it’s time to PICK IT UP.”) to a special appearance by Betty White! (who’s reading “From Peanut to President” by Milton Greene, love) to Jack and Liz’s visit to Kenneth’s town of “Small Mountain” (you really couldn’t bring him along? He probably hadn’t been home in years), I don’t even care that the whole episode wasn’t Halloween-crazy. I got my fair share of Lutz and, for that, I am appeased.
Watch episode here.
2. Beverly Hills 90210– “Halloween” (1991)
Oooh, a classic. Brenda and Dylan are Bonnie & Clyde, Donna’s a too-realistic mermaid who can’t move, Brandon and Emily Valentine (yay) take her niece and nephew trick-or-treating but then lose them, oops. Luckily, Mr. and Mrs. Walsh save the day. And the highlight- though it’s only Season 2, this is the SECOND time Kelly is sexually assaulted (the first one happened off camera, as recounted in the slumber party episode) and sweet sassy molassy, it will not be the last for poor, calamity-stricken Kelly Taylor. But don’t worry- Steve, dressed as Zorro, saves the day. Also, does that cowboy look like Christ Kattan to anyone else? Now I’m even more disturbed.
1. The Simpsons– “Treehouse of Horror I” (1990)
The Simpsons’ famed Treehouse of Horror series is so beloved by its fans that if either Beal or I left an episode off the list, we might be egged by one of our thirteen regular readers (what’s up, guys?). “Treehouse of Horror VI” was so good, in fact, that it was even nominated for an Emmy in 1996 for “Outstanding Animated Program” but it, sadly, lost to that timeless classic Pinky and the Brain, though I don’t recall any ground-breaking, 3-D animation happening on THAT episode. Whatever, ACADEMY.
But for this list, we’re going waaaay back to 1990 for “Treehouse of Horror I,” before they even knew they would have to start numbering them. As Treehouse of Horrors follows no continuity or other realism rules for the show, anything goes, which means we don’t see Bart & Co. traipsing around in costumes but we do get thirty minutes of genuine Halloween mayhem- gorings, murder, rabid bats, killer idols, tributes to The Shining (see clip). It’s the spirit of Halloween at its best, ignoring the cries for candy from greedy fat kids and “Should I be a slutty pirate or a slutty fairy? OOH, CAT. Slutty cat it is!” from every female over the age of sixteen. In this episode, the first act finds the family Simpsons moving into a house that would’ve made the Amityville Horror weep. Marge confronts the bleeding walls and flying objects and tells the house to behave. The house collapses in on itself- it’d rather die than live with Homer and his brood. In the second act, they’re abducted by aliens and what ensues is one of my favorite gags ever- the “How to Cook (For) (Forty) Humans” misunderstanding. And then, the third act is a retelling of Poe’s “The Raven.” Pretty classy, right?