There are very few (if any) holidays that are as inherently zany as Halloween. From the boatloads of candy to the low rent pranks to the costumes (oohh the costumes!), not to mention all the scary stuff, this spooky pagan holiday is ready made screwball entertainment and I for one LOVE IT. Seriously, there’s nothing better than a quality HALLOWEEN-ISODE if you ask me. Sure it’d be fun to cobble together a costume, go out trick-or-treating and engage in neighborly shenanigans, but isn’t it so much more enjoyable to curl up on your couch with a plastic pumpkin full of fun (okay fine, KING) size candy bars and watch your favorite television characters do it for you? Their costumes are so much more elaborate and well-fitting, their top-notch pranks go off without a hitch and their haunted houses seem really fun. That said, if I had my way, EVERY sitcom (and most serialized dramas*) would be REQUIRED to air a Halloween Special ANNUALLY or risk a hefty fine.
However, most shows don’t take advantage of the intrinsic amusement that IS Halloween. The following are five shows that did, in a memorable fashion, commemorate Halloween with special Halloween-isode:
5. My So Called Life “Halloween” 1994
Interestingly (or maybe not so much) this is my LEAST favorite episode of this show. Now that’s not to say this episode wasn’t good, because it was, it just always pissed me off when I was really in the mood for some teen angst and flannel and what I got was a bizarre ghost story. If I remember correctly, legend has it that some punk kid in the 1960’s (whose 90’s counterpart is obviously Jordan Catalano) named Nicky Driscoll attempted some prank in the high school gymnasium and fell off the ceiling rafters only to be impaled by a high-heeled shoe on the floor. (I’m pretty sure I didn’t make this up). The spookiest part? Angela totally finds a library book he once checked out! And for the rest of the episode, sees his ghost around the school. Wait a minute? Was this a very special episode? Was this “The One Where Rayanne Drops LSD in Angela’s Sunny-D?” Because it might as well be. Let’s also not forget that kid sister Danielle dresses up as Angela to go trick-or-treating with cat/rat/slut Sharon, Rayanne and Brian sleep together (literally sleep) in the boiler room at school and Mr. and Mrs. Chase make everyone throw up with their gratuitous, I’ll just leave it at that.
4. Frasier “Room Full of Heroes” 2001
Well, it wouldn’t be a party at the Crane’s if it wasn’t pretentious, uncomfortable and psuedointellectual and a costume party should be no exception, which is why Frasier decides to throw a douchey “dress as your hero” party, that no one wants to attend, as evidenced by the fact that no one but Niles, Martin, Daphne and Roz attended. (Really think about that. Imagine if you threw a PARTY and the only people that came were your brother, your father, your father’s housekeeper and your pathetic co-worker. Time to re-evaluate your life). At any rate, Frasier dresses up like Sigmund Frued because he’s obvious and a tool, Martin dresses as Joe DiMaggio, Niles as Martin (in a blatant attempt to suck up, but, because it’s a sitcom this obviously takes a comedic 180), Daphne as Elton John (what?) and Roz as, wait for it, Wonder Woman. Initially, she pretends that she misunderstood and thought the party was a superhero party, but later we discover that in fact, Roz’s hero is actually Wonder Woman–It must feel awesome to get mocked at a party where you were the only person attending that is not directly related and/or employed by the host.
3. Family Matters “Dog Day Halloween” 1990
Bank robbery hostage situation combined with Halloween? Uh, yes please! I’m a little fuzzy on the details, but for some reason Steve Urkel and Laura Winslow make their way into the bank on the evening of October 31 just as some crooks roll in for a stick up. What business two 9th graders had at the bank of an evening, we’ll never know. The important thing is that Laura is rocking a terrific Tina Turner get up and poor cheese-loving Steve, dressed as Superman, fails to save the day (enter the fattest Chicago P.D. ever Carl Winslow). Oh, and if you thought Laura’s costume was impressive, get a load of Judy’s (Ms. Jackson’s if you’re nasty), which is the most authentic looking child’s Halloween Costume I have ever seen.
2. Freaks and Geeks “Tricks and Treats” 1999
Talk about a fun old fashioned Halloween! The Weir’s and their friends really bring it! Mom’s in the kitchen baking festive cookies that all the trick-or-treaters are tossing on her lawn for fear of poison and razor blades. Dad’s bitching about every aspect of the holiday. Lindsay’s ditching her mom and their annual tradition of handing out treats together in corresponding costumes to engage in local mayhem with her friends and little Sam is dressing up in a makeshift robot costume and going trick-or-treating with two other virgins-for-life who’ve dressed as Charlie Chaplin Hitler and the Bionic Woman. Things get tricky when Lindsay inadvertently targets Sam in her Halloween havoc by nailing him with a couple of eggs, RUINING his Halloween night. Oddly, Lindsay felt awful about hitting her little brother and his cohorts with eggs and hustled home to finish handing out treats with her mother in lieu of smashing mailboxes and pumpkins with her friends. Sam [probably] went to his room, removed the silver painted cardboard box from his person and cried like a bitch.
1. Roseanne “Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down” 1991
It would have been easy to populate this list exclusively with episodes of Roseanne. When it came to the Halloween Special, this sitcom was not fucking around. Along with The Simpsons, the program really cornered the market on spooktacular (Oh, I just had to use that word at some point. HAD TO) specials. In this installment from season 4, the Queen of Halloween lures her stick-up-her-ass neighbor Kathy Bowman into the house so that she will discover Dan’s bloodied body on the kitchen table with his guts hanging out. Rosie cruelly enters the room with a bloodies shirt, wielding a rather large knife, scaring the bejesus out of Kathy, forcing Roseanne to spend the rest of the night stalking Kathy at the Lodge costume party, in order to quell any attempt at revenge. The greatest scene in this episode however, is Dan and Roseanne’s vaudevillian-esque dead ventriloquist show, it “kills” me every time!
“Say isn’t that Jackie over there? I hear she’s a truck driver now!”
“Well that’s a switch, Jackie in the front seat with her feet on the floor.”
*It would be ridiculous for say, Lost or 24 to include a Halloween special in their plot-line, but welcome nonetheless.