by Matthew Thompson
I love Halloween. And I love TV. So why not run down some of my favorite Halloween-themed television episodes and specials? I’m not sure these are the best out there. I know there are some highly praised episodes in series I’ve never watched (like Buffy), but these are undoubtably eight great episodes dealing with or capturing the spirit of Halloween. Here they are in no particular order.
Chuck, “Chuck Versus the Sandworm”
I will admit that the Halloween theme isn’t what makes me love this episode so much. I started watching Chuck because I loved creator Josh Schwartz first show The O.C. So when “Chuck Versus the Sandworm” ended with a parody of a scene from “The Countdown” one of my favorite OC episodes, I found myself floored by the hilarity and cleverness of it all. The song, the slow motion, the party setting… it was all just so perfect.
That isn’t to say there wasn’t some great Halloween fun here though. The episode is filled with great costumes from the hilarious (Chuck and Morgan’s sandworm, Jeff and Lester as the couple from the American Gothic painting) to the sexy (Sarah’s Princess Leia, Ellie’s Eve or for those who swing the other way, Captain Awesome’s Adam). Plenty of other Halloween references fill up the hour, so even though I love the episode more for other reasons, it makes for a fun holiday episode too.
Happy Endings, “Spooky Endings”
“Spooky Endings” aired right as Happy Endings had really hit its creative stride. As a Halloween episode, its strength comes in something that is a staple of all good episodes for the holiday: great costumes. The “Spooky Endings” A-plot which finds most of the gang at a Halloween party makes excellent use of these costumes, like Dave’s outdated Austin Powers and Alex’s Marilyn Monroe, for some classic sitcom mix-ups leading to hilarious results. The B-plot which finds Brad and Jane testing out life in the suburbs produces some good laughs too. It all makes for a fun way to spend Halloween with the Happy Endings gang.
While I love to rant and rave about the inconsistency of Community’s themed episodes, they undoubtably give the series a unique feel amongst its comedy contemporaries. One episode that exemplifies this is the Season 2 Halloween episode, “Epidemiology.” It isn’t just any show, let alone a live-action one, that can work a zombie-movie parody so seamlessly into the framework of the show, but Community does so with aplomb. It also includes some inspired costumes for its varied cast and even works in some nice character moments. I’m a sucker for tweaked intro sequences and this episode checks that box too with a spookier take on the classic Community opening credits.
Few shows do holiday episodes as well as Suburgatory did and their first attempt, Season 1’s simply named “Halloween,” is no exception. What makes it so fun is Tessa playing the role of the typical Chatswin teen girl she hates so much. It’s a hilarious portrayal and the reason it freaks out everyone in school adds a great twist to it. Plus I just love Tessa “bumping it.” The Altman’s front yard all decked out for Halloween, which of course the rest of town puts the kibosh on, is fantastic and reminds me of some of the setups I had adorning my lawn as a kid. Behind all the silliness, the heart that helped make me love the show comes out at the end as well which is another plus for “Halloween.”
The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror V, VI and VII”
The Simpsons really know how to celebrate Halloween. I stopped watching the show years ago, but I always tune in for the annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween special. My favorite is “ToH V.” It features the brilliant parody “The Shinning” which is arguably the most memorable ToH segment and another personal favorite of mine “Time and Punishment” which sees Homer traveling through time thanks to a reworked toaster and seeing various alternate present-days due to his actions in the past.
With a whole season’s worth of Halloween episodes, I figured I could mention a couple more Simpsons episodes. I settled on “Treehouse of Horror VI” and “VII” which included some special segments taking aim at horror series Nightmare on Elm Street and the 1996 Presidential Election. It even brought Homer into the third dimension. The Simpsons is hard to top due to the sheer volume of specials they have produced for the late October holiday, but these episodes can stand next to any other single Halloween special as well.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
If I had to pick a favorite from this list, it’d have to be this 1966 Peanuts Halloween special. There are just so many classic moments here like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin and Snoopy fighting the Red Baron. Charlie Brown steals the show though with stuff like his ghost costume and the unforgettable line, “I got a rock.” As usual he can’t catch a break, but it made for an amazing Halloween special, one you should carve out some time for every October.
That will do it for this look at some of my favorite Halloween-themed television episodes. What are yours? Let me know in the comments below. As always, thanks for reading!