Monday, October 31, 2016

Top 10 TV Halloween Episodes

Note: This is weighted toward shows I not only saw, but liked. So if you're looking for The Simpsons and their annual "Treehouse of Horror," forget it. The sooner everyone realizes that The Simpsons is gross and sucks, the better.

Honorable Mention -- since, technically, it's not an episode of a regular series. It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, October 27, 1966. This is the 1st animated depiction of 2 staples of the Peanuts comic strip: Lucy Van Pelt (voiced by Sally Dryer) pulling the football away from Charlie Brown (Peter Robbins), and Charlie's dog Snoopy (Bill Melendez) imagining himself to be a World War I flying ace.

Lucy's brother Linus (Christopher Shea), rather than Charlie himself, is the star of this episode, believing in the Great Pumpkin, apparently Halloween's answer to Santa Claus, and Charlie's sister Sally (Kathy Steinberg), who has a crush on Linus, sits in the pumpkin patch with him, awaiting the Great Pumpkin's arrival. As for Charlie Brown's trick-or-treating, "I got a rock!"

Honorable Mention -- since it didn't air on or near Halloween (rather, it aired on New Year's Eve), but it does involve a costume party. The Honeymooners, "The Man From Space," December 31, 1955. Ralph Kramden (Jackie Gleason) and Ed Norton (Art Carney) both want to win the costume contest at their lodge, the Loyal Order of Friendly Raccoons. Their competitiveness causes a rift in their friendship. Ralph practically dismantles his apartment to build his "man from space" costume, and when Norton is called in to work in a sewer emergency, it looks like Ralphie boy has it won.

10. Cheers, "Bar Wars V: The Final Judgment," October 31, 1991. Since Gary's Olde Towne Tavern, Cheers' arch-rival bar, has messed with them on Halloween before, and it appears that they have messed with Cheers on H-Day again, Sam Malone (Ted Danson) decides to go all in. It turns out that he and the Cheers Gang go too far.

9. Friends, "The One With the Halloween Party," November 1, 1991. The highlight of this episode is seeing Phoebe Buffay (Lisa Kudrow) dressed as Supergirl. But Ross Geller (David Schwimmer) dresses as "Spudnik," a potato with a silver TV antenna on his head, in tribute to the 1st artificial satellite, Sputnik 1. Except he looks like a giant turd.

8. Roseanne, "Boo!", October 31, 1989. Roseanne Conner (Roseanne Barr) likes to think she's "The Queen of Halloween." Her husband Dan (John Goodman), on the other hand, likes to think that he's "The Master." They go all-out to spook each other, and also to spook their daughter Becky (Lecy Goranson), who has lost the Halloween spirit.

7. Home Improvement, "Crazy For You," October 27, 1993. Tim "the Tool Man" Taylor (Tim Allen) is one of those perpetual kids who goes overboard for Halloween, including practical jokes, so his wife Jill (Patricia Richardson) decides to play a practical joke on him, convincing the local celebrity that he has a murderous stalker.

6. Modern Family, "Halloween," October 27, 2010. Claire Dunphy (Julie Bowen) wants to put together the ultimate Halloween haunted house, but the rest of her family isn't exactly cooperating.

5. Frasier, "Halloween," October 28, 1997. Frasier Crane (Kelsey Grammer) discovers that his Archbishop of Canterbury costume is "a babe magnet," particularly attracting a bodystocking-wearing Eve (played by Camille Donatacci, whom Grammer soon married). But the subplot is that Roz Doyle (Peri Gilpin), the producer of Frasier's radio show, is pregnant (unplanned), but Frasier's brother Niles (David Hyde Pierce) misunderstands, and thinks Daphne Moon (Jane Leeves), his unrequited crush, is.

4. Barney Miller, "Werewolf," October 28, 1976. Although not specifically a Halloween episode, it aired during Halloween week, and a guy turns himself in to the 12th Precinct by claiming to be a werewolf. The character would return a few years later, claiming to be possessed by a demon.

3. NCIS, "Witch Hunt," October 31, 2006. A Marine's daughter is kidnapped, and Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs (Mark Harmon) and his Major Case Response Team have to find her. Meanwhile, we find out that Special Agent Tony DiNozzo (Michael Weatherly), whom we would have expected to love Halloween, hates it. And forensic analyist Abby Sciuto (Pauley Perette) is dressed as Marilyn Monroe, and still helps to solve the case.

2. Castle, "Vampire Weekend," October 26, 2009. A college student who's into the "vampire lifestyle" is murdered in a cemetery. Mystery novelist Richard Castle (Nathan Fillion) and  Detective Kate Beckett (Stana Katic) have to solve the murder. In so doing, they solve another murder, one from 18 years ago. A subplot involving Castle's daughter Alexis (Molly Quinn) provides some comic relief, and finally some poignance.

1. M*A*S*H, "Trick Or Treatment," November 1, 1982. A day late, but by no means a dollar short. The 4077th medical staff, including Hawkeye Pierce (Alan Alda) as a longjohns-wearing Superman, tell ghost stories while working on patients, while learning new ones. Note that, since the episode takes place in 1952, and the song "Monster Mash" wasn't recorded until 10 years after that, it doesn't appear in the episode.

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