Halloween is upon us! I actually intended to post this list a bit earlier but I’ve been a bit caught up with other things. I’ve already given you my list of the top 5 movies to watch at Halloween. I’ve watched them all, and in fact I’ve now watched Hocus Pocus twice. I may have to watch it a third time before the day is through. But in addition to movies, the one thing I absolutely adore is Halloween themed episodes. They are a special treat that just helps to get me even more excited for the day. So here are my top 5 essential Halloween TV episodes.
5. The Simpsons – The Simpsons Halloween Special
Yes, that’s right, the very first Halloween episode of the Simpsons was not called Treehouse of Horror although it is the first in a series that has now gone on for 23 years. Although there have been several memorable episodes, I’m still partial to the original special which included a story about the Simpsons moving into a haunted house, another vignette about aliens and finally a rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven. It’s an absolute classic.
4. Suburgatory – Halloween
Suburgatory is only in its second season but their Halloween episode last year totally won me over. New Yorkers George and Tessa are chastised by the neighbours in their new suburban home for putting up decorations that are too scary and gruesome. George tries to explain to his neighbour Dallas that Halloween is all about getting scared and that it’s actually kind of fun. They also do a great commentary on the ridiculousness of sexy Halloween costumes, with one girl going so far as to dress up as a “sexy mushroom.”
3. Ugly Betty – The Lyin, the Watch and the Wardrobe
Okay, so this may not be the absolute best Halloween episode but it is by far my own personal favourite. I love the fact that this episode incorporated Halloween and yet still managed to have its own plot line. In this episode, Betty is forced to traipse around NYC in a butterfly costume looking for a watch that her boss left at a woman’s apartment. The only problem is that he can’t remember which woman and he has slept with one for every night of the week. Meanwhile, she must also struggle with her feelings for a new guy while still being tethered to one who’s not right for her. Oh, and then there’s her dad who would rather focus on Halloween pranks than tell her what’s up with his social security number. All in all, it’s a great episode.
2. Home Movies – Coffins and Cradles
This is a hard one to explain if you aren’t already familiar with the brilliant made-for-adults cartoon Home Movies. There are several plots that go on throughout this episode and I will try to make sure I’ve got them all: Brendon discovers at the last minute that his teacher, Mr. Lynch, is dressing up for Halloween as a cat, the same costume Brendon had planned on wearing. So at the last minute he tries to come up with something new and ends up with something that looks like a cross between a fish and a salamander. Meanwhile his pregnant stepmom goes into labor so it’s off to the hospital along with his own mom, Mr. Lynch, and his friends Jason and Melissa. While at the hospital Jason tries to refuse candy because he can’t stop at just one piece but he relapses and ends up sucking on a glucose tube to get his fix. Additionally, coach McGuirk has landed in the hospital in drag because he had a heart attack while getting hot and heavy with an old flame. So that’s about it. It probably doesn’t sound that funny but I assure you, this episode is hilarious.
1. Freaks and Geeks – Tricks and Treats
I love this episode because it has so much to offer. First the boys (the geeks) struggle with the age-old dilemma of wondering how old is too old to go trick-or-treating. Lindsay ditches her mom to go out with the freaks and gets into the sometimes destructive nature of Halloween but goes too far when she accidentally ends up egging her own brother! Both of those issues could still exist today but there is even more that I love because it is a perfect representation of the changing attitudes towards Halloween in the early 80s. A classmate at school warns the boys that they shouldn’t go out at all because they may end up with candy that is laced with drugs or has razorblades in it. When the Weir’s mom, Jean, asks her husband, Harold, to hand out candy he gets a little too into the Halloween spirit and scares the kids much to the horror of their parents. But my absolute favourite scene is when a mother tells Jean that she is “crazy” for handing out homemade cookies for Halloween as she has just spent the afternoon lecturing her kids never to take homemade candy from a stranger.
It’s funny to see how much has changed even since then. My mother’s stories of actually entering people’s homes on Halloween (back in the 50s and 60s) and bobbing for apples seem unthinkable now but really, what is the harm? Also, as someone who loves baking, I would love to be able to hand out my own homemade baked goods on Halloween but alas, I know that’s impossible. Anyway, that is my list of essential Halloween episodes. I’m sure you may think that I forgot some (yes, I know there is a lack of Roseanne) so feel free to add your recommendations in the comments!