Growing up as a kid from the late 80’s / early 90’s, Halloween was always a favorite season for me. Scores of horror movies would be out for the season and everyone would run to the theater each time to see the latest scare fest. However, I grew up kind of poor and didn’t have money to go to the movies a lot. What I had was the annual slew of Halloween themed episodes on TV. The sitcoms would go all out and ramp up the ridiculousness, throw good taste out the window and present us a hauntingly good time.
I would record every one of them each year and watch them again and again throughout the following year, eagerly anticipating what next year would bring us. Now that Gullermo Del Torro has made a splash with his segment for this year’s Simpsons Halloween episode, it got me thinking of the old days when I could gather around the boob-tube with the family and watch the outrageous celebrations that Tinsel-Town had to offer.
So here is my Top 7 TV Shows that celebrated Halloween. Please keep in mind that this is in no particular order.
7 – Roseanne
Oh Roseanne, you brought your Domestic Diva lifestyle to television and hit a chord with the working middle class, and just like the working middle class, your Halloween episodes were wild, scary and funny. The Family, every year, would take Halloween and raise it to a kitsch art form with decorations, pranks and haunted houses. Sight Gags galore, this show was a staple in my house growing up and I always looked forward to the Halloween episodes.
6 – The Simpsons
Matt Groening has always had his thumb on the pulse of pop culture with the Simpsons, but with the annual Tree House of Horror episodes, Team Simpson got to let out their darker side with some of the wittiest and in joking-est horror parodies around. My personal favorite is the Shining parody when groundskeeper Willie would show up and correct the pronunciation to Shin-Ing to avoid being sued.
5 – Quantum Leap – The Boogie Man
One of the best shows of my youth, Quantum Leap was never afraid to take on hot topics but every once in a while, they decided to have a little fun with the show, and of course Halloween was one of them. Sam leaps into the body of a second-rate horror writer, Joshua Ray just before Halloween 1964. Ziggy confirms that Sam is there because of Ray’s fiance Mary Neely. A series of bizarre events lead to the death of a handyman and then an elderly neighbor and Al is convinced that she is responsible somehow. The local Sheriff suspects Ray and Sam is sure that the Sheriff is the guilty party. Sam constantly sees a goat at the site of the deaths and soon realizes that he is combating and evil force, perhaps the Devil himself.
4 – Buffy The Vampire – Slayer Fear Itself
It is easy to see how Buffy would be able to take on the Halloween season, it was one of the most successful horror themed shows in television history, but when they took the opportunity to have their characters celebrate in the usual collegiate fashion, by throwing a party, they took the show to new fun heights. A demon shows up that makes each of the “Scooby” gang take on the characteristics of the costumes that they wear.
3 – A Disney Halloween
Disney is and was the king of the mountain when it comes to characterization, and nothing spelled Halloween to a kid more than reveling in the fun that was Disney’s characters. Disney gave us a 90 minute view into some of their greatest horror themed shorts and characters, all while giving the family friendly fair that they were known for. The segment of Night on Bald Mountain is a favorite of mine.
2 – Night Court – Come Back to the Five and Dime Stephen King, Stephen King
The Night Court gang finds the legal file of a man who died during his hearing stuck in between the drawers of Mac, the Court Recorder desk. As the night progresses, it become apparent that the ghost of the man who died is still seeking justice for his wrongs so the court holds a hearing finally give the ghost his sentence, which mysteriously gets paid as money falls from nowhere in the end. It was heartwarming, scary and funny all at the same time, just what Halloween is all about.
1 – Southpark – Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery
South Park is a cultural phenomenon of the highest caliber so it is expected that the boys would give us quite the Halloween treat. The rock band Korn visits South Park during Halloween to solve the mystery of the pirate ghosts that are terrifying the town and in standard South Park fashion, nothing is safe and no one goes un-mocked.