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Friday, October 30, 2015

WEEKEND REWIND: Top 10 Halloween Episodes

It's been awhile since I've done a Weekend Rewind so I'm going to try to do some countdowns of Holiday episodes again this year since the last time I did it was the 2010-11 season and I've seen a lot more TV since then! So here are my Top 10 Halloween episodes! I did not include Haunted episodes as I did last time, this is purely Halloween episodes.

Close Calls
15) That 70s Show #30 "Halloween" (October 26, 1999)
14) Bewitched #7 "The Witches are Out" (October 29, 1964)
13) The Office #11 "Halloween" (October 18, 2005)
12) Friends #176 "The One with the Halloween Party" (November 1, 2001)
11) Roseanne #30 "BOO!" (October 31, 1989)


10) 8 Simple Rules #7 "Trick or Treehouse" (October 29, 2002)
You might notice a theme with some of these Halloween choices. Many of them deal with the loss of Halloween traditions or the accepting of new Halloween traditions. Perhaps the episode that dealt most specifically with this theme is a classic from the John Ritter season of 8 Simple Rules. Paul can't get his teenage kids to go through with his Halloween traditions when they want to do their own things, but in a very sweet finale, the whole family returns to the treehouse they stayed in every year on Halloween when they were younger.

9) How I Met Your Mother #6 "Slutty Pumpkin" (October 24, 2005)
A great early episode of How I Met Your Mother dealt with Ted's desire to find the "slutty pumpkin" he met at a costume party several years earlier. Despite being quite outdated, he continues to dress as a Hanging Chad in hopes to find her again. Other funny storylines include Barney's revolving door of costumes, Marshall and Lily's obsession with Halloween, and Robin trying to do "couple things" with her new boyfriend. This is a great early episode that very clearly defines each character and their personalities in a very funny episode.

8) The Middle #125 "Halloween V" (October 29, 2014)
The Middle has done a Halloween episode nearly every year and there have been plenty of memorable ones, but the best was last year's edition. The Sue and Axl storylines really made the episode. Axl was locked inside the library and gave a very interesting and vulnerable speech to a bust of Shakespeare. And Sue and Brad (dressed as a half T-Bird, half Pink Lady) tried to organize a pumpkin patch screening of It's the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown which no one except an old farmer came to. Eternal optimist Sue was still content though as The Middle continued to be grounded more in reality than warm fuzzies.

7) Freaks and Geeks #3 "Tricks and Treats" (October 30, 1999)
Freaks and Geeks is a beloved one season show and I finally got around to watching it recently. It's easy to see why people have such fondness for this drama. It's the only drama to get a spot on my Halloween list as Halloween episodes are not as common with the types of dramas I watch. In many ways, it's quite a heartbreaking episode though there is plenty of dark humor. It's an episode about childhood being lost and that awkward transition that can sometimes be quite apparent at Halloween. It has been dealt with in funny ways on shows like The Middle and most recently, The Goldbergs. But this was a sort of depressing look at things. That's not to say it's not a fantastically constructed episode, however.

6) Cheers #228 "Bar Wars V: The Final Judgment" (October 31, 1991)
The Cheers writers always got a lot of mileage out of the Bar Wars with Gary's Old Towne Tavern but it all came to a head in the final battle, timed perfectly to Halloween. Sam and the gang supposedly scared Gary so much that he died but Sam refuses to believe he's actually dead even as evidence mounts to the contrary. If you've never seen this classic, I won't spoil how it ends. But it's incredibly satisfying not just as a Halloween but as a closure to the Bar Wars episodes of Cheers.



5) Brooklyn Nine-Nine #6 "Halloween" (October 22, 2013)
Brooklyn Nine-Nine has made a tradition now of the Halloween episode featuring a showdown between Detective Peralta and Captain Holt on some type of bet. All three have been good, but the first one was the best. As Peralta attempts to steal the Medal of Valor, he goes to great lengths in a hilarious, slapstick filled episode. This was a show that had a real sense of what it wanted to be from very early on and this Halloween episode was one of the many early season one standouts.

4) Parks and Recreation #73 "Halloween Surprise" (October 25, 2012)
Through most of this episode, it seems like a fun Halloween episode but nothing special. Ron has trouble trick or treating with Diane's kids, Jerry has a heart attack (or a "fart attack") after being scared by Leslie and Ann, and Leslie gets upset when Ben may be making plans to move just as she and Ben were going to move in together. But then in the surprising final moments, Ben proposes to Leslie in the house she's about to cancel her offer on. It came at such an unexpected moment and permanently brought together two characters who were made for each other.

3) Bewitched #43 "Trick or Treat" (October 28, 1965)
Bewitched had several strong Halloween episodes as well they should given the premise. And I actually perhaps like the storyline to the first season episode, "The Witches are Out," a little bit more. But as I said in 2010, what allows this episode to chart so high is not Darrin as a werewolf or a guest turn by a young Maureen McCormick. It's the conversation between Samantha and Endora at the end of the episode where Samantha takes her mother to task for acting like the stereotype of a witch they hate so much. It's real honest dialogue and one of the finest showcases of Bewitched rising above your average dumb sitcom of the 1960s as so many early episodes did.

2) Modern Family #30 "Halloween" (October 27, 2010)
This episode aired just a couple days after I last made my favorite Halloween episodes list and it has remained one of my favorites. Claire absolutely loves Halloween (reminiscent of Roseanne and Dan Connor) but the rest of the family isn't feeling it and they're also bickering with each other. This makes the haunted house Claire dreamed of just disastrous with people messing up their cues and Gloria's hilarious attempt at an American accent. Of course, as is usually the case, the family pulls it together for a sweet ending. A very funny B-story in this episode is Mitchell dressed up as Spiderman at his new job where no one else wears costumes.

1) Happy Days #22 "Haunted" (October 29, 1974)
Still the greatest as I said it was five years ago. No episode of any show epitomizes a classic Halloween episode than this one. As Richie and the gang hold a Halloween Party in a haunted house and Howard hands out treats to the trick-or-treaters, it makes you wish you were living in that simpler time. Since this is an early Happy Days episode, it feels very 1950s from start to finish. I saw this episode for the first time on Nick at Nite in the late 1990s and have watched it at least once nearly every year since. It never gets old though I know the sentimentality of it could be a factor. Not only is it my favorite Halloween episode, it's my favorite Happy Days episode, and one of my favorite episodes of any show.

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