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Friday, October 31, 2008

The Best Halloween Moments on TV

Perhaps one of the most anticipated shows of a television series is that of a Halloween special. Here, sitcom writers have the ability to get really creative and play up one of the kookiest holidays of the year — without the typical cheesy or heartfelt necessities of a Christmas special.

Some series get creative – "The Simpsons," for example, created a running series through the Treehouse of Horror Halloween specials — while others throw up a few spider webs and pumpkins and call it a day.

With so many deliciously spooky — or comically bewitching — episodes to choose from, it seemed necessary for us, your beloved Channel Surfing bloggers, to name a few of our favorites.


Episode name: “The One with the Halloween Party” (Season 8 of “Friends”) – Yes, clearly I chose “Friends.” Zip it, Roz.

Air date: Nov. 1, 2001

Synopsis: It’s your typical impromptu “Friends” party – with your favorite characters and a bunch of dressed-up extras no one talks to. Monica and Phoebe pick superhero costumes Catwoman and Supergirl, respectively, while a barely preggers Rachel dresses in a strapless black dress as “a woman who spent a lot of money on a dress and wants to wear it because pretty soon, she won't be able to fit into it.” Monica dresses Chandler in a pink bunny costume and Joey arrives – sweater vest and all – as Chandler. Ross comes as doody. (OK, "Spudnik" that looks like doody.) Oh, and Sean Penn is there with balls on his chest. (That’s what she said?)

Why it ruled: The episode was classic because beyond the characters dressing up – it had very little to do with Halloween. Also, somehow a discussion is started concerning who could likely beat up who – which leads to the greatest (and by greatest I mean, wussiest) arm wrestling challenge between Ross “DoodyGellar and Chandler “Pink Bunny or No Bunny at All” Bing.


Episode Name: Korn's Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery (Season 3 of “South Park”)

Air Date: Oct. 27, 1999

Synopsis: It’s the “South Park” version of a Scooby Doo mystery, complete with an anatomically correct Antonio Banderas blow-up doll, ghost pirates, Korn and Kyle’s dead grandmother’s corpse. Nuff said.

Why It ruled: For one, it has the members of Korn riding around in a van vaguely resembling the “mystery machine” and discussing whether it’s “ghost pirates” or “pirate ghosts.” Then the potty–mouthed third graders of South Park Elementary dig up Kyle’s decomposing grandmother to scare some fifth graders. The body disappears, leading the members of Korn and the third-graders to search for her and the pirate-ghosts/ghost-pirates in Scooby Doo fashion. No Scooby snacks included, but there is a laugh track. In short, it’s “South Park” at its finest – foul, unapologetic mockery of everything we hold sacred.


Episode name: “Tricks and Treats” (Season One of "Freaks and Geeks")

Air date: Oct. 30, 1999

Synopsis: Wanting to desperately cling to his youth – or really, just avoid reading Dostoyevsky’s “Crime and Punishment” for Lit class – Sam convinces fellow geeks, Neal and Bill, to go trick-or-treating. That they’re freshmen in high school is only the start of the real crime and punishment. Sam’s bully, Alan, tries to steal the gang’s hard-earned candy stash in a pathetic fight scene (well, pathetic for Bill as "The Bionic Woman," see above picture). Meanwhile, another desperate Weir family member – Lindsay – ditches her Halloween-happy mom to hang with her vandalism-happy friends. The trade-off leads to hurt feelings, and finally, the worst kind of trick – an egg unintentionally hurled at poor Sam’s face from big sis. (DVD extras for this episode reveal John Francis Daley took quite a few egg shots to the eye to get it perfect ... and yeah, it kinda hurt.)

Why it ruled: Funny from start to finish, “Tricks” is about being forced to grow up and face reality (Lindsay can't fit in, Sam wants to stay young, Mrs. Weir is losing her babies ....) There is also a great gag about radical hippies covering poo in chocolate and handing it out as fun size candy bars to rail against a future Reagan administration (the show took place in 1980). But in typical "Freaks" fashion, the lesson is simple: a Gort the Robot costume won’t hide the fact that life really, really sucks.


Episode name: "Aliens" (season 4 of "Perfect Strangers." Directed by Joel Zwick – who, as it turns out, is not Ed Zwick, director of "The Last Samurai," as I originally and bemusedly thought.)

Air date: Oct. 28, 1988 (Hey! That's 20 years ago! Get out of the city!)

Synopsis: After a late-night viewing of "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," Larry (Mark Linn-Baker) has a dream where his backwards Mediterranean cousin Balki (Bronson Pinchot) is actually from another planet, as revealed by a newspaper headline, "Planet Mypos discovered behind Pluto" (hey, 80s, didn't you get the memo? Pluto isn't a planet!) Balki also displays a number of special powers, such as zapping food on the stove with his finger to cook it (why bother putting it on the stove then?) and flying around the apartment almost exactly like a guy with wires down his pants. The scary comes in as Balki now seems hellbent on enslaving the human race – and not through ad nauseam repetition of lame catch phrases as usual; this time it's mind control. ooooEEEEoooo!

Why it ruled: "Perfect Strangers" was one of the few sitcoms that could revel in this kind of fantasy episode without straying too far from the show's core principles – silliness and stupidity. And if you set your bar low enough, it's still surprisingly funny ... which is more than I can say for "Friends." (Sorry, Sara.)

Here's to a spooktacular Halloween – but hopefully not spooky based on how bad this year's TV specials probably are.

-- Sara Boyd,, Malavika Jagannathan,, Thomas Rozwadowski,, and Adam Reinhard,



I like the "Friends" episode where they all get shot in the face ...

Oh, wait ... I dreamed that one? Nevermind.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At October 31, 2008 at 10:50 AM  

Ooh I'm TRoz ... My taste in television is so refined that when people say, "Hey I like 'Freaks and Geeks' too" I can say, "Yeah, well I watched it from the very beginning. I liked it before it was popular. I'm so cool, I wear T-shirts of bands that no one has heard of."

P.S. At least people watched "Friends" and they made it 10 seasons ... can't say the same for your little "Pushing Daisies."

-- Sara

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At October 31, 2008 at 11:04 AM  

Actually if I recall correctly, one Thomas M. Rozawadowski never watched "F&G" when it was airing on television (that's right, I actually did, so I'm cooler than you, Roz!). Oh wait, my mom is too and she thinks "50 Cent"'s name is "5 Cent."


p.s. For the record, I like both "Friends" and "Freaks."

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At October 31, 2008 at 2:42 PM  

Tom wins. That is all.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At October 31, 2008 at 4:55 PM  

Since there seems to be no shame here (Perfect Strangers ... Friends ... really channel surfing bloggers???), I'll admit that one of my most memorable Halloween episodes came from 90210. Kelly, having just been dumped, finds a slutastic witches costume and ends up a near-victim of sexual assault. The message here, kids? When dressing up as a witch, it's far better to go for the green, warty version. If you do decide to show some cleavage, attach a hairy mole to your chest to ward off predators. Or, maybe you just shouldn't go into locked bedrooms with complete strangers ...

By Anonymous mary, At November 1, 2008 at 9:53 AM  

Friends was only awful once every one started datng each other and it was clear they were out of ideas. The early episodes are still pretty funny but I think it gets a bad rap because of how popular the Ross and Rachel stuff became.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 1, 2008 at 1:43 PM  

I watched "Tricks and Treats" on Friday to commemorate the holiday. Yes, I am that lame.

By Anonymous Anonymous, At November 3, 2008 at 11:44 AM  

Hey anonymous, I totally did, too.

"Gonna raise hell! Gonna raise hell! Gonna raise hellllllllll!"

(and from "We've Got Spirit" on, I did watch "F&G" when it originally aired ... how could you not love a hula Norseman?)

Boyd, our "Friends"-"Scrubs" showdown is long overdue.

-- Tom

By Blogger Press-Gazette blogger, At November 3, 2008 at 9:10 PM  

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