I don’t know about any of you, friends, but I’m both a party person and a “staying in and doing whatever” person. It really depends on my mood. When I am in the mood to stay in and do whatever, I like to watch TV marathons of Halloween specials, if they’re being aired. I don’t actually watch as much TV as I did when I was a lot younger, but I have always loved holiday specials, especially Halloween specials because they can be completely off the wall and it’s all handwaved way because it’s Halloween and specials don’t always have to be canon, do they?
Most of these TV specials that I will be mentioning are quite old because I don’t really keep up with TV shows anymore, and also a lot of them are animated. Because I still watch cartoons despite being an adult. And by cartoons, I mean cartoons for children and also cartoons for adults. Why not, it’s a free world to some certain extents.
I had to start with the biggest, most obvious one, didn’t I? If you’ve been living under a rock for forever and don’t know what Treehouse of Horror is, I’ll briefly fill you in: The Simpsons have had annual Halloween specials since their second season which was way back in the early 1990’s and they’re usually the best episodes that they do. This year will be the 28th ToH episode which I obviously will be watching. Each episode is an anthology episode of three short stories that involve the characters in horror, science fiction, or supernatural settings and sometimes can be parodies of famous movies like The Shining, TV shows like The Twilight Zone, and even radio shows or books. They once did a full-on adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe’s The Raven which was narrated by James Earl Jones and it was awesome. Here in the UK, the TV channel Sky 1 usually does some sort of ToH marathon on or around Halloween and I really hope they do this year, although it’ll be a bit difficult with 28 episodes to show. There is a DVD of ToH episodes but there are only four episodes on it, oh well.
Surprisingly, there are only two Halloween episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants and this episode is the only one I’ve seen because the other one hasn’t aired yet. Scaredy Pants has a pretty simple story of SpongeBob being scared of literally everything on Halloween and wants to scare other people instead so he dresses up as ‘the Flying Dutchman’. I honestly can’t remember watching this episode when it first aired because I was very small at the time, but what I didn’t know until I rewatched it on Netflix is that Nickelodeon UK cut out the scene of SpongeBob having his head shaved, and I don’t really understand why since the end part where SpongeBob actually has his brain exposed is a lot more shocking than him having parts of his head shaved off, which basically acts like hair. British censors will cut out the weirdest things, sometimes.
I honestly don’t know when I stopped watching Fairly Odd Parents but I do remember that this half-hour special was always one of my favourites to watch when I was a kid. In this episode, Timmy is forced to go trick or treating with his evil babysitter Vicky, as a mummy in a costume made out of toilet paper, while the rich kids in the neighbourhood are wearing fancy costumes and getting way more sweets than the other kids. So, being tired of wearing a crappy costume, Timmy wishes for everything on Halloween to be ‘real and scary’ (in song form, obviously), which works and doesn’t exactly go to plan because aliens show up. Obviously.
I wasn’t born when The Muppet Show was on the air, but that doesn’t mean that I can’t still enjoy their Halloween episodes, of which they have two. One guest starring Vincent Price, and another with Alice Cooper. I couldn’t possibly pick a favourite out of the two because they’re both so good. The Vincent Price episode introduces Uncle Deadly, who is one of my favourite Muppets, and obviously features a lot of spookiness going on, including a song that’s sung by Muppet ghosts, which is really impressive considering that the episode was made in the 70’s. The Alice Cooper episode has, obviously, Alice Cooper performing his songs with the Muppets and also a backstage subplot of him being an agent of the Devil trying to get the Muppets to sell their souls. Because why not, it’s Halloween.
This TV movie is actually not a Halloween special, but it’s always shown on TV around Halloween here like all the other Scooby-Doo TV movies are. And also the two theatrical movies, but I haven’t actually seen those. When I was a wee-one, my friends at school used to play “Ghoul School’ all the time, whether it was actually Halloween or not, that was our thing that we liked to do. I like to think that this where my love of vampires came from because I was always the vampire girl. In this movie, Shaggy, Scooby, and Scrappy accept jobs as gym teachers at a finishing school for girls, without realising that the girls are actually ghouls and the daughters of famous monsters.
Am I putting an entire TV show here on the basis that it’s spooky in general? Yes. Yes, I am. There are three movies, and I’ve seen two of them that aren’t Halloween specials, but not the one that is. Billy and Mandy revolves around two kids who gain the Grim Reaper as their best friend forever after beating him in a limbo game to save Billy’s pet hamster. From there, the three of them get into all kinds of supernatural adventures that involve going to the Underworld, and even the centre of the Earth. It’s pretty cool and definitely spooky, but I haven’t seen it in a million years because Cartoon Network took it out of syndication, it’s not on Netflix, and Region 2 DVDs probably weren’t made because they never are. Sigh.
Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide is not really a TV show that you would expect to have a Halloween special, but it does. This episode is split into two halves: one is played completely straight in that it’s Halloween at school and the kids are planning a party, while at the same time they think the principal is dead. Pretty standard stuff. The second one has all of the characters as actual monsters: Ned as a vampire, Cookie as a werewolf, Moze as a ghost, and Gordy as a zombie. The story follows Ned trying to pass his B.A.T. exam which involves him successfully turning into a bat, Cookie waiting for a full moon to scare off “Loomerstein”, Gordy trying to catch a vampire weasel, and Moze being sick of being the only ghost at school so she’s trying to kill someone to keep her company. Standard stuff.
This Futurama episode is not a Halloween special, but it may as well be because it’s as close to spooky as Futurama ever got. In this episode, Bender becomes cursed while attending his uncle’s funeral in Thermostadt and ends up turning into a “were-car” every night unless he is cured by the original were-car. In this episode there’s plenty of references to the supernatural and horror movies, so how could it not be considered a Halloween-ish episode?
Fun fact about me: the only Seth MacFarlane show I like is American Dad. It’s still problematic as heck, but at least it’s funny, doesn’t rely on referencing things from the 80’s, and is better animated. But anyway, this episode follows Stan trying to keep his title of having the best haunted house in the neighbourhood. To do this, he uses real serial killers as an attraction, which obviously doesn’t go as planned. Meanwhile, Steve goes trick or treating with his friend Toshi’s sister Akiko and ends up falling in love with her. This being American Dad the humour does cross the line at times, but instead of going completely across it two minutes in and then staying there, it’s much more subtle and clever, which to me, makes it much funnier.
I haven’t watched That ’70s Show since I binge-watched it either last year or the year before (i really don’t remember), but the first Halloween episode sticks out in my mind mainly because Fez is dressed as Batman for pretty much the whole episode. In this episode, the gang return to their old elementary school which was burned down and find their permanent records and end up getting scared by “ghosts” while they’re exploring. Meanwhile, Red and reminisce about the Halloween of 1957, which was when Kitty discovered she was pregnant. I honestly never really cared for stories about Red and Kitty, mainly because Red was the dad from hell and I hated him.
This is another episode that’s not a Halloween episode, but it would be perfect to watch it around the holiday because of the feel of it. There’s actually no supernatural elements to this episode or The IT Crowd as a whole, but this episode is so funny I couldn’t resist talking about it. In this episode, Jen goes on a date with her colleague Bill Crouse, which ends up being the worst date of her life because he’s an awful person. She then learns from Roy that the dude is a creep who likes to brag about which women in the office he’s had sex with, whether he’s actually slept with them or not, which leads Jen to never want to talk to him again. Understandably. When Bill turns up at the IT department, Moss panics when coming up with excuses as to why he can’t talk to Jen and ends up saying that she’s dead, which then leads Bill to brag that he was the last person Jen ever had sex with. Hilariousness and sort of spookiness ensue. I’ve seen this episode about five times now because it’s so funny. Actually, I’ve seen the whole show about five times because it’s so funny.
What’s your favourite Halloween special? Are there any particular episodes you watch at this time of year?