Halloweek Day #4: Favorite Halloween TV Shows
Updated: Oct 31, 2021
For today’s Halloween-themed post, we’re looking at our favorite Halloween-themed specials and TV shows over the years.
Real Ghostbusters – I have to start with one that I still watch every year—or the three, actually. The Ghostbusters had three Halloween episodes. The first, “When Halloween Was Forever” featured the first appearance of fan favorite ghost villain Samhain. The pumpkin-headed spook returned to hit the Ghostbusters at home by taking over the firehouse in “Halloween 2 ½”. And finally, Real Ghostbusters got their own prime-time special with the airing of “The Halloween Door” as a disgruntled old man named Crowley inadvertently conspires with ghosts to end Halloween and before they know it a super spook called Boogaloo is back in town. For the ABC special, clips of the unaired Real Ghostbusters pilot short are included in the intro instead of the regular intro that aired on the Saturday morning episodes.
The Paul Lynde Halloween Special – I wasn’t around for the original airing of this special featuring comedian Paul Lynde in a series of sketches and musical numbers, but I’ve seen it on DVD and in recent years it was streaming on Prime. The big takeaway was an appearance by Margaret Hamilton as the Wicked Witch of the West. Hamilton reprised the role on Sesame Street, of all shows, which ended up being somewhat controversial for scaring the crap out of little kids.
Garfield’s Halloween Adventure – The Monday-despising kitty and his dog Odie dress as pirates with plans of acquiring lots of candy, candy, candy! But when Garfield finds himself across a river and facing a strange man in a creepy mansion which is about to be invaded by ghost pirates. This 1985 special was often aired alongside It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown and still holds up today. Margaret Hamilton may have scared the crap out of toddlers, but I remember the old man emerging from his chair in the Garfield special scaring the crap out of me!
Growing Pains “Happy Halloween, I & II” – As a fan of both Halloween and the Seaver family, this two-parter stands out. When a storm dampens everyone’s Halloween plans, dad Jason tries to lighten the mood by telling scary, but lame stories. Notable tales include Jason’s 50’s area alien invasion tale and Mike’s journey to a roadhouse out of time (yes, he was after a girl). The show even created a revised, Halloween version of their well-known theme song. And no, this was part of season six--a year before the season that featured a pre-Titanic Leonardo DiCaprio.
Roseanne – If the Seavers had the wholesome Halloween tale, the Conners celebrated the holiday like the rest of us--with garish costumes, decorations and attempts to pull tricks on each other—one trying to upstage another. This was middle-America in the 90’s and they got it right. While it became a staple and continues with the new series “The Conners”, the latter episodes had lost some of the charm of the early ones. Perhaps for that assessment, I’ll be forced to walk through the “tunnel of terr-OR”.
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror – While more recent episodes have tended to fall back on popular cultural references of the time, the annual Simpsons Halloween episode is always a treat worth checking out. Three different stories typically show our favorite characters in a spooky tale set outside of the regular show’s continuity. While I’ve long since stopped watching the Simpsons on a weekly basis, I always catch the Treehouse of Horror episode.
It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown – I can’t think of a more appropriate tale to showcase the youthful spirit of Halloween than this 1966 animated tale featuring the Peanuts gang. Airing every year since it debuted and now available on AppleTV+. Whether it be Linus’ pilgrimage to the pumpkin patch in anticipation of the Great Pumpkin’s arrival or Charlie Brown’s bad luck with trick or treating (“I got a rock”), this is one watch that should be on everyone’s Halloween tradition list.
What was your favorite Halloween-themed show?