By Sam Bertschmann
With Halloween only one week away, nearly every network has been airing endless marathons of scary movies, including AMC’s “Fear Fest” and ABC Family’s “Thirteen Nights of Halloween.” For the more faint of heart, dip into your bowl of candy corn and brush up on these hilarious, classic Halloween television specials.
7. “Koi Pond,” The Office (2009)In a scene actually cut from the episode after its premiere, Darryl leads a group of local children through Dunder Mifflin’s warehouse, where, as Jim tells the camera, “legend has it … there used to be a productive paper company.” In an otherwise unremarkable episode, this cold open features Ryan as then-trendy Twilight vampire Edward Cullen, Jim as Facebook — or, as Darryl misinterprets the simple costume, “Book Face” — and Michael as The Lonely Island’s “Dick in a Box,” made even more inappropriate by his fake suicide attempt and subsequent public service announcement to horrified kids.
6. “Night of the Day of the Dead,” Lizzie McGuire (2001)In which the evil Kate gets her comeuppance for disrespecting Miranda’s Mexican ancestors at the school’s annual Fright Night. This episode features tween rivalry and early 2000s special effects at their finest. Plus, it is a perfect choice for Throwback Thursday.
5. “Halloween,” Modern Family (2010)It is difficult to pinpoint the funniest subplot in this episode from Modern Family’s second season: Gloria’s failed attempt to speak in an American accent, Haley’s increasingly slutty costumes or Cam’s thinly veiled desire for his family to ask about his traumatic childhood Halloween story.
4. “The One with the Halloween Party,” Friends (2001)Ross’ “Spudnik” costume — a satellite-wearing potato that better resembles, as Monica puts it, “Space Doodie,” — ranks second only to season seven’s “Holiday Armadillo.” Honorable mention goes to Joey, dressed simply as Chandler.
3. “And Then There Was Shawn,” Boy Meets World (1998)In this fantastic spoof of the Scream series, Cory and the gang find themselves doomed to die in John Adams High after his spat with Topanga lands the lot of them in detention with Feeny. Shawn steals the show in this episode with his attempts to save the group through his knowledge of horror film classics, including Blood in the Showers and The Killer is One of Us. Rest in peace, Feffy.
2. “Treehouse of Horror V,” The Simpsons (1994)This brilliant parody of The Shining — or, as Groundskeeper Willie calls it, The Shinnin’ — finds the Simpson family trapped in a spooky mansion atop an isolated mountain. When “no TV and no beer make Homer go crazy,” he sets out to kill Marge and the kids until, in a hilarious departure from the segment’s source material, Lisa thwarts his murder attempts with television, treasured by Homer as his “teacher, mother, secret lover.” Even better, the Simpsons freeze out in the snow while basking in television’s “warm glowing warming glow.”
1. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown,” Charlie Brown (1966)This Peanuts Halloween special is, without a doubt, the all-time best. With Pig-Pen’s confusion as to how his friends recognized him under his ghost costume, Linus’ earnest belief that the Great Pumpkin will finally recognize his chosen pumpkin patch as the most sincere of all and Charlie Brown’s dejection over getting rocks in his treat bag at every house, Charles M. Schulz’s classic cartoon remains a Halloween staple not to be missed.
Honorable Mention: “Werewolf Bar Mitzvah,” 30 Rock (2007)In a mere 10-second clip from the season two episode “Jack Gets in the Game,” Tracy proudly recalls his gold record novelty party song, featuring quite possibly the funniest premise for a Halloween tune of all time: “boys becoming men; men becoming wolves.” The song was actually written and performed by Donald Glover, a former 30 Rock writer better known now as Community’s Troy Barnes and rapper Childish Gambino.