Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Top Five Halloween Episodes

Halloween can bring out the best in writers - especially television writers.  That's why almost every T.V. show has a Halloween episode, and very often those episodes are some of the cleverest, funniest, and best-written.  It's hard to choose just five when there are so many great ones, but here are my five favorite Halloween episodes of all time.

5. ANGEL - The Life of the Party - Season Five.
Overtired and overworked demon Lorne throws a huge bash for Angel and the gang, but his exhausted mind starts to play tricks on him.  Mainly, every little throwaway comment manifests into reality, resulting in hilarity.  Angel & Eve can't stop having sex, Gunn pees on everything, and Fred & Wesley get rip-roaring drunk (without ever having a drink).  It follows in the grand Joss Whedon tradition of making the characters step outside themselves...which is what Halloween is all about.

4. GILMORE GIRLS - The Festival of Living Art - Season Four.
OK, this isn't actually a Halloween episode, but it aired right around Halloween and it involves costumes and pageantry.  Stars Hollow hosts a festival of living art, and the town goes crazy trying to pull it off.  Kirk takes his role of Jesus Christ in The Last Supper a little too seriously, and Lorelai panics that she'll flinch onstage, as she did the last time.  Meanwhile, Sookie's baby is overdue and she's going out of her mind.  All these threads wind together into one fabulous climax - a fistfight between Jesus and Judas, and Lorelai's baby-pager going off while she's onstage as the Renoir Girl in Dance at Bougival.  Does she flinch?  You'll have to watch the episode to find out.

3. FREAKS & GEEKS - Tricks & Treats - Season One
The third episode of this brilliant-but-cancelled series finds the freaks and geeks gang dealing with growing pains - mainly, the pain of outgrowing Halloween.  Sam finds he's outgrown trick-or-treating, while Lindsay tries to be the grown-up cool kid and go tricking with her new friends.  Meanwhile, their mom Jean realizes that the world has outgrown her homemade cookies (a wonderful nostalgic moment that harkens back to all the urban legends about razor blades in chocolate that we heard as kids).  Of course, the real high point of this episode is Sam's friend Bill dressed as Jaime Sommers aka the Bionic Woman, not to mention the monologue he has in front of the mirror while he's making himself over.  Priceless.

2. FRASIER - Halloween - Season Five
Niles holds a high-society Halloween party where everyone must come dressed as a literary character.  Roz, worried that she's pregnant, comes to the party in a leather bustier, miniskirt and fishnets, prompting this exchange:
"Who are you supposed to be?"
"O, from The Story of O."
And though it's repeated at least three times, it never stops being funny.  Add in Niles as a drunk Cyrano, Frasier as a randy Chaucer, and Bulldog as Waldo (yes, from Where's Waldo), and you've got one of my all-time favorite episodes of this long-running show.

1. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER - Halloween - Season Two
Anyone who's read my blogs before knows what a huge Buffy fan I am.  The series had three Halloween episodes, all of which are great, but season two's Halloween is by far the best.  Early in the episode we learn that Halloween is actually an off-night for vampires.  They like to stay in and let the humans have their fun.  Generous of them, isn't it?  Anticipating a relaxing night, Buffy and the gang get decked out in their costumes...but little do they know that the costumes have been cursed.  Everyone turns into what they've dressed up as - Willow's a ghost, bumbling Xander turns into a single-minded soldier, and Buffy becomes a helpless, damsel-in-distress from the 18th century who's prone to fainting.  Joss Whedon loves to make his characters step outside their comfort zone (see the Angel episode, above) and this episode is one of the shining jewels in the Buffy crown.

Okay, there's my top five.  What did I leave off the list?  What are your favorite Halloween episodes?

Nicole Maggi lives in Los Angeles, CA with her amazingly supportive husband and beautiful daughter Emilia.  She graduated from Emerson College with a BFA, and worked as an actress for many years in New York before the lure of sunshine and avocados enticed her to the West Coast.  Though she still acts, her focus now is on her writing.  In her very limited spare time, Nicole enjoys yoga, hiking, baking...and eating what she bakes!  Her novel SHIFT will be out in early 2013 from HarperTeen.  Follow her on Twitter so she can reach her goal of 1000 followers by her book's release!


  1. Terrific post! You did such a great job of describing the episodes. Halloween is the Vampires night off! Got to love Buffy!

  2. love it!!! i agree with your picks, but i think i'd put Angel at #1 -- LOVE that episode. i'd also add Dexter, season 1, an episode called "Let's Give the Boy a Hand"... it starts with Dexter saying about Halloween: “I love Halloween, the one time of year when everyone wears a mask, not just me...People think its fun to pretend you’re a monster, me I spend my life pretending I’m not.” and by the end of the episode he passes a truly dark test and realizes he's not exactly a monster...he's "neither man nor beast, I’m something new entirely, with my own set of rules, I’m Dexter.” it's a great show!!!! xoxoxo

  3. I agree with the commenter above. I loooooved that episode of Dexter!

  4. How is it I've never watched Buffy? *headslap*