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Halloween is my favorite holiday, probably because it falls only a few days after my birthday, which means I often got to have Halloween themed costume parties growing up; a pretty cool way for a kid to spend his birthday, thanks mom and dad!  Each year I look forward to the Halloween episodes of the TV programs I watch regularly, since I am planning to write some previews of upcoming series premieres that have a horror and or Halloween friendly subject matter, I thought I’d take a moment to look back at some of my favorite episodes from the past.  In descending order, my favorite Halloween episodes are:

Roseanne “Halloween IV” This episode aired on my twenty-second birthday, it was a terrific time in my life, I had a great girlfriend, I was going to college, I had my first new car (1992 Dodge Shadow ES in bright red!), I was young, and in a few days the Clinton Era would begin with all its dot com bubbliness.  I sat that night with my family and watched Roseanne Halloween IV and laughed myself silly.  For years I have thought I enjoyed it so much because my life was fantastic back then, I watched it again on YouTube (search Roseanne Halloween IV full episode) and discovered, no, it is just a well acted, directed, and written installment of a highly regarded TV show.  Imagine a Halloween themed version of A Christmas Carol, with Roseanne as the protagonist and you will get the idea.

The Simpsons “Tree House of Horror V” was a hard one to track down (iTunes $1.99), I remembered it because the episode offers what is possibly the cleverest parody of The Shining I have ever seen.  Also, in other vignettes, Homer becomes a time traveler and something very sinister happens in the school cafeteria; believe me, this one is worth the $1.99!

HIMYM “Slutty Pumpkin” (S01E06 Netflix Streaming) I watch this program for Neil Patrick Harris; Ted Mosby (Josh Radnor) just seems like a sad little fellow and I find him annoying, the other cast members have brought some memorable moments to TV, but Barney Stinson (Harris) is legen…wait for it…dary!  In this episode Barney once again proves he’s willing to go to any depth of creepiness to get a girl, even if it involves multiple costumes and complicated story telling.  The program was still fresh and the characters new when I first saw this episode, but I watched it again just today, and it holds up.

Happy Days “Haunted House” It seems there’s been a legend going around since even Howard (Tom Bosley) was a boy that the old Simpson house is haunted; Ralph (Don Most) decides it would be just the place for the Halloween bash he’s planning.  The episode is one of my favorites from childhood, and is like the rest of the series; Richie (Ron Howard) or one of the other characters struggles with something, gets advice from a friend and ends up overcoming.  I know it’s simple, but it was a simpler time, and I think you too will enjoy the nostalgia, plus it can be found for free on YouTube, just search Happy Days haunted house full episode.

Frasier “Halloween” (S05E03 Netflix Streaming) Back in the late nineties, my girlfriend’s mother quipped that my brother and I reminded her of Frasier and Niles Crane; I am still not certain what she meant by that, but since I enjoyed the series I have taken it as a compliment.  In this episode, Niles (David Hyde Pierce) comes to believe that his older brother Frasier (Kelsey Grammer) has impregnated the object of his affection, Daphne (Jane Leeves); Niles drinks too much, things get comically carried away, and the prim and proper Frasier Crane tries to stay on top of it all.  If that isn’t enough Roz (Peri Gilpin) shows up dressed as O from The Story of O, you just must see that!

Modern Family “Halloween” (S02E06 Amazon & iTunes $1.99) This one is right there at the top, it is one of the best Modern Family episodes ever.  Doubt me?  Buy it on Amazon or iTunes and try not to laugh your rear off when Mitchell (Jesse Tyler Ferguson) gets stuck in his new law firm in the Spiderman outfit, or when Gloria (Sofía Vergara) attempts to speak in an American accent.  Add to that the stunning Halloween decor and insane antics at Phil (Ty Burrel) and Claire (Julie Bowen) Dunphy’s house and you have a winner!

Community “Epidemiology” (S02E06 Amazon & iTunes $1.99) Very funny and well written take on the currently popular zombie genre, add to that the costuming; Chang (Ken Jeong) as a figure skater (gasp!  Or is it vomit?), Troy (Donald Glover) and Abed (Danny Pudi) as Ripley and the Alien, and the whole gang running from zombies while listening to Abba play in the background.  All this earns “Epidemiology” a spot on my list and I consider it a half-hour well spent.

The Magical World of Disney “Disney’s Halloween Treat” I watched this at my twelfth birthday party with my younger brother and some friends so it will always have a special place in my heart, it was also the last year I dressed up in a costume as a kid, and the last time my mom made me pumpkin face cupcakes for my birthday – ah, the memories.  This program is full of clips from various Halloween and horror themed cartoons, being from Disney it is both high quality and entertaining while not being too scary for younger children.  I’ve shown this to several of my friend’s children over the years and it is always a hit; plus it’s free on YouTube, search the title plus full episode and pick one of the remastered versions.

Quantum Leap “The Boogieman” (S03E03 Netflix Streaming) Sam (Scott Bakula) leaps into a horror writing hack on Halloween, people start dying and Sam keeps seeing a goat at the murder sites, it isn’t long before Sam figures out he’s battling an evil force.  Do not underestimate the scariness of this episode; I watched it alone, about a week after moving into my first apartment and let me tell you I barely slept a wink that night!  I’ll give it a try again, but I’m going to wait for my roommates to get back from their vacation.

Glee “The Rocky Horror Glee Show” (S02E05 Netflix & Amazon Streaming) I am not, nor will I ever be a fan of Glee.  It seems to be a fine show, it just isn’t my thing; that being said, I am a huge fan of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and so I had to give this one a try.  Like I said, I’m not a fan, and since I don’t know the characters I was mostly lost, but the musical numbers were off the charts good, making it worthy of a spot on my list.

Finally I would fail completely if I didn’t mention It’s The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, the made for TV movie that airs year after year, I simply didn’t think it was fair to include it in the list as it really is more deserving of Hall of Fame status as the all time greatest Halloween special.

So that’s my list.  I will be back with more Halloween month TV reviews next week.  And as always, feel free to share your favorite Halloween episodes in the comments section below.

- John Morton

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