Mek and I have been watching scary movies — mostly bad ones — this October, but we’ve also been revisiting some of our favorite Halloween themed TV episodes as well. Because I am who I am, I decided to make a list.
It’s not a perfect list. I’m going to admit that upfront. It feels a little wrong not to include a single Treehouse of Horror from The Simpsons, but I just don’t remember them that well anymore, certainly not enough to differentiate between episodes. Also, three different shows have multiple episodes here, either because I need to expand my horizons or because these TV shows just have a lot of awesome pop culture references. Regardless, here it is:
Top Ten Halloween (or Vaguely Halloween Related) Episodes
Disclaimer: Mild spoilers below. Also, as always, the order of this countdown is subject to change at my whim.
10. “You Don’t Know How It Feels” – Cougar Town
This isn’t one I watch every October, but I do enjoy it. There’s the whole emotional content stuff that Cougar Town likes to surprise you with now and again as Jules tries to connect with her emotionally distant father. There’s also all the wacky costumes: half the gang dresses up as each other (which is pretty funny, except for the regrettable brownface). Meanwhile, Jules is a princess, Grayson is Prince, Andy is Burt Reynolds, and Bobby — who obviously wins — is Windy Guy, literally, a guy being blown around in the wind.
It is also the episode that gave us “dead baby lasagne,” which makes me so happy. Because I am a terrible person.
9. “This Episode Sucks” – Psych
Psych is the King of Awesome Guest Stars and Pop Culture References. (Okay, they share the title on references. Unless they’re from the 80’s — Psych automatically wins anything from the 80’s.) And this vampire episode not only guest stars both Kristy Swanson (from the original Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and Corey Feldman (from The Lost Boys), it has Shawn dressing up as Lestat from Interview with the Vampire and Gus as Blacula from, well, Blacula. (Thank you, SFSU, for providing a Vampire Fiction class so I actually knew that reference.) And they even name drop Dracula 2000, which is one of my very favorite guilty pleasure movies!
For that alone, I would love this episode. But this is also the first time we meet Marlowe (Swanson), and I was really happy she kept coming back as Lassie’s prison GF and eventual wife. And Juliet is typically awesome. The show’s consistency wavered some after the first four seasons, but Maggie Lawson just got better and better. I really hope to see her in more things.
8. “Halloween” – Buffy The Vampire Slayer
It’s always fun to see characters play against type. Dainty and Ridiculous Buffy is kind of hilarious, and Competent Soldier Xander is pretty cool. (And I love how his magically induced military knowledge will come in handy for future episodes.) We get our first introduction to Giles’s Shady Past. And I won’t lie: I’m all about Willow’s ghost costumes, both the Kid Friendly and the More Sexy one.
Also, Oz is all crushing on Willow from afar, and screw Buffy/Angel or Buffy/Spike — Willow/Oz is my OTP. (I mean, I really like Tara too. But at the end of the day, yeah. It’s gotta be Oz.)
7. “And Then There Was Shawn” – Boy Meets World
My nostalgia pick. A lot of the humor here sails past silly and lands firmly into cornball, but I can’t help myself: I still like this episode. After all, how many episodes deal with the emotional ramifications of your best friend’s messy breakup by playing around with horror tropes? Not enough, obviously. Also, you know what doesn’t happen enough in television? People dying from pencil-inflicted stab wounds. “We’ll always remember he was this tall.”
Heh. That still makes me laugh.
6. “Bad Blood” – The X-Files
Okay, I’m sure that when other people pick X-Files episodes to watch in October, they go for the actually spooky ones . . . but if it hasn’t already become readily apparent, I tend to like my horror with a healthy dose of humor mixed in. And comparing Scully’s version of How Mulder Came to Stake a Kid With Fake Vampire Teeth to Mulder’s version is pretty hysterical. Favorite parts include Scully’s profoundly unenthusiastic autopsies, Magic Fingers, and Mulder’s song. Also, it’s Luke Wilson! And that kid from The Sandlot!
You know, I always liked Scully, but I don’t know if I appreciated her enough when I was young. Maybe one of these days I’ll go back and watch this show from the beginning again.
5. “Scary Sherry: Bianca’s Toast” – Psych
I’m not crazy about Lassiter’s temporary partner subplot — I like the payoff with the team more than the actual goofy scenes leading up to it — but I love seeing Juliet undercover at the sorority house, and there is something about her scene where she’s gotten the upper hand over the bad guy, and Shawn and Lassie have to show up in time not to rescue her but to stop her using the axe herself . . . I don’t know, I just love it. Henry laughing at the boys for their unnecessary, twenty-year-old psychological trauma is pretty hilarious too.
Also, this monologue from Gus: “I will not enter a room first. I will not enter a room last. I will not investigate any suspicious noises or go looking for a fuse box, and you will not under any circumstances leave me by myself without a weapon of some kind. Do you understand and agree to my terms?”
Good for you, Gus. I mean, it doesn’t end up helping you very much in the end, but still. Good for you.
4. “Horror Fiction in Seven Spooky Steps” – Community
I love all the stories, of course, but I think Abed’s has to be my favorite. Bringing a radio for news reports when you’re staying near an insane asylum with an outdated security system? Standing in the center of the room, back, to back, with knives? LOVE IT. After years of watching people in horror movies make the dumbest choices they can possibly make, Abed’s ghost story was both funny and refreshing. Although Annie’s enthusiasm for gore and viscera was also pretty awesome.
And, of course, I love that almost everyone in the group is a dangerous psychopath. Because really, that seems accurate.
3. “Fear Itself” – Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I don’t know if I have too much to say about this one, other than I like it. (In fact, my only critique is that it’s during the Everlasting Parker Woe. Ugh. Fucking Parker.) But here are a few of the things I especially love:
Oz’s God costume
Anya’s Bunny costume
Everyone being haunted by their personal fear (I’m always a sucker for that — though I will admit to liking Willow’s fears better in “Restless” than in this one.)
Giles in a sombrero and Giles with an axe (sadly, not at the same time)
Taunting the fear demon.
And, of course, “actual size.”
2. “Epidemiology” – Community
Quite possibly my favorite episode of Community ever, which isn’t exactly an easy choice. I love how this show has forever managed to link zombies and ABBA in my brain, like that’s not creepy or anything. Also, I laughed SO HARD when Troy utterly fails to fight the zombies with the Power of Imagination, like, his line, “Okay, I don’t know why I thought this would work,” had me in tears. And you have to love a zombie virus that can be cured merely by turning on the A/C, right? Also: George Takei’s beginning and ending narration.
I’ve never been so disappointed that my parents didn’t inexplicably name me Kevin in my whole life.
1. “Tuesday the 17th” – Psych
Oh, God, you guys. This was so hard. Trying to pick between my favorite Community episode and my favorite Psych episode? It’s too much. In fact, I might make a different call tomorrow.
But for today . . . I can’t begin to tell you how much I love Psych’s Friday the 13th parody. I love everything about it: the Rick Astley piñata, the MANY spot-on homages, the Deep Blue Sea reference, Juliet saving the day (again), and of course, “Let’s twist this.” It’s also got one of my favorite continuity gags ever: in an earlier episode (from an earlier season, even), a fugitive badly pretends to be one of Shawn and Gus’s childhood camp counselors, and he’s forced to improvise a Camp Tikihama song, which they utilize again in this episode, all creepy like. Cracks me up every time.
“The Rocky Horror Glee Show” – Glee, primarily for Kurt as Riff Raff.
“Heeeeere’s Lassie” – Psych
“Lassie Jerky” – Psych
“Let’s Get Hairy” – Psych
. . . and every other horror tribute episode of Psych I failed to mention. Because there are a LOT of them. God bless you, Psych.
Have your own favorite Halloween episodes? Tell me about them in the Comments.