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Wednesday, October 31, 2012
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The 10 Best Halloween Episodes On Comedy Television

By Rachel Bennett
Television Editor & Columnist

***

Happy Halloween, readers!

It’s my favorite day of the year, so I couldn’t neglect it in this week’s list. Because All Hallows Eve is so fun, below are the top 10 best Halloween comedy episodes.

Sadly, dramas are not on this list (I never would’ve been able to cut it to 10 if there had been), but feel free to leave your picks in the comments —”Home” from Fox’s The X-Files, anyone?

For me, though, I’ll leave it to laughs. So put on your best TV-themed costume, grab that bowl of fun-sized candy and check out my choices!

10. ABC’s Boy Meets World, “And Then There Was Shawn” (Season 5, Episode 17)

Fun fact: This episode aired Feb. 27, 1998. Nevertheless, I consider it one of the best Halloween episodes because “And Then There Was Shawn” left quite an impression on me as a kid who grew up during ABC’s TGIF era. Too young to watch legitimately scary movies, yet old enough to be curious about them, this episode hit the spot. A killer haunts the high school gang during detention, killing them one by one — until it’s revealed the episode is a dream. Looking back, the half-hour appeals to me just as much as it did then, effectively mixing scares and humor along with clever nods to Agatha Christie‘s novel Ten Little Indians, Wes Craven‘s 1996 film Scream and Comedy Central’s South Park (“They killed Kenny!”). The comedy struggled as its cast got older, but this episode ranks as one of its best.

9. NBC’s Friends, “The One with the Halloween Party” (Season 8, Episode 6)

Friends‘ quality undoubtedly declined as it inched its way closer to the 10th and final season, but season eight’s “The One with the Halloween Party” showcased the comedy’s strengths — namely, its actors and one-liners. Monica (Courteney Cox) and Chandler (Matthew Perry) host a Halloween party, which brings about Joey (Matt LeBlanc) impersonating Chandler, Chandler and Ross (David Schwimmer) arm wrestling, and Rachel (Jennifer Aniston) handing out money to trick-or-treaters. Sean Penn also pops up as Eric, the fiancé of Phoebe’s (Lisa Kudrow) twin sister Ursula. The highlight of the episode, though, is easily Ross’ Spud-nik — or “Space Doody” — costume. If only the series aired more Halloween episodes throughout its run.

8. CBS’s How I Met Your Mother, “The Slutty Pumpkin” (Season 1, Episode 6)

How I Met Your Mother wasn’t bad before this point in its first season, but “The Slutty Pumpkin” hooked me — as well as many other viewers, I can imagine — and kept me as a fan of the comedy for more than seven years. The episode establishes Ted as a hopeless romantic we want to root for, as he spends the half-hour trying to find a woman (the titular slutty pumpkin) whom he met at a Halloween party years earlier. The costumes are great (a hanging chad, a pirate, and a parrot, to name a few), but the jokes are even better. The ending cemented my loyalty, though, as Robin (Cobie Smulders) and Ted (Josh Radnor) share a sweet moment while they wait for a slutty pumpkin who never arrives. Audience members later meet her (Katie Holmes) in season seven’s “The Slutty Pumpkin Returns,” but the episode proved to be just like the character: good in theory but disappointing in execution.

7. ABC’s Roseanne, “BOO!” (Season 2, Episode 7)

“BOO!” is the first of the comedy’s annual Halloween episodes throughout its nine-season run, and it’s the best of them all. The episode focuses on the Conners’ intense love for the spooky holiday, as Dan (John Goodman) and Roseanne (Roseanne Barr) keep trying to scare each other. The show was always at its best when the two went back and forth, so it’s no mystery why this episode is one of the funniest Halloween episodes ever to air. Plus, who could argue with Roseanne’s reasoning that the dead haunt the living on Halloween just for candy: “There’s no chocolate in hell — that’s why it’s hell,” she says. I couldn’t agree more.

6. NBC’s Parks and Recreation, “Greg Pikitis” (Season 2, Episode 7)

I’ll admit I nearly gave up on Parks and Recreation after its first season, as the show was trying too hard to copy its stylistic predecessor, NBC’s The Office. This all changed with the second season, once the series showed what made it different yet even better than The Office — particularly with “Greg Pikitis,” which remains my favorite Halloween episode ever. The titular Greg Pikitis (Cody Klop) is a high school student whom Leslie (Amy Poehler) believes vandalizes a park every Halloween, and she sets off on an investigation to prove his guilt. Not only did “Greg Pikitis” once again feature guest star Louis C.K. as Leslie’s boyfriend Dave, but it also introduced Bert Macklin, Andy’s (Chris Pratt) FBI alter ego. More than that, though, the half-hour was clever, twisty and hilarious — everything a fantastic Halloween comedy episode should be.

5. Comedy Central’s South Park, “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery” (Season 3, Episode 10)

South Park is currently on its 16th season, and the animated comedy has yet to lose its shock appeal and ability to give a fresh perspective on current events. But one of its best episodes aired way back in season three: The Halloween entry “Korn’s Groovy Pirate Ghost Mystery.” The chapter includes the band Korn acting like the Scooby Doo gang, but that’s not the only weird part of the episode — in fact, it gets delightfully stranger. Pirate ghosts, an Antonio Banderas sex doll and the corpse of a grandmother all appear at one point or another, culminating in a hilarious and memorable Halloween event.

4. Fox’s The Simpsons, “Treehouse of Horror V” (Season 6, Episode 6)

Like Boy Meets World, The Simpsons is a series I grew up with — even if I wasn’t supposed to watch it (sorry, Mom). The animated comedy’s Halloween specials are classics for most people of my generation, ones that we tuned in to and would talk about at school the next day as though we were the coolest kids around. Regardless, they’re often hysterical, and “Treehouse of Horror V” is the most memorable. The standout segment of this episode is “The Shinning,” which is a parody of Stephen King‘s novel The Shining and Stanley Kubrick‘s film of the same name. Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) inhabits the role of Jack, as he goes crazy from a lack of beer and TV, and it results in one of the best moments of the whole series. The other entries, “Nightmare Cafeteria” and ““Time and Punishment” are also fantastic and worth rewatching this Halloween.

3. NBC’s Freaks and Geeks, “Tricks and Treats” (Season 1, Episode 3)

I debated about whether or not to put Freaks and Geeks on this list, since I’m not sure its hour-long running time actually qualifies it as a comedy. But the short-lived series includes such a wonderful Halloween episode that I couldn’t leave it off. “Tricks and Treats” chronicles Halloween for each member of the Weir family, and though this episode aired in 1999 and is set in 1980, it remains surprisingly timeless. The hour deals with not just the ghosts of the holiday, but also the ghosts of our former selves — particularly how we, and those we love, change in unrecognizable ways as we get older. Yet, “Tricks and Treats” doesn’t take itself too seriously, mocking overprotective parents and featuring Bill (Martin Starr) as the Bionic Woman . Every episode of this dramedy makes me miss it, but this one especially hurts.

2. NBC’s Community, “Epidemiology” (Season 2, Episode 6)

Since we’ve entered the darkest timeline and now have to wait until Feb. 7 for more Community, let’s remember the good times, shall we? “Epidemiology” definitely ranks as one of them. The comedy was already a fanboy’s dream beforehand, but this chapter made it clear the show would forever be a cult-favorite. This particular half-hour features the Greendale gang at a school Halloween party that goes awry when a virus begins turning people into zombies. One by one, they succumb to the illness, and the episode hysterically addresses several zombie film clichés along the way — even bringing a government conspiracy into the fold. “Epidemiology” instantly became a classic, and I will consequently never be able to look at ice skater Peggy Lipton in the same again.

1. ABC’s It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

This half-hour program didn’t air in 1966 as a part of a series, but it instead ran as a Peanuts special. Based on the comic by Charles M. Schulz, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown featured Charlie Brown (voiced by Peter Robbins) and co. on the night before Halloween. Despite everyone’s skepticism, Linus (voiced by Christopher Shea) believes that the Great Pumpkin is real and will appear in the pumpkin patch that night. Throughout it all, the show has some great moments, from Snoopy’s (voiced by Bill Melendez) fight with the Red Baron to Charlie Brown continuing to be down on his luck as he gets rocks instead of candy. Mostly, It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is a classic, airing every year for new generations to relate to or share in its nostalgia for a childhood filled with magic.

What are your favorite Halloween episodes? What episodes did I leave off of his list? Let me know, and Happy Halloween!

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  • marleene

    You weren’t exaggerating by deeming these the best Halloween
    episodes! These are my favorite episodes of all time! My DISH coworker and I
    just spent over half of our lunch reminiscing about watching these, so thanks
    for the nostalgia! I think the one that sticks out to me the most is the Boy
    Meets World episode. It’s probably because, like you said, it was one of the
    first spooky movie encounters I ever had as a kid. Now I’m just dying to rent
    that and watch it all over again. It’s perfect that you included the episode
    and season, so it’ll be easy to track down. I’m just lucky that my
    Blockbuster@Home service from DISH has all the seasons available, so it’ll be
    no problem to get my hands on it. I might as well rent the other choices featured
    here while I’m at it! Kudos on this amazing list!

    • Rachel

      Thanks so much! Glad it was a trip down memory lane for you. Happy Halloween!

  • dturner

    Although it was only on for one season, check out the Halloween episode of STARK RAVING MAD featuring a Pre-Monk Tony Shaloub as the accentric horror novelist Ian Stark and HIMYM’s Neil Patrick Harris as his editor. This takes Halloween pranking to hysterical limits! Written and produced by MODERN FAMILY’s Steven Levitan.

  • Zizo

    One of my favorites are all of Modern Family’s Halloween episodes, specially the one in the second season (Season 2, Episode 6). It was hilarious!