Television series love to do episodes based around some of the larger holidays. For American made shows, these will take the form of Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas episodes. Today I’m finishing off my trio of Halloween blogs by looking at my five favourite Halloween TV specials. For my blog on my favourite monsters, click here and for my piece sharing some chilling true stories, click here.
- Halloween (Buffy the Vampire Slayer)
In this season two episode of the hit 90s show about a teenage vampire slayer, Buffy and her friends are afflicted by a curse that turns them into the costumes they are wearing. While Buffy is render useless as an 18th Century noble woman and Xander has become a soldier, it is down to shy Willow to lead the Scooby gang to victory. While an entertaining episode, it also stands out for its genuine character development and continuation of the Buffy motif, rather than indulging in a silly episode for the sake of the season.
- Epidemiology (Community)
Of course Community, the show that loves to indulge in pop culture references, has a number of Halloween episodes. However, the stand out of these Halloween themed episodes is ‘Epidemiology’ from season two. At the Greendale Halloween party, a military rations experiment that the Dean mistakes from discount taco meat at an army surplus store begins to turn people into zombies. It is up to the study group to save the rest of the students. Full of pop culture references and uniquely scored to an ABBA soundtrack, Epidemiology is a classic Community parody of the zombie genre. The episode also serves as the start of a minor story arc for the rest of the season, without seeming forced into the episode.
- It’s Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester (Supernatural)
As the characters note on the show, for them, every day is Halloween. However, that doesn’t mean their work takes a holiday on October 31st. This episode sees a spree of mysterious deaths in a small lead the brothers to discover a plot to raise Samhain, a demon who inspired the Celtic celebrations of Samhain which became the Halloween traditions we know today. The episode nestles nicely into the ‘Sam and Dean attempt to avert the apocalypse’ and continues the characterisation of the major angelic players but it is also a nice pretty from the rather cut and paste episodes that comprise most of the arc in question, The show holds the Supernatural trademark, with The CW friendly horror mixed with charming humour.
- It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown
The namesake of the third entry, this seminal Halloween special is an animated feature based on the popular comic strip, Peanuts. While the gang prepare for Halloween, Linus writes his letter to The Great Pumpkin, a holiday icon similar to Santa, and prepares to wait in the pumpkin patch to meet him. Linus is undeterred, despite his friend’s ridicule. This 25 minute feature is a charming piece of a time gone by which I believe still carries the same message about belief and respect today as it did in 1966. If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it.