Thursday, October 24, 2013

(Dis)Comfort TV #3: Five Classic Comfort TV Halloween Episodes

And now, after our detour last week into the bizarre world of the Paul Lynde Halloween Special, here are five more traditional Halloween shows to enhance your holiday celebration.

The Facts of Life
Was Edna’s Edibles inspired by Sweeney Todd? The Eastland girls begin to wonder if the ghost of the murderous Grisly Gertie has possessed Mrs. Garrett, especially after a kindly old man disappears from her kitchen. Did he become the secret ingredient in her famous Halloween bratwurst? Oh, if only they actually went there, and then used Edna’s hidden lust for homicide to explain the season one departures of Nancy, Sue Ann, Molly and Cindy. 

One of the trick-or-treating kids in this episode (the little girl dressed like Gretel from Hansel and Gretel) was played by Stefanie Ridel, who grew up to become a rock star in the band Wild Orchid, and later a television writer who penned three episodes of Hannah Montana.

“The One With the Halloween Party”
So much to like here – Monica as Catwoman confronting Phoebe, dressed as Supergirl; Lisa Kudrow reprising Phoebe’s vacuous sister, Ursula, and Ursula’s fianc√© being played by Sean Penn, a reminder of just how prominent this series was in its heyday. And as with The Facts of Life we have yet another unexpected Hannah Montana connection – one of the trick-or-treaters here is played by Emily Osment.

A mid-episode discussion about which friends could beat up which other friends ends in an arm-wrestling match between Ross and Chandler, that will be familiar to anyone who has ever watched the series’ blooper reels. Note the very quick close-up of Chandler’s face – that’s the most they could salvage after several blown takes. 

“Twitch or Treat”
Halloween was a natural inspiration for Bewitched, which featured several holiday- themed episodes. This season 3 effort was my favorite thanks to the appearance of Uncle Arthur, who always brings out Samantha’s mischievous side. Watch how gleefully she participates in bamboozling her Councilman (summoned by Mrs. Kravitz, of course) before he can crash Endora’s Halloween party. 

Best moments: Arthur heckling Endora’s recitation of “Twas the Night Before Halloween,” and a cameo from baseball legend Willie Mays, who was outed as a warlock but still made the Hall of Fame.  

 “Halloween With the Addams Family”
The Addams Family
Every day is Halloween at the Addams residence, but the actual holiday always brings special surprises – in this case, two escaped bank robbers who take refuge in the Addams’ home until the coast is clear. After dodging the family lion and bobbing for live crabs, they realize they’d be safer in jail. Don Rickles plays one of the crooks.

What I love about the Addams family is how gracefully they treat every guest, regardless of the often-horrified reactions to their hospitality. Despite their eccentricities they remain one of the kindest and most open-minded families ever depicted on television. 

“The Gift of Life”
Wings remained consistently entertaining right through in its eighth and final season, and “The Gift of Life” is an underrated episode from an underrated series. When a medical courier leaves a cooler in the Nantucket airport, brothers Joe and Brian believe it contains a heart scheduled for transplant into a prominent politician. Actually, it contains an entirely different substance, to be used in the insemination of a horse. Best moment: The Hackett boys burst into a Boston hospital and announce, “Out of our way – what we have here belongs in a United States Senator!”

1 comment:

  1. That is really good and interesting post, thoroughly enjoyed it while reading. Going to pass on the same with my friends, thanks for sharing it here