At long last we have reached my ten favorite Halloween specials of the season….
10. Freaks and Geeks “Tricks and Treats”
The Freaks Halloween special takes a serious hit due to budget restraints prohibiting the episode from being filmed at night. Halloween at 3PM is just awkward. However the typical Freaks merits are on display (Seth Rogen laughing, James Franco grinning, Jason Segal being super gangly), winning Judd Apatow’s high school dramedy the 10 spot on this year’s countdown.
9. Louie “Halloween”
In a brief vignette Louie CK takes his daughters out for Halloween: the younger girl is a fairy, the older girl is Frederick Douglas–in full blackface. “She read a book about Frederick Douglas,” he helplessly explains. Louie’s children are always an on screen delight, and spending Halloween with them is the perfect way to spend 15 minutes as the holiday approaches!
8. Doug “Doug’s Halloween Adventure”
The Doug Halloween special revolves around riding an allegedly haunted roller coaster, a fairly unique plot point as far as animated Halloween specials go. Doug’s crushing insecurities are in full effect (no other TV character fails so often in his own imagination) and the (literally) colorful cast of characters are all present: blue-skinned Skeeter Valentine, green-skinned Roger Klotz, the Ecuadorian beauty Patty Mayonnaise–wait, what the hell is going on in this show?
7. Even Stevens “A Very Scary Story”
“A Very Scary Story” makes the top 10 on the grounds of Best TV Character Costume Ever. Louis Stevens’ penguin jockey outfit will never be forgotten, no matter how pretentious Shia gets.
6. The Office
The Office has about 5 episodes involving or featuring Halloween heavily. Each episode, no matter how briefly, features the entire cast in costume (the most popular being Heath Ledger’s Joker). Now that’s commitment.
5. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown”
Schulz’s Peanut charm is irresistable any time of year. I’ve always enjoyed The Great Pumpkin a little more than the Peanuts Christmas special, maybe because it gives Charlie a bit of a break–standing in a pumpkin patch with your thumb up your ass all night is such a Charlie move.
4. Hey Arnold “Arnold’s Halloween”
Now we are getting down to the nitty gritty. “Arnold’s Halloween” could easily nab the #1 spot. In an homage to “War of the Worlds,” Arnold’s gang slinks through the dark alleys of New York City, trapped in way too realistic Alien costumes, with a mob of deranged citizens hot on their tail.
3. Community “Epidemiology”
The season 1 and season 3 Halloween episodes of Community are both stellar, but the second season zombie romp through Greendale is among the series best. George Takei narrates a Halloween party gone horribly wrong. With more horror and sci-fi references than you can handle, plus an all-Abba soundtrack, “Epidemiology” might be the scariest special on the list.
2. The Simpsons “Tree House of Horror”
More on The Simpsons’ annual Halloween special later this week. For now all I’ll say is the first 8 or so installments of Tree House of Horror feature some of the wittiest, most inventive writing on what is one of the best sitcoms of all time. Halloween brings out the best in every one!
1. The Halloween Tree
My favorite Halloween special ever. I watched this every year from ages 3-6 or so before it suddenly disappeared, but in recent years I have unearthed it once more. This movie, along with the Ray Bradbury children’s novel it is based off of, is nothing short of an ode to Halloween. Not only do all the black, haunting images of the holiday come to life, but the audience is educated on the culture and history of Halloween.
If you are a fan of Halloween like I am, do yourself a favor and read Bradybury’s short and sweet novel, and then enjoy this faithful animated adaptation.