When the weather is too bad to go out on Halloween night, the Winslow family decides to play “pass the ghost story” instead.
Carl starts the story and we are transported to the castle of Count von Winslow (Carl). He then passes the torch to Harriette, who continues the story. She describes the countess (Harriette) as “the brains of the family.” And really ups the ante in this next part — the count and countess are VAMPIRES. We then see the count and countess drinking juice boxes of blood, which is cute and gross at the same time!
Now it’s Eddie’s turn to continue the story. He describes the “teen heartthrob” son of the family — who is like a 90’s Elvis Vampire version of Eddie Winslow. The big drama thus far is that Eddie Vampire is a rebel who doesn’t torture the townspeople.
Eddie passes the story to Urkel. And I’d like to pause a moment and give Jaleel White a lot of credit for maintaining the Urkel voice for NINE YEARS on this show.
Urkel describe an Earl, who is passing by and asks to stay at the castle overnight because his carriage has broken. The von Winslows are more than happy to have some fresh blood in the house. Urkel then passes the story to Waldo.
Waldo describe the von Winslow’s faithful butler, who ushers Urkel to his room for the night. Yeah…he doesn’t really contribute all that much before swiftly passing the story to Laura. And here’s where things get really interesting.
Laura describes the Earl checking out his bedroom and eventually hanging his coat on a hook on the wall. This hook reveals a secret revolving door with one of the von Winslow’s victims (Laura) chained to it.
The Earl removes her gag and she explains that she is a peasant girl and has been trapped by the von Winslows ever since her carriage broke down!!!! She explains that they are vampires and the Earl should absolutely not drink the wine because it’s drugged so that they can suck his blood more easily.
Laura then passes the story to Rachel. She describes how the Earl avoids drinking the wine. (There’s a lot of switching the cups Princess Bride style during this portion.) When Count von Winslow realizes the Earl won’t drink the wine, he flat out admits that he wants to drink his blood and challenges him to a duel.
After a harrowing battle in which the teeny tiny Earl fights off the much bigger and stronger Count with a wedge of garlic brie and then pulls down a large curtain to expose all the von Winslows to a ton of sunlight, he rushes upstairs to save peasant Laura.
To make things truly spooky, the Earl looks up right before he is about to kiss Laura and reveals that HE IS A VAMPIRE.
Very Special Halloween Lesson: Don’t ask to spend the night at strange homes!!!
Home Improvement really went all out for the holiday episodes and this one is no exception.
Brad is having a Halloween party and he’s dressing up as Raggedy Andy because his first girlfriend is going to be dressing up as Raggedy Anne. He feels really embarrassed by the costume, but his dad reassures him “A lot of times men do things they don’t want to do so the women they’re going out with will do things they don’t want to do.” Annnndddd this is your daily reminder that Tim Tayor is kind of a piece of shit. When Brad innocently asks for an example and his wife, Jill, challenges him on this terrible piece of advice, Tim offers a few innocent options — my favorite of which is “shave your back hair.”
While getting ready for the party in the backyard, Tim starts chatting with neighbor Wilson, who tells him that everyone likes being scared because of the release of epinephrine. As someone with chronic anxiety symptoms I would like to officially say that — NO — I do not like being scared. I’ve got more adrenaline than I can handle based on my natural brain chemistry so please leave me out the “fun” scaring thank you very much.
Anyway, Randy and Mark go trick or treating while Jill puts the finishing touches on Brad’s Raggedy Andy costume. Randy is dressed up as a pirate whereas I’m not sure who exactly Mark is supposed to be. He kind of looks like Gordon Gekko but if they said that officially then I missed it.
Jill is staying home for the party, but she’s decided to dress up as well. They lost her reservation at the costume shop and she had to take the only thing they had left — a giant carrot. Now listen, I don’t know if it’s the fact that I did not get much sleep last night or what but I find this absolutely HILARIOUS. I laughed out loud, I kid you not.
Moments later, Brad answers the door to greet his guests and finds that Jennifer has arrived to the party dressed as not Raggedy Anne but rather a biker chick. And she’s at the party with Shawn from Boy Meets World. (Okay, not literally Shawn but it is Ryder Strong and while they said his character name when he showed up on screen, I have immediately forgotten it and will be referring to him as Shawn henceforth.)
Additionally, this is a pre-Boy Meets World Shawn, so he has a sweet little angel face — and before you’re like wait wait wait didn’t he just steal Brad’s girlfriend? The answer is no. Evidently, Brad was being a little shit (probably about the costume) and so Jennifer decided to attend the party with someone who was nicer to her.
Okay, okay it’s still Brad’s party so I recognize that this is shitty behavior regardless. But they’re preteens and this is their version of communication. As a former middle school girl, I do remember that power plays were commonplace albeit incredibly detrimental to actual human relationships.
Shawn makes fun of Brad’s Raggedy Andy wig, which coming from someone with incredibly good hair, is an extremely low block. Things come to blows — aka a sixth grade shoving match — and Brad runs out of the house after Tim breaks things up.
Tim goes outside to talk things out with Brad and winds up encouraging him to direct his desire to hit someone towards Jennifer (!!!) instead of Shawn, but this is played for laughs because you know joking about domestic violence with your young son is prime parenting.
Tim tries to help determine what Brad did to upset Jennifer, but Brad can’t think of anything and laments the fact that Jennifer said he “should know.” In further misogynistic parenting, Tim tells Brad to go inside and tell Jennifer “I understand,” which in his words makes women “forgive you for just about anything.”
Tim also advises Brad to take the wig off before he talks to Jennifer, which reminds me that this episode was shot back when Brad had a mullet.
Brad confronts Jennifer about not showing up to the party as Raggedy Anne and she tells him, “I was going to.” He replies and, per his father’s instructions, says, “I understand.” Jennifer is like wtf. And Brad clarifies: “I understand that you’re mad at me.” (Nice save.)
It comes to light that Jennifer is upset with Brad because he picked a different girl to be on his kickball team over her. Brad defends his decision by saying that he wanted to win and he did win so there! But Tim (eavesdropping across the room) clears his throat loudly while saying “don’t start talking like that” under his breath. Brad gets the message and course corrects.
Brad tells Jennifer that picking her was more important than winning and he apologizes. Jennifer apologizes for not wearing her half of their couples costume. And then everyone gets to enjoy the Halloween party!
Tim has turned the entire basement into a haunted dungeon with lots and lots of fog machine smoke. He’s dressed up kind of like the old lady from Psycho but there’s no official mention that’s what he’s supposed to be. He does pretend to eat a maggot and then say he wants to kiss one of the kids, who all run screaming up the stairs because that is a truly truly terrifying prospect.
All the kids except for Shawn that is. Shawn stays behind to insult the entire family. He tells Tim that he can’t build anything and his show should be called “Fool Time.” I mean, he’s not wrong but he is a little jackass.
In response, Tim tells him to check out the tool box across the room. At first Shawn thinks it’s stupid, but then he opens the box to reveal Al’s disembodied head. And that’s enough to really freak him out. Then all of the creepy spooky creatures (including Wilson whose face, don’t worry, you still can’t see) pop out and scare the crap out of him. Good. He deserved to get knocked down a peg.
Oh by the way I found it so off-putting that I didn’t even mention it throughout this post, but Jill has been getting low-key bullied by one of Brad’s classmates all night and I sincerely hope she spoke to his adult at home about this.
Very Special Halloween Lesson: I’m going to take a hardline stance on this one. Eleven is too young for couples costumes. You date and break-up every two-days in the sixth grade. There’s no way you’re staying together consistently enough to coordinate outfits.
We all know the Clueless TV series “aka Cher with a Canadian accent” can be iffy at best, but this one is an homage to Scream so please, as George Michael would say, “listen without prejudice.” Or in this case, read without prejudice.
Cher is dressed up as US Attorney General Janet Reno and Dionne is dressed as Ginger Spice. They are arguing over who the better role model is when Cher receives a creepy phone call from (presumably) the Ghostface killer! When he describes her costume over the phone, Cher yells out to Dionne to get away from the window.
Dionne tells Cher it’s probably just Murray riffing on Scream and that she shouldn’t be worried about it. She even answers the next phone call and starts taunting him. But when Murray shows up at the door (while they’re still on the phone with Ghostface) Cher and Dionne turn back to see the window behind them open and shriek in fear.
They fill Murray in on what’s going on and he tells them to turn off the lights. They all crouch down on the floor and Murray explains that the door was open when he arrived, so he came in to check on them. They’re about to crawl along the floor and out the door when Cher points out that there could be more than one person spying on them.
They retreat from the door and cower under a table. Dionne tries to get Murray to go investigate the house, which devolves into them arguing about how broke up with whom. When Dionne insists she was the one to break up with Murray, he says “and the last episode of Seinfeld was really funny.” Ohhh topical for the time and still funny today!
Moments later a gloved hand reaches through the open door and grabs Murray! But don’t worry it turns out it was his friend Sean. It was Murray playing a prank on the girls after all.
And he wants them to help him plan a haunted house and Bob Saget’s abandoned mansion! (Cue joke about Bob Saget’s career in 1998.) So I guess this was all a really, really mean trial run for a haunted house. Note to all the men out there: don’t pretend to stalk women as a joke. Also just don’t stalk women at all. Or anyone. Okay, thank you.
Moving on. Cher offers her father’s connections to help Murray with the haunted house. The special effects lead criticizes Murray and says his haunted house is basic and derivative. But Murray doubles down on his original idea — which is mostly just a lot of body horror. *cringe*
Murray ends up being so demanding that the special effects guy quits right before the haunted house is set to open. Murray sends a classmate to figure out the special effects stuff (in place of the professional so ugh yeah wonder how successful that will be). But moments later the classmate ends up dead — stabbed in the back — with a warning note to the others.
At the end of the first part of this two-part episode, Cher suspects LITERALLY EVERYONE including Dionne and her own father! Sounds like Cher would really benefit from a therapist.
At the beginning of part two, Cher and her friends are being questioned by the police. Dionne tries to tell the cops that Murray is the killer, but Cher tells them she’s just saying that because of “Post Traumatic Breakup Stress.” She assures the detective that Murray isn’t a killer (okay, strike comment from earlier about Cher having trust issues).
The coach, who is their creepy faculty sponsor and left with Amber prior to the murder to buy trash lingerie…um…yeah I cannot believe this is played for laughs, suddenly reappears at the bottom of this creepy tall staircase. She’s dead too.
Moments later Amber appears again, playing dead. Dionne accuses her of being the murder but she’s quickly ruled out because everyone agrees that Amber would have killed Dionne first.
As they continue their search, the detective opens an armoire to find Murray with a knife. He shots him dead only to have the real Murray walk into the room moment later. It turns out the Murray in the armoire was just a special effects gag.
The detective leaves the house to use his car radio and says, “I’ll be right back,” leading everyone to freak out that he won’t because Horror Rules 101 dictate that you should never say such a thing.
The detective gets locked out of the house and Murray refuses to let him back in when he knocks. He’s worried that the detective is the killer or the killer is faking the detective’s voice. When they finally persuade Murray to open the door, they are greeted by the detective’s dead body followed by the Clueless version of Ghostface.
They all rush into the kitchen (Amber has never seen one before) where they spot Sean’s dead body through the window. Just then another classmate walks in. She’s holding a knife. But it turns out she’s not Ghostface. She’s just creepy and insane. We know she’s not Ghostface because he flies through the window seconds later, and Cher hits him over the head with a frying pan.
Meanwhile, the creepy classmate was impaled by a giant shard of broken window (yikes) and dies. Ghostface begins to stir, so Cher hits him over the head with the frying pan and they all run away. UGH! I was really hoping for an unmasking!
While they others flee, Ghostface grabs Amber. Murray, Dionne, and Cher leave her behind because no one really likes Amber anyway. As they try to figure out the best way to get out of the house, Ghostface (there’s always two, right?) springs through another window behind Cher and pulls her threw it. Murray and Dionne try to escape through an adjacent door only to discover the special effects guy’s corpse.
The end up barricaded in a separate room with their only means of escape being through a skylight. Murray declares his undying love for Dionne and tries to have sex with her, but she says they have to remain virgins in order to survive (more Horror movie rules). Idk how much of this show is not cannon (I didn’t watch much of it) but this clearly contradicts some of the events of Clueless the movie.
Anyway, Murray confesses to Dionne that he slept with someone while they were broken up, so he’s definitely going to die (Horror movie rules style). Just then Ghostface breaks into the room. Dionne fights him off of Murray, but when Murray tries to save Dionne his legs stop working. This truly is a nightmare!
(I figured this was all special effects gags to teach Murray a lesson, but maybe they’re going to sue the “all a dream” trope instead. What do you think?)
Dionne unmasks Ghostface in the scuffle and reveals him to be Sean. Turns out he wasn’t dead!
Murray thinks it’s all a joke until Sean tells him he’s serious.
Just as Sean is about to stab Dionne, Cher and Amber appear behind him and shoot him. (Idk how they got two guns, but this is America and we do have a known problem with that. Smh.)
As he is dying, Sean calls out to Murray who is such a good friend that he goes over to him and comforts him even though he just tried to murder him. Sean using the last of his strength to shake Murray and then starts laughing and tells him he was right and this really was all just a joke.
Having learned his lesson, Murray tells the girls: “I’m gonna lay off all the slasher stuff. It’s a lot less cool when all of the sudden it become real.”
In the end Murray turns the mansion into a really tame venue that once kind says “makes Barney look edgy.”
Either I’m bored as shit in quarantine or this was actually a pretty good episode. Maybe both!
Very Special Halloween Lesson: Ordinarily, I would feel like this is way over the line. But then again, a teenage boy calling teenage girls and pretending to be a criminal stalker is highly concerning to me, so maybe Murray needed to learn this lesson. I won’t go so far as to *endorse* it because this is a friendship ruining level of pranking. It’s also weird that they only “got back” at Murray and Sean was the one actually making the weird phone calls. Pretty solid Scream homage though. I’ll give it that.
Stephanie and her friends are playing in her shared-room with DJ, who just happens to walk in while Stephanie is jumping on DJ’s bed and holding on to her Pillow Person. DJ reminds Stephanie she isn’t supposed to mess with her stuff and kicks her and her friends out of the room.
But Stephanie comes back in and insists they discuss their Halloween costumes for the carnival only to find out that DJ is planning to bail on her promise to go to the carnival at Stephanie’s school and go to a junior high school party instead.
This explodes into a larger fight with each girl running to Danny and asking him to send the other’s friends home. Danny reacts by sending all of their friends home and confining them to their room without music, phone, or television (the entire 90’s trifecta) until they can “learn to get along.”
Meanwhile downstairs, Danny, Jesse, and Joey are engaged in a little friendly running competition. They decide to make things more interesting: the winners get to pick the Halloween costumes that the losers will have to wear to the carnival.
After struggling to eat dinner while Stephanie annoys her relentlessly, DJ proposes that they simply fake a reconciliation so Danny will let them out of their room. The rouse works.
As soon as Danny leaves, Stephanie tells DJ she wants a divorce and she’ll be moving in with Michelle.
Stephanie and DJ move Stephanie’s bed into Michelle’s room. Uncle Jesse says it’s okay with him for the night, but he’ll have to check with Danny to see if it’s okay long-term. While Stephanie and Michelle head to bed, DJ rollerblades in the space where Stephanie’s bed used to be.
The next morning, Danny, Jesse, and Joey are preparing for their sprint race when Rebecca shows up with the film crew from Wake Up, San Francisco! Ugh. She is truly the WORST.
Danny begs Jesse and Joey to let him win so he’s not embarrassed on his own show. But they both refuse to throw the race. Joey has his heart set on making Danny dress up as Big Bird and Jesse as his imaginary friend Snuffleupagus.
According to Rebecca’s reporting, Danny is star athlete who despite being in his thirties and not training at all, has started his sprint fast enough to break the world record. But we know she’s not a reliable source for facts on innate athletic ability, so I would take that with a big old grain of salt.
After about 50 meters, the other guys catch up to Danny. And by the time they’ve made it 200 meters into their 400 meter race, they’re all moving at a slow crawl. Turns out none of them are in great shape. The momentarily agree to stage a tie, but this alliance quickly falls apart when Rebecca starts egging them on from the finish line.
Once again, flouting all rule and regulations in the wide world of sports, Rebecca determines the winner by snapping a photo — form the chest up. And declares Danny the winner because his nose crossed the finish line first. Apparently, feet don’t matter in a foot race.
When they return home, they find that Stephanie has realized living with a three year old is not ideal for getting a good night’s rest. She calls it “A nightmare on Sesame Street.” When DJ refuses to let Stephanie move back into their room, Stephanie threatens to take her to court.
In a strange show of parenting, the three men decide to hold a moot court with Joey acting as DJ’s lawyer and Jesse representing Stephanie. Danny will be the judge. This is such an upper-middle class white dad way of solving family problems…anyway…
To the court, DJ explains that she’s no shared interest with her little sister and needs more privacy than sharing a room with Stephanie will allow her. Jesse cross-examines DJ and nails her on the fact that she played Barbie dolls with Stephanie only a week ago!
When it’s Stephanie’s turn to take the stand, she says she cannot live with DJ because DJ just doesn’t like her anymore. DJ says she does like Stephanie, but she just doesn’t want to live with her. Danny tells them that Michelle is just too young to have Stephanie live with her. And then they all tell the girls how one day they’ll have more in common and love having each other as sisters.
Hold on — hold on — wasn’t this really all about DJ breaking a promise to Stephanie? Why have we not addressed that? The carnival is the root of this issue, people!!!!!
Well don’t worry because they actually do resolve this issue on their own. DJ asks Stephanie later on why she’s so upset about the fact that she’s not going to the carnival with her. Stephanie tells DJ how much she admires her and wants to spend time with her. DJ tells Stephanie how much she makes her laugh and that she likes spending time with her too. It turns out there’s a really great solution to all of this…DJ can go to the carnival first and then go to the party!
And what costumes did Danny pick for Jesse and Joey? He’s made them both dress up as Shirley Temple. On another note, I’m pretty sure I had a dress like the one they’re wearing in 1995.
Very Special Halloween Lesson: This one seems pretty straight forward to me. Never ever let Lori Laughlin judge your costume-contest-400 meter race.
Oh how I love the Bar Wars episodes of Cheers! And this one is extra special because it is also a Halloween Episode!
Expecting a visit from Gary’s Old Town Tavern, Carla and Sam are running reconnaissance missions to ensure the security of the bar from Gary’s pranks. Meanwhile, Rebecca is sad she never got to trick-or-treat as a kid while Lillith and Frasier argue about whether or not to let Frederick — who can barely walk — trick-or-treat.
In the midst of all this, Gary’s first prank arrives. The Cheers jukebox starts playing a very annoying Halloween song quite loudly. When Sam calls to give Gary a piece of his mind, the same song plays loudly over the phone. Grade-A work, Gary.
Now its Cheers’s turn to retaliate and as usual…they can’t think of one good idea.
Sam suggests the following:
Soap his windows
Deliver a bunch of subpar Chinese food to his restaurant so he has to pay for it
Since Gary damaged Sam’s vintage jukebox with his prank, he shows up at the bar to write Sam a check. Fearing further pranks, Sam tries to shoot Gary with water from the soda gun, only to find out that the soda gun has also been rigged to play the same annoying Halloween song.
Gary then reveals that he has high blood pressure and they will need to cancel all of the planned pranks for tonight. He also buys everyone a round of drinks. VERY SUSPICIOUS.
Sam tells Gary that his health is the most important thing, but as soon as he leaves the gang starts plotting pranks again. It’s all just another trick so Gary can catch the Cheers crew unawares, right?
Also it seems that Lillith and Frasier have settled on taking Frederick out to trick-or-treat. He is dressed as a little baby Spiderman. Frasier is dressed as Dante Gabriel Rosetti. And Lillith is dressed as his sister Christina. Mother of the year, Lillith, tried to explain to Frederick “what would happen if one were really bitten by a radio active spider, but he just cried.”
In a genuinely heartwarming moment, Frederick reaches into his candy bag and gives Rebecca a tootsie pop when she tells him how lucky he is to trick-or-treat because when she was a child, she was the one who had to pass out candy at the door, which is just like a weird-ass parenting move and totally explains a lottt about Rebecca.
Okay, back to the bar wars. The Cheers gang decides to spook Gary with a giant hologram of Carla’s head (but with spooky crazy white hair). The gang spies on Gary as he discovers the ominous head. He passes out as soon as he sees the hologram. Wondering if Gary’s concern about his health wasn’t just a prank, Frasier takes his pulse…but he can’t find one!
Sam still thinks it is all a stunt — even after the coroner’s report confirms that Gary is in fact dead. He even thinks that Gary’s funeral is a hoax. Soon a bartender from Gary’s arrives to deliver a present for Sam. It seems that Gary has willed Sam his bowling trophy, which Carla describes as his “prized possession.” The bartender shares how moved Gary was by Sam’s concern for his health and that he wanted him to have this memento (which you may remember Gary’s Old town Tavern winning against Cheers in From Beer to Eternity).
Frasier tells Sam it is time to face facts: 1. Gary is really dead and 2. they all played a part in his demise. But Sam still cannot accept this fact. He even takes a peak inside the closed casket during Gary’s wake and Gary is actually in the casket!! Sam is then asked to be a pall bearer. Everyone tells Sam how highly Gary thought of him! But Sam can’t stop looking out for potential pranks.
This is truly a dizzying episode. At Gary’s grave side, Sam places a few flowers on the fresh earth and tells Gary, “enough’s enough! It’s getting chilly out here!”
Finally hours after the funeral, surrounded by his closest friends, Sam wonders aloud, “Oh my God. What if he’s really dead?” The Cheers gang realizes how much they miss Gary. And Sam feels truly guilty.
Omg this next part is great.
SAM: I never thought I’d say this. But I miss Gary. He was a true friend. FRASIER: That would have made a better eulogy than “Get out of there, Gary.”
Woody starts sobbing and goes to the bathroom to be alone. Sam follows him and urges him to come out and mourn with all the rest of them. Woody emerges, still sobbing into his hands. Only to look up and reveal that he is in fact Gary. The real Woody comes out of the bathroom and the whole gang laughs at Sam’s expense.
This is good too –
SAM: You were all in this together? NORM: The whole city of Boston was in on this one, Sam.
It turns out the Cheers gang really wanted to pull off a successful prank and Sam just didn’t have any good ideas. So they teamed up with Gary. But damn. What a dark, dark joke.
Very Special Halloween Lesson: If your friends like pranking people with you, never for get that they can always prank you too.
Sabrina’s a senior in high school in this episode and has decided she’s too old for pranks and trick-or-treating. So she gets a job at a coffee shop and decides to work there instead of celebrating Halloween. Um. Okay. I mean kind of an extreme reaction to not wanting to collect candy door to door but always good to build that résumé I suppose!
Meanwhile her aunts are fully into celebrating the holiday, so they conjure up Edgar Allen Poe for Halloween dinner. You know what I very much love? The idea of a formal Halloween dinner with special guests. Add that to my post-quarantine to do list please!
Sabrina’s aunts warn her that witches “can’t run away from Halloween,” but she ignores them and works at the coffee shop (alone) anyway. As it turns out, not being able to run away involves having what amounts to a low-key psychotic episode. So you know…idk I would probably just go to Halloween dinner if I were here…
But anyway Sabrina tries to push through the hallucinations, which include “hearing” a customer say, “I want to chop you up in little pieces,” (!!!) when he’s really just ordering a cup of coffee. And don’t worry, the worst thing that happens with that dude is she serves him coffee that is so strong it tastes like mud.
When the coffee shop gets too crowded for Sabrina to handle on her own, she starts whipping up lattes using magic. Cut to: zombies in the alleyway.
Now I’m not saying that Sabrina’s use of coffee shop magic caused the zombie apocalypse, but the show’s editing is leading me down that road of logic. And then a giant storm appears and the power goes out!
Sabrina tries a spell to get the zombies to go away, but it doesn’t work. Meanwhile, Edgar is really enjoying Aunt Hilda and Aunt Zelda’s cooking. When Sabrina calls home for help, they’re too busy chatting to talk to her, so she’s only able to ask Salem for advice. He explains that witches who run from Halloween get chased by Halloween. Yikes!
The zombies eventually break into the coffee shop, but it turns out they don’t want to eat human (or witch) flesh. They just want to dance!! We are then treated to — I kid you not — a 90 second montage of terrible dancing with even worse stock music.
Finally in the last four minutes of the episode, Sabrina realizes that the only way to make the zombies go away is to celebrate Halloween. She calls out to her boyfriend Harvey, who is across the street TP’ing the Christine Science Reading room, and tells him to come over and prank the coffee shop instead. We are then treated to another montage — this time 20 seconds of toilet-papering zombies.
Things aren’t much better back at the house. Edgar Allen Poe has decided to read a tepid romance. He’s branching out from horror! But it’s dull and totally not the Halloween experience the aunts were looking for. Luckily, Salem has somehow managed to write short stories without the use of opposable thumbs and reads some of his own scary stories to the group. They’re so spooky that they even make Edgar Allen Poe’s hair stand on end. (Too bad we spent so long on the zombie dance montage because we don’t get to hear any of the stories in their entirety.)
Very Special Halloween Lesson: Property destruction is the only way to stave off the zombie apocalypse? Don’t worry, Salem actually lists a couple of his own very special lessons during the credits, so I’ve got some better options to share with you than that one: “Try as you may, you cannot run away from Halloween.” “You never really know what lurks beneath your neighborhood sewer grate.”
I never know quite how to feel about Charlie’s Angels. On the one hand, the premise is that these bright, capable women were pigeon-holed into menial tasks at their jobs based on systemic bias against their gender. After Charlie “took them away from all that,” they’re given complicated jobs where they use their keen intellect, physical training, and ability to think on their feet to catch high-powered criminals — largely flying under the radar because they are women. So in terms of subverting traditional expectations in the 1970s — hell yeah!
On the other hand, the show is 150% shot from the male gaze — Charlie only surrounds himself with hot babes after all — which puts one hell of a damper on everything I mentioned above. At the end of the day, I still love all of the actresses on this show and the sophisticated characters they created. And I hope that in the late-70’s that the men and boys who tuned in solely to check out the eye candy, left feeling like women were smart, competent, and good in a crisis.
I think a lot of men and women also tuned in not just for the eye candy. I happen to be one of them. And hey, I’m not against eye candy. I’m simply grateful to live in a time where people are slowly but surely becoming more thoughtful about how we all enjoy each others bodies. Okay, so that’s probably enough of a disclaimer about the series! I’m sure there are many scholarly articles you could find if you want to delve further into the contradictory themes around this show. But my feelings about the angels are largely positive, so let’s get to the episode!
Side note: I have a vague memory of seeing this episode in reruns as an eleven year old and it scaring the shit out of me, so this should be a fun trip down memory lane.
Fun Fact: This episode aired 42 years ago today!
We open with an ESP test at “The Rossmore Institute for Psychic Research.” Dr. Holden, the researcher in charge of the study warns that they are not using the scientific method for this study, so his reputation is at stake. (Well duh of course it is. It’s not a research study then. You’re just playing science! Ugh okay, sorry.) Anyway, there was some kind of “disruption” when they ran the study the previous night, so they’ve brought in Ms. Rossmore to observe the study.
A woman with long platinum hair and an all white dress is participating in a telepathic experiment — okay, I think this is what scared me immediately as a child. And no, I don’t have a lifelong fear of telepathy or blondes. It’s that she looks like the spooky girl from Watcher in the Woods.
Anyway, the blond woman gets possessed by an ethereal male voice, who speaks directly to Mrs. Rossmore. She recognizes the voice of that of her dead nephew and gets, understandably, freaked out. Luckily, she’s Bosley’s bridge partner so she has a direct line to the Angels.
Mrs. Rossmore describes her nephew Martin’s fatal motorcycle accident for the Angels and everything seems pretty straight-forward — except for the psychic possession. Bosley thinks that it’s junk science, but Mrs. Rossmore believes it’s real. She created the entire institute in order to reach out to Martin. So it sounds mostly like she’s there because Bosley is concerned…cause like honestly it sounds like this lady got what she was looking for.
It turns out she’s really just asking for the Angels to prove she’s right and reassure Bosley, so they can continue to play bridge in peace. The whole situation is even more suspicious because ghost-Martin suddenly appeared after Mrs. Rossmore threatened to cut off payment to the study (cause they weren’t getting any results). Anyway, the Angels will be going undercover at the institute: Kris as a researcher and Sabrina as the subject of her research. (Stay tuned for what Kelly’s job in all this is, I guess?)
As they drive onto the grounds, Sabrina tells Kris to stop the car. She points out the tree that Martin crashed into (yikes, that’s macabre). On a lighter note, let’s look at Kris’s great researcher outfit. Love the neutrals and big glasses.
In order to prove that she has a “special gift,” Sabrina tells Dr. Holden that she “senses” someone was killed on the grounds. He is immediately impressed. You know, cause there’s absolutely no way she could have gotten that information in any other way.
To further legitimatize her psychic abilities, Sabrina alerts Dr. Holden that he is about to receive a phone call. It turns out to be Mrs. Rossmore, which makes him trust Sabrina as he believes that she could have coordinated the call with someone else but not Mrs. Rossmore. (Surprise, surprise, she did coordinate it with Mrs. Rossmore.)
Now that they’ve proved their legitimacy, the Angels are able to watch the next experiment in person. But this time Martin doesn’t posses the blonde woman. Instead he’s just a disembodied voice that yells at her. It’s spooky. He also appears to attack her because they next thing you know, she’s flying out of the chair. But it’s hard to say for sure because we cannot see Martin, of course. Oh but wait…okay…she’s dead. All right, the stakes of this investigation are higher now. Martin is spooky spooky spooky. And also now this is a locked room mystery, guys!!!!
Meanwhile back at the office, Kelly reveals that they dead woman (Kathy) was using a fake last name at the institute. She agrees to investigate her while Bosley finds out everything he can about Martin.
Sabrina and Kris work out a special code, so they can prove to Dr. Holden that Sabrina should participate in the study. She selects enough of the right “ESP cards” (usually the same one that Kris has selected but not always) in order to prove she has psychic abilities but not enough to show that they’re operating off of a code — what??? I don’t know anything about this ESP research stuff, but it would seem like either you have ESP or you don’t. Am I supposed to believe there is a faulty connection between cards sometimes? Well anyway, it’s enough to convince Dr. Holden that they Sabrina can be part of the study.
Cut to: Kelly investigating Kathy. She’s not undercover so she can just be herself and poke around and ask directly about Kathy’s background. Kelly goes to the set of a television show and speaks to a man named Peter, who is also a psychic and previously worked with Kathy. She learns from Peter that Dr. Holden is a skeptic who may not really believe in ESP.
Back at the institute, one of the research subjects has taken an interest in Kris. They take a walk on the grounds and he talks about the heavy emotional weight of having ESP. Every object he touches is embedded with memory and feelings and ugh it sounds horrible. He touches Kris’s arm and gets a vision of her at the police academy. OMG!!!!
Kelly continues to search for the truth about Kathy and in the process uncovers her grandmother. She owns an antique store and does not approve of Kathy’s interest in the paranormal. She also reveals that Martin was Kathy’s boyfriend!!!! Suddenly there is a spooky rattling in the shop. A mirrors crack, things fall off the wall, and the television explodes!
It’s like an earthquake almost, but Kelly is sure that it wasn’t. She hypothesizes that Kathy was a true believer, but Bosley suggest she might have simply been part of a plan to swindle Mrs. Rossmore. They all agree that someone must have double-crossed her…but it’s still a locked room mystery so no movement on who or how.
Kris tells everyone about her interaction with the man who had a vision of her at the academy. Kelly points out that he wasn’t around when Kathy was murdered…so maybe he’s the murderer? But there’s not enough to go on yet, so Bosley continues to dig into Martin’s past.
This includes learning that Martin may have set fire to a bunch of church choir robes because some other boys made fun of him when his voice changed. He may have also tried to drown a girl at a picnic as a child because they were fighting over a sandwich. This is really starting to sound like The Bad Seed.
Bosley finds over a dozen people that paint a pretty damning picture of Martin and his lack of moral compass. But Mrs. Rossmore still refuses to believe that he was a piece of shit. She sentimentally plays Bosley some of the casette tapes he used to send her with life updates from college (because he didn’t like writing letters). We then come to learn that Martin dropped of out college and used his tuition money to buy his motorcycle. Mrs. Rossmore argued with him over this, which was right before his accident. Mrs. Rossmore blames herself for his death.
Bosley convinces her to run the experiment again so that they can hopefully determine how Kathy was murdered. Mrs. Rossmore asks the psychic that Kelly met with earlier to run the experiment with Sabrina. He’s reluctant but Mrs. Rossmore insists because she is “stubborn as old ketchup,” which is apparently a phrase some people used at one point in time.
Everyone is confined to their rooms at the institute prior to the experiment. Kelly gets assigned to Martin’s old room. And Kris’s ESP crush comes to visit her in her room. ~ooooooh~
He tries to warn Kris to abandon the experiment. He says that he knows she and Sabrina are fakes and he doesn’t believe that Martin is a ghost. He’s afraid something bad will happen and thinks they should call the experiment off before anyone else gets killed.
In Kelly’s/Martin’s room the glasses on the bedside table start shaking just like everything in the antique shop did earlier. Kelly breaks the “stay in your room” rule to go find Kris. The both go to Sabrina’s room, but she there. Peering out the window, they see a motorcycle racing through the grounds.
It turns out Sabrina isn’t in her room because she’s busy searching the house. In the basement she finds a bunch of electrical wires rigged up to a sound system.
Meanwhile, Kelly and Kris find Bosley and tell him that Sabrina isn’t in her room. While outside of Bosley’s room they all hear Martin’s ethereal voice again (which we know is Sabrina messing with the sound system).
Cut to: a very confused, Bosley, Kris, and Kelly in the viewing area of the experiment room. Sabrina speaks to them from a booth and tells them she knows how the murder was committed.
Surprise! She’s actually right behind them! The Sabrina in the booth is actually a video recording! Sabrina has deduced that Kathy and Peter were working together when Peter double-crossed her by playing a pre-recorded version of his part of the scam, so he could sneak off and kill her during the experiment. Remember earlier how I said she flew out of her chair? She probably saw Peter at the door tried to run out and away from him to no avail.
While Sabrina waits for Peter to start the experiment, we seem him pull this same trick again. He accesses a hidden compartment in his booth and initiates the tape recording via remote control. He has also hidden a buzzer in this same compartment, which unlocks the door to both his booth and the adjoining booth (formerly Kathy’s and now Sabrina’s). Moments later he has Sabrina held hostage at gun point.
But it’s Sabrina we’re talking about here, so she manages to beat the shit out of him even though he’s armed. He takes off running and winds up pinned against the very tree Martin hit because the ghost motorcycle is back and headed straight for him! Hello 1970s version of the Headless Horseman!
This gives Sabrina and the other angels time to chase him down. And as it turns out, it’s Bosley who is riding the motorcycle. He found it stashed on the grounds during all the commotion. Peter was presumably the man riding it earlier, which explains why he didn’t hear the recording Sabrina was playing earlier in the evening. If he had been in the house, he would probably have gotten out of there before even running the “experiment.”
Back at the office, the Angels discuss how everything was a scheme for Peter to take over the institute. Bosley says that ESP is all a fraud, but Kris’s ESP friend is there (probably cause he loveeees her) and shares a secret of Bosley’s that no one else knows. So I guess it is legit after all! (Or Kris’s new friend is a creepy stalker. Yikes!)
Anyway, I have to say I loved this episode so freaking much. Solid 10/10. And I’d say it’s actually an episode that subverts a lot of the trope issues I have with otherepisodes. This felt like a spooky, grown up Nancy Drewand The Ghost of Blackwood Halland it was fabulous.
Very Special Halloween Lesson: Truly what I learned here is that I need more pantsuits. But also that I would probably never lock myself in an adjoining room with that of a known murderer.
It’s been a few years since we last celebrated TV Sitcom Halloween on the VSB, but I think it is finally time to reboot the franchise! Stay tuned for the fifth installment of Halloweek featuring Full House, Family Matters, Sabrina, the Teenage Witch and more!
This is so late into the Family Matters run that little Richie is calling Urkel “Uncle Steve.” We see this during the obligatory pre-show warning that this is a “scarrrrry episode.” No, but it really is scary. I’m terrified.
I think it’s pretty obvious that this is a dream-sequence episode because Steve literally falls asleep on the couch in the first two minutes and the dream sequence music plays. HOWEVER, the power of Stevil is great and just in case Freddy Krueger laws apply, I don’t think we should feel TOO SAFE in the dream sequence.
Stevil emerges from the toilet (where Steve ground him up and flushed him away years ago) only to reveal that he’s been bobbing for rats in the sewer. BARF. But now he’s back in the Winslow house. He’s there to steal Steve’s soul.
Of course, he showed up at the Winslow house. Stevil is too smart to go looking for Steve at Steve’s house. Guys, does Steve have parents? Like maybe they moved away years ago and he’s just like lingering at the neighbors house because he didn’t want to move to a new town. Didn’t that happen in Boy Meets World? Like Topanga didn’t want to move away from Philly so she like tried to live with Corey and that was weird for obvious reasons. Okay, okay, wrong show. Let’s get back to Family Matters.
Just as Stevil is sucking Steve’s soul out of his eyes, Steve wakes up on the Winslow house because it was all (say it with me now) JUST A DREAM!
After comforting Steve and telling him to grow up, Carl Winslow heads upstairs and goes to bed fully clothed, sleeping on top of the covers. Cue the next dream sequence.
Carl heads downstairs and finds a box marked “fragile” and labeled with his name. He opens it to find his very own CARL VENTRILOQUIST DUMMY! But he thinks it’s cool and not at all scary. But it doesn’t take long for him to realize that this dummy is possessed too! He is known as “Carlsbad.”
But then the worst thing they do is have a dance-off amongst themselves.
OH WAIT. THEY’RE TRYING TO STEAL SOULS AGAIN! They chase Carl and Steve throughout the house. It’s a surprisingly tight race, considering that Carl and Steve have normal, adult-male sized legs, whereas Carlsbad and Stevil have doll legs.
In hot pursuit, Carlsbad and Stevil break down the door to Carl’s room, where he and Steve have created a barricade behind a large chest of drawers. Just as Carl thinks they’ve defeated them, Steve disappears. They’ve stolen his soul!! And actually, yeah, Jaleel White does look pretty creepy here:
Carl and Carlsbad engage in a battle to the death. Or battle to the soul? Whichever comes first, I guess. Carl wins out against the dummies, but Steve zombie still wants to eat his soul!!
Okay, but remember how this was all just a dream? It totally was, so don’t worry!! Unless, you believe the end credits where Carlsbad and Stevil are standup comedians. Ugh. Actually, something about that is even creepier than anything else in this episode.
I dunno. Maybe you guys don’t think Stevil/Carlsbad are scary. I think they’re terrifying. But the more I think about it, the more I think that may be because I watched the movie Magic with my mom when I was five. I don’t think she realized it was a horror movie. Kind of like the time my grandmother read that Leprechaun was going to be playing on TV and assumed it was a children’s movie. It’s amazing I survived my childhood. And now I write this blog! Never give up on your dreams!
Before you start thinking that Night Court is just underrated yet dated NBC comedy from the late-80’s/early-90’s, let me remind you that the real Manhattan night court is, apparently, a tourist attraction.
Now, I’m not sure that the real night court celebrates Halloween–nor would I want to visit Manhattan’s nightcourt on Halloween in order to find out–but in NBC’s version the court is bubbling over with Halloween cheer. The lovable judge of the night court, Harry, is particularly excited about the holiday, having recently fallen in love with a woman whom he directed to the traffic court.
Sadly, it’s not long before the honeymoon is over. She appears in Harry’s court a few days later having been arrested for destruction of public property and disturbing the peace. She “danc[ed] robustly through Central Park.” Oh yeah and she built a bonfire. Because she is a witch. It was a witch thing. Oh and also the mom from The Goonies is a witch too and she was there with her. (She was dancing naked by the bonfire. Yep, sorry, now you have that image in your mind.) Of course, Harry has to recuse himself from the case. But what of their romance?? Will Harry recuse himself from that too? More, after the jump!
Lol. Just kidding, of course there is no jump. Ugh, I hate when people do that. But I would like to take this time to apologize for the lame ads that WordPress is probably making you view on this site. It’s because I’m cheap and I didn’t pay for premium. I didn’t even pay for my own domain. Can you get any cheaper??
Well, I guess maybe there was a jump, after all. Sorry. So yeah Harry’s skeptical of the legitimacy of her witch-claims. So she proves it to him by zapping a miniature chandelier into his hand. Kind of an odd choice. But okay.
So he says, “You really believe you’re a witch?” Uh, no shit dude. How do you think you ended up with a light fixture in your hand??? At this point you should believe it too.
And she says, “It’s not what I believe. It’s what I am.”
And he says, “I believe that you are the best thing that’s happened to me in a long time. And I’m gonna fight like hell before I even think about giving you up.”
Okay, calm down, no one said anything about having to give one another up. As they embrace at the resolution of a drama that existed only in their own minds, a journalist shows up and wants to interview them about their “compromising position.” But she tells some stupid story about how they’ve known each other since the second grade. She says Harry’s just offering her free legal advice because she once gave him lunch money. It works and the journalist is bored enough to leave them alone.
Then Harry asks her to stop being a witch. Why??? And then they realize that neither of them could ask the other to change. Thus, they can never be together. BUT WHY??
Then they have a super weird conversation that I do not understand. If you understand it, please explain it to me in the comments.
Harry: Suppose, you walk out one night and there’s this message blazing across the sky or there’s a burning bush and it’s got my name on it.
Witch: (sobbing) You’d be the first one I call.
Harry: Fine. Just as long as we’re clear on that.
(She runs away in tears.)
Very Special Halloween Lesson: If you meet a cool person and you want to date each other then do it. Don’t make up stupid, potentially discriminatory against witches, reasons not to.