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The Family Matters Halloween Episodes

Family Matters was one of those sitcoms that I watched a ton in the 90’s, but haven’t seen much of it since. Recently it was added to Hulu, and I dived right back in with The Winslows and that goofy neighbor of theirs. I was shocked to see how normal and interesting the first season was pre-Steve Urkel. I haven’t finished watching the first season yet, but I decided to jump ahead and check out some of the Halloween episodes.



Season 2, Episode 7 “Dog Day Halloween”

This episode centers around Steve and Laura who inadvertently get caught up in a bank robbery. Steve is dressed up as Superman, but feels inadequate because he can’t properly protect Laura. Laura is dressed up as Tina Turner, which confuses the Abraham Lincoln dressed bank robber who mistakes her for pretty much any singing diva you could think of pre-1990. Meanwhile, Carl is outside trying to control the situation. There are no winks or nods to Die Hard, but it’s hard to watch and not think of Die Hard.

It’s not a perfect Halloween episode, but it does a good job of channeling the spirit of Halloween with costumes and the scenes back at the Winslow house dealing with trick-or-treaters. I found myself really enjoying the episode, even if it’s a bit cheesy towards the end.

Recommended



Season 4, Episode 6 – “Whose Kid Is It Anyway?”

Eddie promises Richie that he’ll take him trick-or-treating, until a beautiful girl shows up at the front door needing directions to a Halloween party. Always the ladies’ man, Eddie ditches Richie and convinces Waldo to take him trick-or-treating. Richie isn’t happy about it, but there’s not much the little boy can do. Things take a turn for the worse when Waldo shows up with another child in a Spiderman outfit that isn’t Richie.

Similar to the first episode, this episode featured several Halloween costumes and some decorations that made it feel like the holiday. It’s obvious that Family Matters liked using Halloween as a setting, but they never fully embrace the holiday the same way Roseanne and Home Improvement did. Still, this was a decent Halloween themed episode.

Recommended



Season 5, Episode 6 – “Best Friends”

After Waldo is fired from a tattoo parlor for misspelling Mom, Eddie gives him a job at the Mighty Weenie alongside Steve Urkel. Waldo is horrible at his job, and Eddie is forced to deal with the decision to fire his best friend.

Did you notice that I didn’t mention anything about costumes, trick-or-treating, or Halloween? That’s because other than a few decorations in the house and around The Mighty Weenie there is nothing Halloween about this episode at all. It has to be the laziest Halloween episode I’ve ever seen. The set designer just put up $20 worth of decorations to make it feel like Halloween, which is a missed opportunity.

Skip It.



Season 6, Episode 6 – “Dark and Stormy Night”

After the previous season’s waste of a Halloween episode, Family Matters bounced back with its best Halloween episode of its run. The entire family is costumed up and ready to go trick-or-treating when a terrible storm begins and the power goes out. Carl decided to keep the family entertained by starting a ghost story and then turning the story over to another member of the family to continue it. It’s a very creative concept that works well for the show. It’s way over-the-top and a lot of fun and by far the best Halloween episode Family Matters produced.

Highly Recommended



Season Eight, Episode Seven – “Stevil”

This episode begins with a warning that the following might be a little intense for young viewers. It’s surprising to see, especially since Family Matters is such a tame show. I don’t know if the warning is justified by the episode, but I will admit things are more intense in Stevil than any of the previous Halloween shows.

Steve Urkel attempts to put on a ventriloquist act complete with a dummy that looks like him. It doesn’t go over well and Steve retires to his room and falls asleep. A storm arises and dummy Steve Urkel is hit by lightning and brought to life. Steve pleads his case that the dummy is alive, but no one will listen to him. Stevil (the name of the dummy) begins attacking the family and it’s up to Urkel to save the day.

So, this episode is batshit crazy. I mean, it’s off the walls insane. Its part Chucky and part Urkel, the combination you never knew you wanted. The dummy is a combination of puppet and little person in a suit and it’s hard not to laugh and enjoy this episode because it truly is pretty bad.

Part of me wants to say Skip This, but the other part of me wants to say it’s Highly Recommended. I figure I’ll settle in the middle and say it’s Recommended.



Season Nine, Episode Seven – “Stevil II: This Time He’s Not Alone” Ya know, the should have left it alone.

In this episode, it’s been a year since the first Stevil incident and Steve Urkel is afraid to go to sleep. Ahhh… I’m not even going to explain the plot of this terrible, terrible episode. Do yourself a favor and just skip it. It’s more Stevil and his new pal Carlsbad and what little charm the first Stevil episode had is long gone.

Skip It.

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The Roseanne Halloween Episodes

Here at Brandon’s Horror Review, I plan on spending most of my time covering horror movies from the 1990s. However, every Halloween season I like to revisit some 90’s sitcoms that featured Halloween episodes and I thought I’d share some quick reviews of a few of these shows. I’ve decided to group these episodes by their particular show and give a few quick thoughts on each. Without further ado, let’s take a look at one of the 90’s most beloved shows around Halloween, Roseanne.

Roseanne is arguably my favorite sitcom of all-time. I love the hijinks of the Conner family and how they deal with the everyday pains of life. I’ve watched the entire series (minus the final season) through four times now and I can still happily pop in any of the DVDs and enjoy an hour or two with my favorite TV family.


Roseanne was known for making great Halloween episodes. Most sitcoms used Christmas as their big holiday to base an episode around, so Roseanne did what she usually did, and went the opposite way. Christmas was rarely mentioned, yet Halloween was embraced by The Conners. The shows are such fan favorites, a Halloween themed Roseanne DVD was released. The first season of Roseanne did not feature a Halloween themed episode and neither did the final season (well, season nine sorta had a Halloween episode but the less we talk about that the better), but the other seven remaining seasons did. Here are my recaps and a few thoughts (as spoiler-free as possible) of Roseanne’s Halloween episodes.


Boo! (Season Two, Episode Seven)
I always forget how amazing the first Halloween episode of Roseanne is. They really went all out. In this episode Dan and Roseanne take turns playing pranks on one another trying to determine who the Master of Halloween Pranks is. The Conner’s set up a haunted house with all the family playing a part in scaring their guests, which include a business partner of Dan’s. It honestly may be the best Halloween episode of television ever.

What I Like About This Episode:
-It really shows how much the series embraces Halloween and isn’t just one big prank set up like many of the later episodes.

-The haunted house is a lot of fun, and anyone who watches this can’t help but want to walk through The Conner’s house and see all the great decorations.

Rating: Must SEE TV!


Trick or Treat (Season Three, Episode Seven)
Roseanne and Jackie take DJ costume shopping and he comes back with a witch’s outfit, which embarrasses Dan. Dan is forced to deal with the issue of DJ’s costume at the Lodge’s Haunted House, while Roseanne and Jackie find themselves stranded at the Lobo after the car breaks down. Roseanne is dressed like a bearded man and decides to mingle amongst the guys.

Season three’s Halloween episode is almost as wonderful as the first. It’s full of great costumes, a goofy haunted house, and typical Conner mayhem.

What I Like About This Episode:
-I love The Lodge setting which is family friendly and super cheesy. It reminds me of all the horrible cheap Halloween haunted houses I went into as a kid.

-Roseanne’s scenes dressed as a man are hilarious, especially when she starts causing trouble.

Rating: Must SEE TV!


Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down (Season Four, Episode Seven)
Roseanne and Dan play a huge prank on their uptight neighbor Kathy to begin this episode. Kathy doesn’t take it very well, which pleases Roseanne. But when Kathy shows up at the Lodge for the annual Halloween party, Roseanne is convinced Kathy is attending just to get back at her.

What I Like About This Episode:
-Kathy Bowman is so dislikable and seeing her pranked is wonderful. I don’t think it’s very realistic (her coming into Roseanne’s house and all), but still a lot of fun.

-Roseanne’s paranoia is a little annoying at the end of the episode, but luckily it’s eclipsed by a special guest star making his return.

Rating: Must SEE TV!


Halloween IV (Season Five, Episode Seven)
Roseanne is bummed about Becky and is not in her usually Halloween spirit. When she refuses to go to The Lodge party, she is visited by the Ghost of Halloween Past, Present, and Future. Yeah, it’s the tired old Christmas Carol template, but it works really well in this episode. It’s our only peek at Roseanne/Jackie as children and also gives us a nightmarish futuristic Roseanne.

What I Like About This Episode:
-Roseanne’s Halloween spirit dating back to her infancy was a lot of fun.

-Roseanne’s reaction to seeing her friends trash talking her cookies and pranks was hysterical.

Rating: Must SEE TV!


Halloween V (Season Six, Episode Six)
It’s Halloween time again at The Conner’s and Roseanne is put in a big pickle. Darlene is going to a party with a guy at her college, while still dating David. Roseanne feels bad for David and encourages him to find someone to hang out with. However, once David starts bringing a new girl around, Roseanne is devastated at the idea that she may have encouraged David to date someone else. Hijinks ensue.

What I Like About This Episode:
-Watching Roseanne squirm is always fun.

-The mugger scene is fantastic!

Rating: Recommended.


Skeleton in the Closet (Season Seven, Episode Six)
When you start watching Roseanne Halloween episodes back-to-back, you start seeing a pattern which kinda takes away the fun of the surprises. In this episode, Leon is holding a Halloween party at The Lunchbox for his gay friends. He shows a little interest in Fred (Jackie’s husband) which peaks Roseanne’s interest. It seems Fred has a bit of a past when it comes to hanging out in gay bars.

I remember loving this episode the first time I saw it, and considered it my favorite Roseanne Halloween episode. Upon revisiting it though, it doesn’t hold quite as well as I remember, but it’s still a lot of fun.

What I Like About This Episode:
-David attempting to explain gay people to DJ is wonderfully written and acted.

-I loved the payoff at the end.

Rating: Recommended


Halloween: The Final Chapter (Season Eight, Episode Five)
This is not a good Halloween episode. I’ll just say that upfront. Roseanne began declining quite a bit in season eight, and this episode is part of that decline. It’s actually hard to summarize this episode because it’s all over the place. Basically, a Ouija board tells Roseanne she is about to go into labor and well… there are dancing, psychedelic hippies and flashbacks to previous Halloween episodes.

What I Like About This Episode:

-It was nice seeing Roseanne flashback to some of the previous Halloween episodes.

Rating: Skip it

And as I mentioned in the opening, there was something that sorta passes as a Halloween episode in season nine, but as far as I’m concerned, season nine didn’t exist nor did that episode. Nothing to see here.

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Home Improvement - The Halloween Episodes

Every Halloween season I like to revisit some 90’s sitcoms that featured Halloween episodes and I thought I’d share some quick reviews of a few of these shows. I’ve decided to group these episodes by their particular show and rank them. Without further ado, let’s take a look at one of the 90’s most beloved shows around Halloween, Home Improvement.

When I think of horror and Home Improvement, my first thought does not go to the epic Halloween episodes, but to Friday the 13th VIII’s very own Jensen Daggett who portrayed Tim Taylor’s (Tim Allen) sister-in-law Nancy Taylor. She starred in one of my favorite episodes, The Naked Truth, where Tim walked in on her showering all sorts of awkwardness ensued.

But for most people, Home Improvement is remembered for its amazing holiday episodes. Tim Allen and the crew did some fantastic work on both their Halloween and Christmas episodes. Since Halloween is approaching soon, I thought I’d rank and do a quick write up on all seven Halloween episodes that occurred during Home Improvement’s eight seasons (there was no Halloween episode during the first season.)


Season Two, Episode Six
The Haunting of Taylor House
Original Air Date: October 28th, 1992

Synopsis:
On Tool Time: Tim is demonstrating how to make a brick wall. Since it’s Halloween, he also dresses up as a monster in an attempt to scare Al. Together, they carve jack-o-lanterns. Except that Tim has invented a new method for achieving the same result – with, you guessed it, more power! With predictable results.

At home: Tim has turned the basement into a “haunted house” for Brad’s Halloween party. Brad has agreed to dress up as “Raggedy Andy” because Jennifer is coming as Raggedy Ann. But Brad is stunned when she comes as a biker chick with another boy.

Halloween Thoughts:
This is my favorite Home Improvement Halloween episode. The show oozes Halloween from the opening scene and it never lets up. Rider Strong has a small role and lots of great costumes make appearances throughout this episode. Tim’s basement haunted house is possibly my all-time favorite TV haunted house.

Halloween Theme: A+
Re-Watchability: A+



Season Three, Episode Six
Crazy For You

Original Air Date: October 27th, 1993

Synopsis:
It’s Halloween time and the pranks begin. A fan named Rose sends Tim cookies and starts calling him at home. Tim worries about an obsessive fan, but Jill dismisses it. Jill has her own plans for tricking Tim.

Halloween Thoughts:
This is another very solid Halloween episode. Instead of focusing on the boy’s trouble, this episode is really focused on the adults and how far they’ll go to play pranks. It’s one of those feel good episodes that shows off some great Halloween scenery and offers lots of laughs.

Halloween Theme: A
Re-Watchability: A

Season Four, Episode Six
Borland Ambition
Original Air Date: October 25th, 1994

Synopsis:
When Al buys 20% of Harry’s hardware store, he irritates everyone by becoming obsessed with the business, trying to change store policies, promoting the store on Tool Time and spending less time with Ilene.

Halloween Thoughts:
The Halloween theme takes a bit of a backseat in this episode, but its not completely disregarded. There are tons of decorations, props, and costumes to be found and a solid subplot exists with the boys competing against each other in a costume contest. But for the most part, this episode focuses on Al being a jerk.

Halloween Theme: B-
Re-Watchability: B-


Season Five, Episode Six
Let Them Eat Cake
Original Air Date: October 31st, 1995

Synopsis:
Tool Time is up for an award, and Tim, Jill, Al, and Ilene attend the banquet party. While the Taylors are out of the house, Brad and his friend throw a Halloween party.

Halloween Thoughts:
This is a super fun episode. It’s not the first episode I think of when I think about Home Improvement Halloween episodes, but its always one of the ones I enjoy the most when revisiting. This episode has Brad up to hijinks, Tim being cynical, and Al being hilarious. What more can you ask for?

Halloween Theme: B
Re-Watchability: A



Season Six, Episode Seven
I Was a Teenage Taylor
Original Air Date: October 22nd, 1996

Synopsis:
A prank war begins between Tim and Jill and the boys and it slowly gets out of hand.

Halloween Thoughts:
This is another fun episode. The boys are older, so haunted houses aren’t being featured, but the family takes pleasure in pranking each other though out and I think they do a great job. It’s fun to watch each family member attempt to top the next one and it definitely delivers that “adult” Halloween feeling. (Note: there are also a couple of cute inside jokes in this episode that involve the Trick or Treaters).

Halloween Theme: B
Re-Watchability: B


Season Seven, Episode Five
A Night to Dismember
Original Air Date: October 28th, 1997

Synopsis:
Mark and his friend make a horror movie, with the Taylors being the stars. They are filmed as the perfect family. Tim and Jill view the movie; Mark is shown as the forgotten son who seeks evil, Jill worries Mark really feels forgotten.

Halloween Thoughts:
So… the Home Improvement writers ran into a problem the last couple of seasons: they had no idea what to do with Mark. Brad was the troublemaker, Randy was the smart/sarcastic one, and Mark was… well, no longer cute. So, they decided to turn him goth and outside of this single episode, I couldn’t tell you anything else that he did those final seasons.

With that being said, the episode isn’t too bad. It just doesn’t have that Halloween feel to it. There are a few decorations and costumes, but for the most part this episode lacks the Halloween spirit.

Halloween Theme: D
Re-Watchability: C


Season Eight, Episode Six
Bewitched
Original Air Date: October 27th, 1998

Synopsis:
Wilson disappears after hosting a Halloween party with his new romantic interest, a woman who claims to be a witch.

Halloween Thoughts:
After last year’s somewhat different Halloween episode, in the final season we returned back to pranks and costumes and a Halloween party. It’s a welcomed return, although the episode truly gets a little out there. It maybe pushes what is believable and exactly how gullible Tim is although it’s not a terrible episode. The show was already on the decline in season eight and this episode was just par for the course. Natalija Nogulich makes a great guest appearance and Tim’s flying monkey outfit is joyful, but other than that the episode is quite forgettable.

Halloween Theme: B
Re-Watchability: C


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