King of the Hill – “Hilloween”
Season 2, Episode 4
Original Air Date: October 26, 1997
I now associate King of the Hill strongly with John, so it figures that I’d be posting this review after a very John-centric day. I woke up a little early this morning to catch a screening of Stakeout, the latest feature from the Otteni Brothers, as part of the HorrOrigins festival. It was a lot of fun and you should check it out when it hits streaming. Later, I got Arby’s for the first time in a real, real long time. I think it was the first time my dad didn’t pay for me. My favorite part were the curly fries, for which they gave me horsey sauce (which was good) and Arby’s sauce (which was weird and bad). And now I’m writing about an episode of one of John’s favorite shows. Let me tell you about it.
Season 3, Episode 5
Original Air Date: October 31, 1996
One of the worst habits I’ve developed over the past few months is wasting time watching clips of TV shows on YouTube. Time that could be spent, at the very least, clearing my backlog of video games, TV shows, movies, and blog posts instead gets taken up mindlessly scrolling through popular moments of, most of the time, show I’ve already watched like New Girl and Scrubs. I guess it doesn’t feel like a waste of time when the clips are usually less than five minutes? Anyway, it all started when I got recommended a scene from ER where one of the doctors finds two other doctors have been stabbed. I had to know more: were they OK? One of them was. Who did the stabbing? David Krumholtz, it turns out. What were the ramifications of this? Hard to say. Thus I was overtaken by a desire to learn just how over-the-top this seemingly respectable show really was.
“Stevil” – Family Matters (1996)
Season 8, Episode 7
Airdate: October 25th, 1996
I don’t care what anyone says, Urkel is fucking funny. I know a lot of people think he’s annoying or one note or that he turned Family Matters into the “Steve Urkel Show”. Yeah, right. My man Urk saved that show. If it wasn’t for Urkel I can’t imagine Family Matters being more than a fun fact, “Did you know the guy who played the cop in Die Hard also played a cop on a sitcom?”
Home Improvement – “Haunting of Taylor House”
Season 2, Episode 6
Airdate: October 28, 1992
I do not have a ton of nostalgia for Home Improvement or Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor, but this episode did bring me a comforting sense of nostalgia nonetheless. For as many hokey jokes you see here and there, there is something about this episode that feels very close to a kind of middle-class suburban version of Halloween that I remember as a kid. I wouldn’t say this is a great episode of television or anything, but it does capture the harmless fun of Halloween quite nicely. I’d say the low stakes comedy of Home Improvement feels pretty well-suited for a holiday where both kids and their parents get to embrace their inner trickster.
“The Boogieman” – Quantum Leap (1990)
Season 3 – Episode 5
Air Date: October 26th, 1990
When I was a kid Quantum Leap was the show I watched when I was sick. I never sought it out. I would just be there on the couch, flipping channels, only to stumble across another one of Sam Beckett’s time-traveling adventures. What’s great about Quantum Leap is every episode is an easy-in. You can watch basically any random episode and enjoy the show. You can just watch the opening credits and you’ll get it.
Marc Summers’ Mystery Magical Tour (1988)
Marc Summers’ Mystery Magical Tour, also known as the “Mystery Magical Special,” was a special aired by Nickelodeon in 1988 and then through the mid-nineties. Marc Summers’ popularity is difficult to explain by modern standards, but the important thing to know is that he hosted a game show called Double Dare that helped put Nickelodeon on the map. I guess he was sort of like the Eighties’ equivalent of Scott Rogowsky, if kids were actually interested in his post-HQ Trivia career. But if those kids tuned into Mystery Magical Tour hoping to get their usual dosage of green slime, they were in for a rude awakening.
“Freddy’s Tricks and Treats – Freddy’s Nightmares (1988)
Season 1 – Episode 4
Airdate: October 29th, 1988
It’s weird that Freddy Krueger was such an iconic character of the 1980s. I would put him in the same category as E.T., Optimus Prime, or even Alf. Freddy had board games, a talking doll, he even did a music video with the Fat Boys.