Welcome back my friends as I count down my all-time favorite Halloween sitcom episodes. Last time I discussed an episode from a series which you would expect to do a great Halloween episode…and rarely disappoints. Today I want to talk about a series which you would likewise think would do great Halloween shows. Except, they didn’t. The episodes were always disappointing, with one big exception. What series is this? Today my #2 favorite episode comes from:
“Come Back to the Five and Dime, Stephen King, Stephen King”
(I was going to ask what this title referenced, but then I looked it up and discovered it was a movie Come Back to the 5 & Dime, Jimmy Dean, Jimmy Dean).
This episode first aired on October 25th, 1989
Plot Synopsis:On Halloween the gang finds an old case file which awakens the spirit of man who died in the courtroom. To get rid of the spirit they try the case.
Best Line: Harry Stone: “Art you mean to tell us that was you making those noises inside those pipes this whole time?”
Art Fensterman: “What are you kidding me? I was practically rapping Babalooie on these babies”
Nitpick of the Episode:We learn that the moaning and pounding was Art stuck in the air conditioning. The only problem with this is that his pounding and banging came at very convenient times. How come he only pounded and screamed when the name “Heston” was uttered? If you think about that the episode fails so I choose not think to hard about it.
Syndication Edit:Some of Art’s explanation after he is discovered was cut. And it was a pretty stupid cut too because without those lines there is no explanation for why the courtroom got so cold. Another bad edit, Dan and Christine commenting on getting the case files when Bull appears and is caught up on the situation. In the syndicated episode he is just suddenly with the group in the courtroom and knows what is going on, somehow.
Final Thoughts:Remember when I talked about 3rd Rock and I said the premise of having a “ghost” which was really a character trapped somewhere had been done before? Well my friends this episode did it a full ten years earlier. And better too! With one exception I will mention in a second.
First let me quickly go over the other Halloween episodes. You would think this series would have great Halloween shows, but they were always disappointing for me. They would seem to start out well but throw in some heavy character plot where Harry was going through a crisis, and Halloween was just in the background (Harry falls in love with a witch, Harry deals with the return of an escaped runaway he’d cared for, Harry gets locked in a safe and almost dies!). The whole point of a Halloween episode is to have a little fun! The Halloween episode that aired the year after this wasn’t awful as a man appears claiming to be death, but by then Harry was boring and the script was so full of holes it was distracting (Harry Anderson wrote it, I am sensing a theme with these). So why did I like 3rd Rock when that was a character story? Because that series did a great job of tying Dick’s story into the holiday, rather than just having the holiday be part of the background.
This episode there is no character stuff, it’s just a spirit haunting the courtroom. And it’s well done. All the characters act the way they should and the atmosphere is creepy without being over the top or far fetched. The lights go off in the courtroom which also gets very cold. Not to mention the pounding and moaning.
Another little thing I like in this episode is in the scene where they try the ghost. Dan is usually trying to have sex so much that writers forget he is a damn good prosecuter at the same time. This episode remembers that and the scene where Dan prosecutes the spirit is one of his better one’s. Actually that whole scene just works probably because of how serious everyone takes it.
I guess the one weakness would be that Roz has little to nothing to do in this episode. She spends it chasing Harry’s bat around and barely appears. But that’s small potatoes really.
Grade:B, above average for Night Court which always let’s us down on Halloween
Honorable Mention:Family Matters. What, no Stevil? No because while the episode was kind of creepy when I first saw it, looking back it’s just plain silly. There were a couple other Halloween episodes and they all were kind of flat. One early episode where a bank robber keeps Steve and Laura hostage. It’s OK but it’s more of a character episode for Steve than a true Halloween show. Then there was the follow up to the Stevil episode with “Carlsbad” and that episode was really stupid.
One more pick left my friends! Which show will it be from? Come back in a few days and find out.