Halloween TV specials and holiday episodes (1977)
By Bettelou Peterson, TV writer
The Grinch is back for half an hour Saturday at 8 p.m. on ABC-TV. But not to steal Halloween. In fact, Halloween is mentioned only in the title of the show, “Halloween Is Grinch Night.”
To be sure, when the mean old Grinch tries to scare young Ukariah Who, he unleashes a spine-tingly array of “things,” but that’s not because he’s celebrating Halloween, it’s because the sweet-and-sour wind has wakened the greegrumps and hackencracks and their howls bring the Grinch down from Mt. Crumpit to hassle Whoville.
ALL OF WHICH makes sense to those who know Dr. Seuss and his wonderful collection of thingamabobs, from his books and until now on CBS, where in 1966 the Grinch first was seen trying to steal Christmas.
Ted Geisel, who is Dr. Seuss, author of the popular children’s books, was in charge of the new show, as he was of the others, although he has a new set of co-workers, including animators. But Geisel long ago firmly established what a Grinch looks like as well as the Grinch’s woeful dog Max and the Whos of Whoville, so the new cartoonists make little difference.
Hans Conried is the narrator, and follows the same tone set by the gentle lisp of the late Boris Karloff, who is heard on the Grinch Christmas show.
The new Grinch is part of a deluge of Halloween-oriented shows this year. Before, “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” was the only made-for-TV “classic” marking the celebration. Linus and his legend of the Great Pumpkin have joined Halloween tradition.
But this year, CBS chose to show a new Peanuts — “It’s Your First Kiss, Charlie Brown,” which focused on football.
It is the 17th in a line that goes back to 1965 and “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” The new show had the usual Peanuts charm, which the team of Lee Mendelson and Bill Melendez, working with creator Charles Schulz, have been so successful in transferring to TV from the comics.
“The Fat Albert Halloween Special” followed the Peanuts last Monday on CBS, the first time the cartoon creations based on Bill Cosby’s characters have been seen outside Saturday morning. The Saturday series, “Fat Albert and the Cosby Kids,” is a credit to Cosby and CBS, one of the few shows in the kid lineup that successfully combines education and entertainment.
On Monday’s special kids learned something of understanding and compassion while laughing over the antics.
Wednesday on CBS, a gallery of Warner Bros. cartoon characters turned up in “Bugs Bunny’s Howl-oween Special.” Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Speedy Gonzales, Sylvester and Tweety Pie got tangled in a conjuring contest between Bugs and Witch Hazel. There were more giggles than goosebumps.
(There also was less violence. Characters were, dropped off castle towers and down trap doors, as of old, but, in a nod to the anti-violence crusaders, the resulting splatter was never shown.)
ALL THE SHOWS were fun, particularly the Grinch. But, of course, all were full of pitches for cake, candy, cookies, fancy cereal and fast food chains.
Presumably, in prime time, unlike Saturday mornings, parents are available to explain the dangers of such a diet to watching kids.
NBC, by the way, devotes Sunday evening entirely to Halloween-oriented shows: at 7 p.m., “Disney’s Halloween Hall O’Fame”; at 8 p.m., “Halloween with the Addams Family,” (a new show with the same cast as the old series), at 9:30 p.m., “Psychic Phenomena: Exploring the Unknown.” None were available for preview.
NBC is handling “Psychic Phenomena” very gingerly since it ran into heavy criticism from many respected scientific groups over several Eric von Daniken documentaries in which von Daniken’s “men from outer space” were represented as fact rather than theory.
Silver Spoons and Punky Brewster Halloween TV specials
Swamp Thing on TV (1991)
The Halloween That Almost Wasn’t TV special (1979)
21 Jump Street Halloween special, with young Johnny Depp (1989)
Spend Halloween on the street
1977 Lucan and Good Against Evil TV premieres
1980 Trouble With Miss Switch – Witch Mountain TV special
The Fat Albert Halloween Special (1977)
The Peanuts gang and the Great Pumpkin vintage Halloween TV specials (1979)
Bewitched Halloween special episodes from the ’60s
Bewitched: A Safe & Sane Halloween episode (1967)
Paul Lynde’s Halloween Special & Look What Happened to Rosemary’s Baby (1976)
Disney Channel’s Halloween in 1988
Halloween has never been spookier, funnier or more spirited!
Robin Williams on ET and friends – Aliens and monsters (1982)
Rona Jaffe’s Mazes and Monsters TV special (1982)
Mazes & Monsters starred Tom Hanks