Terrifying Television: This Year’s Halloween Episodes

October 26, 2009

buffy hallAs I mentioned in a previous entry on my favourite Thanksgiving episodes, I like to celebrate the holidays in true TV enthusiast style… by watching a marathon of themed episodes. Predictably my marathon includes episodes from Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dead Like Me, but each fall, new Halloween episodes air, some of which will become instant classics and be added to my annual marathon in years to come. This year, with supernaturally-themed new shows like The Vampire Diaries and Eastwick, the amount of Halloween content seems to have increased. Here’s a look at the Halloween-themed episodes airing this week.

Monday

Teen hit Gossip Girl has Lily and Rufus celebrating Halloween in “How to Succeed in Bassness” tonight on The CW, while ABC drama Castle has a nice surprise for any Browncoats out there in the new episode “Vampire Weekend”. The episode features Castle and Beckett investigating the murder of a vampire fetishist, whose body is found with fake fangs and a stake through his heart.

Wednesday

With a show about witches and the devil, it would have been crazy not to have a Halloween episode of Eastwick. In “Bonfire and Betrayal”, Roxie envisions an ill fate for her loved-ones and tries to prevent it from happening. Meanwhile Kat attempts to reunite Will and Joanna, who continues to encounter misfortunes after having trouble with her career and love life. The ABC drama hasn’t received a full season pick-up and it’s ratings have not been promising, but maybe a little Halloween magic can turn that around.

Thursday

NBC has a full night of Halloween comedy lined up beginning with a Day of the Dead party on Community, a Halloween party on Parks and Recreation, and finally a themed episode of The Office, in which the office plans a haunted house for kids in the community. Meanwhile, the pairing of the CW’s best performing show The Vampire Diaries and genre hit Supernatural is a no-brainer for Halloween. Although the later doesn’t specifically have a Halloween episode this season, it’s demon-fighting theme and tendency to tackle urban legends make most episodes holiday appropriate. Lead-in The Vampire Diaries will air the new episode “Haunted”, which includes a visit to a haunted house. Freshman drama FlashForward is also getting into the spirit with an episode titled “Scary Monsters and Super Creeps”, and CBS has a new episode of The Mentalist titled “Red Scare”. On The Mentalist, witnesses claim that a wealthy man was killed by a ghost haunting his mansion.

Friday

With CBS’ double feature of Ghost Whisperer and Medium, Friday is already a night for the supernatural, so it’s fitting that both shows will air Halloween episodes this year. Melinda encounters the headless horseman in a themed Ghost Whisperer episode called “Legend of Sleepy Hollow”, and Alison dreams she has been cast in the zombie film Night of the Living Dead in a Medium episode titled “Bite Me”. The night wraps upon Numb3ers, where the body of a dead woman  turns up at a decommissioned air base where paranormal activity has been happening.

There’s plenty of spooky new television to be had, but if you’re ready for more Halloween content there’s always the numerous specials and horror movies airing all this week. A more complete list can be found here.

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San Diego Comic-Con for the TV enthusiast (Saturday)

July 12, 2009

Recently more and more shows are continuing in comic book form, creating a link between comics and television that fans of both genres, like this TV enthusiast, no doubt enjoy.  Comic books allow television writers and producers to go places budgets would never allow them to go on the small screen, much to the delight of fans.  Despite being an Angel fan, I have to admit that I have not yet read the canon series of comics, but for those who have there’s Saturday, July 25th’s panel Angel on the Rise.  The panel will reveal the new monthly Angel writer and give fans a chance to ask Juliet Landau (Drusilla), and writers Brian Lynch and Peter David about what’s next for one of our favourite vampires with a soul (10:00-11:00, Room 7AB).

For fans of spy comedy Chuck, its appearance at Comic-Con this year is a triumph.  This May, as the networks announced their fall schedules, Chuck was very much a bubble show and it looked like it might become a casualty of NBC’s decision to replace the ten o’clock hour of primetime with five nights of Jay Leno.  Fans put together a smart campaign to buy a five-dollar subway sandwich on Monday to show Subway, the show’s major sponsor, Chuck could be profitable and NBC got the message, renewing the show for thirteen episodes.  The Comic-Con Chuck panel includes a Q&A with co-creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, along with cast members Zachary Levi, Adam Baldwin, and Yvonne Strahovski, and a highlight reel (10:00-11:00, Ballroom 20).

I wouldn’t have any interest in the Desperate Housewives meets Charmed new show Eastwick if it weren’t for its male stars, Matt Dallas (Kyle XY) and Canadian Paul Gross (Due South).  So yes, it may be shallow but I’ll be giving the pilot a try to see Gross back on television.  If you’re at Comic-Con you can see the pilot ahead of the masses by attending this panel, where series stars Rebecca Romijn (X-men), Lindsay Price (Lipstick Jungle), Jaime Ray Newman (Veronica Mars) and yes, Paul Gross will answer audience questions after the screening alongside executive producers David Nutter and Maggie Friedman (10:15-11:15, Room 6A).

If you know the answer to the question “who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” you might be interested in Nickelodeon’s panel Ten Years of Spongebob Squarepants!  The panel features a live table read of a classic episode with the entire voice cast, including Spongebob himself Tom Kenny, a Q&A with the cast and crew, and an airing of the upcoming episode “Greasy Buffoons.” (10:30-11:30, Room 6DE).

Curious about what’s in store for the new, and final, season of Lost?  Attend the Lost: The Final Season Begins panel and have your questions answered by co-creator/executive producer Damon Lindelof and executive producer Carlton Cuse in the show’s final Comic-Con appearance (11:00-12:00, Hall H).

Fans of Fox cartoons won’t want to miss events featuring Family Guy, The Cleveland Show!, the recently resurrected Futurama, and The Simpsons. First Seth McFarlane offers a sneak peek at the Empire Strikes Back parody and discussion of what goes on behind-the-scenes of Family Guy. Next up is a preview of Family Guy spinoff The Cleveland Show! with its creators and voice cast members.  Have a laugh as, according to the Comic-Con website “a top-ranking FOX executive decides live, on stage, whether Futurama will make yet another triumphant return or whether it is gone forever!”  Before joining a panel including creator Matt Groening and showrunner Al Jean for a look at the record-breaking new 21st season of The Simpsons.  The afternoon of laughs takes place in Ballroom 20 (11:15-2:30).

However, if you prefer your comedies a little more musical, you probably watched and loved the preview of Fox’s new series Glee.  The series includes broadway talents Lea Michele (“Spring Awakening”) and Matthew Morrison (“The Light in the Piazza”) and each episode is peppered with catchy songs, like the pilot’s unforgettable version of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”.  Realistically I’m not sure how long this show will be able to run before storylines begin to repeat, if it manages to find and hold an audience to begin with.  All the same I loved the pilot and I’m praying that the rest of the season measures up come fall.  Those who attend the panel will be able to judge for themselves as a never-before-broadcast episode is aired, with discussion from Michele, Morrison, and Cory Monteith to follow. (1:30-3:00, Indigo Ballroom).

Or if you’d prefer to stick to science-fiction, there’s a panel for the new Syfy show Warehouse 13 with stars Eddie McClintock, Joanne Kelly, Saul Rubinek, and Allison Scagliotti (2:15-3:15, Room 6A).  If you missed it on Wednesday’s special preview night, there’s another screening of ABC’s midseason show V, featuring a Q&A with stars Elizabeth Mitchell (Lost), Morena Baccarin (Serenity), Joel Gretsch (The 4400), Morris Chestnut (The Cave), and Scott Wolf (Go), along with the show’s executive producers. (2:45-3:15, Ballroom 20).  Between the roller-coaster third season, the departure of a number of the show’s writing staff (including Bryan Fuller), and the rumours of Claire’s lesbian college hookup I’m not sure how much faith I have left in Heroes.  If you’re still willing to give it a chance though, creator Tim Kring will be on hand to answer fan questions and premiere a trailer for Volume 5: Redemption.  The Comic-Con schedule notes that the Q&A will be with Kring and “some of the cast” but doesn’t name names so you’ll just have to see who shows up (3:15-4:15, Indigo Ballroom).

We Control The Vertical: Writing and Producing for Television offers a change of scenery as some of television’s writers and show runners”discuss the writing and production of your favorite television shows, past and present, and share amusing anecdotes from the television trenches.” (4:00-5:00, Room 8 )  Yet I suspect many TV enthusiasts will opt out in order to take in the Fringe panel.  After last season’s buzzed about reveal, I’m sure several fans will be lining up up hear what executive producers Jeff Pinkner and J.H. Wyman have to say.  Stars Joshua Jackson, John Noble, and Anna Torv are also scheduled to appear. (4:00-5:00, Ballroom 20).

If you missed the Wednesday pilot screenings for Human Target and The Vampire Diaries, here’s your chance to see what you missed.  I imagine the best part of the Human Target panel will be the presence of its stars, Mark Valley (Fringe), Chi McBride (Pushing Daisies), and Jackie Earle Haley (Watchmen).  Fans of the original DC Comics series take note; Len Wein, co-creator of the Human Target will also be answering questions at the panel (4:45-5:55, Room 6BCF).

It’s a battle of the vampire shows as HBO’s True Blood and CW’s The Vampire Diaries are scheduled opposite one another… at least at Comic-Con.  The smart money is on True Blood, which just attracted a series high 3.9 million viewers last Sunday, to take a bite out of the competition (5:15-6:15, Ballroom 20).  The likely younger skewing The Vampire Diaries, also based on a series of novels might be able to draw an audience with its teen love story of a good and evil vampire brother at war for the soul of a human girl.  Series stars Ian Somerhalder (Lost), Paul Wesley (Killer Movie), and Nina Dobrev (Degrassi: The Next Generation) will be joined by executive producers and writers for a pilot screening and Q&A. (5:55-7:00, Room 6BCF).

Once you’ve had your share of vampires for the night, there’s a Mythbusters Q&A and sneak peek with series stars Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman.  The Discovery channel show, about determining the truth behind urban myths through science, will also debut footage from upcoming episodes (7:15-8:15, Room 6BCF).  Or a panel on Showtime’s Weeds, about a suburban mother who begins to sell marijuana after the death of her husband leaves her with financial woes.  The panel will include a Q&A with creator/executive producer Jenji Kohan and some cast members (8:00-9:00, Indigo Ballroom).

The real attraction of the night, However, is the screening of Torchwood: Children of Earth episodes and the Doctor Who special “Planet of the Dead”.  To be perfectly honest, I caught this Doctor Who special over Easter will in Ireland and I was utterly unimpressed.  It’s not something I have an urge to watch again, but with David Tennant soon to depart the role I’m trying to enjoy every last minute of his screentime as the Doctor.  This special finds the Doctor teaming up with Lady Christina, played by Bionic Woman‘s Michelle Ryan, an enigmatic jewel thief.   Together they must restore a double decker bus to Earth after it lands them, and a series of passengers, on a sand planet, without the TARDIS, while an enemy approaches.

I’m considerably more interested in Torchwood’s shortened season, although I admit that this is partially my curiosity about how North American fans will react to the darker third season.  Children of Earth has already aired in the UK and me being the person I am, I have naturally been spoiled for it.  Perhaps the only thing more intriguing than these screenings is what sort of response creator Russell T. Davies will receive during Sunday’s panel from fans.  The screenings run from 7:30-10:00 in room 6DE.

Coming up: Comic-Con for the TV enthusiast schedule for Sunday.

Comic-Con International takes place at the San Diego Convention Center July 23rd-26th.  Full schedules of events and panel descriptions can be found here.