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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


Summer Casting

August 15, 2009
Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Sophie-Ann in True Blood.

Evan Rachel Wood as Queen Sophie-Ann in True Blood.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you already know that I’m one of many fans eagerly awaiting HBO’s Game of Thrones. Although it hasn’t yet been given a full season order or, for that matter, filmed the pilot episode, I’ve been following the development of this series from the beginning, and each new casting announcement renews my excitement. However, HBO doesn’t share this enthusiasm for casting announcements, mostly because they are being leaked by an inside source and not officially announced by the network. They are currently hunting for the leak(s) and have threatened to fire and muddy this person’s reputation in the industry. As a result, the leaks seem to have stopped, despite the casting of at least six more roles for the pilot.

What hasn’t dried up is George R.R. Martin’s desire to tease. He can’t announce the casting directly until HBO gives their go ahead, but what he can do is provide clues for fans. Cue the riddles and, in turn, the wacky casting theories. We do know that Jaime and Theon have been cast, and that three of the other roles are female, two of them children (most likely Arya and Sansa), but this is where the riddles come in:

Martin: One player has something in common with Ned. One has something in common with Harry Potter. One is not a boney pop singer. Shows can get cancelled and so can characters, but two of them have been seen on American tv recently.

In a second post Martin clarified that the two child roles have been filled by unknown actresses who are not on IMDB, but added:

That still leaves four adults you can try to figure out, though. And among the hundreds of theories and guesses, I’ve seen a couple of you getting it right… or coming close, riding the right theory to the wrong conclusion. So keep at it.

In the absence of an announcement, I’ll give you a few more clues. One cast member was played by a puppet. Another has been seen wandering a castle exclaiming about roses. A third is too good to be true. The fourth is the fifth. Esquire thinks one of them is hot.

Other possible clues come from the title of his posts “Dutch Treats and Casting Calls”, prompting some fans to wonder if one of the actors or actresses is Dutch, and his music selections “Too Good to be True” and “Alright, Still”.  Naturally the riddles without resolution, and the fact that we have no idea of when HBO will announce its casting decisions, is enough to drive a TV enthusiast/huge ASOIAF fan mad.  So taking a break from reading through the various fan theories, here is a collection of this summer’s other casting choices.  Don’t worry – there are no riddles to be found here, but there may be minor spoilers so if you really don’t want to know anything and even stay away from the TV guide descriptions of new episodes, turn back now.

Robert Knepper

Robert Knepper

Earlier this summer, Heroes announced a number of new additions for its fourth season.  Heroes is once again beginning the season with our heroes trying to live normal lives.  Somehow I doubt that will work out for them.  The season will introduce a group of carnies with abilities who have chosen to hide in plain sight by encorporating their talents into a carnival show, and if you’re getting images of HBO’s fantastical Carnivale right now, then you are not alone.

Among the new carnival folk are Ray Park, best known for playing Darth Maul in Star Wars: Episode One, who will play knife-wielding Edgar, Dawn Olivieri, who has been cast as tattooed empath Lydia, and Robert Knepper, who played the always creepy T-bag on Prison Break, as Samuel, the show’s ringleader.

Outside the carnival, Deanne Bray (Sue Thomas F B Eye) has been cast as Peter’s deaf co-worker Emma and Ernie Hudson (Oz) has a recurring role as a Baltimore cop.  Tessa Thompson, who played Jackie on Veronica Mars,  has been cast as Becky, a fellow student who will clash with Claire, and Madeline Zima (Californication) will play Claire’s college roommate Gretchen who she – wait for it – ends up kissing!  I have a really bad feeling about this one.

Meanwhile, another Star Wars villain will be guest staring in House m.d. this season.  Darth Vader himself James Earl Jones is set to appear in the fourth episode as an African dictator who becomes a patient at Princeton Plainsboro.  House’s roommate in the institution will be played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, who wrote and starred in the Tony award winning musical In the Heights.  I’ve linked his rapped acceptance speech for best original score at the Tony Awards below.

Joss Whedon’s Dollhouse returns for its unexpected second season with guest star Jamie Bamber, who was in Battlestar Galactica with series star Tahmoh Penikett.  Fellow Battlestar alum Katee Sackhoff will join the cast of 24 this year as Dana Walsh, a CTU analyst. Her character will be in a relationship with new cast member Freddy Prinze Jr., also known as Mr. Sarah Michelle Gellar, and in keeping with 24’s tendency to cast Canadian actors, Callum Keith Rennie will play a Russian mobster.

Canadian actress Sarah Carter

Canadian actress Sarah Carter

Another Canadian is the newest series regular on CSI: New York. Actress Sarah Carter (Shark), who grew up in Winnipeg, will play a tech who aspires to work in the crime lab and who is hiding a secret.  Speaking of keeping secrets, there’s John Lithgow, cast as a serial killer who kills in threes in the fourth season of Dexter.

The Mentalist will make progress on the Red John case by bringing in Oz’s Terry Kinney as a CBI agent who heads up the division overseeing the Red John murders.  He also happens to be Lisbon’s ex, and the one person immune to the considerable charms of Patrick Jane.

With stars Christopher Meloni and Mariska Hargitay signing new contracts to remain on Law and Order:SVU, the series has been continuing its usual parade of name guest stars.  In the season premiere, Prison Break star Wentworth Miller will appear as a cop who helps a rape victim, while Eric McCormack, whose show Trust Me was recently axed, has been cast as a sugar daddy in the second episode.  McCormack has also handed a recurring gig on The New Adventures of Old Christine as a potential love interest for Julia Louis-Dreyfus’ character.  Back on SVU, Christine Lahti will play the new ADA in the first four episodes before Stephanie March reprises her role as Alexandra Cabot.

Tyra Banks will appear on Gossip Girl.

Tyra Banks will appear on Gossip Girl.

Gossip Girl has also cast some high profile names, with Hilary Duff added in a recurring role this season.  Duff will play Olivia, a movie star who enrols at NYU in order to have the traditional college experience.  Tyra Banks will also guest star, playing an actress who co-stars with Duff’s character in a film.  Finally, Privileged star Joanna Garcia will play Nate’s new girlfriend Bree, who is from a conservative Southern family. Ugly Betty is re-casting the role of Wilhelmina’s willful daughter, which was previously played by Jowharch Jones. America’s Next Top Model runner-up Yaya Dacosta will be stepping into the part.

Smallville has cast British actor Callum Blue (Dead Like Me) as the villainous General Zod in its ninth season, while Mark Pellegrino, who played Rita’s abusive ex-husband Paul on Dexter and was more recently seen as the mysterious Jacob in Lost, is set to play Lucifer himself in CW series Supernatural.  He will appear in the fifth season premiere on September 10th.

Chris Vance will guest star on Burn Notice.

Chris Vance will guest star on Burn Notice.

I admit that I’ve never watched USA spy series Burn Notice, even though it looks like a lot of fun.  The news that Chris Vance (Mental) will guest-star in four episodes as a former MI-6 agent overseeing black ops is enough to make me give it a try though.   I also don’t watch The Daily Show, but I hear that Lewis Black is a great choice for a guest starring role on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory. Black will play a Professor of entomology (which any good CSI: Las Vegas fan knows means the study of bugs), whose life is in ruins.

In the fourth and final season of The Tudors, Henry VIII marries his sixth wife.  Joely Richardson (Nip/Tuck) has been cast in the role of Catherine Parr, who outlived the English King.

Most of these guest stars won’t appear until September or October, but Evan Rachel Wood will make her debut on True Blood at the end of August.  She will be playing Queen Sophie-Ann, the Vampire Queen of Louisiana, and will recur next year, since True Blood was officially renewed for a third season.

There’s some exciting casting news for fellow TV enthusiasts but I’m still waiting for HBO’s official announcement on Game of Thrones. Hopefully I won’t have to wait too long.