Halloween is going to be here soon. While this no doubt conjures up many memories, none of them are as vivid (or as important) as watching the yearly Roseanne Halloween episodes. Sure, some might be better than others but, overall, these were so well done that it's easy to overlook a few things.
Why are these 8 Roseanne Halloween episodes so great? Truthfully, it seems to come down to age. When the show first did this everybody was younger. The first Halloween episode ("BOO!" if you're keeping score at home) was so irreverent yet, so perfect, and it's all because the entire family was involved. We see the Connor's as a team and ultimately, if we're lucky, this is how we want to remember our own broods.
Also, did any other Halloween episodes ever capture the seasonal spirit like these shows? The Fall feeling that permeates every frame of every Halloween episode is palpable. The Halloween decorations, the antics, the layouts... it truly brings us into the show and makes us believe the Connors are really having this much fun on October 31st.
For some reason a DVD of Roseanne Halloween episodes came out that only had 7 of these 8 classic episodes. It seems that the final season of his show is so hated that, like a lot of revisionists, they want to act like it never happened. Well, that Halloween episode, "Satan, Darling", did happen, we include it here and it isn't ranked last.
So sit back and enjoy as we rank the Roseanne Halloween episodes. You might not agree with how this list is put together. It might even bother you that certain episodes are on here. However, what you can't deny is how great these Roseanne Halloween episodes are.
#8 - Halloween V
Of all the Roseanne Halloween episodes that are here to be reviewed, this one left me with the flattest feeling. Truthfully, aside from the Halloween props and decorations, this could've been another regular episode of Roseanne. Don't get me wrong, this episode isn't bad, as an episode of Roseanne it would be fine. However, we hold the Roseanne Halloween episodes to a much higher standard. Essentially, the crux of this episode is between David, Darlene and Roseanne and whether or not the two young lovers are cheating. However, mixed into this are the usual moments of Roseanne hilarity mashed with a hold-up (that may or may not be a legitimate) at Roseanne's place of business.
#7 - Satan, Darling
This episode is controversial among both the Roseanne faithful and the Roseanne Halloween faithful. The reality is that this show was ending was so why not be daring on the the final Halloween episode? The Connor family had won the lottery. The Midwestern folks who had been living hand to mouth now had more than they knew what to do with. In many ways this paralleled what had happened to Roseanne in real life. Okay, is Satan, Darling great? Well, I wouldn't exactly use that word. However, the way this Roseanne Halloween throws in cameos by the likes of Ariana Huffington, mashes it up with a fever dream of Rosemary's Baby (and also disses other shows of the time), lets us know that this Roseanne Halloween show may be different, but it's no less biting than the show was years prior.
#6 - Halloween: The Final Chapter
For those that want a glimpse of the old Roseanne Halloween shows... this is it! It starts with a seance around the Connor table and proceeds to basically become an episode around the newest addition to the Connor clan. Sure, this episode would feature some jokes and site gags that only the most devoted fan (and dramatist) would appreciate, but when Halloween: The Final Chapter works it is as good as any other Halloween episode on this list. Even as we see Roseanne move in and out of reality (as she gives birth to the new Connor child), we are enlivened by the spirit of Halloween that permeates every minute of this episode. Lastly, you gotta love the cameo by old Becky (Sarah Chalke) as one of the first visitors to the Connor abode on Halloween. In many ways, for legions of fans, this show could be seen as bittersweet.
#5 - Trick Me Up, Trick Me Down
The best part of this Roseanne Halloween show is how the stodgy neighbor Kathy Bowman gets her comeuppance. We open with her thinking that Roseanne has murdered Dan. Roseanne is then convinced that Kathy is going to play a trick on her. George Clooney is also in this episode (in a clandestine way) as he attempts to trick Aunt Jackie. Some people don't like this episode because it's not as zany or over the top as the other Halloween offerings. That view seems to be shortsighted. Roseanne always worked because we got precisely what we weren't expecting. Why, even on the scariest night of the year, would this groundbreaking show not shake things up?
#4 - Skeleton in the Closet
Roseanne goes as Prince, Dan goes as John Wayne and there are women at this party that may or may not be men. Honestly, this episode is a social experiment that is masquerading as a Roseanne Halloween show. The crux of this show is the idea that Aunt Jackie's husband is actually hiding the fact that he's gay. This idea plays throughout this episode and ultimately proves to be a non-starter, but that's not why it is ranked so highly. The material on Roseanne was always a cut above and this Halloween episode is a clear example of that. With strong performances from every cast member, an intriguing set up, "Skeleton in the Closet" unapologetically makes no bones about being able to tackle taboo subjects.
#3 - Trick Or Treat
Airing in 1990, this show Roseanne Halloween episode is groundbreaking. It isn't just because the make-up and effects look really superb. It's because Roseanne was tackling gender issues all under the safe guise of Halloween. First it's DJ wanting to go as a witch. Is Dan right or wrong in telling his son that only girls can be witches? Then there's Roseanne's costume party at the Lobo Lounge. She dresses up as a lumberjack and fools just about everybody. However, it is in fooling certain a Lobo patron that Roseanne really goes deep. What does it mean to be a man? A woman? And when Dan comes into rescue his "husband", things get even more interesting. A truly great show with something to say.
#2 - Halloween IV
Nestled comfortably in Season 5, "Halloween IV" takes the second spot for many reasons. In this episode Roseanne is just not into Halloween. With Becky away, she seems to truly be feeling like an empty nester. Roseanne gets a healthy dose of perspective when she is visited by the Ghosts of Halloween Past, Present and Future. More than just a really fun episode celebrating Halloween, this episode is a poetically crafted ode to time being the scariest thing of all. Roseanne, like all of us, is coming to terms with aging, change, and the fact that try as me might, we can't stay kids having fun on Halloween forever. As far as Roseanne Halloween episodes go, as far as TV episodes go... this is about as good as it gets.
#1 - BOO!
As this is the first Roseanne Halloween episode that the Connors gave us, it would have been easy say it wasn't as good as those that came after. However, this Halloween show debuted in Roseanne's second season. The show was really starting to hit its stride in terms of the actors being able to handle the material. Leave it to Roseanne to be scared half to death by a chainsaw wielding Dan Connor or have Aunt Jackie's head on a platter, but the ending of this show really sells it. Roseanne tricks Dan into thinking they are going to have some long term houseguests. This may sound simplistic but it works. The tone, vibe and overall Roseanne Halloween feeling of "Boo" is pitch perfect in every way. The love Roseanne Barr has for Halloween really shines through in this episode, and for the Connors first leap into the Halloween spirit, this episode really sets the tone and the bar for the rest of the Halloween-based episodes of the series.
What'd you think? Would you order these Roseanne Halloween episodes differently? Do you think that the show jumped the shark so badly that some of these episodes shouldn't even be on this list? Are there other landmark, TV shows with better Halloween offerings? Let us know your thoughts, ideas and dreams.