Halloween is the first major fall holiday. People go out and spend money on ridiculous costumes, pumpkin flavored everything and obscene amounts of candy. Another classic Halloween tradition is Halloween-themed movies. To some, that means something so terrifying that sleeping becomes virtually impossible. Either way, Halloween movies and television shows start to dominate the networks almost as soon as October begins.
Each network has a different way of paying tribute to Halloween. Some networks do it better than others. ABC, NBC and CBS all have similar programming when it comes to Halloween coverage. These three networks have the same basic framework; news, local news, and their usual episodic series. For that reason, they usually do not show movies. Around Christmas one of the networks will usually play It’s a Wonderful Life, but Halloween does not get special treatment.
NBC and CBS did not go out of their way to plan any Halloween specials. Instead, their normal shows will have Halloween themed episodes. CBS, the network airing Criminal Minds, usually delivers an exceptionally creepy episode before Halloween. NBC’s fantasy show, Grimm, had its season premiere on Oct. 25, followed by the series premiere of Dracula. It’s good timing on NBC’s part, allowing them to take full advantage of Halloween in both premieres.
ABC also has two fantasy based shows that will surely have Halloween themed episodes. Once Upon A Time aired on Sunday, and the new spinoff, Once Upon a Time in Wonderland is on Thursdays at 8 p.m. During Halloween though, that time slot on ABC will be filled by a true Halloween classic: It’s the Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown. ABC also had another Halloween special, Toy Story of Terror, that aired on Oct. 19, first on ABC and then on ABC Family.
While other networks are great if you’re looking for a Halloween-themed episode of your favorite show, ABC Family beats them all. Known for its “25 Days of Christmas” programming, ABC Family also does “13 Nights of Halloween.” Starting on October 19 for 13 nights, ABC Family plays classic (and some non-classic) Halloween-themed movies. Their interpretation of “Halloween-themed” is rather loose in some cases, but generally, they deliver some good programming.
This includes several Tim Burton movies, such as Beetlejuice and Coraline. Other movies played include Batman, The Addams Family, Scooby-Doo, Harry Potter and I Know What You Did Last Summer. Also, one of the most popular Halloween movies of all time, Hocus Pocus, aired this past Sunday.
Most of the movies are shown several times, giving viewers multiple chances to watch. ABC Family also traditionally has a Halloween themed episode of their hit show Pretty Little Liars. Pretty Little Liars is normally creepy, but the Halloween episodes take it to a whole new level. This season’s episode aired on Oct. 22, but will be shown two more times during the “13 Nights of Halloween.” To be honest, it is probably the scariest programming during the 13 days.
Many other channels are airing Halloween themed movies or shows. The Food Network does several themed competitions called Halloween Wars that pit cake decorators, pumpkin carvers and candy artisans against each other in Halloween themed contests. While impressive, the end results usually do not look as delicious as anything made during extreme gingerbread house competitions. FX airs an episode of American Horror Story on October 30, which is sure to be more disturbing than usual. Watch with caution. The CW is taking advantage of Halloween to do a themed episode of The Vampire Diaries, but interestingly Supernatural looks to be a lighter episode than usual.
AMC is following in the steps of ABC Family, and running mostly Halloween movies. There is a major difference though. AMC focuses more on the classic horror of the holiday and does not cater to a family-friendly viewing. Examples include Aliens, Chucky, Friday the 13th, The Omen triology, Amityville Horror and on Halloween, a marathon of the Halloween movies.
The Walking Dead, which made its series premier on Halloween, is on as usual, fitting in perfectly with AMC’s programming. The Disney Channel, once the home of fantastic Disney Channel original movies, continues to be a disappointment to our generation. None of their classic Halloween movies, such as Halloween-town, will be on.
With Halloween, the season of TV specials begins. FOX has not forgotten about Halloween, but instead has something else to draw in viewers. FOX is hosting the World Series and as a result all of its programming Halloween week is dictated by the possibility of having to air games. On Friday, Oct. 25, The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror aired at a special time as a result of the World Series.