TV Trick-or-Treat: Halloween with McMillan and Wife, Bewitched, and More

by Karen A. Romanko

Halloween has been my favorite holiday since childhood, a particularly kid-centric occasion with no obligations other than having fun. The colorful costumes, the jack-o’-lanterns, the sacks of candy, not to mention being allowed to go out on a school night—I loved it all. I also looked forward to horror movies at the local theater and special Halloween episodes of my regular TV series.

I enjoy Halloween TV episodes to this day, both those from the classic series of my youth, and more modern entries. I particularly like shows that combine fun with light scares, and my all-time favorite in this category is “The Devil You Say,” a 1973 episode of McMillan & Wife, which I view each year during the Halloween season. It has everything you could ask for in a Halloween episode--a Satanic cult, past-life regression, trick-or-treaters, and a Queen of Witches, one who is thought to be slumbering in the body of Sally McMillan (Susan Saint James), if only the Satanic cult’s mysterious Halloween gifts would awaken her. If Serena, the witch/goddess, doesn’t awaken, poor Sally will be sacrificed during an elaborate ritual. Not to worry, though, as Sally’s dashing husband Mac (Rock Hudson) will arrive in the nick of time to save her. It’s the most Halloween fun with one of the most adorable TV couples ever!

Mac (Rock Hudson) unmasks the high priest (Werner Klemperer), while Sally (Susan Saint James) awaits rescue.

Yes, Halloween and witches go hand-in-hand, so it comes as no surprise that Bewitched had its share of Halloween episodes--five, in fact. “The Safe and Sane Halloween” (1967) has a kids-eye view of the holiday, where witchly toddler Tabatha Stephens (Erin Murphy) “twitches” a jack-o’-lantern, a gremlin, and a goblin out of her storybook and into the real world. The supernatural mischief-makers wreak havoc in the neighborhood, as they trick-or-treat with Tabatha (“Tabitha” in later episodes) and her mother Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery), who uses her powers to thwart their shenanigans. The little ghouls up the ante further, when the jack-o’-lantern switches places with Tommy (Bobby Riha), who is wearing a jack-o’-lantern costume, and just happens to be the nephew of Samantha’s buttinsky neighbor Gladys Kravitz (Sandra Gould). When Gladys thinks her nephew has just floated his jack-o’-lantern head around her living room, well--poor Gladys! This episode is a definite hoot for adults, but might creep out the little ones.

Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) and Tabatha (Erin Murphy) with their storybook friends

Other favorites:

“Mr. Monk Goes Home Again,” a 2005 episode of Monk, which uses the October holiday to good advantage in a murder mystery involving poisoned Halloween candy that also explores the complicated family relationships of consulting detective Adrian Monk (Tony Shalhoub).

“Halloween with the Addams Family” (1964), wherein everyone’s favorite “ooky” clan, The Addams Family, celebrates the day that is tailor-made for their “mysterious and spooky” ways. Don’t miss the moment when the Addams children, Pugsley (Ken Weatherwax) and Wednesday (Lisa Loring), dressed as normals (almost), but fearful that their Halloween costumes are too scary, recite in eerie unison, “Do not be alarmed. We are only little children.” Hilarious!

What are your favorite Halloween TV episodes? Please share them in the comments.

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