Halloween On Frasier

Monday, October 31, 2022

Suppose you were to watch a sitcom from the 90s that depicted a holiday, especially Halloween.  In that case, you'd likely see great, elaborate costumes on the characters as they attend heavily decorated house parties filled with Halloween spirit.  The houses would be filled with cobwebs, pumpkins, skeletons, witches, black cats, and more.  Halloween was considered a special event on those shows, and it's how I feel that Halloween should have been in real life.

Given how much we all watched television as kids, many of us collectively feel that's how it really happened anyway.  

Honestly, though, we all had homemade costumes cobbled together at nearly the last minute or the very rare store-bought outfit.  We’d collect a small amount of candy and call it a night after hitting the 15 houses on our block before returning home to watch those Halloween specials we now all cherish.  

Don’t get me wrong, I had many fun Halloweens on which I look back fondly.  Especially that one year my parents got the itch and had a Halloween party with all of the kids from school.  My Mom came up with games and activities, and Dad made this elaborate haunted house in the garage that everyone loved.  They never did that again, and in a way, that makes that one time even more special.

Sitcoms in the 80s and 90s got the holidays right, and that's why for the past two years, I've covered classic sitcoms and their special holiday episodes.  You can find the series on Home Improvement and Roseanne in the Collections Section whenever you want, or click HERE for HOME IMPROVEMENT or HERE for ROSEANNE

This year, I've selected another classic sitcom of the 90s that my family always enjoyed watching together:  Frasier!  

Now, I know when you think of Frasier, Halloween doesn't immediately come to mind, especially when compared to Roseanne or Home Improvement.  However, there were a handful of memorable episodes that celebrated the season and even one that is often described as "iconic" or "classic" that makes many people's "Top 5" episode lists.

With the recent news of the Frasier "reboot" sequel series being greenlit on Paramount Plus, I thought the original series would be an excellent choice for our focus this year in the "Holidays On..." series.

Frasier was created as a spin-off of the classic sitcom Cheers, continuing the story of psychiatrist Frasier Crane, played by Kelsey Grammer.  He returns to his hometown of Seattle as a talk radio host, where he reconnects with his father (John Mahoney) and his younger brother, Niles (David Hyde Pierce).  Jane Leeves appeared as Daphne Moon, Martin's live-in caregiver, and Peri Gilpin played Frasier's friend and producer, Roz Doyle. 

Frasier aired on NBC between September 1993 to May 1994.  Originally airing after Seinfeld on Thursdays at 9:30 PM, the network showed its faith in the series by moving the show to Tuesdays to go head-to-head with rating juggernaut Roseanne.  In 1998, the show was moved back to Thursdays, taking over the timeslot at 9 PM long held by the recently concluded Seinfeld. 

The show produced 264 episodes over eleven seasons, receiving critical acclaim for its writing and humor.  The series amassed 318 nominations for a variety of industry awards, including 108 Emmy awards (with 37 wins), 24 Golden Globe Awards (with two wins), 26 Screen Actors Guild Awards (with 2 wins), 11 TCA Awards (with five wins), 9 Writers Guild of America awards (with six wins), and 9 Directors Guild of America awards (with two wins).

My Mom and Dad were big fans of Frasier, and I frequently watched along with them.  I didn't understand most of the humor as a younger kid, but I enjoyed laughing with my parents.  One episode, in particular, involved Niles pre-dialing "9-1-1" into his cellphone and was just waiting to hit send while he, Frasier, and Martin sat in their car in a sketchy neighborhood.  We were practically rolling at that scene, and it was one of several times Granny could hear us from next door.

I didn't start watching Frasier seriously until much later in life.  When The Hallmark Channel began airing Frasier later at right, for some time, it was all my wife and I watched as we headed to bed.

Frasier is often called "high brow" because its titular character frequently discusses things like wine and the opera.  Still, one just has to watch a handful of episodes to see that it contains slapstick and plenty of childish "low-brow" humor.  Much like its predecessor, Cheers, Frasier often used tongue-in-cheek humor filled with double entendres that appealed to high and low-brow audiences.  

Like in our previous look-backs at other sitcoms, not every episode at the end of October covered, or even mentioned, Halloween.  As a matter of fact, only three episodes in the eleven-season series centered around the Halloween holiday.  

Get ready because here's a quick look at those three Frasier Halloween episodes.  

Fair warning, even though it's been nearly 30 years, there are spoilers below:

Halloween Retro RePost: 5 Halloween YouTube Videos

Friday, October 28, 2022

For this Friday's Halloween Retro RePost, I thought I'd pop in a quick link to some Halloween content.  With Halloween coming up in just a few days, we're well into the home stretch, and I'll admit, with McDonald's releasing the Halloween pails, I feel like we've been given a much needed Halloween vibe injection.  If you're looking for something to get you in the mood this weekend, check out these 5 videos available for free on YouTube to get you in the spirit!  

Typically, these kinds of videos would be found in the Drive-In section, but admittedly, I'm a little lax in posting over there, so last year, I concentrated five of them into a single post.

This is a great little collection of videos, including the infamous Paul Lynde Halloween Special!  You'll also find TWO different Elvira videos, like her unaired pilot episode of a sitcom that never got off the ground.

You'll also be able to watch (or rewatch) Garfield's Halloween Adventure, which we discussed in detail on Monday's feature!  

Creepy Cartoons: Garfield's Halloween Adventure

Monday, October 24, 2022

Every holiday season, I like to look back at a classic cartoon of yesteryear.  Some part of me feels like it's not really the holiday season until I watch a particular movie or cartoon special, and nothing makes me feel like I've gone back to my childhood more than watching a classic cartoon special.  Each year, I write about a holiday television special in a series that I call "A Cartoon Christmas."  

Last year, I covered "A Flintstones Christmas" from 1977, which you can check out HERE

I thought I'd expand that series this year into "Creepy Cartoons" for the Halloween season.  The toons aren't that creepy, but it goes with the Halloween theme, and I like alliteration.  Besides, it's my website, so I make the rules.  

Since I covered Garfield's Thanksgiving a few years back (click HERE for that), perhaps I'll start a "Cartoon Cornucopia" for Thanksgiving?  Well, we'll see.

Back to the holiday currently at hand, there are many incredible Halloween cartoons from the past to choose from.  This year, I've selected one that scared the pants off of me as a little kid when I first saw it, likely at 4 or 5 in 1988 or '89.  

Garfield's Halloween Adventure! 

I've discovered I wasn't alone in being scared silly.  AVClub.com has a long article about how the special, specifically the final scenes, was terrifying for most children.  

Originally titled Garfield in Disguise when it debuted on television in 1985, the special was renamed to Garfield's Halloween Adventure the following year.  The Garfield in Disguise title was still used for the book adaptation released simultaneously, although, in later reprints, the name was switched to match the animated special.  

I had several of those books as a kid and always kept the stack of them on the bookshelf built into my bed's headboard because I liked to read all the holiday ones repeatedly.  If you're interested in reading about any other Garfield television specials, you can read the brief synopsis I wrote about my 5 Favorite Specials HERE.  

We're here to talk specifically about Garfield's Halloween Adventure today, so let's get started!

Halloween Retro RePost: Daffy Duck's Quackbusters

Friday, October 21, 2022

Growing up in the late 80s, I was a big fan of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon.  Even earlier than that, I was a giant fan of the Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie to the point my parents (at my insistence) bought me a rubber carrot dog toy to play with, so I could be just like Bugs Bunny.  I was probably 4 or 5 at the time.

Knowing I was a big fan of both, one day, my Mom brought home a video from the town library that combined the two:  Daffy Duck's Quackbusters!  

Daffy Duck's Quackbusters is a 1988 Looney Tunes compilation movie starring Daffy Duck and other classic Looney Tunes characters.  In the 80s, Warner Bros. was combining newly-animated footage and linking them with classic Warner Bros. cartoons to make one longer movie, such as "The Bugs Bunny/Road Runner Movie" and "Daffy Duck's Fantastic Island."  Quackbusters was the last in the compilation series and the final theatrical release until "Space Jam" almost a decade later.  

It was also Mel Blanc's next-to-last performance in a Looney Tunes project before his passing.

As a fun stroll down memory lane for our Friday Halloween Repost, I thought you might enjoy reading about Daffy and the Quackbusters from 1988!  

Five Spooky Halloween TV Commercials

Monday, October 17, 2022

Commercials have this weird ability to take you back to a time and place from yesteryear.  There really isn't much more nostalgia than watching an old commercial.  You'll see stuff you loved or maybe stuff you forgot that you once loved.  Occasionally, you'll see something you didn't know existed until some random guy posted it to YouTube 30 years later, but now that you've seen it, you feel like you missed out on something important.  

It's not just the grainy low-resolution footage, compared to the crystal clear digital visuals of 2022, but the subject of the advertisement itself.  

You may find a toy you once had or food or snacks you used to enjoy in the cafeteria at school.  The television shows or movies you watched with friends or the stores in the mall that no longer exist.  All of it, just the way we remember it.  The way things used to be and, frankly, the way they still should be.  

When watching retro stuff on YouTube, one of my favorite things to do when I have a rare moment of free time is to watch a collection of commercials that some saint took the time to edit and put on the internet.  Watching this "found footage" on YouTube, dubbed from someone else's home videotapes, brings me right back to when I was a kid.  

Yes, advertising executives and marketing masters targeted my age group then, but I feel they certainly put more effort into things back in those days.  Now, both adult and children commercials, on the rare occasion I watch them, feel like, "Hey, here's our product, just buy it on Amazon."  

In the 90s, pizazz, a hook, catch or jingle, made these commercials memorable.  Go ahead, sing three jingles from an 80s or 90s commercial.  Now try to sing three from commercials made in the last 10 years.  I'll wait.

I've talked before about the importance of commercials to my generation, so feel free to check out my collections section and the "Commercials of YesterYear."  You'll find articles featuring things like "Beautiful" Mount Airy Lodge, Pace "New York City?!" Salsa, and "Sunday, Sunday, Sunday!" of auto racing!  

When I was a kid and we'd record something, often Dad would hit the pause button during commercials to save space on the tape.  Oh, the horrors we suffered under before the days of unlimited cloud storage.  Most of the remaining VHS tapes I have are missing the commercials, but occasionally when I pop one into the VCR, I'll come across a handful of old commercials.   

By the way, Dad hitting pause during the commercial breaks was similar to when he created his own edited version of Ghostbusters just for me.  He knew that as a 4 or 5 year old I was obsessed with The Real Ghostbusters cartoon and the Kenner action figures and desperately wanted to see the 1984 Ghostbusters film.  The movie, though, was a little too adult for a child that age.  

So, one night he watched the movie with pen, paper, and a stopwatch in hand and took notes of any profanity or scenes that were too scary for such a wee one.  He somehow got a hold of a second VCR, in 1988 or 1989 mind you, and dubbed the tape onto a blank VHS cassette.  He'd hit mute or he'd pause the recording during any scenes or moments on his list, producing his own version of an edited film.  I'd say I only got to watch about 45 minutes of the 105 minute movie, but in the end I was able to watch the film I so desired.  That's the dedication of a father right there.  

Thanks, Dad.

Holiday commercials seem to be even more nostalgic than some of the rest.  Maybe it's because of the increased amount of holiday television specials we all watched back then, but I have an easier time remembering the holiday ads.  Around Christmas, I always look forward to seeing the Hershey Kisses bells or the M&M "Santa Claus is real" ads.  

Halloween is no different and there are hundreds of memorable ones.  I don't have the time to write about that many, so I picked 5 of my favorite Halloween commercials of Yester Year.  I'm not sure just how "spooky" these are, but they definitely give off that great retro Halloween vibe.

I can't wait to dig into them, so let's start!

Halloween Retro RePost: Pepsi's Universal Monsters and Coca Cola's Monsters of the Grid Iron

Friday, October 14, 2022

Based on Monday's post about Elvira's relationship with Pepsi, I thought today would be a great opportunity to repost some Pepsi and Coke-related Halloween-themed trading cards!  

First, PLEASE CLICK HERE to take a look at the complete set of 1994's Pepsi's Universal Party Monsters trading cards!  

Second, PLEASE CLICK HERE to view a pack of 1994's Coca-Cola Monsters of the Grid-Iron trading cards!  

If you'd like to hear more about Monsters of the Grid Iron, and why it's so important to me, please click over TO THIS LINK and read the second article I ever wrote about this wonderful Halloween promotion.  

I've also added some fun Elvira and Pepsi Monster Match content to the Video Drive-In for this week, if you have a few spare minutes to watch some fun retro content!

Go Psycho with Elvira and Pepsi

Monday, October 10, 2022

It's finally time for my annual Elvira article!  

To be honest, I've been looking forward to this one all year.  I'm pretty proud of my Elvira coverage over the past few years on this here little website, and if you'd like, you can go back and read past articles about the Mistress of the Dark in my "Collections" section found at the top of the site.  

My previous articles have gone quite in-depth and I've written some lengthy, information-packed articles regarding Elvira, whether it be her exploits in the world of professional wrestling, movies, Coors Beer, or Fox's Halloween Bash.  

A small percentage of you are out there asking yourself, just who is this Elvira he's talking about?  Well, I'll tell you. 

Cassandra Peterson grew up in Manhattan, Kansas, and moved to Las Vegas at 17 to become a showgirl at The Dunes casino.  10 years later, in 1979, after spending time touring Europe, she moved to Los Angeles to join the famed improvisational comedy group, The Groundlings.  During her time with The Groundlings, she created and developed the "valley girl" character that would later morph into her most famous role, "The Mistress of the Dark," Elvira.

In 1981, Peterson answered a casting call to replace the long-time host Sinister Seymour (Larry Vincent) on a Los Angeles-based weekend horror movie television show called Fright Night.  Producers allowed her to create her own image for the role, and using the "valley girl" character from The Groundlings, she made the campy, sexy vampire character now known worldwide as Elvira.  

Fright Night would become Elvira's Movie Macabre and was practically an overnight success... at least locally.  Elvira the character would eventually evolve from a popular local figure to a lucrative worldwide brand.  She quickly sold Halloween costumes, comic books, action figures, trading cards, and more.  Her popularity peaked when, in the late 80s, she appeared as the spokesperson for the Coors beer company.  In 1988, she also wrote and starred in a full-length feature film Elvira:  Mistress of the Dark, cementing herself as a global name.

After several years of attempts to make a sequel to Elvira: Mistress of the Dark, Cassandra and her manager (and then-husband Mark Pierson) decided to finance a second movie themselves.  In July 2002, Elvira's Haunted Hills officially premiered in Hollywood.  

In the years since, Elvira has revived her Movie Macabre tv show, created a cartoon, and performed as a spokesperson for various products.  

Just as Elvira's popularity surged due to the release of Mistress of the Dark, urban legends about satanic cults began sweeping the nation.  Suburban housewives and the ratings hungry news-media started spreading stories that cults were abducting and poisoning children at alarming rates in the woods surrounding suburban homes.  

The very religious Coors family worried their company would become a target of early cancel culture due to these cult rumors and their "Mistress of the Dark" spokeswoman.  Despite its unbelievable success, Coors killed the Elvira ad campaign right before Halloween in 1988.

It just so happened shortly thereafter that the soda giant Pepsi had recently launched two new brands of soft drinks and was looking for a celebrity to boost their market awareness.  Along with a partnership with Universal Studios that lasted several Halloweens, Pepsi turned to Elvira to launch their new campaign.   

With this brief partnership with Pepsi at the end of the 1980s, she created a pair of memorable commercial that combines soda, an iconic Alfred Hitchcock movie, and classic Halloween monsters.  

Let's take a deeper look, shall we?

Halloween Retro RePost: My ABC'S Of Halloween

Friday, October 7, 2022

Since Halloween is a big month for us retro nerds, I'll be posting some extra content on Friday mornings featuring some articles I wrote in years past.  

One that never got much attention, maybe because it's a relatively simple post, was my ABCs of Halloween.  Based on a little game that the fellas at The Retro Network would play from time to time, the "ABCs of (insert anything)" would generate conversation and memories as you had to associate a letter with an event, person, place, or thing.  

For a simplified example, for Halloween, W is for Witch.  Easy enough and a fun little exercise.  Can you come up with your own list?  Share it here or drop me a line; I'd love to know what you come up with!

Please check out my post from two years ago by CLICKING HERE TO READ MY ABCs OF HALLOWEEN.  

Five of McDonald's Best Halloween Promotions

Monday, October 3, 2022

It's no shock to longtime readers of this site, but it's something people don't often mention these days for fear of social ostracising.  So here goes my confession:  I am a huge fan of McDonald's.  

Sure, their food isn't healthy and yes the menu isn't nearly as good as many restaurants, but the Golden Arches will always hold a special place in my heart.  

My Mom would take me on occasional weekday afternoons or Saturday mornings while running errands and it was a special treat that always meant a lot to me.  When I was young, my family often ordered Chinese food on Fridays or special events like birthdays when we did take-out for dinner.  I didn't like Chinese food as a kid, so my parents would always take a special trip to the drive-thru at McDonald's for a cheeseburger and fries just for me.  

Thinking back on McDonald's reminds me of those trips with Mom when I was really young or those Christmas mornings looking forward to the gift certificate coupon booklets in my stocking, WHICH YOU CAN READ ABOUT HERE.

My wife reminded me a few weeks ago about another special memory of McDonald's that hadn't occurred to me in over a decade.  It turns out that when we both first learned to drive, the McDonald's drive-thru was one of the first places we headed to in order to feel more like "an adult."  We used our newfound independence by ordering our own meals from the driver's seat for the first time.

With the recent news that the McDonald's Halloween Happy Meal Pails are coming back, I thought it'd be a great time to open up our 2022 Halloween season by looking back at 5 of McDonald's classic Halloween promotions. 

So, without further ado, let's get into what I consider Five of McDonald's Best Halloween Promotions!