One of the best parts about a holiday special is how it can become part of your holiday traditions. For example, last year’s Solar Opposite Christmas Special will be on every December at my house moving forwards. The episode took the premise of Jingle All the Way and twisted it into an extremely dark conclusion of their own making. Sadly, the Halloween Special lacks that oomph, leaving it in the pile of merely “okay “episodes.
Korvo (Justin Roiland) is deathly afraid of Halloween. Even the simple combination of a Happy Halloween banner and plastic spider rings are enough to launch him into a shotgun-wielding frenzy. The family unit reaches an impasse when Terry (Thomas Middleditch) and Jesse (Mary Mack) want to participate in the neighborhood decoration contest dubbed Candy Corn Lane. Korvo reluctantly agrees they can have one decoration, while Terry and Jesse end up creating a real-life ‘Tales from the Crypt’ Crypt-Keeper who spouts bad puns and cliched scary story premises, and the hilarity is infrequent from here on out.
The episode’s premise is already thin and is further stretched out along the way. But maybe that’s the point. The idea here is that the writers have one “decoration” to pad out the entire episode. John Kassir, the original voice actor of the macabre Storyteller, reprises his role. It’s a nice touch but it quickly settles into Family Guy territory where pop culture references are turned into throwaway gags, much like the Great Pumpkin’s inclusion in this episode. I thought the climax of the episode was building to The Shining maze sequence but then it quickly devolved into an inconsistent set piece with garish mannequins from Disney’s Frozen, the Chucky Cheese animatronics, and a pumpkin patch. However, the episode builds to a humorous, if not sad, confrontation that’s resolved by an existential crisis.
Adding to the episode’s lack of focus, Yamulack (Sean Giambrone) dies and has a stint in Hell. The use of black and white is a refreshing change of pace but feels out of place given everything else happening in this episode. The hellspawn designs are pretty cool – the demon with a goat head on top of a peacock’s body was my favorite – but the writers don’t fully take advantage of the scenario.
Overall, the Halloween special is a mishmash of ideas and references cobbled together, resulting in a Frankenstein’s monster of an episode, which if nothing else is on theme for the month of October.
The Solar Opposites Halloween special premieres on October 3, 2022 on Hulu and Disney+.