Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Circle Takes the Square, Florence Henderson Takes a Hit, and The Paul Lynde Halloween Special Takes Your Soul

Every October for nearly a decade straight, until I lost access to cable, I would unwrap a new VHS tape and park it in my VCR (lol OLD!! wtf) and leave it there for the duration of the month or until I'd manage to fill it up with 6-to-8 hours of holiday programming. Months later when my craving returned, I would revisit my growing collection and soak up as much creepy cathode nonsense as I could to carry me through the spring and summer months.

In the early years of this practice I was largely indiscriminate, setting the VCR timer to grab anything even remotely Hallowesque. The resulting surplus of Big Wolf on Campus episodes eventually convinced me to be a little more selective with my archiving, which made the whole process a little more challenging, but also equally rewarding. There's a goldmine of endearing, thematically rich Halloween TV specials waiting to be discovered if you're willing to wade through all of the Travel Channel's Most Haunted Outhouses and Phone Booths specials and Emeril's Gourmet Gourds on the Food Network.

The Paul Lynde Halloween Special is not one of them.

You'll find no perennial viewing material here; just a cantankerous game show host in a bat bow-tie and a musical performance by a Florence Henderson so visibly doped she doesn't notice that she's about to inhale the camera.

Along the way, Carol Burnett Show alumni like Betty White and Tim Conway show up to remind people that it's only 1976 and they're not dead yet, even though their careers might as well be. Oh yeah, and KISS make their television debut lip-synching to "Detroit Rock City," displaying chest hair so substantial the likes of which would not be seen again on network TV until Knight Rider.

Pop cultists have for years pointed to the Star Wars Holiday Special as the single worst piece of programming ever aired, but that's only because the Paul Lynde Halloween Special has been missing since its original broadcast date. Rescued from Lynde's derelict Winnebago in Fullerton, the only surviving master tape has now been "restored" and digitized so that all future generations can enjoy 51 incessant minutes of Lynde's snide quips backed up by disco numbers.


  1. Tom G said...

    I've never heard of this until now. I need to own it now. I have a group of friends who must suffer through it with me!