We’re down to the final week before Halloween now, with the holiday starting to consume our TV sets.
There are plenty of scary series. They include “Chucky” (a separate story is at the bottom of this one) at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on USA and Syfy; “American Horror Story,” at 10 p.m. Wednesdays on FX; “Evil,” any time on Paramount+; and an abundance on AMC – “Creepshow,” 10 p.m. Mondays; “Eli Roth’s History of Horror,” 10 p.m. Fridays; and “Fear the Walking Dead” and “Walking Dead: World Beyond,” 9 and 10 p.m. Sundays.
And there are the scary movies on AMC and beyond. Some streamers – Shudder, Screambox. Bloody Disgusting – specialize in them.
But now let’s sample the light side. The original version of this story had a “13 days of Halloween” scope. Now I’m shortening that, to include only the final week, Oct. 25-31:
Fun side: series and specials
– Any time: Disney+ has the genial new “Muppets Haunted Mansion” (shown here). It also has “Just Beyond,” an anthology of R.L. Stine stories.
– Weekdays: “Worst Witch” is 4 and 4:35 p.m. on the Disney Channel.
– Wednesday: Freeform reruns the oft-clever “Treehouse of Horror” episodes from “The Simpsons.” That’s 8-11 p.m. and midnight to 2 a.m.
– Thursday: Two comedies are especially good at bringing the fun back to ghastly or toothy behavior: “Ghosts” is 9 p.m. on CBS; “What We Do in the Shadows” has its season-finale at 10 p.m. on FX.
– Friday: Freeform has marathons of Halloween-themed “Family Guy” episodes, from 8-11 p.m.
— Saturday: “The Ghost and Molly McGee” is 6-9 p.m. on Disney, starting with its first episode.
— Sunday: “Killer Camp” (9 p.m., CW) is a goofy reality show that’s fun for anyone who’s seen too many horror films. Contestants face challenges and are eliminated, just like any other show … except there’s a grisly story describing the death. Also, one of the campers is a mole, helping the killer.
– ALSO: ABC has its turn, from 8-10 p.m. On Oct. 25, it’s “Dancing With the Stars”; on Oct. 27, it’s “The Goldbergs,” “The Wonder Years,” “The Conners” and “Home Economics.”
And fun movies
Turner Classic Movies hasYoung Frankenstein” at 9:30 p.m. Saturday. But mostly, this is dominated by Disney-owned channels.
The Disney Channel has remade “Under Wraps,” its 1997 film about teens who inadvertently bring a mummy to life. That’s 7 p.m., Wednesday; and noon Sunday. It also has “Zombies 2” (2019), 5:30 p.m., Friday.
And the real deluge of light movies is on Freeform, which obsesses on the holiday. Favorites include:
– “Hocus Pocus”(1993), at 9 p.m., Thursday; 8:50 p.m., Saturday and 2:35 and 9:20 p.m., Sunday.
— “Ghostbusters” (1984), 4 p.m., Thursday; 8 a.m., Saturday; and 11:30 p.m., Sunday.
– The first two “Men in Black” films (1997 and 2002); they’re 10:30 a.m. and 12:35 p.m. Saturday. Also, the first two “Goosebumps” reboots (2015 and 2018) are at 2:35 and 5:05 p.m., Saturday and 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. Sunay.
(And now we’ll go back to the dark side. In case you missed it earlier, here’s the story I posted about the new “Chucky” series, at 10 p.m. Tuesdays on USA and Syfy.)
There are limits, it seems, to the “take your daughter to work” idea.
Just ask Brad Dourif about the time his daughter Fiona visited, when he was voicing Chucky (the killer doll) for a “Child’s Play” movie.
“When she was very young, she came to the studio,” he told the Television Critics Association. That day, he was “screaming and yelling as I was being burned to death. And you can’t do that halfway ….
“So I was screaming in agony. And she heard this and went white as a sheet and ran out of the studio.”
It was one of many strange moments in a horror tale that has persisted for 33 years, eight movies and now an eight-week “Chucky” series (10 p.m. Tuesdays on cable’s USA and Syfy channels), part of cable’s horror obsession each October.
Dourif, already an Oscar-nominee for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” did the original “Child Play” in 1988; with one exception, he’s been Chucky’s voice ever since. “I’m 71, so I have to constantly adjust for how my voice is,” he said.
And Fiona? No longer fleeing the room, she’s played Nica (Chucky’s paraplegic foe) in two movies and will return to the role in some of the series episodes.
The original film arrived nine days after Halloween. Fiona (born on the eve of Halloween in 1981) had just turned seven.
The idea came from Don Mancini, then a young scriptwriter amused by the fuss made over Cabbage Patch Kids and other dolls. He hoped to have a series about a killer doll; United Artists, then wobbling financially, planned it as a low-budget horror film.
Then word came that an Australian company was buying UA and wouldn’t do horror. UA dropped out; urges by Steven Spielberg, Universal took over. For 30-plus years, Chucky has had modest profits in movies … plus a videogame, a theme-park ride and this show on two of Universal’s cable channels.
(Ironically, the Aussie company never closed the deal and soon went bankrupt. So did UA, but it’s been revived several times since then.)
Throughout it all, Mancini has remained as the writer and creative force. The series – set in an idyllic town – has a chance to flash back to Chucky’s roots. “Exploring Charles Lee Ray’s origins has been something the fans have wanted to see and have been asking for, literally for decades,” he said.
Now the series lets him do that, he said. “Having so much storytelling real estate – eight hours of
‘Chucky’ – provided such a great opportunity for exploring that stuff,” he said.
He still has Dourif voicing Chucky and Jennifer Tilly as Tiffany Valentine. “Tiffany dies every single movie and she just keeps coming back,” Tilly said. “Chucky does, too.”
Despite the new setting, other previous characters show up.
“In the second half (of the series), Fiona Dourif comes in” as Nica, Tilly said. Also returning, she said, are Alex Vincent as Andy Barclay and Christine Elise as Kyle. “It goes bonkers from this point.”
Well, it’s always at least semi-bonkers. In Fiona’s first “Chucky” film (in 2013), the doll killed her sister and chased her; in the second, she was in a mental institution.
Tilly figures it must be “really strange hearing the voice of (her) dad going, ‘I’m going to kill you.’”
Replied Brad Dourif: “Nah, she’s heard that before.”