My Favorite Halloween Episode: Freaks and Geeks’ “Tricks and Treats”

I assume that Judd Apatow and Paul Feig’s sublime Freaks and Geeks is a favorite round the Retroist, both for its coming-of-age subject matter and its 1980 suburban setting. I personally hold it out as one of the finest shows ever made, and probably the most realistic (and if I’m honest, uncomfortable) portrayal of awkward adolescence ever filmed. Much of the humor walks a thin line between laugh-out-loud funny and cringe-inducing embarrassment. Which is a pretty much perfect summation for that time in most people’s lives.

I’m happy to say that I was involved in the initial fan drive to get the series to DVD, a process made nightmarish by the need to license the show’s phenomenal soundtrack, and the producers’ spot-on refusal to release the show without it. Eventually Shout! Factory released a superb DVD set that I snapped up immediately, and I’ve held an annual marathon viewing ever since.

I always time my viewing so that the third episode “Tricks and Treats” falls on Halloween. There’s no ghostbusting or monsters (other than bullies and teen angst), but it’s a great chapter of a great series, and it happens to be my favorite Halloween TV episode of all time. There’s so much good stuff here it’s hard to sum it up: Sam’s angst that he might be getting too old to go trick-or-treating, Lindsey’s guilt about not wanting to hang out with her mom like they’ve always done, mixed with fear that she’s not being cool enough around her friends, Kim Kelly relentlessly antagonizing her future best friend, Ms. Weir’s crushing disappointment that “stranger danger” paranoia is leading parents to throw away her home-made treats, Lindsey’s adorable descent into juvenile delinquency, which turns to horror when she eggs her own brother (who’s already had the worst night ever).

Can you tell I like this show? I’ll even forgive them trying to portray dusk in late October in Michigan as being around 7:30.

Whether you’ve already seen it or not, check out Freaks and Geeks this month, and treat yourself to one of the best shows in the history of television. It’s on Netflix Instant Watch now, so you’ve got no excuse!


Privateer, grenadier, raconteur. In the midwestiest place on earth.

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6 thoughts on “My Favorite Halloween Episode: Freaks and Geeks’ “Tricks and Treats”

  1. This is also one of my favorite shows and this is one of my favorite episodes. My favorite one though is the one where Sammy comes home to find his mother and father have bought them an ATARI after finding out that his friends father is cheating on his mother. Tears every time.

  2. mwentworth says:

    I started rewatching these last week. On second viewing of the first episode, I was struck by the thought that it may be my favorite “pilot” of all time.

  3. @Manny Yes indeed. This was really an effective coming-of-age drama dressed up as a comedy.

    @mwentworth Indeed. The pilot is indeed almost perfect. I think the finale is perfect. And it’s where I got my “Carlos The Dwarf” handle from.

  4. Atari Adventure Square says:

    A great ep for a great show…uh…indeed.

    This was television at its finest. Just honestly-talented folks getting together and bringing a loving memory of childhood to life (the totally-unrelated intro in this ep is just brilliant).

    I know Wonder Years gets all the kudos – and it was a good show – but somehow F&G spoke to me directly because all the characters seemed penned from my own life (and by extension, my friends’ lives who I saw reflected in that show).

    This Halloween episode is a treat for the reasons you mentioned, Carlos.
    I like how the brother and sister evolve, in a way, and while they kind of get back to normalcy by the end, there’s still that distance that inevitably happens with siblings’ age-related interests, friends, wants and “do-not-wants”.

    It was a shame that the show didn’t last.
    But I’d say it’s even more of a shame we here take the approach of bleeding a TV show dry, rarely resolving the issues and stories brought up.
    Freaks & Geeks would’ve made a killer miniseries, if it’d been planned out that way.

    It still is, in a way, since no kidnapping/invasion/rescue scenario is at stake.
    Just plain, old, extraordinary teenage life.

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