The cool thing about the Halloween season is that EVERYONE suddenly embraces and celebrates the things we love all year round. Non-horror television shows have proven to be no exception to that rule over the years, often getting their horror on in the weeks leading into the greatest holiday of the year. No show did Halloween better than Roseanne, but that’s not to say there aren’t other gems out there.
The King of Queens aired for nearly a full decade on CBS, and only one Halloween special can be found when perusing the whopping 207 episodes that comprised the show’s nine seasons. Titled ‘Ticker Treat,’ the sixth episode of the fourth season premiered on October 29th, 2001, and while families across the country were celebrating the impending holiday on that night, so too were Doug and Carrie Heffernan.
Well. Sort of.
At the start of ‘Ticker Treat,’ Doug and fellow IPS driver Deacon Palmer stop off at a convenience store to stock up on Halloween goodies – Deacon is trying to find a costume for his six-year-old son while Doug, in typical Doug fashion, is only concerned with loading up on way too much candy. Per Deacon’s insistence, Doug also purchases a pumpkin, which serves as the catalyst for the episode’s main story.
*Fun Fact: Those paying close attention will notice My Pet Monster dolls on display at the store. The popular ’80s toy had just been re-released at the time the episode was filmed!*
At home, Doug begins to carve the pumpkin, but it’s not long before Carrie’s quirky dad Arthur comes home and is outraged by the sight of the orange gourd. He takes it outside and smashes it, dramatically proclaiming that Halloween is forbidden inside the Heffernan home. Carrie questions why Doug even cares, as they don’t typically celebrate – ah ha, so that’s why we only got one Halloween episode.
After Arthur also forbids the consumption of fun-size Kit Kats, a staple of the fat man’s diet, an enraged Doug makes it his mission to celebrate Halloween like never before. He’s through with letting his senior citizen housemate push him around, and even though he doesn’t much care for the holiday, he gleefully decorates the house with everything from fake spider webs to cardboard skeletons and witches.
Masking a deliciously evil smile on his face, Doug invites Arthur into the living room after he’s done decorating, intent on showing him his handiwork. Like most of Doug’s devious plans, this one ends with disaster, as Arthur shrieks with terror at the display and is so frightened by the decorations that he ends up at the local hospital. Doug, in his effort to stick it to Arthur, has given the old man a heart attack.
Thankfully, Arthur’s condition isn’t life threatening, but Carrie’s anger towards Doug just might be. Though Doug tries to hide the fact that he’s the culprit, the doctor blows up his spot, telling Carrie that his scare prank is what landed Arthur in the emergency room. Laid up in a hospital bed, a recovering Arthur reveals the ghosts of Halloween past, explaining to Doug why he’s deathly afraid of the holiday.
As Arthur explains, his father’s gambling habits rendered the family broke on many occasions throughout his childhood, and one Halloween his dad made him go trick or treating all night so that he could bring home enough candy to feed them. Despite several costume changes, neighbors eventually caught on when he repeatedly rang their doorbells, and the shame Arthur experienced on that night was never forgotten.
“You’ll forgive me if I don’t share your love for a holiday called Halloween,” Arthur tells Doug, before turning in for the night. Doug feels terrible, as he thought Arthur’s aversion to Halloween was merely another example of his father-in-law’s illogical insanity. In an effort to make things right, he spends the night on a trick or treating adventure of his own, searching for a lemon ice that tastes like the one Arthur loved as a child.
Deacon joins Doug on the journey, expressing concern over the fact that his son wanted to be a Powerpuff Girl for Halloween, rather than a male character. He’s worried his son is gay, but Doug insists he shouldn’t think too much into it. Meanwhile, Carrie is busy calling Arthur’s friends and family and letting them know he’s in the hospital, though none of them seem to care. Arthur is, after all, a huge pain in the ass.
Doug and Deacon are eventually able to track down the very same pizza place Arthur frequented as a kid, but the owner refuses to serve them – the register was already closed out for the night, he says. Defiant, Doug locks the owner out of his own shop and takes it upon himself to procure the frozen treat, and hijinks ensue when another customer mistakes Doug for an employee – forcing him to heat up a slice of pizza.
Finally, Doug returns to the hospital with lemon ice in hand, and drops it off in Arthur’s room while he’s sleeping. When Arthur wakes up, he’s face to face with the bag containing his get-well gift, and the sight of the restaurant’s mascot – a creepy smiling monkey with a mustache – gives the old man yet another minor heart attack. He eventually gets to enjoy the lemon ice, which takes him back to his childhood.
For obvious reasons, the Heffernan family never again dared to celebrate Halloween, and ‘Ticker Treat’ served as a perfect explanation for why the show only played around with the holiday on one occasion. It was a Halloween special while also being somewhat of an anti-Halloween special, not so much a celebration of the holiday as it was a fun way of establishing that the Heffernans don’t do Halloween.
And that’s a bummer, because we all deserved to see Leah Remini dressed up in sexy costumes. ALL OF US.
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