Fat Albert Halloween Special. Don't those words just make you DROOL? The very idea of the Cosby Kids having a Halloween adventure sounds wonderful. Unfortunately, this isn't one of your a-list Halloween specials. It's fun and all, but not one I reach for year after year.
In this prime-time special, Halloween time has come for the Junkyard Gang, and everyone's all set to trick-or-treating. When the costume store kicks them out, the gang comes up with "home-made outfits." A few of them talk about the Old Lady Bickwell who lives in the house by the cemetery, where she's given to "creeping around and acting all weird."
|Now on DVD:|
"That's the problem," comes the reply. "All old people are weird!"
It soon becomes clear that they gang is not just out for candy. As on of the Cosby kids says: "We're gonna have a great time tonight, scaring old dudes!'
Ah, the true meaning of Halloween!
The gang then proceeds to a spooky old graveyard, where they sneak around, causing trouble. After some preliminary hijinks, they head off to scare old Searchlight Johnson at the movie house, then old Mudfoot Brown, and then the old lady Bickwell. As you can probably guess, things don't go too well. Searchlight catches them up to no good in the theatre and throws them out. Mudfoot Brown steals most of their candy. But Old Lady Bickwell turns out to serve the best Halloween candy in town (as the creepy old ladies in these things always do).
When I started collecting Halloween specials, this one was very tough to get - it hadn't been aired in years, and had been out of print on video for a good decade. The only copy I'd ever seen was at a Video Warehouse in Des Moines in the late 80s - and I didn't rent it. I finally found a copy on ebay around 2002 - and it wasn't cheap even there. Nowadays, it's a lot easier to get. I've even seen it on youtube in its entirety - including commercials, which are half the fun - but it seems to get taken down a lot.
Note: my video of this features a voice-over from Bill Cosby explaining that the show was made in a different time, when trick or treating was safe. "Sadly," he says, "the times have changed." Well, whether it's really less safe now is debatable, but it can't have been too acceptable at any time for kids to go galivanting around a graveyard like this, and it was never a good idea to let kids wander the city streets bothering guys named Mudfoot or Searchlight. The only difference may be that back in the olden days, they hadn't figured this out yet.
Then again, I can see that things have changed. I used to walk a good mile to school - when I was six or seven - without adult supervision. You don't see many kids doing that these days. I don't know if the streets are more dangerous now (I doubt it) or if we're just more paranoid now (certainly) or if it was just never a good idea in the first place (probably), or if it's more to do with the fact that towns today are built on the subdivision system, with no sidewalks, and no way for kids to walk to school (without question) but I'm not here to editorialize on this. I'd say that trick or treating is as safe now as it ever was - the question is how safe it ever was in the first place.
This one comes and goes from youtube - the copyright holders are pretty vigilant. BUT it's now available on DVD.
Here's a 1985 Halloween Safety short!