Family Matters was one of those sitcoms that I watched a ton in the 90’s, but haven’t seen much of it since. Recently it was added to HBO Max, and I dived right back in with The Winslows and that goofy neighbor of theirs. I was shocked to see how normal and interesting the first season was pre-Steve Urkel. I haven’t finished watching the first season yet, but I decided to jump ahead and check out some of the Halloween episodes.
Season 2, Episode 7 “Dog Day Halloween”
This episode centers around Steve and Laura who inadvertently get caught up in a bank robbery. Steve is dressed up as Superman, but feels inadequate because he can’t properly protect Laura. Laura is dressed up as Tina Turner, which confuses the Abraham Lincoln dressed bank robber who mistakes her for pretty much any singing diva you could think of pre-1990. Meanwhile, Carl is outside trying to control the situation. There are no winks or nods to Die Hard, but it’s hard to watch and not think of Die Hard.
It’s not a perfect Halloween episode, but it does a good job of channeling the spirit of Halloween with costumes and the scenes back at the Winslow house dealing with trick-or-treaters. I found myself really enjoying the episode, even if it’s a bit cheesy towards the end.
Season 4, Episode 6 – “Whose Kid Is It Anyway?”
Eddie promises Richie that he’ll take him trick-or-treating, until a beautiful girl shows up at the front door needing directions to a Halloween party. Always the ladies’ man, Eddie ditches Richie and convinces Waldo to take him trick-or-treating. Richie isn’t happy about it, but there’s not much the little boy can do. Things take a turn for the worse when Waldo shows up with another child in a Spiderman outfit that isn’t Richie.
Similar to the first episode, this episode featured several Halloween costumes and some decorations that made it feel like the holiday. It’s obvious that Family Matters liked using Halloween as a setting, but they never fully embrace the holiday the same way Roseanne and Home Improvement did. Still, this was a decent Halloween themed episode.
Season 5, Episode 6 – “Best Friends”
After Waldo is fired from a tattoo parlor for misspelling Mom, Eddie gives him a job at the Mighty Weenie alongside Steve Urkel. Waldo is horrible at his job, and Eddie is forced to deal with the decision to fire his best friend.
Did you notice that I didn’t mention anything about costumes, trick-or-treating, or Halloween? That’s because other than a few decorations in the house and around The Mighty Weenie there is nothing Halloween about this episode at all. It has to be the laziest Halloween episode I’ve ever seen. The set designer just put up $20 worth of decorations to make it feel like Halloween, which is a missed opportunity.
Season 6, Episode 6 – “Dark and Stormy Night”
After the previous season’s waste of a Halloween episode, Family Matters bounced back with its best Halloween episode of its run. The entire family is costumed up and ready to go trick-or-treating when a terrible storm begins and the power goes out. Carl decided to keep the family entertained by starting a ghost story and then turning the story over to another member of the family to continue it. It’s a very creative concept that works well for the show. It’s way over-the-top and a lot of fun and by far the best Halloween episode Family Matters produced.
Season Eight, Episode Seven – “Stevil”
This episode begins with a warning that the following might be a little intense for young viewers. It’s surprising to see, especially since Family Matters is such a tame show. I don’t know if the warning is justified by the episode, but I will admit things are more intense in Stevil than any of the previous Halloween shows.
Steve Urkel attempts to put on a ventriloquist act complete with a dummy that looks like him. It doesn’t go over well and Steve retires to his room and falls asleep. A storm arises and dummy Steve Urkel is hit by lightning and brought to life. Steve pleads his case that the dummy is alive, but no one will listen to him. Stevil (the name of the dummy) begins attacking the family and it’s up to Urkel to save the day.
So, this episode is batshit crazy. I mean, it’s off the walls insane. Its part Chucky and part Urkel, the combination you never knew you wanted. The dummy is a combination of puppet and little person in a suit and it’s hard not to laugh and enjoy this episode because it truly is pretty bad.
Part of me wants to say Skip This, but the other part of me wants to say it’s Highly Recommended. I figure I’ll settle in the middle and say it’s Recommended.
Season Nine, Episode Seven – “Stevil II: This Time He’s Not Alone”
Ya know, they should have left it alone.
In this episode, it’s been a year since the first Stevil incident and Steve Urkel is afraid to go to sleep. Ahhh… I’m not even going to explain the plot of this terrible, terrible episode. Do yourself a favor and just skip it. It’s more Stevil and his new pal Carlsbad and what little charm the first Stevil episode had is long gone.