Season 2, Episode 7: “Boo”
Original airdate: Oct. 8, 1999
If we consider the production codes, “Boo” and “Fountain,” which are respectively the Halloween and Christmas episodes of So Weird, were produced consecutively, just before the mid-season finale “Strange Geometry.”
This scheduling decision seems logical. If Disney Channel approached the production team late in the process and requested holiday-themed episodes, they would need to create them quickly and ensure they were completed before any significant shifts in character dynamics, as seen in “Strange Geometry.”
So Weird, in particular, faces a challenge when it comes to Halloween episodes.
Typically, television shows take one of two main approaches for such episodes: they either create suspenseful horror episodes, relying on horror movie clichés, artistic lighting, and camera techniques, which may or may not align with the show’s overall narrative goals; or they depict the characters engaging in Halloween activities like trick-or-treating while discussing the holiday’s rituals, history (usually with less controversy than, say, Thanksgiving), and the potential dangers of approaching strangers’ doors for candy. Supernatural-themed shows like Supernatural, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and So Weird often find humor in the fact that, for their characters, every day is like Halloween.
In Supernatural’s “It’s The Great Pumpkin, Sam Winchester,” this humor is somewhat subdued due to ongoing storylines involving characters like Castiel and Ruby 2.0.
Buffy Summers, on the other hand, comments on how Halloween is a quiet night for demons because the holiday has been widely appropriated for non-violent purposes.
This observation is followed by an episode in which a shop’s Halloween costumes are cursed, transforming everyone into literal versions of their costumes (“Halloween”).
The show also features a mood-focused episode that amplifies the scares in a college fraternity haunted house for a comical punchline (“Fear, Itself”)
So Weird takes a lighthearted approach, avoiding anything too serious, which is probably a wise choice given the deep emotions explored in “Fountain” and the existing stakes for Fiona and her family.
“Boo” maintains a mostly light-hearted, low-stakes tone, offering a pleasant break before the show delves into its darker, more emotional aspects.
However, the episode’s light-heartedness and low stakes can be attributed to a different reason altogether: Henry Winkler.
Observant television fans looking back at So Weird will notice Henry Winkler’s name as an executive producer.
In fact, Winkler’s production company, Winkler-Rich Productions, was one of several companies involved in the production of So Weird throughout its three seasons.
Consequently, it wasn’t a significant stretch to have the iconic Fonz himself guest star for a day.
The plot of “Boo” revolves around Winkler’s character, Fergus McGarrity, who rises from the grave on Halloween (or, as Fi correctly identifies it, the day of Samhain, tracing the holiday back to its Celtic origins, a task only a woman of Celtic witch lineage would undertake).
Fergus hopes to return from the dead permanently by stealing the keys to the tour bus, believing that offering someone from the bus in exchange for his own soul will appease the Celtic spirits.
The premise suggests that if the group doesn’t leave town by midnight, they’ll join the eerie spirit children in the Celtic afterlife.
This episode is undeniably strange. Equally bizarre is the reason for Fergus McGarrity’s death.
It wasn’t due to a tragic accident or intentional murder; instead, he was locked out of the only house in town with locks by his wife.
“Marital dispute” is not typically a high-priority conflict for a Halloween episode, but it works primarily because Winkler infuses his character with a sense of balance between a man seeking redemption for his past mistakes and a man who has been dead for a year and simply wants to reenter his house and the world of the living.
Nonetheless, “Boo” remains a peculiar episode. It’s tonally unusual, especially given the dark ongoing storylines in So Weird’s second season.
The episode is visually distinctive, which complements the story well (Carey transforms everyone with makeup to frighten Winkler’s character into returning the keys, a humorous demonstration of how Carey’s time on the KISS Reunion Tour with Ned has come in handy).
Moreover, it’s peculiar because it was filmed before two of the most heart-wrenching episodes of the entire series.
The primary issue, especially with the last aspect mentioned, is how the episode emphasizes the desire to return to the world of the living.
This aspect could have shed significant light on Rick’s current situation and its impact on Fi.
It feels like a missed opportunity that lingers over every scene, as if Rick himself were standing just off-camera, awaiting his moment to make an appearance.
Fortunately for us, he will reappear shortly. Unfortunately for the Phillips family, it will be an emotionally challenging experience.
Read More: Review: So Weird, “Vampire”