‘Stranger Things’ Season 2, a David S. Pumpkins Special and More TV You Must See This Week

Stranger Things Season Cast

Other highlights include the return of ‘The Walking Dead,’ a documentary on Joan Didion, and many Halloween specials.

This week’s TV is all about the Halloween spirit: one of the biggest pop culture phenomenons of last year returns with more paranormal activity and ’80s nostalgia, while everyone’s favorite zombie show raises the stakes in its eighth season. There is also an abundance of holiday-themed specials: from a longstanding animated series tradition to an cartoon Saturday Night Live spin-off, as well as classic Universal monster films streaming online for the first time. If you need a breather between frights, there is also one documentary that dives into the legacy of an American literary icon and another that unique sheds light on the life of a cinematographer.

To help you keep track of the most important programs over the next seven days, here’s our guide to everything worth watching, whether it’s on broadcast, cable, or streaming for October 22nd – 28th (all times Eastern):

Universal’s Classic Monsters (Shudder)

Whether you want to get into the eerie mood early, or you (still) desperately require something to cleanse the aftertaste that The Mummy left this past summer, Shudder has what you need: Universal’s classic monsters, available on streaming for the very first time. The 1931 versions of Dracula and Frankenstein, the latter’s 1935 sequel, Bride of Frankenstein, 1933’s The Invisible Man, the 1932 version of The Mummy, and 1941’s The Wolf Man join the service’s catalog thanks to some kind of Halloween miracle, and the best way to render thanks is with a movie marathon sided with a bowl of Boris Karloff’s guacamole.

Bob’s Burgers and The Simpsons Halloween Specials (FOX, Sunday 7:30pm)

As the Great Pumpkin approaches, many shows release Halloween-themed episodes to get into the spirit of the holiday, and we are looking forward to two animated specials in particular: Bob’s Burgers’ “The Wolf of Wharf Street” and The Simpsons’ 28th “Treehouse of Horror.” In the former, Linda tries to impress Tina, Louise, and Gene by taking them to look for a wolf that has been terrorizing the town while a medicated Bob believes that Teddy has turned into a werewolf. Meanwhile, in “Treehouse of Horror XXVIII,” Maggie gets possessed, Lisa enters a Coraline-like world (accompanied by a character voiced by Neil Gaiman himself), and Homer cannibalizes himself after he runs out of food. A good way to kick off the spooky celebrations.

The Walking Dead (AMC, Sunday 9pm)

After struggling to find its feet during the first half of Season 7, The Walking Dead is ready to up the ante in its eighth run. The season premiere marks the 100th episode of the series, and veteran director Greg Nicotero (who is usually in charge of the show’s premieres, finales, and mid-season episodes) is doing the honors, complementing the event with a virtual reality app. While most of the past season was more concerned with slowly building up anticipation around Rick’s efforts to fight Negan and the Saviors, the focus is now on the battle, and showrunner Scott Gimple has promised the first four episodes will be so action-packed they will “melt minds and break TV sets.” Simon (Steven Ogg), Enid (Katelyn Nacon), and Jadis (Pollyanna McIntosh) will be promoted to series regulars as two additional new characters will join the cast.

Cameraperson (PBS, Monday 10pm)

Documentary cinematographer Kirsten Johnson has been to many places — the Balkans, execution sites in Afghanistan, torture sites at Guantanamo — and she has met many people, like French philosopher Jacques Derrida and Edward Snowden. Cameraperson merges outtakes from these many projects under Johnson’s belt and combines them with her personal footage. The result is a unique memoir, “powerful and inquisitive,” in the words of our sister site Nonfics, that doesn’t only chronicle her life and work but also ponders the nature of filmmaking and our relationship with the image. The film has been to plenty of festivals (and won multiple prizes) and now makes one last stop at PBS.

 

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (Netflix, Friday)

Unbeknownst to most people, actor Griffin Dunne (An American Werewolf in London) is the nephew of author Joan Didion, and he has been working for several years on a documentary about his celebrated aunt. The film pieces together the author’s life and work through interviews with notorious figures plus Didion herself, and archival footage. In the same way the essayist interweaves facts and personal insight, Dunne respectfully offers an intimate but critical account of the career of one of the literary pioneers of the ’60s.

Stranger Things (Netflix, Friday)

We’ve waited patiently, and now, after being teased (and hyped) with “Thriller”-infused and conveniently timed trailers, we finally reap the reward: the return of Netflix’s hit show. It’s been a little over a year since we last saw Mike, Dustin, Lucas, and the rest of the gang, and Stranger Things fittingly picks up on Halloween, almost a year after the events that shook Hawkins. Despite everyone’s efforts to go back to normal life, Will still deals with the effects of being in the Upside Down, Nancy and Mike mourn the apparent losses of Barb and Eleven, and supernatural threats still lurk around. This season will catch up with our beloved characters, but it will also introduce new faces like redheaded tomboy Max (Sadie Sink) and her brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery), as it dives deeper into unsolved mysteries like Eleven’s backstory and how Will might be key to everything. Get those Eggo waffles ready and binge on.

The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special (NBC, Saturday 11:30pm)

David S. Pumpkins is one of those things possible only thanks to modern internet culture. The character, played by Tom Hanks, made his debut in SNL’s Halloween sketch “Haunted Elevator” last October, and shortly after became a a Twitter meme and even a familiar sighting at pop culture conventions and costume parties. The bewilderment of the David S. Pumpkins’s randomness is the sketch’s punchline, and since internet culture plays on this brand of absurdist humor, it is easy to see how the whole thing escalated to the point we’re at now: NBC dedicating an animated special to the character. Hanks reprises the role in vocal form, along with his dancing skeleton sidekicks played by Mikey Day and Bobby Moynihan, while a new character will be voiced by Peter Dinklage. The special follows Pumpkins and his companions as they teach a young boy and his sister the true meaning of Halloween. Any questions?

 

 

The Walking Dead

SUNDAY

Bob’s Burgers S8E3 “The Wolf of Wharf Street” (FOX, 7:30pm)

Outlander S3E6 “A. Malcolm” (Starz, 8pm)

The Simpsons S29E4 “Treehouse of Horror XXVIII” (FOX, 8pm)

Ghosted S1E4 “Lockdown” (FOX, 8:30pm)

Star Trek: Discovery S1E6 “Lethe” (CBSAA, 8:30pm)

Family Guy S16E4 “Follow the Money” (FOX, 9pm)

Ray Donovan S5E11 “Michael” (Showtime, 9pm)

The Deuce S1E7 “Au Reservoir” (HBO, 9pm)

The Walking Dead S8E1 “Mercy” (AMC, 9pm) – season premiere

The Last Man on Earth S4E4 “Wisconsin” (FOX, 9:30pm)

Curb Your Enthusiasm S9E4 “Running with the Bulls” (HBO, 10pm)

Graves S2E1&E2 “Half a World Gone Mad” & “In His Labyrinth” (Epix, 10pm) – season premiere

White Famous S1E3 “Woo” (Showtime, 10pm)

Vice Principals S2E6 “The Most Popular Boy” (HBO, 10:40pm)

MONDAY

Star Wars Rebels S4E3&E4 “In the Name of the Rebellion” (Disney XD, 12:30am)

Lucifer S3E4 “What Would Lucifer Do?” (FOX, 8pm)

Supergirl S3E3 “Far From the Tree” (The CW, 8pm)

The Gifted S1E4 “eXit strategy” (FOX, 9pm)

Scorpion S4E5 “Sci Hard” (CBS, 10pm)

The Good Doctor S1E5 “Point Three Percent” (ABC, 10pm)

TUESDAY

Jack Whitehall: At Large (Netflix) – standup comedy special

The Mindy Project S6E7 “Midnight Owl” (Hulu)

Wanted (Netflix) – series American debut

The Flash S4E3 “Luck Be a Lady” (The CW, 8pm)

NCIS S15E5 “Fake It ‘Til You Make It” (CBS, 8pm)

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow S3E3 “Zari” (The CW, 9pm)

This Is Us S2E5 “The Game Plan” (NBC, 9pm)

The Mayor S1E4 “City Hall-oween” (ABC, 9:30pm)

American Horror Story S7E8 “Winter of Our Discontent” (FX, 10pm)

The Last O.G. S1E1 “” (TBS, 10pm) – series premiere

At Home With Amy Sedaris S1E1 (truTV, 10:30pm) – series premiere

Drop the Mic S1E1 (TBS, 10:30p) – show debut

Kevin (Probably) Saves the World S1E4 “How to be Good” (ABC, 10pm)

Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders S1E5 (NBC, 10pm)

WEDNESDAY

Riverdale S2E3 “Chapter Sixteen: The Watcher in the Woods” (The CW, 8pm)

The Blacklist S5E5 “Ilyas Surkov” (NBC, 8pm)

Speechless S2E5 “N-i-Nightmares on D-i-Dimeo S-Street” (ABC, 8:30pm)

Law & Order: SVU S19E5 “Complicated” (NBC, 9pm)

Modern Family S9E5 “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Phil Dunphy” (ABC, 9pm)

Channel Zero S2E6 “The Hollow Girl” (Syfy, 10pm) – season finale

Criminal Minds S13E5 “Lucky Strikes” (CBS, 10pm)

Designated Survivor S2E5 “Suckers” (ABC, 10pm)

Liar S1E5 “Checkmate” (Sundance Channel, 10pm)

Mr. Robot S3E3 “eps3.2_legacy.so” (USA, 10pm)

You’re the Worst S4E9 “Worldstar!” (FXX, 10pm)

Broad City S4E6 “Witches” (Comedy Central, 10:30pm)

Baroness von Sketch Show S2E7 “You’ve Reached the Voicemail of Tracy Harrity” (IFC, 11pm)

Rosehaven S2E1 (Sundance Channel, 11pm) – season premiere

THURSDAY

Gotham S4E6 “Hog Day Afternoon” (FOX, 8pm)

Grey’s Anatomy S14E5 “Danger Zone” (ABC, 8pm)

Supernatural S13E3 “Patience” (The CW, 8pm)

Superstore S3E5 “Sal’s Dead” (NBC, 8pm)

The Good Place S2E7 “Janet and Michael” (NBC, 8:30pm)

Arrow S6E3 “Next of Kin” (The CW, 9pm)

Project Runway S16E11 (Lifetime, 9pm)

Scandal S7E4 “Lost Girls” (ABC, 9pm)

The Orville S1E7 “Majority Rule” (FOX, 9pm)

Van Helsing S2E4 “A Home” (Syfy, 9pm)

Will & Grace S9E5 “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Crying” (NBC, 9pm)

Great News S2E5 “Night of the Living Screen” (NBC, 9:30pm)

Better Things S2E7 “Blackout” (FX, 10pm)

Ghost Wars S1E4 “The Exorcism of Marcus Moon” (Syfy, 10pm)

How to Get Away With Murder S4E5 “I Love Her” (ABC, 10pm)

FRIDAY

Fearless S1 (Amazon) – series American premiere

Joan Didion: The Center Will Not Hold (Netflix) – documentary premiere

Stranger Things S2 (Netflix) – season premiere

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend S3E3 “Josh Is A Liar” (The CW, 8pm)

Once Upon a Time S7E4 “Beauty” (ABC, 8pm)

Michael Jackson’s Halloween (CBS, 8pm) – animated special

Jane The Virgin S4E3 “Chapter Sixty-Seven” (The CW, 9pm)

Marvel’s Inhumans S1E6 “The Gentleman’s Name is Gorgon” (ABC, 9pm)

Z Nation S4E5 “The Unknowns” (Syfy, 9pm)

Superstition S1E2 “The Dredge” (Syfy, 10pm)

 

Active Shooter: America Under Fire S1E5 (Showtime, 9pm)

SATURDAY

Black Sabbath: The End of the End (Showtime, 9pm) – documentary premiere

Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency S2E3 “Two Broken Fingers” (BBC America, 9pm)

The David S. Pumpkins Halloween Special (NBC, 11:30pm) – comedy special

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